Lucas Presson

Lucas Presson is the assistant publisher of the Southeast Missourian.

Celebrating 16 Difference Makers in Southeast Missouri

Each year B Magazine recognizes individuals in Southeast Missouri making a difference. Some are high profile while others are making contributions behind the scenes. They represent a range of backgrounds from healthcare to social work and community to business. But they have one thing in common: all are making a difference in the lives of others. Meet the 16 incredible individuals chosen for this yearís class.

When you hear the words Difference Maker, what comes to mind?

For many of you it could be a former teacher or coach, someone who invested in you early in life. It could be a business mentor, pastor, an extended family member or someone else. We all define this term in a way thatís personal to us.

Itís all about impact.

From a community perspective, there are people you know or read about who are making a difference. The movers and shakers. The board members and executives, superintendents and civic leaders. Folks you might call pillars in a community. And certainly, many of these individuals are making a difference.

But there are also others who quietly go about their work without fanfare. Those who work in social services, execute key projects and deliver results without attention. They might not get recognized regularly. But make no mistake, they are doing important, life-changing work.

Each year, B Magazine devotes one issue to those we call Difference Makers. Itís a mixture of both types of people. Youíll read about people you know: leaders whose names regularly appear in the newspaper. Others youíll meet for the first time in this magazine. But all of them are making a difference.

Earlier this year we asked readers to submit nominations for the annual Difference Makers edition. More than 70 names were submitted, all impressive.

Here are the 16 being recognized this year.

Among them: Mark Anderson, Uzma Aziz, Brady Barke, Avon Crocker, Cynthia Dean, Don Fulford, Dr. Vincenzo Galati, Lester Gillespie, Marc Harris, Mia Pohlman, Lanae Romann, Ashley Seiler, John Spear, Becky Wiginton, Scott Williams and Terri Wunderlich.

Thereís a pastor who has helped launch a Christian school; a longtime leader of a social service agency helping those afflicted by sexual violence; Division I athletic director who led his program through a pandemic, stadium rebuild and to two OVC Commissionerís Cups; a key leader of the FISH food pantry; the director of a Bootheel not-for-profit helping underserved communities; the president and CEO of the Association of the Miraculous Medal in Perryville who has helped transform the organization; a doctor raising awareness and funds around testicular cancer; a Mississippi County man working to empower Bootheel residents; an insurance president helping others overcome addiction; a writer and editor using the power of words for a greater purpose; a nurse focused on building sustainable care for others; a Big Brothers Big Sisters leader connecting youth with mentors; a real estate agent who has become a super volunteer; a Marble Hill chamber president focused on putting her community on the map; a recreation manager who finds joy in providing activities for those of all abilities; and a mother and activist helping children and their foster parents.

This is a mix of business executives, faith-based leaders, not-for-profit organizers and social service workers. Folks in big communities and small towns. Well known names and those you may have not yet heard. But they all are making significant impact. We hope shining a light on them inspires others to consider what can be done in their circles of influence. And to the many others who are doing similar things of impact, thank you.

A special word of thanks, as well, to sponsors Edward Jones and MRV Banks. These companies understand the importance of having leaders plugged into all levels of a community, and they join us in celebrating this yearís class.

On Sept. 7, weíll recognize the 2023 Difference Makers in person at the River Campus in Cape Girardeau. The reception begins at 5:30 p.m. with remarks from B Magazine staff at 6 p.m. We invite you to join us. Tickets are available online at differencemakers2023.eventbrite.com.

Lucas Presson is the publisher of B Magazine and the assistant publisher of the Southeast Missourian.