2017 CLASS OF RISING STARS – MEAGAN DOWELL

Meagan Dowell is a supervising senior tax associate at CBIZ MHM and is a member of the 2017 Class of Rising Stars. A native of Our Town, she first learned about the impact of philanthropy and volunteerism in high school when she traveled to Los Angeles to serve at The Dream Center. There, she provided comfort, clothing and meals to the homeless, organized reading groups and play therapy for under-served children and helped rehab and renovate the facility. After receiving her bachelor of science degree in accounting from The University of Kansas and a master of accounting from the University of Arizona, she joined CBIZ MHM as a tax associate. Meagan expressed an interest in the company’s charitable pursuits and was quickly selected as chairman of the company’s charitable committee. In this capacity, she has helped raise money to purchase holiday toys for children in need as well as organize company sponsored volunteer activities at Harvester’s and City Union Mission. Personally, Meagan served as the co-chairman of an event, which raised funds to help provide professional attire for low-income women to better their self-image and improve their job search and interview process. She also has participated in a number of 5K runs, benefiting causes such as Wayside Waifs and Pancreatic Cancer Research. On November 3, 2016, Meagan was honored by the Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants as its 2016 Women to Watch – Emerging Leader. 

Along with her husband, Derek, Meagan provides support, leadership and accounting expertise to Happy Birthday, Inc., which organizes birthday parties for children in the foster care system. Through their involvement, they are also helping to advocate and educate the community on the issues facing the foster care system as well as expanding the number of foster care licensed families in Our Town. Said Nick Estrada, Happy Birthday, Inc.: “Meagan has been a driving force of encouragement and played many behind-the-scenes roles since day one of Happy Birthday Inc. Her husband, Derek, is our treasurer, and because of Meagan’s experience in helping non profits, we continually ask for guidance on fundraising strategies. At our first official fundraising event, Meagan brought her experience and creativity to the table and helped make our ’90s themed fundraiser unforgettable. It raised enough donations for us to operate for nearly a year without additional funds. We have been blessed to have her in the room as we continue on our mission!”

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According to Amy Sleeper, Children’s Mercy; Meagan not only gives of her time and talent to the Children’s Mercy Cancer Center Auxiliary Board, she also gives of her heart and shares her kindness to make a difference in the lives of patients and families battling cancer. “Meagan has been a strong, active member for this group of community professionals,” said Amy. “In no time, she established herself as a young, fresh voice for the board as they worked to promote and fund groundbreaking research projects, crucial staff positions and needed patient-family programming at the hospital.” Due to her excellent leadership abilities, Meagan became board president in 2015. Under her leadership, the Cancer Center Auxiliary had its most successful fundraising years, resulting in more resources for patients, families, clinicians, and researchers. Added Dr. Alan S. Gamis, Children’s Mercy Cancer Center: “Meagan has been a dedicated leader of the passionate team of volunteers that constitutes the Children’s Mercy Cancer Center Auxiliary. Her devotion to the CMCC mission, her ability to motivate and bring out the best of each team member and her obvious passion for the children we see and treat, is evident every day and her personal efforts provide a tremendous guide for all of us to follow. The children who battle cancer and blood disorders at Children’s Mercy are so fortunate to have Meagan leading this wonderful board of volunteers.”

Meagan also serves as the committee liaison and a lead volunteer for the annual KC Cares for Kids Walk, a fundraising event that gathers Children’s Mercy patients, families and friends for a day of celebration and remembrance. Bringing her passion, expertise and attention to detail, Meagan has played a key role in raising more than $240,000 since the walk’s inception in 2014. Said Amy Sleeper: “As a non-profit hospital, we are always so appreciative of those in the community who do more for our patients and families, especially when they are like Meagan – a strong leader with a desire to help others. Her thoughtfulness coupled with her ability to welcome new ideas and encourage others around her to succeed stand out and make her the ideal candidate for The Independent’s 2017 Class of Rising Stars.”

Meagan was caught completely off guard and was shocked and overwhelmed about her nomination as a Rising Star. “I’m involved with Children’s Mercy and other organizations that are doing great things, but I’m not even a drop in the bucket. They do everything, and I’m just there to help.  I’m also getting to know about other organizations that have reached out to me, such as Ability KC. I just feel so blessed and honored.”

By Ann Slegman
Photo Credit: Tom Styrkowicz
Also featured in the September 2, 2017 issue of The Independent