THE INDEPENDENT – 2017 CLASS OF RISING STARS

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Dolly Wood, occupational therapist, The University of Kansas Hospital

“In addition to her leadership skills to many organizations, Dolly is also the first one to get in the trenches when an important cause needs someone to solicit sponsors or help set up on the day of an event. There are hundreds of us who have been inspired to give more, do more or do better because Dolly has convinced us that a life that includes serving others is a life worth living.” Rachel Sexton, VPR Creative Group

Dolly serves on the boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City and the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired, and is a past board member for Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri. She is on the advisory board for the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program at MCC.  Dolly also has been the co-chairman of the Gather and Grow dinners for Boys Grow and CCVI’s Trolley Run and Food Fight. She also has been a committee member for American Cancer Society’s Midwestern Cattle Baron’s Ball, March of Dime’s Signature Chef’s Auction and Kids Night Out for Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City.

“With her generosity and passion, Dolly always helps to make the Midwestern Cattle Baron’s Ball a night to remember.” Amy Haynes, American Cancer Society


Meagan Dowell, supervising senior tax associate, CBIZ MHM

“Meagan not only gives of her time and talent to lead 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 the patients and families battling cancer at Children’s Mercy Hospital.” Amy Sleeper, Children’s Mercy

Meagan was selected as chairman of CBIZ’s charitable committee and has raised funds to purchase holiday toys for children in need and sponsored volunteer activities at Harvesters and City Union Mission. She also is the president of Children’s Mercy Cancer Center Auxiliary Board and served as the committee liaison and a lead volunteer for Children’s Mercy’s annual KC Care for Kids Walk. Meagan and her husband, Derek, provide support and leadership to Happy Birthday, which organizes birthday parties for children in the foster care system. 

“Meagan Dowell’s devotion to the Children’s Mercy Cancer Center 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. Her personal efforts provide a tremendous guide for all of us to follow.” Dr. Alan S. Gamis, Children’s Mercy Cancer Center

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Klassie Alcine, director of community engagement, Goodwill of Western Missouri and Eastern Kansas

“Klassie’s contributions to furthering UMKC’s Young Alumni Committee’s mission have been innovative and significant. She is a crucial advocate for higher education and Kansas City’s university by representing the voice of the university’s more than 118,000 alumni of record. Klassie’s enthusiasm and passion for UMKC is contagious and is helping to create a culture of engagement within the university’s young alumni. She is a devoted volunteer leader for the university.” Tamra Hoffman, UMKC Alumni Association Governing Board

Klassie is a director-at-large for the UMKC Alumni Governing Board and a board member of the UMKC Young Alumni Board. She is a committee member of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. Klassie was a committee member of Project Fly, a partnership with the Greater Kansas City Boys and Girls Club. She was a founding member of Rotaract KC and co-chairman of the Student Government Advisor Committee for the Kansas City, Missouri School District. Klassie was a board member of the Greater Kansas City Women’s Political Caucus. 

“Klassie’s heart and spirit are dedicated 110% to serving those in need. She is extremely generous in the giving of her own time, talent and treasure to make sure the world is a better place for all of us.” Edgar Palacios, Connections to Success


Patrick Parkes, fiscal policy analyst, Kansas Policy Institute

“Patrick’s most enduring contribution to Variety KC and the lives it touches lies in his knack for building relationships. He volunteers at every Variety KC event and engages kids, adults and donors with grace and ease. Patrick is everybody’s friend, makes people feel special about volunteering and is helping change the landscape of kids with disabilities in the Kansas City community.” Deborah Wiebrecht, Variety KC

Patrick is a dedicated volunteer with Variety KC and the EMBRACE Foundation, a nonprofit focused on making Catholic schools in Kansas more accessible to students with disabilities. He also is helping to grow a young professionals group supporting Horizon Academy, a private school serving students with learning disabilities. 

“Patrick is passionate about education and helping students learn in different ways. He asks great questions and is thoughtful about brainstorming solutions. We appreciate his participation and involvement with Horizon Academy.” Katie Lindgren, Horizon Academy

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Dean Newton, managing director, Delta Dental

“I have seen Dean participate and be a leader in a variety of public service and business activities. He is a person with superb leadership skills and one who is totally committed to improving the community through public service.” Shannon Blades, Basys Systems

Dean serves on the board of trustees of United Way of Greater Kansas City and on the boards of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City.  He currently serves as President of the March of Dimes Board of Directors and incoming President of JDRF Board of Directors.  He was on the board of the Rose Brooks Center and Shawnee Mission Medical Center Foundation and served as a member of the Kansas House of Representatives. Dean also is the founder and CEO of the Children’s Advocacy Foundation, which helps low-income children in Kansas City and is the founder of Project Smile, which provides free dental care to women who require dental work as a result of domestic violence. 

“Dean’s passion to serve families in Kansas and Missouri who have unfortunately experienced premature birth continues as he will be leading the Kansas City market board as president. He will continue to focus his efforts on market sustainability, volunteer recruitment and will oversee the vision and long-term planning.” Ken Jackson, Kansas City Market, March of Dimes


Jake Jacobson, director of public relations, Children’s Mercy 

“Jake surrounds himself with current and future leaders to collaboratively find ways to champion civic initiatives and help non profits with everything from PR coaching to bigger picture visions, down to the nitty gritty details of how to make missions happen. He always knows he has more to offer and pushes himself and everyone around him to push further and do more.”  Rachel Hodgson, Great Plains SPCA

At Children’s Mercy, Jake shares patients’ inspiring stories and physicians’ innovative care with an ever-growing audience through national PR, social media and community engagement. He also has been instrumental in the success of two campaigns, Inside Pediatrics, a documentary that took an inside look at the lifesaving work of the organization, and Big Slick Celebrity Weekend. Jake also fundraises and volunteers with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City, Public Relations Society of America (Greater KC), Centurions Leadership Program, Kansas City Sports Commission, Arthritis Foundation of Kansas City, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City, Greater KC Chamber of Commerce, and Nonprofit Connect. 

“Whether he’s hosting our Big Slick celebrities at their press conference, chatting with our kids during Bingo, speaking on stage to a crowd of hundreds, or sharing our stories through traditional or social media, Jake consistently – and comfortably – serves as one of our most visible ambassadors in the community.” Dr. Randall L. O’Donnell, Children’s Mercy

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Photographed exclusively for The Independent by Tom Styrkowicz