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Mo Foundation for Health names four new advisory committee members

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 5, 2009 - The Missouri Foundation for Health has announced it has added four new members to its Community Advisory Committee.

The 13-member panel "works to gather community input about health issues affecting Missourians in order to better inform the grantmaking decisions and strategic planning'' of the foundation's board, it said in a statement.

The advisory committee also nominates the board members.

Each committee member can serve up to two three-year terms.

The new members are:

Dr. Weldon G. James, of Lebanon;

Dean F. Kappel, of St. Louis;

Jerry D. Osborn, of Camdenton;

Joseph E. Pierle, of Jefferson City.

The new members were chosen by the current advisory committee. The selections end the initial practice of having the committee appointed by the state attorney general. The panel was formed in 2000 as part of the settlement of the state's lawsuit with the tobacco companies.

The foundation notes that it is "the largest non-governmental funder of community health activities in Missouri...having issued more than $337 million in grants and awards to date. It is dedicated to serving the uninsured, underinsured and underserved in 84 Missouri counties and the city of St. Louis."

Because of its previous ties to the attorney general, the foundation has at times been caught in the middle of political disputes -- most notably those between former Gov. Matt Blunt and then-Attorney General Jay Nixon. Blunt and his Republican allies have questioned some of the foundation's grants to certain groups deemed too liberal, notably those that support abortion rights.

Dr. James R. Kimmey, the foundation's president and chief executive officer, lauded the new committee members, saying they "bring a wide range of expertise and experience to its efforts to link" the foundation with Missouri communities. He added that the committee's influence "ensures our grantmaking remains responsive to the needs of Missourians."

Here's the new members' bios, as provided by the foundation:

James is a family practice physician with St. John’s Clinic and Lebanon Family Medicine in Lebanon, where he sees patients and serves as medical director of a skilled nursing swing bed unit. James is a National Health Service Corps scholar and member of the St. John’s Lebanon Heritage Foundation. He has presented on topics including abdominal pain and end-of-life care.

Kappel is president and chief executive officer of Mid-America Transplant Services (MTS), a nonprofit that coordinates organ and tissue transplantation in the St. Louis region. Kappel has spent more than two decades at MTS, and also serves as chief executive officer for the Mid-America Transplant Foundation. He has served on a number of boards and committees for organizations such as Isto Technologies Inc., a biotechnology startup; AlloSource, a tissue transplantation joint venture; and Pulaski Bank.

Osborn is president and chief executive officer of Midwest Behavioral Healthcare Management Inc., a Clinton-based provider offering mental health, substance abuse treatment and prevention services to rural and underserved populations. During Osborn’s more than 20-year tenure, the organization has grown from 18 employees serving nine Missouri counties to a staff of 840 serving 32 counties. His community involvement includes work with the For the Children Foundation and the Clinton Recovery Center.

Pierle is chief executive officer of the Missouri Primary Care Association (MPCA) in Jefferson City. He oversees all activities of the MPCA and works with legislators and other officials to strengthen primary health care infrastructure to meet the needs of Missouri’s underserved populations. Pierle also is chief executive officer of the Jefferson City-based Oral Health Network of Missouri, and has served on boards and committees for a number of organizations including the March of Dimes and the National Health Service Corps.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.