The Lieutenant Governor’s Women of Achievement Award was established in 2022 by Lt. Governor Kehoe to recognize and honor the diverse accomplishments of Missouri women in conjunction with Women’s History Month.

“My life was greatly impacted by being raised by a single mother of six, and we created this award to honor the incredible accomplishments of women across Missouri,” said Lieutenant Governor Kehoe. “These ten recipients are diverse in talent, from agriculture to entrepreneurship, and community service to leaders in not-for-profit work. This Women’s History Month, we are proud to share the high achievements of these award recipients and celebrate successful Missouri women, past and present.”

The following ten recipients were honored at a ceremony in the Missouri State Capitol on Thursday, March 24, 2022.

Libby Martin

Libby Martin

Calving Technologies, LCC, CEO & Founder

Columbia, MO

Libby Martin, a California, Missouri native, is a student at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Martin founded Calving Technologies, LLC, a precision agriculture and IoT (Internet of Things) startup, providing sensory hardware and software predictive technology for farmers to track the health of their beef cows within a month of expected calving. She won the University of Missouri System’s first Entrepreneur Quest Student Accelerator competition, and over $40,000 to continue her work on modernizing and revolutionizing how birthing cows are tracked and cared for. Aside from Calving Technologies, Martin is a fulltime student, serves as the 2022 class vice president, a Student Ambassador for the NAVE Veterinary Group of Las Vegas, NV, the Vice President of Marketing for the Veterinary Business Management Association (VBMA), won 1 st Place in the UM System Entrepreneurial Quest Pitch Competition, a member of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners and served as a VetPrep Student Representative for the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. 

Sherry Branch-Maxwell

Assistant Area Coordinator – Lincoln University Cooperative Extension

Charleston, MO

Sheryl “Ms. Sherry” Branch-Maxwell, has been a driving force in Missouri for more than four decades. During that time, she has overseen the provision of capacity-building assistance to promote evidence-informed practices with state and local partners. For over 35 years, Ms. Sherry has embraced positive youth development, policy change and truly believes in the strength and ability of youth in the Missouri Bootheel. Currently, Ms. Sherry serves as Assistant Area Coordinator for Lincoln University Cooperative Extension in Charleston, MO and is innovative in leading partnerships, integrating youth programming, food and nutrition programs, while working closely with state officials to expand assistance to those in need. Ms. Sherry’s most notable project, is Kids’ Beat. At one time the organization had an enrollment of over 1,500 members across more than 30 clubs in all 6 Bootheel counties, including Butler and Cape Girardeau. She has served on several gubernatorial boards, including but not limited to, The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. State Celebration Commission, The Children’s Trust Fund, African American Task Force and the Missouri Commission for Volunteerism. Most recently, Ms. Sherry was the 2021 DeVerne Lee Calloway Woman of the Year Award recipient.

Major General Cassie Strom

U.S. Air Force, retired

St. Louis, MO

Major General Cassie Strom, U.S. Air Force retired, currently residing in St. Louis, was the first woman promoted to Major General in the Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps. General Strom provides legal help for veterans based on her experience as a JAG and founded the Veterans Advocacy Project. She currently serves as Co-Chair for the Gateway Community Veterans Engagement Board, President of the Missouri Veterans’ Hall of Fame and President of the Jefferson Barracks Heritage Foundation, whose mission is to celebrate the citizen soldier, volunteers and veterans. General Strom is also actively involved in connecting veterans to each other, ensuring they are aware of the benefits and resources available, and educating citizens on the contributions veterans have provided their communities.

Sharon Beshore

Missouri Arts Council, Chairman

Joplin, MO

Sharon Beshore is a lifelong volunteer and community servant in Joplin, best known for her involvement in the Arts. Beshore is Chairman of the Missouri Arts Council; President of the new Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, opening in fall 2022; and Chairman of Connect2Culture, an organization that enhances community through the development and promotion of the arts in the Joplin region. She is currently active as a trustee in Spiva Center for the Arts, as a board member of Rotary Clubs of Joplin Sculpture Garden, and as a board member of Mid-America Arts Alliance. She previously served on the Freeman Health System Philanthropy Committee, the Autism Advocacy Committee for the Bill and Virginia Leffen Center for Autism, and as a board member for Friends of the Missouri Mansion, Stephens College, and Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School. Beshore was recognized as the Outstanding Citizen of the Year by the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce in 2018, as a Pathfinder by The Joplin Globe in 2019, and in Ingram’s 50 Citizens You Should Know in 2017. Prior to devoting her time to the arts, she worked 22 years as an educator, serving in Carthage R-8 Schools, Missouri Southern State University, and Pittsburg State University. 

Kathy Nelson

KC Sports Commission & Visit KC, President & CEO

Kansas City, MO

Kathy Nelson is an influential leader in Kansas City, currently serving as the President & CEO of the KC Sports Commission and Foundation, as well as leader of Visit KC, an economic development organization dedicated to tourism. Nelson was included in The Kansas City Star’s 2020 list of the 50 Most Influential People in Kansas City Sports History, placing her at #38 and making her one of only four women represented. Prior, Nelson had been named one of the 20 Most Influential Sports Figures in Kansas City, ranking her at #5. Among her accomplishments, Nelson was enshrined into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, received the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s ATHENA Leadership Award, the Sports Tourism Executive/CEO of the Year award, (a national honor), and in 2016, was selected to serve on the Sports ETA Board of Directors. Prior to joining the KC Sports Commission staff, she was an active volunteer and member of WIN for KC and the KC Sports Commission for over 10 years. Nelson also served in senior management roles at Time Warner Cable and Metro Sports, as well at FOX 4/WDAF-TV. Nelson has received numerous Telly, Emmy and cable television awards for sports production, notably as the first woman to win a regional Emmy for the production of an NFL game.

Sharon Naught

Community Service

Jefferson City, MO

Sharon Naught, a Jefferson City, Missourian is known throughout mid-Missouri for her family’s insurance agency, Naught-Naught Insurance. However, she’s more well-known for her commitment to serving Jefferson City. Naught has won the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce William W. Quigg Leadership Award, presented to an individual who has shown lifelong leadership and dedication to the community. She is an Honorary Board Member for Jefferson City Gold Star Families Memorial Monument, the country’s 87 th tribute to the families of fallen servicemen and women. Naught is involved with the Veteran’s Council, Operation Bugle Boy, the East Side Business Association, Relay for Life, the Capital Region Medical Center Board, has received the Zonta Club Achievement Award and the 2018 Lieutenant Governor’s Senior Service Award, and has been involved with Wreaths for Heroes for over 10 years, which places Christmas wreaths on the National Cemetery graves each year. She helped to start the Boost BBQ, where in the last 30 years almost $900,00 of proceeds have been used to purchase nutritional supplements for cancer patients. Naught started a program in the community that sends a rose to the family who lost a loved one to cancer, and donates a memorial to the American Cancer Society. She and her husband also played an important role in the Missouri Bicentennial Bridge project, sponsoring the entrance.

Stephanie Mills

Fairy Godmother

Kirksville, MO

Kirksville resident, Stephanie Mills, currently works in communications and public relations for the Kirksville School District. Prior, she owned and operated the bridal shop, Evey Lynn Bridal, and closed it to devote more time to her daughter with autism. While she owned Evey Lynn Bridal, Mills created a non-profit organization, Fairy Godmother, to raise money for young women in the foster care system in order to provide them a “fairy godmother” experience for prom. Applications are accepted from social workers for girls who have this particular need. Once accepted, the young women shop for a gown in Mill’s shop, accessories, and hair and makeup services are also provided. Along with the prom experience, Fairy Godmother provides mentorship, and clothing appropriate for college, scholarship and workplace interviews.

Starr Kohler

Springfield Area Aging Agency, former CEO

Springfield, MO

Starr Kohler has been involved in the Springfield Area Aging Agency (SeniorAge) since 1976. Her mother , Irene Hamby, launched a 22-year career with the Area Agency, where Kohler served as a support volunteer. Kohler began as a volunteer, transitioning to a receptionist, grant writer and Information and Assistance associate. Later, she completed her Masters in Organizational Leadership, moved into Resource Development, Foundation Advocacy, Silver Haired Legislature, then Chief of Operations. In 2013, Kohler accepted the position of CEO and served in this capacity until her retirement in 2021. During her nine years as CEO, she shepherded the agency through critical changes and innovation. When many social service agencies found themselves turned upside down during the COVID-19 Pandemic, Kohler seized the opportunity to increase not only SeniorAge’s service levels, but partnered with Mark Price and Nora Taylor to help supply critical nutrition to seniors in other Area Agency locations around the state.

Dr. Marion Pierson, M.D.

MO Hives KC

Kansas City, MO

Dr. Marion Pierson, a Kansas City native, founded MO Hives KC, a Missouri non-profit founded in 2020 with a goal to place and support urban apiaries in blighted urban areas, to pollinate urban food gardens, and to provide teaching and economic opportunities for the community. The organization maintains four active hives, housing nearly a quarter of a million bees at the apiary. In fall of 2021, Pierson was named Beekeeper of the Year by the Missouri State Beekeepers Association for her work with MO Hives KC. Pierson had always been drawn to science and nature, leading her to study biology and attend the six-year medical program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and now owns her own pediatric practice. A goal of the apiary is to provide hyperlocal honey with more outlets for people to receive local products, and has offered a six-week summer program for high school and college students to learn the apiary process.

Ali Kindle Hogan

Rung for Women, Founder

St. Louis, MO

Ali Hogan, is the founder and chairwoman of Rung for Women, a St. Louis non-profit. Rung for Women pairs women earning less than $50,000 annually with career coaches who assist in placing them into the workforce in the St. Louis area. Rung’s mission is simple: more women making more money through the program, “Member Experience 101”. In addition to job opportunities, Rung for Women provides childcare and wellness programming, as well as personal finance coaching and domestic violence services. Since its founding in 2010, Rung for Women has grown and now operates on a $20 million campus, and Hogan’s ultimate goal is to empower women to grow and achieve sustained independence through co-located and coordinated educational, professional and economic resources.