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Bill French Alumni Service Award

Honors Annie Presley for extraordinary contributions to UMKC

A mentor once told Annie Presley that if she stuck with “no lying, no cheating, and no stealing,” she would always come out all right. Sage advice coming from one of Missouri’s successful leaders, and words that stayed with the young woman.

And because of that advice, Presley turned a penchant for politics and public service into a career as a consultant and fundraiser for non-profit causes. And she did so by dealing honestly with candidates, clients and the media.

Presley (’95, Management) is the Bill French Alumni Service Award winner for 2015, so honored by UMKC and the UMKC Alumni Association for her extraordinary contributions to the University. She will be among the 17 alumni recognized at the annual Alumni Award luncheon on Thursday, April 23.

Presley grew up in Springfield, Mo., where her grandparents encouraged her to read the newspaper and then talk it over at dinner. The conversation often gravitated toward politics, especially because Kit Bond, Jack Danforth, John Ashcroft and Roy Blunt were familiar faces in the community.

Presley began working at the age of 13, and early on decided that it was more rewarding to work for causes you believed in and people who were decent. She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

She served as National Deputy Finance Director for President George W. Bush’s presidential campaign and produced several of his inaugural celebrations. She helped one baseball Hall of Famer raise $1 million for ALS research. And she helped plan and lead the capital campaign to transform part of Union Station into Science City.

After moving to Kansas City, Presley took night classes at the Bloch School of Management. A family tragedy derailed her pursuit of a Master’s in Public Administration. Presley worried that she wouldn’t finish, but a Bloch School faculty member stepped up to give her encouragement.

“Dr. Bob Herman helped me stay focused and saw me through to completion.”

Despite her busy pace, Presley wanted to stay connected with UMKC, not just her academic home but a place where she could use her abilities to benefit the school. As vice president of marketing and communications for the Alumni Association, she realized the organization was long on ideas but short on the resources to make them happen.

“We resurrected the old Walt Disney Classic Kangaroo, brushed him up a bit, and used the resulting logo on a line of clothing and accessories. Now the apparel line is generating income for alumni initiatives,” Presley said.

One of Presley’s greatest gifts is the ability to laugh at a funny story, especially if she is the subject.

“Jerry Lonergan (another active alumnus) and I decided to run in the Alumni 5K during UMKC Founders’ Week. It was a beautiful day, made more glorious by winning awards for our running times. We were pretty impressed with ourselves until we learned later that we were the only runners in our age groups. Nonetheless, we both proudly wore our medals to the next Alumni Association meeting.”

Presley enjoys being part of the UMKC Trustees, particularly because she interacts with the sharp young people who are Trustee Scholars. Presley recently joined the advisory board of Kansas City Village Square, a political discussion group that meets over dinner, just like those long-ago chats with family.

Presley recently co-authored a book entitled “Read This…™When I’m Dead.” The book has places for itemized lists of assets, property and family treasures. Presley describes it as “a guide to preparing your family, heirs and friends, for life without you.”

– and who gets the silverware.


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