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State of the State 2020: Who were Parson’s special guest?

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — During his 2020 State of the State address, Gov. Mike Parson recognized 24 individuals for their achievements and dedication to moving Missouri forward.

It was Parson’s second State of the State address, he focused on themes that have been largely prevalent throughout his time in office: workforce development and transportation. But in addition, the Republican chief executive also rang in 2020 with a call for more educational opportunities and government accountability.

Read on for a look at who Parson invited to the annual address.

ASPIRE MO Graduates


Governor Parson recognized two graduates of ASPIRE MO, a workforce development program that provides entrepreneurial and job skills training to women who are incarcerated in the Missouri Department of Corrections. This 20-week program is a collaborative effort across Missouri State Government. ASPIRE MO provides essential financial literacy training and soft skills education to women while they are still incarcerated. Each individual leaves the program having created a complete business plan for a company they could start in the future. The program’s goal is to prepare current offenders for life outside prison, reduce recidivism, and increase employment placement upon release.

Emily Kirchhoff 

Kirchoff was incarcerated at the age of 20, serving 12.5 years at the Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic, and Correctional Center (women’s correctional center in Vandalia). During those years, she wasted no opportunity. Kirchoff not only participated in the ASPIRE MO program but also enrolled in a cosmetology program while incarcerated. She has completed her business plan for a salon called Radiance. Kirchoff is currently living with her sister in Independence and working at a call center that connects veterans to healthcare services. Having purchased a reliable car, her next goal is to move into an apartment of her own. When asked what ASPIRE MO means to her, Kirchoff said, “ASPIRE MO has meant a second chance at life. They have given me the tools, confidence, and support system that believes in me and wants to see me succeed.”

Nigaila Gibbs 

Gibbs was incarcerated at the age of 20, serving five years at the women’s correctional center in Vandalia. Dedicated to bettering herself and sharpening her skills, Gibbs participated in the ASPIRE MO program. Having a passion for working with dogs, her business plan centers around a dog grooming business called Too Fly to Fetch. She is currently living with her sister in Ballwin and working as a maintenance technician at Americold – a temperature-controlled storage and logistics company. Gibbs is working hard to save money so that she can secure an apartment of her own. When asked what ASPIRE MO means to her Gibbs said, “ASPIRE MO has given me the insight to solve things in life. They not only showed me how to be a business owner, they showed me how to own my strengths and be confident. This opportunity made the difference between success and defeat.”

Mayors and Police Chiefs


After multiple meetings in 2019 to discuss solutions to violent crime, Parson recognized the mayors and police chiefs of Missouri’s four largest metro areas.

Quinton LucasMayor of of Kansas City

Lucas was born and raised in Kansas City, spending most of his life in the urban core of the city. He served as faculty at the University of Kansas Law School. Previously, Lucas served as a Kansas City councilman and volunteer in local schools and organizations. Lucas’ priorities include making Kansas City’s neighborhoods safer, improving basic services, and fostering a healthier community.

Richard Smith – Chief of Police for Kansas City Missouri Police Department

Smith joined the KCPD in 1988 and has worked in various patrol divisions, including the Robbery and Homicide units, Tactical Response Teams, the Planning and Research Division, and the Kansas City No Violence Alliance. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice from Park University. Smith is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

Lyda Krewson – Mayor of St. Louis City  

Krewson is a CPA, previously serving as the 28th ward alderwoman, and formerly working as the CFO of an international design firm. Krewson holds a degree in education from Truman State University and an accounting degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Krewson is focused on reducing vacant buildings, cleaning up St. Louis, increasing economic and workforce development, and providing good service to all St. Louis residents, businesses, and visitors.


Judge Jimmie Edwards — Director of Public Safety for St. Louis City

Edwards holds an undergraduate degree and a law degree from St. Louis University. He rose through private and public legal positions to the legal staff of Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in 1990. From there he was appointed to the St. Louis Circuit Court. He was the Administrative Judge of the Family Court and Chief Juvenile Court Judge from 2007 to 2012.

Ken McClure – Mayor of Springfield

McClure served on Springfield’s City Council and was elected as Mayor Pro Tem. Before retiring in 2015, he served as Vice President for Administrative and Information Services. McClure was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army Reserves until he was honorably discharged at the rank of Captain in 1980. He has also served on the Springfield Good Government Committee, Missouri State Capitol Commission, and Springfield Chamber of Commerce.

Paul Williams – Chief of Police for Springfield  

Williams has served as the Chief of Police for the City of Springfield since July 2010. He also instructs criminal justice courses at Missouri State University. Williams both serves and volunteers on many advisory boards and councils. Williams was honored as Missouri’s Police Chief of the Year in 2015 and as one of Springfield’s Men of the Year in 2016.

Brian Treece – Mayor of Columbia

Treece has served as the mayor of Columbia since 2016. He attended the University of Missouri–Columbia. Treece previously served on the Downtown Columbia Leadership Council and as the Chairman of the City of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission. He has continued his efforts to work with people to create solutions to tough problems.

Geoff Jones – Chief of Police for Columbia

Jones was born and raised in Columbia. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Central Missouri State University in criminal justice. Jones has been with the Columbia Police Department since 1998, serving in such capacities as patrol officer, narcotics investigator, FBI Task Force Officer, and Commander of the Community Outreach Unit. It is his hope to lead police department staff to build relationships, foster trust, and address issues.  

Missouri State Highway Patrol and Division of Fire Safety


In 2019, Parson committed the Department of Public Safety personnel and resources to federal task forces in St. Louis focused on apprehending dangerous fugitives, stopping gang activity, seizing illegal guns and drugs, and preventing human trafficking. These task forces are a collaboration of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies that work in the most dangerous areas of the state. Parson also deployed Missouri State Highway Patrol Troopers to designated areas of the highway in the St. Louis area. In his speech, Parson recognized members of the Highway Patrol and the Division of Fire Safety who have been part of these efforts in St. Louis.

Sergeant John “Scott” Ashby – served the patrol for 23 years

Sergeant William “Brad” Sevier – served the patrol for 23 years

Sergeant Perry Smith – served the patrol for 25 years

Sergeant Tycee Williams – served the patrol for 15 years

Corporal Mike Autenrieth – served the patrol for 8 years

Corporal Barton Seymore – served the patrol for 17 years

Division of Fire Safety Captain Jason Dunn – served the division for 9 years

Missouri Faith Leadership Coalition


Parson recognized several members of the Missouri Faith Leadership Coalitiona group of faith leaders and civil rights activists who have come together to form a partnership aimed at addressing and combatting community issues. The coalition seeks solutions to a host of issues local communities face such as hunger, lack of affordable housing, and violent crime.

Reverend  Darryl Gray – Civil Rights Activist for more than 40 years 

Gray is deeply engaged in St. Louis civil rights efforts and is a leading member of the Missouri Faith Leadership Coalition. He also chairs the Midwest Social Justice Commission for the Progressive National Baptist Convention, serving eight states.

Imam Djilali Kacem – Iman at the Dar–Al Jalal Islamic Center in Hazelwood

Kacem heads the Dar–Al Jalal Islamic Center/Islamic Society of Greater St. Louis. Previously, he served as chairman of the Imam Council of Metropolitan St. Louis working with the Muslim community throughout the region.

Bishop Elijah Hankerson, III – Senior Pastor of the Life Center International Church of God in Christ (C.O.G.I.C.) in St. Louis

Hankerson is the senior pastor and founder of Life Center International. Hankerson is an active member of both the Northside Neighborhood Action Association and the Police Department’s Sixth District Community Outreach. He also founded the Institute of Ministerial Excellence and Training. Hankerson holds a Bachelor of Arts from Evangel University, a Master of Arts from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, and a Doctorate of Divinity from the Academy of Theology.

Dr. Steven Roberts, Sr. – Lawyer, Business Owner, and Civil Rights Activist of St. Louis

Roberts is the president and co-founder of Roberts Brothers Properties. Previously, he served 15 years as an alderman for the City of St. Louis. During his terms as alderman, Roberts was the chief sponsor of the St. Louis Center and Union Station developments in St. Louis and was particularly involved with major redevelopment projects for the city. He holds a Juris Doctorate from Washington University in St. Louis.

Reverend Clinton Stancil – Lead Pastor at the Wayman African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E.) in St. Louis

Ms. Bernice Jones 


Parson recognized Bernice Jones, a community advocate with Better Family Life in St. Louis. Jones, known as “Momma Jones” in her community, is an 85-year-old native of St. Louis’s urban core. Refusing to leave and seeing her community grapple with issues like violence, poverty, addiction, and homelessness, she has chosen to team up with faith groups such as the Missouri Faith Leaders Coalition to spearhead programs to help her fellow neighbors. Jones is a key member of Better Family Life – an organization formed to combat struggling communities and foster youth education, cultural stimulation, and economic development.

Missouri Teacher of the Year 


Parson recognized recently named 2020 Missouri Teacher of the Year Misty Grandel. Grandel has spent the past 21 years teaching English language arts at Fordland R–III High School. She has also taught English II, Advanced Placement Language and Composition, English IV, Dual Credit Speech and Leadership, Yearbook/Journalism, and Spanish. In addition to her many teaching roles, she has sponsored the Beta Club, student council, and foreign language club. She has also coached the ACT prep and academic team while guiding students in career planning and college applications. Grandel’s philosophy is “always try to say yes,” to offer the best chance at an opportunity for her students. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a master’s degree in communications from Drury University.