Every year, the Foundation recognizes a group of honorees into its Hall of Leaders program. The honorees have not only made a substantial impact on the contributing efforts of the work of the Foundation but also amongst those in their community. Past honorees are displayed on the "Hall of Leaders" wall, outside the Foundation office, within the Etta & Joseph Miller Performing Arts Center.
2019 Hall of Leaders
Outstanding Retired Educator
Mr. David Luther
For more than 35 years, David Luther has been active in public education. David began his career as a high school English teacher in 1984. In 2000, David was named the Jefferson City Public Schools’ Director of School-Community Relations, a position he held for 14 years before retiring in 2014. During that time David worked to build positive connections between the school district and community through quality communications and public relations.
In July 2015, David was asked to serve as the Missouri Association of School Administrators’ (MASA) first Director of Communications. In this role, David helps promote MASA’s message while also assisting school leaders in communications and public relations matters across the state.
David also serves as the Executive Director of the Missouri School Public Relations Association (MOSPRA), an organization dedicated to providing citizens with a better understanding of the objectives, accomplishments, and needs of the schools within their communities. David is the first Executive Director of MOSPRA. Previously he served as President, Past President and on the Board of Director for many years.
David is the owner of Luther Communications, LLC, a company that provides assistance in communications, public relations, research, and message development.
A regular presenter at both the state and national level, David provides keynote presentations, breakout sessions and workshops on the importance of quality communications, public relations, community engagement, mentoring and relationship building.
David grew up in Memphis, Missouri, and lived briefly in Australia. He received his undergraduate degree in Secondary English & Language Arts in 1983 and his graduate degree in Library & Information Science in 1995 from the University of Missouri, Columbia.
David enjoys cycling and mountain biking, plus creative writing and music. David is the voice you hear at civic and sporting events and enjoys emceeing for community events.
David has two children, Adrienne and James and resides in Jefferson City.
Inducted September 24, 2019
Ashley is a lifelong resident of Jefferson City and grew up in the Jefferson City Public Schools; starting at Belair, moving on to Thomas Jefferson and graduating in 2001 from JCHS. She went on to attend Auburn University earning a Bachelor of Fine arts degree in Graphic Design. During college, she studied French and art history in Aix-en-Provence, France.
After graduating from Auburn University in 2006, she worked for a publishing company in the Cayman Islands. She was fortunate to combine her love of travel and design to work freelance jobs for nearly a decade, taking her from Canada to South America and the Caribbean, before settling back at home.
After returning to Jefferson City she continued to do freelance graphic design for local businesses which included logo and branding work, advertising, in-house publications, and social media. She is currently only working for one client—their family business, Freeman Mortuary. There she is able to customize printed materials, restore treasured family photos, and design in-house materials to help communicate the many services they offer. She enjoys the challenge of making each person’s service as unique as they are.
In our community, Ashley has volunteered with many organizations including the United Way, HALO, American Heart Association, First United Methodist Church Foundation, and JCPS Foundation. Ashley was Vice President of Community Relations for the JCPS Foundation where she designed all the publications and was a leader in designing the Foundation’s website. She served six years on the Foundation Board of Directors. Ashley has continued to volunteer for the Foundation during Santa Day and for their annual Princess & Papa Dances. While she prefers to stay behind the scenes, she and her husband Co-chaired the 2013 American Heart Association Heart Ball and somehow she was talked into participating in the 2017 Dancing with the Stars to benefit the St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation. She was a part of the 2013 City Magazine Ones to Watch. Ashley is a Pi Beta Phi Alumni and a member of First United Methodist Church.
Ashley is most fulfilled with spending time with family and friends. She continues to love to travel, enjoys being outdoors whether it is playing with their children, camping with friends, or enjoying a round of golf. Ashley is married to her high school sweetheart, Ryan, and they have two children; Charlotte and Mack.
Inducted September 24, 2019
Christina (Chris) Duren began volunteering with Jefferson City Public Schools eight years ago when their eldest child started Kindergarten at Moreau Heights Elementary School. Chris served as a classroom mom planning room parties and other activities. Chris is currently serving her third term as PTO President. Over the years she has served on and led many PTO committees such as carnival chair, Head of Fundraising, PTO Vice-President, Hospitality, Field Day, Spirit, Teacher Appreciation, Breakfast with Buddies and other committees where needed. Chris has also supported the Counseling staff by being a part of the JCPS Counseling Advisory Committee for the past three years. She also enjoys volunteering for the Lewis & Clark Football program, as well as serving as a leader for the Moreau Heights Girl Scout Troop.
Chris serves her community as she volunteers as the Jefferson City East Association’s JCPS Liaison, sharing updates and news about the exciting things happening in the JCPS district. In September of 2018, Chris began serving on the newly inaugurated JCPS Equity Counsel, which focuses on ways to improve diversity and inclusion for all students and staff.
Most of all Chris enjoys being a supportive smile in school hallways, carlines and lunchroom by offering a positive presence for students and assisting staff whenever needed.
Chris works as Manager and Docent of Jefferson City’s Museum of Modern Art. Also, in her spare time, she teaches electives at Lighthouse Preparatory Academy and enjoys volunteering in their Fine Arts department.
Chris and Justin, her husband have been married for 17 years and have five children, Ezekiel, Gideon, Levi, Isabel and Jedi who attend JC schools.
Inducted September 24, 2019
David R. Goller (Posthumously)
David R. Goller was born on a farm in Jefferson City. Mr. Goller attended Trinity Lutheran School and then graduated from Jefferson City High School in 1949. Mr. Goller went on to attend the University of Missouri – Columbia where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, majoring in Finance and Banking in 1955. He graduated with his Juris doctorate at the University of Missouri School of Law and was admitted into the Missouri Bar in 1958.
Mr. Goller also completed a tour of duty with the United States Army during the Korean War.
Mr. Goller practiced law for nearly six decades. His expertise was in tax law, estate planning and administration, business and corporate law and employee benefit plans. Mr. Goller was a member of the Missouri Bar, the Missouri Bar Association, and Phi Delta Phi (law honorary). In September 2006, the Missouri Bar conferred the title of Senior Counselor in recognition of his long distinguished career.
David worked to improve economic development and education in Jefferson City. He assisted and advised clients with the establishment of charitable trusts, which would benefit the community for many years to come. In addition to practicing law, he was also a real estate developer.
David served on many boards as general counsel and in many leadership roles in the community and church. He passionately supported many educational and religious charities.
David enjoyed the arts. He was instrumental in assisting with the trust of Etta Miller to build the Etta & Joseph Miller Performing Arts Center. He commissioned a painting of a large mural, which hangs in the Miller Center, where many patrons can enjoy the different theatrical acts that are depicted in the mural. The Miller Center Auditorium is now named The David R. Goller Auditorium in his honor, because of a generous endowed gift to the Jefferson City Public Schools Foundation in December 2018. Mr. Goller is being recognized as a Legacy Donor because of his support to the district, Foundation and the Miller Performing Arts Center.
Inducted September 24, 2019
Missouri Society of Professional Engineers
The Jefferson City Chapter of the Missouri Society of Professional Engineers (MSPE) began a math-tutoring program at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in 2015.
With the driving force of inspiring young people to pursue mathematics, this free program continues to give students the opportunity to have weekly contact with people who use math in their careers while improving the students’ own understanding of various mathematical concepts.
MSPE is an individual member association that protects the public health, safety, and welfare by promoting and defending the engineering profession.
MSPE was created on January 9, 1937, to educate lawmakers on the importance of the engineering licensure law and be a networking forum for all Missouri engineers. The Licensure law remains MSPE’s primary focus to this day and remains to be the only active organization in the state that represents all engineering disciplines and practice areas.
MSPE aspires to provide continuing education, career development, mentoring and networking opportunities to licensed professional engineers, those on the licensure track and those aspiring to be engineers. As MSPE works to service future generations of engineers, and also intend to maintain and increase membership in the organization through recruitment, retention, reclamation and youth focus.
Thomas Jefferson Middle School is pleased to acknowledge the Jefferson City Chapter of the Missouri Society of Professional Engineers (MSPE) as a 2019 Outstanding Volunteer. This association is the first association to receive recognition through the Jefferson City Public Schools Foundation’s Hall of Leaders Program.
Inducted on September 24, 2019
Rebecca Neuenswander Welsh recalls hearing about the word “orphan” at the age of seven. She remembers the strong empathy she felt for children who didn’t have parents to care for them. Growing up, she continued to show interest in this and always felt called to serve children in need. She graduated from Jefferson City High Schools in 1997 and attended the University of Missouri. During her final year at Mizzou, Rebecca became a World Champion Martial Artist. Shortly after, she served 6 months with Mercy Ships in Honduras. It was there that she first met a homeless child and, she committed to fighting for someone other than herself. She desperately wanted a better life for homeless and street children.
At the age of 24, Rebecca started HALO, a non-profit that currently supports homeless and at-risk children all over the world and right here in Jefferson City.
In 2015, Rebecca suffered a life-threatening stroke that left her fighting for her own life. Doctors found a 2-inch hole in her heart that was repaired with open-heart surgery 2 months after her stroke. Rebecca claims that her love for those she served in her life kept her going. She says, “My purpose to help children in need has never been so clear. Fighting for others is my mission in life.”
Rebecca has received numerous awards for her work, including the Inspiration to Action Award alongside Oprah Winfrey. She has been featured in People Magazine, The Today Show, Variety Magazine, CBS Evening News, and many other national publications. Her work has been made into a short documentary, directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, as part of the Inspired by Women Campaign.
Rebecca is married to Kansas City native Eddie Welsh and has two sons and one daughter.
Inducted September 24, 2019