Steve Edwards, President and CEO of CoxHealth, has been named the 2020 Humanitarian for his leadership and advocacy on behalf of southwest Missourians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Edwards has shown forthrightness and compassion in informing the community, advocating for best practices to protect the region and personally seeding a philanthropic fund to support employees affected by the virus — all while leading the CoxHealth staff in adding and repurposing facilities and securing equipment and supplies to respond to the pandemic.
The 35th person to receive the award over 31 years, Edwards was nominated by Morey Mechlin, an active civic volunteer and retired Executive Director of Care to Learn.
“During the most uncertain time in our lives, Steve Edwards has exhibited all of the qualities that make him the Humanitarian of the Year,” Mechlin said. “While Steve has always been recognized as a leader in the health community, he used his position, education, business acumen and personal contacts — at great personal and professional risk — to lead our community through the COVID-19 crisis.”
For the first time this year, the CFO is partnering with the Association of Fundraising Professionals-Ozarks Region Chapter to present the Humanitarian Award as part of the National Philanthropy Day celebration on Nov. 10, which will recognize deserving individuals and organizations in many facets of philanthropy. The event will take place virtually out of respect for community health protocols. The public is invited to join the celebration at facebook.com/AfpOzarksRegion or cfozarks.org/npdvideo.
The Humanitarian Award was founded in 1990 by the late Springfield donor Jewell Thompson Schweitzer to honor individuals in our region who excel at serving others in a humanitarian capacity. The Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce organizes a committee to review nominations and select the annual recipient.
This year’s selection committee was chaired by Chamber Chairman-elect Logan Aguirre and comprised of David Atkisson, Pastor Chantha Chhim, Brandy Harris, Dr. Jason Leininger, Jamie Trussell and Pastor Phillip Wright.
Edwards began working at Cox in high school as an orderly and grounds crew attendant. He has served in a number of roles before being named President and CEO in 2012. He also worked at Baylor University Medical Center and Barnes-Jewish Hospital before returning to Cox in 1992. He is a graduate of Drury University with a master’s degree from Washington University School of Medicine. His community involvement roles include Community Blood Center of the Ozarks, Voluntary Hospitals of America, Missouri Hospital Association, Springfield-Greene County Health Commission, Drury University and Burrell Center.
Edwards will receive a $5,000 cash award, which he plans to donate to the Springfield Center for Dyslexia and Learning.
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