Woman of Distinction Award


2010 Woman of Distinction Recipient

2010 Student Woman of Distinction Recipient



Each year, during Women’s History Month, there are several events being held around Springfield honoring women and there is information on the table about some of those events.  Missouri State University schedules an entire month of speakers and events.  The Ozarks Alliance of Professional Organizations and Missouri State University hosts this Woman of Distinction event. This year the Alliance opened up a new category for the Woman of Distinction Award – the Student Woman of Distinction.  Several nominations for both the Woman of Distinction and Student Woman of Distinction were received and we would like to introduce you to the 2010 nominees.



2010 Ozarks Woman of Distinction


Nominee Name: Debora Biggs

Nominated by: Greater Ozarks – Business Women of Missouri



Bebora Biggs (center), Coleen Neil, President of Ozarks Alliance (left), and Sharmistha Self (Chair, Gender Studies Committee)



Debora Biggs graduated from Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree and a Masters in Public Administration.  Her husband, Mark, is the head of the Media, Journalism and Film Department at MSU.  They have two sons, Wyatt and Mario. 


While living is Branson, Missouri, Debora helped start the League of Women Voters in that area and when she moved to Springfield she served on the League of Women Voters board in various capacities.  She also helped develop the Election Training Institute that was provided by the League of Women Voters to provide training to individuals wanting to run for an elected office.  She was awarded the Gift of Time Award in 1998 for this effort. 


Debora currently serves as the Executive Director for the Safety Council of the Ozarks based in Springfield, Missouri.  The Safety Council is a chapter of the National Safety Council and serves 76 counties in Southern Missouri and Northwest Arkansas.  Prior to the Safety Council, Debora worked in the field of traffic safety and has been employed in the public and non-profit fields for the past 30 years.


Debora serves as the current chair of the National Safety Council’s Chapter Network, a group serving the 39 NSC chapters throughout the United States.  She also serves on the National Safety Council Board of Directors.  Debora spearheaded the effort to get Springfield, Missouri designated as a Safe Community by the World Health Organization in 2007 and was certified as a Safe Community Site Reviewer in 2008.  She served on the site review committee that granted Safe Community designation to Itasca, IL and is currently serving on the site review committee for Hagerstown, MD.  She participates in various local and state business and community related organizations in both Missouri and Arkansas.


Prior to taking the Executive Director position with the Safety Council of the Ozarks, Debora was Director of Traffic Safety Alliance of the Ozarks.  Debora was also Branch Manager with the Job Council of the Ozarks, City of Springfield where she managed a branch office providing job training experience through the Job Training Partnership Act; interviewed and evaluated individuals for eligibility to participate in the job-training program; developed and maintained partnerships with area businesses in order to provide jobs for participants. 


As Project Director of the National Screening Council of Volunteer Organizations she managed and implemented a local program providing health screening opportunities to area residents and coordinated screening locations by insuring adequate facilities, staffing and follow-up.


Debora has always been a positive influence and mentor for women in the Ozarks. 



 2010 Student Woman of Distinction


Nominee Name: Rachel Smith

Nominated by: Sarah Viehmann and Tracy Dalton



Rachel Smith (right) and Sharmistha Self (Chair, Gender Studies Committee)


Rachel Smith is currently working on a Bachelor of Science in Professional Writing degree, with a minor in Political Science. 


The Girls Scout code of honor began a passionate pursuit to be engaged in civic events for Rachel Smith.  In high school, Rachel was chosen to represent the school at Girls State.  In college she has wholeheartedly dedicates her extracurricular activities to civic engagement and found herself elected to various leadership positions as a result.  During her freshman year she became involved with Habitat for Humanity and helped rehabilitate an unlivable home into a secure home for a local family.  Despite the stress of working with three (3) other students to raise more than $60,000 she remained optimistic and diligent and the home was completed. 


Rachel was later appointed to the Public Affairs Week Planning Committee on campus.  As the Community Chair she was able to apply her involvement with Habitat through a Bear Build project.  That project is currently ongoing.


She established a rolling internship program and coordinated various seminars to aid the development of pre-professional students.  As a senator in Student Government Association, she worked to establish a student discount program, coordinate an alternative spring break trip, and research ways to improve the lives of students.


Rachel also looks for volunteer opportunities in other organizations.  She volunteers for the Southwest Humane Society and is a registered advocate for the Humane Society of the United States, ASPCA and ALDF. 


Rachel states that she has been blessed with “meaningful work experiences”.  During her senior year in high school Rachel was asked to apply and try out for Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA).  Over the past four summers this has allowed her to travel throughout the nation, and internationally, teaching and leading instructional camps.  During the course of a camp, the UCA staff instructor serves as a mentor, coach and friend all in one for the girls attending these camps.  Because of her connection with the Girl Scouts, Rachel strives to instill the same skills of motivation, leadership and empathy she has experienced receiving.  She received the rookie of the Year, Staff Instructor of the Week and Concierge of Missouri awards from UCA.  The award she cherishes the most is the “Best Big Sis” card given to her by Marceline High School.  Because of her work in the Writing Center at Missouri State University she has learned how to effectively and properly work with a diverse group of people and to take the appropriate cultural and gender considerations into account in a professional setting. 


Through a law degree, Rachel hopes to continue helping women and advocating civic principles.