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Dr. Marilou Joyner has earned three degrees from Northwest, in addition to serving on the Northwest Foundation Board of Directors and the Board of Regents. Recently, the Marilou Joyner Women in Leadership Scholarship was established in honor of her commitment to education and leadership. (Photo by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

Dr. Marilou Joyner has earned three degrees from Northwest, in addition to serving on the Northwest Foundation Board of Directors and the Board of Regents. Recently, the Marilou Joyner Women in Leadership Scholarship was established in honor of her commitment to education and leadership. (Photo by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

Jan. 18, 2022

Alumna establishes scholarship to honor longtime educator, former Board of Regents chair


A Northwest Missouri State University alumna has created an annual scholarship in honor of another alumna of the University as a tribute to the leadership she exhibited as a woman in education, business and service roles traditionally held by males.

Hayley Hanson and Dr. Marilou Joyner (submitted photo)

Hayley Hanson and Dr. Marilou Joyner (submitted photo)

Hayley Hanson, a 1997 alumna who now serves as outside general counsel for the University as an attorney with Husch Blackwell, recently established the endowed Marilou Joyner Women in Leadership Scholarship.

“Dr. Joyner is really a trailblazer, and I wanted to make sure she was recognized for all the work she has done in her career,” Hanson said. “I had the privilege to work with her and see that she is a leader in every sense of the word. She has the unique ability to make sure that everyone feels supported and, specifically, to promote women and persons of color who are looking at going into fields where they have been underrepresented. I wanted to make sure that her legacy continues, and I’m really thrilled to be supporting this scholarship.”

The first $600 scholarship will be awarded for the fall 2022 semester to a full-time female student at Northwest with a minimum 3.0 overall GPA. Priority will be given to a student who, in a short essay, indicates a desire to be a leader or has demonstrated an ability to lead.

Additional priority will be given to graduates from Albany R-III School District, Council Bluffs Community School District, Jefferson City School District, Maysville R-I School District, Savannah R-III School District and Stanberry R-II School District as well as Kansas City Public Schools or charter high schools within the Kansas City Public Schools boundary.

“The leadership shown by Marilou throughout her career – and Hayley’s recognition of this leadership – is a true testament of what it means to be a Bearcat,” Mitzi Marchant, the vice president of university advancement at Northwest and executive director of the Northwest Foundation, said. “Combined, the leadership and generosity of these two remarkable women have made significant impacts at Northwest and will continue to do so for many years to come.”

Joyner, a longtime educator in northwest Missouri public schools and a former assistant commissioner with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), is a dedicated alumna and servant of Northwest.

A native of Council Bluffs, Iowa, she had her first encounter with Northwest as a married, non-traditional student and became a mother while pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Education degree in speech pathology, which she completed in 1975.

“Once I became a student at Northwest, I felt like people took an interest in my success,” said Joyner, who began her career as a speech therapist in the Albany R-III School District.

Joyner’s early professional roles included being a school counselor in Albany, an elementary school principal in Maysville, a middle school principal in Savannah and the superintendent in Albany before joining DESE, where she served as assistant commissioner for seven years until 2001. 

All the while, she committed herself to furthering her own education. She completed a master’s degree in elementary school counseling at Northwest in 1978 and had her third child while pursuing her education specialist degree at the University, completing that in 1982. She later completed her doctorate degree at the University of Kansas and added a Master of Business Administration from Bellevue University.

Joyner served as executive director of the Kansas City Higher Education Partnership, and she established Blackwell Education Support Team with Hanson. Additionally, Joyner owned Cameron Group Care Inc., a business that included an intermediate care facility for developmentally disabled adults, individualized supported living units and vocational supported employment services, until retiring last August.

Joyner, who also is a loyal donor to Northwest initiatives, serves on the Northwest Foundation Board of Directors and was a member of the University’s Board of Regents from 2015 through 2020, serving as its chair during the 2019-20 academic year. She also has served on the boards of Literacy Kansas City and the Kansas City Public Library.

“I really enjoy working through collaboration to achieve a goal,” she said. “Whether working with a group, such as a board, or working with individuals, such as parents seeking the best educational services for their child, I tried to listen and be open to all viewpoints in seeking the right solution.”

Joyner was working with DESE when she first connected with Hanson, who was then working with the Kansas City School District. After establishing Blackwell Education Support Team together, they reconnected when Joyner joined Northwest’s Board of Regents.

“I am honored and humbled by Hayley’s desire to establish this scholarship, and I believe that she, too, is a trail blazer,” Joyner said. “Ideally, I’d like to think the scholarship will support young women in developing their skills as leaders. Leadership is not about popularity or having power. It’s about wanting to find a way to do what is right and then working to make it happen.”

The Marilou Joyner Women in Leadership Scholarship is an endowed scholarship that will be awarded in perpetuity and remains open to accept future contributions from other donors. To contribute to the scholarship, visit www.nwmissouri.edu/giveonline or contact Northwest’s Office of University Advancement at 660.562.1248.


Media contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704