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2023 Awardees

Scholarship Winner – Mary Kathryn Davis

Mary Kathryn Davis is this year’s Carnahan Scholarship recipient. She is a second year Master of Public Affairs student, and a graduate of Mizzou’s Political Science program.

Mary Kathryn is from Kennett, Missouri, in the Bootheel, where she graduated as valedictorian in 2018.

As an undergraduate student, she demonstrated her passion for public service through working on homelessness and poverty on Mizzou Alternative Breaks, including working with Habitat for Humanity in Florida following a hurricane.

Ms. Davis has continued her commitment to service through her time in the Truman School by researching the impact of voting legislation while interning with Representative Emily Weber, who said:

During her internship in 2022, Mary Kathryn was a huge boon for both District 24 and the Missouri House of Representatives as a whole. She’s hard working, self-motivated, and an incredibly bright individual, and we look forward to seeing what she accomplishes in her career”

Supreme Court Judge Patricia Breckenridge – Law

Judge Patricia Breckenridge was born and raised in Nevada, Missouri. At the age of 28, she became the first woman to serve as a judge in Vernon County, was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 1990 and has served on the Missouri State Supreme Court since 2007.

Judge Ortrie Smith, also from Nevada, told this story of when she was filing to run for her first judgeship –

On the morning when filings opened Patty arrived at the courthouse before 7:00 to file. When she got there, there were four lawyers sitting on the courthouse steps. Her heart stopped. She thought she would have 4 opponents for her position. Her discomfort was palpable. Then we told her it was just our running club and we stopped by to wish her good luck.

Judge Breckenridge was named Woman of the Year by Missouri Lawyers Weekly, served as Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court from 2015 to 2017, and co-chaired of the Missouri Gender Fairness Committee. During the protests in Ferguson, Chief Justice Breckenridge accepted responsibility for an unfair municipal court system and led the charge for reform.

As one recommender stated:

“Both Governor Carnahan and Judge Breckenridge share deep roots and passions. Both dedicated their entire professional careers in service to the public. Both embraced a life-long commitment to equal justice for all and worked tirelessly to foster this equality. Both have made significant contributions to the advancement of justice for all Missourians.”

Congressman Tom Coleman – Public Service

Congressman Coleman has committed himself to public service throughout his entire career.

Congressman Coleman began his career in public service with the Missouri Attorney General’s Office in 1969. He has represented the people of Missouri both at the Missouri House of Representatives, where he was elected as the first Republican to ever represent Clay County in 1972, and later at the U.S. House of Representatives, where he represented Missouri’s 6th District from 1976 until 1993.

Congressman Coleman has continued his commitment to public service as an adjunct professor and Senior Advisor to the Dean at the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at NYU, and at American University. He is also the past Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the U.S. Capital Historical Society and is Trustee Emeritus of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. He has also served on the University Council Committee at Yale University, as well as a consultant for the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Task Force on Gender Equity.

Congressman Coleman has also published several opinion pieces critical of the Trump administration and their GOP allies, including a piece that famously called for Trumps impeachment.

Today, much of former Congressman Coleman’s work is in support of organizations aimed at protecting U.S. elections, including serving as an Advisory Board Member for States United Democracy Center.

Mr. Dale Wright – Education

Mr. Dale Wright has dedicated his career to helping promote and support education across Missouri and beyond. Mr. Wright’s work with institutions of higher education and the American Legion Boys State of Missouri has impacted the lives of thousands of Missouri youth and communities.

His nominator noted that

Before his professional achievements and the lasting impact Mr. Wright has made on education in Missouri, when he was just a poor undergraduate college student perusing his degree at Mizzou, “Dale was once a male model for the SEARS Portrait Studio at Columbia Mall. One step above Glamour Shots. That career was not successful.”

After he recovered from that devastating blow, Mr. Wright went on to earn a Master of Public Administration from the Truman School. Over the course of two plus decades supporting institutions of higher education, Mr. Wright has supervised campaigns that have raised over $100 million.

Mr. Wright also volunteers his time with the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, a global non-profit with the goal of championing education to transform lives and society. He has also supported Missouri Boys State for more than 25 years, including as a member of the Board of Directors since 2003, and a decade-long tenure as Dean of Counsellors. Mr. Wright first became involved with Boys State in 1993, when Governor Mel Carnahan delivered the keynote address. Today, Mr. Wright embodies the commitment and passion for education that Governor Carnahan shared with that room of young Missourians thirty years ago.