The University Relations & Marketing team at Missouri Southern State University is under new leadership, with the addition of Heather Lesmeister as its new director.

Lesmeister, who began her duties at the university on Feb. 25, is a Missouri Southern alum and a familiar face to the Joplin community.

She comes to the university from the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals/Freeman Health System Development Office. She joined the organization in 2005 as development programs and events specialist, before being named assistant director of development and CMN Hospitals program director in 2013.

She is the current chair of Leadership Joplin through the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, a member of Kiwanis and serves on the Arts Fest committee.

“Heather is stepping into a role that is integral to how Missouri Southern communicates with its constituents, both internal and external,” said Dr. Brad Hodson, MSSU’s executive vice president. “Given her experience with CMN Hospitals and close ties to the community, she’ll help the university deepen our relationships and advance our messaging.

“We’re thrilled to have Heather join MSSU and bring new leadership, enthusiasm and a fresh approach to a high-performing team.”

Lesmeister said returning to Missouri Southern has been a welcome opportunity.

“As a graduate of Missouri Southern, I’m excited to return to the place that helped me develop my love for the arts and the skills I’ve utilized throughout my professional career,” she said. “This position will allow me to share my passion for MSSU and continue to help the university grow and flourish. I’m honored to return home to my Lion family.”