The four finalists for the 2017 Annie Baxter Award will be honored and the recipient named during a private luncheon at noon Wednesday, May 3, in the North End Zone Facility at Missouri Southern State University.

The media is invited to attend this special ceremony, which will bestow the award for the first time in more than a decade.

Established in 1990, the award is presented annually to a prominent Missouri woman who makes noticeable contributions to her community in the spirit of Annie Baxter.

Baxter was elected as the Jasper County clerk in 1890. She was the first woman to hold elective office in the state of Missouri, and the first female county clerk in the United States.

The last recipient of the award was former Jasper County Commissioner Anna Ruth Crampton in 2005. The recognition was reestablished this year by Missouri Southern’s Social Science Department.

After receiving numerous nominees, the finalists selected by a panel of judges for the 2017 award are:

Barbara Hogelin, who has served for nearly 20 years as Joplin’s City Clerk.

Melodee Colbert-Kean, president of the National League of Cities and a Joplin City Council member since 2006.

Eileen Nichols, founder and market master of the Webb City Farmers Market.

Stephanie Theis, founder and director of Children’s Haven of Southwest Missouri.

The event will be emceed by Dr. Ree Wells-Lewis, head of the Social Sciences Department at Missouri Southern. Nicole Shoaf, assistant professor of political science, will give a presentation on the legacy of Annie Baxter.