80th Annual Achievement Day

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Join us for the 80th Annual Achievement Day Dinner and Celebration!
5:30 p.m. Registration and Reception
6:30 p.m. Dinner and Program
Downtown Kansas City Marriott Muehlebach Tower


    Citation for Achievement Honorees

    We are proud to present three accomplished William Jewell graduates with the 2024 Citation for Achievement.

    John Gill portraitJohn Gill, ’79
    President, Gill Grain Company
    Managing General Partner, Gill Family Investments, LP





    Lilia Toson portraitLilia Toson, ’07
    Attorney-in-Charge, Civil Citywide Units
    The Legal Aid Society




    Craig Zahnd portraitCraig Zahnd, ’89
    Senior Vice President and General Counsel
    Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City




    The Critical Thinker of the Year Award

    silhouette of person with question mark over faceThis award encompasses William Jewell College’s seven attributes of a Critical Thinker: analytical, passionate, creative, problem solver, humanitarian, truth seeking and innovative. Jewell will honor a Kansas City citizen who embraces these qualities for the betterment of our community. In 2023, we presented the award to Rev. Adam Hamilton, founding pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, one of the country’s most influential mainline churches. He is a respected thought leader on a national level and helps cultivate lifelong learners throughout Kansas City.

    Check back soon for the announcement of our 2024 recipient!

    “Every year William Jewell College produces hundreds of qualified graduates and engaged citizens who make Kansas City their home. We hope you will join us in supporting these students and the College.”

    Corporate Sponsor Committee Chair Shanna (Hilt) Adamic, ’02

    Meet the Honorees

    • John Gill, '79

      President, Gill Grain Company; Managing General Partner, Gill Family Investments, LP

      John Gill, ’79, is president of Gill Grain Company and managing general partner of Gill Family Investments, LP. Gill Grain Company is situated on a 3,000-acre family farm near Richmond in the Missouri River Valley. The Gill Family Investments, LP, oversees oil and natural gas investments in Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado and other investments. In support of the farm operations, Gill serves as an officer of multiple levee and drainage districts in northwest Missouri. He is responsible for emergency operations during flood events marshalling federal, state and local resources to mitigate flood risk from the Missouri River and its tributaries. During his 11 years on the Jewell Board of Trustees, he served as Finance Committee chair as Board chair.

      Gill graduated from Jewell with bachelor’s degrees in business administration and economics. He also graduated from the University of Missouri Agricultural Leadership Training Program. While at Jewell, he participated in several music programs including Concert Band, Liberty Symphony Orchestra and Cardinal Brass, played intramural sports and was a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia music fraternity.

      He has been an active member of Rotary International where he has served as president of the Richmond Club, district governor, representative to the 2019 Rotary Council on Legislation and as chair of the District Rotary Foundation. He is the recipient of The Rotary Foundation’s Citation for Meritorious Service and Jewell’s Alumni Board of Governors’ 2023 Distinguished Alumni Service Award.

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    • Lilia Toson, '07

      Attorney-In-Charge – Civil Citywide Units, Legal Aid Society

      Lilia Toson, ’07, is a civil rights lawyer and advocate for justice. She is the attorney-in-charge of Civil Citywide Units at the Legal Aid Society in New York City, the nation’s oldest and largest not-for-profit legal services organization. In this role, she represents the interests of low-income people through lobbying and policy litigation, including on matters of national importance. She previously handled cases regarding civil and constitutional rights as an assistant attorney general for New York State and served as senior counsel in the Affirmative Litigation Division of the New York City Law Department, an associate at Cleary Gottlieb and a clerk for Judge Duane Benton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

      Toson studied political science at Jewell where she was involved in UNITY and excelled in debate, earning the top speaker in the nation at the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence. She attained her J.D. from New York University School of Law.

      She serves as the vice chair of Artistic Noise, a Harlem-based nonprofit that brings the power of artistic practice to system-involved youth and others throughout the community. She was awarded the 2017 New York City Bar Municipal Affairs Award, the 2019 National Bar Association’s “40 under 40” award and the 2021 New York Law Journal’s Rising Stars Award. Also in 2021, she was the Women inPower Fellow at the 92nd Street Y Belfer Center for Innovation and Social Impact. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Reuters, the New York Law Journal, Law360 and other national and local media.

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    • Craig Zahnd, '89

      Senior Vice President, General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer – Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

      Craig Zahnd, ’89, has more than 30 years of legal experience. He joined the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in 2019 as senior vice president, general counsel, chief ethics officer and chief compliance officer. He leads the Bank’s Legal, Governance and Public Affairs Division and serves on the Bank’s Management Committee. He previously served as managing director and general counsel of the Americas at Swiss Reinsurance Company, managing a team of attorneys on a variety of legal and regulatory matters. Prior to Swiss Re, Zahnd served in legal roles at GE Capital and Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP.

      Zahnd graduated from Jewell with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management. While at Jewell, he served as Student Senate president, was a member of Aeons men’s honorary fraternity, Mortar Board honor society, recipient of the Bill “Pee Wee” Summers Award (the “Senior Male Who Will Walk the Farthest”) and the Wall Street Journal Business Award. He earned his J.D. from University of Virginia School of Law.

      He has served on the community support committee for Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA) since 2014, was an officer for the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce for five years and completed 10 years of service on the Jewell Board of Trustees, including the role of vice chair. His Jewell family legacy includes more than a dozen alumni and spans three generations, starting with his father, Larry Zahnd, ’55. Craig and his wife, Deana (McCrossen) Zahnd, ’88, have two sons, Andrew and Jewell alumnus Adam, ’22, and Deana’s father is Jewell Trustee Emeritus Rev. Jim McCrossen.

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    Sponsorship Opportunities

    Visit our sponsors page to complete your sponsorship online, or purchase a patron ticket here.

    • Presenting Sponsor – $25,000

      • Prominent Recognition in Event Invitation Emails, Dinner Program and Slideshow
      • Prominent Recognition in Event Publicity, Verbal Stage Recognition and Recognition on Social Media (1 Dedicated Post)
      • Priority Seating for Table of 8 and 2 Valet Parking Passes

      Presenting Sponsors:
      Steven Karbank
      Mark and Karen Mathes, Jared and Mary Mathes
      Marise Stewart, together with her ZTA Sisters

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    • Grand Underwriter – $15,000

      • Prominent Recognition in Event Invitation Emails, Dinner Program and Slideshow
      • Prominent Recognition in Event Publicity and on Social Media (1 dedicated post)
      • Priority Seating for Table of 8  and 2 Valet Parking Passes
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    • Underwriter – $10,000

      • Prominent Recognition in Event Invitation Emails, Dinner Program and Slideshow
      • Recognition in Event Publicity and on Social Media (1 dedicated post)
      • Priority Seating for Table of 8  and 1 Valet Parking Passes

      ECCO Select
      The Ever Glades Fund
      Gautreaux Family Fund
      Muriel McBrien Kauffman Family Foundation
      Premier Network, LLC
      Dianne C. Shumaker

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    • Celebration Sponsor – $7,500

      • Prominent Recognition in Event Invitation Emails, Dinner Program and Slideshow
      • Recognition in Event Publicity and on Social Media (1 dedicated post)
      • Priority Seating for Table of 8  and 1 Valet Parking Passes
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    • Benefactor Sponsor – $5,000

      • Recognition in Event Invitation Emails, Dinner Program and Slideshow
      • Priority Seating for Table of 8

      Benefactor Sponsors:
      American Public Square at Jewell
      Bradco Incorporated
      Charles and Susan Chambers
      Commerce Bank
      Tyler Griffin
      Husch Blackwell, LLP
      JE Dunn Construction Company
      KPMG LLP
      Russ and Melanie Cline Family Foundation
      David and Julie Warm
      Joanne Webster

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    • Ambassador Sponsor – $3,000

      • Recognition in Event Invitation Emails, Dinner Program and Slideshow
      • Seating for Table of 8

      Ambassador Sponsors:
      Arvest Bank
      Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City
      John and Melissa Dowling
      Edmond Dental & Implant Assoc., Matthew J. Holloman
      Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Alumni
      Fresh Ideas
      Gilmore & Bell, P.C.
      Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce
      Guadalupe Centers
      Jeff and Sarah Hon
      Kapke Willerth
      KCUR 89.3 / 91.9 Classical KC
      Liberty Hospital
      McConnell & Associates
      The Miller Group
      Perspective Architecture + Design
      Brian and Holly Place
      Shirley Neff Pryor
      Chris and KC Rosson
      Jim and Lisa Shoemaker
      Spencer Financial
      Rein Staal
      Steve and Sandra Stites
      Strickland Construction
      Craig and Deana Zahnd
      Eric and Tracy Zahnd
      Zipco Restoration


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    • Scholars Sponsor – $1,000

      • Recognition in Event Invitation Emails and Dinner Program
      • 2 Individual Tickets

      Scholars Sponsors:
      Kristie Holder Agee
      David and Amy Anderson
      Jill and Marshall Dean
      Stephen Hemphill
      Illig Family Foundation
      Larry and Debbie Harman
      Shirley and Barnett Helzberg, Jr.
      Lynn and Carol Hogue
      David Israelite
      Tim and Jorja Krause
      Tom and Jan Kreamer
      Mr. and Mrs. Gregory E. Lund
      Barbara Koval Nelson
      Jim and Marcia Pierce
      David and Mary Powell


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    • Patron Ticket – $250

      Includes complimentary parking.

      > Purchase a Patron Ticket

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    Event Leadership