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News Release: Library Foundation Announces 2009 Pinnacle Award Winners

The Johnson County Library Foundation has named four outstanding individuals as winners of the annual 2009 Pinnacle Award: Doug Talley, Myra J. Christopher, Phillip Spencer, and Gaylon Umbarger.

The Pinnacle Award was launched in 2002 by the Johnson County Library Foundation to recognize Excellence in the Arts. The awards were expanded in 2008 to include three additional categories: Excellence in: Advocacy and Public Engagement; Entrepreneurship; and Literacy and Education which are special areas of emphasis at the Johnson County Library.

The 2009 Pinnacle Award honorees were selected as they demonstrate excellence in their professional field or philanthropic pursuits:

Doug Talley- Excellence in the Arts
Doug Talley, Lenexa, KS, has spent over twenty years in his dual career as an outstanding music educator, jazz composer and performer.  A highly-respected jazz educator in the Midwest region, he has served as an adjunct instructor for the jazz ensemble at MidAmerica Nazarene University and served on the faculty for jazz camps at Emporia State University, Johnson County Community College and Kansas City Kansas Community College.  His tenure in the Shawnee Mission School District has been marked by excellence and innovation, including an unbroken string of Division I ratings (the highest possible score) for the Shawnee Mission Northwest High School jazz band under his direction.

Myra J. Christopher- Excellence in Advocacy & Public Engagement
Myra Christopher, Fairway, KS, became president of the Center for Practical Bioethics in December 1994, and continues to serve as its executive director, a position she has held since the Center's inception in 1985. This role allows her to continue her lifelong mission to improve care for seriously ill people and their families. An author and frequent speaker on bioethical issues, Christopher has made presentations to such prestigious national organizations as the American Hospital Association, Group Health Association of America, the National Health Lawyers Association, AARP, and the American Philosophical Association.
Phillip Spencer- Excellence in Business & Entrepreneurship
Phillip Spencer, Leawood, KS, currently serves as Chief Executive Officer and member of the board of directors of Aplus.Net, a $30,000,000 web hosting firm head quartered in Overland Park.  Prior to joining Aplus.Net, Spencer served as President and CEO of Everest Connections, Inc., a Lenexa, Kansas-based cable, telephone, and Internet access provider that thrived in a market dominated by larger competition.  Under Spencer’s leadership, the company grew to more than $60 million in annual revenues and was named second-fastest-growing company in the Kansas City area by Ingram’s Magazine, and Ernst and Young.
Gaylon Umbarger- Excellence in Literacy & Education
Gaylon Umbarger, Kansas City, MO, is director of training for Literacy Kansas City, a philanthropic organization providing free, confidential, one-to-one and small group reading help to adults and older teens in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area.  He has served on the Literacy Kansas City staff since 1995, directing services to students and tutors, tutor training, in-service workshops and writing training materials.  Throughout his involvement with Literacy Kansas City, Umbarger has spoken to numerous groups, and has appeared on radio and television many times.                

The 2009 Pinnacle Award winners will be honored at a recognition dinner on Thursday, October 29, 7:00 p.m., at the Regnier Center, Johnson County Community College, 12345 College Blvd., Overland Park, KS.  Winners will be presented with their Pinnacle Award and provided with an opportunity to speak about their passions and successes.  The dinner will be preceded by a reception beginning at 6:00 p.m. Tickets and sponsorships may be purchased by contacting Scott Zerger, Executive Director of the Library Foundation at (913) 495-7579 or or visit All proceeds from sponsorships and ticket sales will support the mission of the Johnson County Library Foundation which is to build an endowment for the Library’s collection and to secure support for life-long learning programs.

Past Pinnacle Award honorees are: the late Joe McGuff, James Hamil, Charles W. Gusewelle, Gary R. Holcombe, Cynthia Levin, Leon Brady, David Hughes, Vivien Jennings, John Burgess and Dr. Robert W. Frye.

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