By Amy Howe,

Photos by Mandy Edmonson*

The leaders featured on the following pages are some of the most influential people in our communities. They have a passion for what they do and are proven leaders across a variety of industries. Join us as we shine a spotlight on individuals whose remarkable impact extends far beyond personal achievements.

Show Me The Ozarks Magazine is honored to share the Most Influential People feature showcasing individuals who stepped up as leaders, influenced positive change and made a difference in the community this past year. They are community leaders, our friends and our neighbors. We hope you enjoy reading about and celebrating these truly inspiring people in our communities.

 PAULA BAKER,  Freeman Health System 

President and Chief Executive Officer 

As president and chief executive officer of Freeman Health System, it’s Paula Baker’s overall responsibility for the management and operation of the health system. 

Baker loves that in her field of work, she and the team at Freeman are fulfilling a very important mission. 

“It’s much more than just a job,” said Baker. “We are here for people when they are facing uncertainty, apprehension and stress. It is our opportunity to care for their medical needs, but it is much more than that. Just as important, is the compassion and caring with which we treat each patient and their family.” 

The biggest factor that has helped Baker be successful over the past year is, without a doubt, the amazing Freeman Health System team. 

“I have never met a more dedicated and committed team of individuals, across all spectrums of the health system,” said Baker. “They are most definitely the key to our success. They all possess great expertise in their respective areas. They come together in a coordinated fashion to offer the highest quality care and best outcomes possible. They do all this with compassionate and caring hearts.” 

This dedication was clearly shown in the handling of the global COVID pandemic. Freeman Health System was there for the communities as uncharted waters were navigated. 

Baker is incredibly proud to work with a great team, and the public continues to let her know just how great they are. 

“I think the most gratifying experiences I have would be when I run into patients at the grocery store or a restaurant and they share with me the incredible and compassionate care they received at our health system,” said Baker. “This happens on an almost weekly basis. These patients articulate to me how much they appreciated their doctors, nurses and other staff.” 

Alongside her role at Freeman, Baker supports the community in numerous ways but most notably through her active involvement in a number of not-for-profit organizations, which make such incredible contribution union to the local communities.

JON ABERNATHY,  Abernathy Roofing & Construction

Jon Abernathy loves seeing people succeed. As owner of Abernathy Roofing and Construction, Jon receives many questions from other roofing and construction companies seeking business advice. 

“I get weekly phone calls from like-minded businesses asking how to lead a team well, how to structure their business to bring the most productivity or what new innovative ideas they can incorporate to raise their bottom-line revenue,” said Abernathy. “It’s great knowing I can share my knowledge and expertise with others.” 

Abernathy isn’t afraid to jump in and help anyone, anywhere in his company. While he has been the owner for 22 years, Abernathy has physically performed just about every job within the company to keep things flowing smoothly. 

“We are structured in a way that I can be a helpmate to each employee to get their job done and done well,” said Abernathy. 

The biggest attribute to Abernathy’s success over the last year is not being afraid of change. With a total restructure from top to bottom, Abernathy has seen great change as a result and anticipates business to double over the next 24 months. Abernathy is also proud of the culture he has cultivated. 

“We have a solid team in place that makes everything I do worth it,” said Abernathy. 

Abernathy and his family have a servant heart and are involved in helping others. The family recently launched Operation Roof for Kids, a fund that gives back to local non-profits and organizations that benefit children.

BECKY COBB, WestCobb Alliance ReeceNichols Real Estate

 Becky Cobb is a team leader for WestCobb Alliance, a real estate team with ReeceNichols Real Estate. As a Realtor, Cobb and her team love serving their clients and helping their dreams be realized. 

“I enjoy helping people move forward with their lives and achieve their goals,” says Cobb. “Every buyer and seller is important because every transaction represents someone’s dream or need. I am honored to have the opportunity to help my clients navigate the ups and downs of a real estate transaction.” 

With over 15 years’ experience in real estate, Cobb is enjoying the opportunity to mentor and encourage newer Realtors. 

“I am proud of all the WestCobb Agents,” says Cobb. “They are all go-getters and love serving our clients. We are all especially thrilled that team member Stacey Thacker just received the Four Corners Rookie of the Year award.” 

WestCobb agents include Cobb, Candice Register, Lisa Schade, Stacey Thacker, Mike West, Amanda Hurn, Melissa Miller and Seth Hoover. As a team, they sold over $30 million worth of real estate in 2022 and again in 2023. 

Cobb is a wife, mother, grandmother and long-time area resident and is proud to know the Southwest Missouri real estate market.

DANIEL COWIN, Cowin Construction

 Cowin Construction is a family-owned and operated business, headquartered in Pineville, Missouri. CEO and Owner Daniel Cowin is one of three generations that works for the business’ day-to-day operations. The company specializes in residential and commercial roofing, but what separates them from other construction companies is they also do a lot of specialty copper and sheet metal projects. 

The Cowins love people and understand the importance of how great people make up their business. 

“I started working in the construction field when I was still a teenager,” says Cowin. “I would work with my dad on different projects and different work sites. I got to meet a lot of different people and very quicky I learned the importance of working with others and how to provide good customer service.” 

The McDonald County Chamber of Commerce selected Cowin Construction as Small Business of the Year for 2023. 

“It was a proud moment not only for me but for my family, and my team,” says Cowin. “We could not have accomplished that without our hardworking staff and team!” 

Cowin attributes his success over the years to people. 

“What we do would not be possible without people,” says Cowin. “We are successful by leaning on the expertise of good people. We have to have a good coppersmith to be able to do intricate beautiful projects, and we have to have someone able to communicate and run crews well.” 

Cowin works on several committees and boards in the community, alongside many of his family members. Cowin Construction greatly values economic and human development and sees great things for the community in the near future. 

BEN AND JANETTE CADE, Christine’s Vineyard

 As owners of Christine’s Vineyard, Ben and Janette Cade do more than sell wine. They manage the entire cycle of wine production from pruning and nurturing the vineyard to wine bottling and distribution. The reality is wine production is just a minor part of the real work the Cades do. 

“Our greatest efforts revolve around the tasting room, patio and outdoor entertainment area,” said Ben. “We stock wines, beers, liquors and our famous frozen slushies to satisfy a variety of tastes. We also provide live music and special events to entertain our guests.” 

The duo attributes their success over the past year to their growing customer base, dedicated staff and constant drive for innovation and improvement. 

“Our marketing and outreach efforts continue to expand our contact and engagement with our community,” said Ben. “Our partnerships and cooperation with other local businesses has also been a very important factor in our prosperity for 2023.” 

The Cades truly love hosting their friends and neighbors at the vineyard, offering a relaxed atmosphere where people can slow down, take in the natural beauty and enjoy each other’s company. 

“We are constantly encouraged and rejuvenated by the comments of support and appreciation we receive from our visitors,” said Janette. “We are especially proud of being chosen as the location for some very special moments in the lives of others such as marriage proposals, weddings and parties.” 

Their core belief is in the importance of bringing people together into connection. The Cades’ goal is to continue to offer the community a place where all are welcome and encouraged to relax while spending time with each other. 

DR. ALLAN P WESTON, FACG, Digestive Health Center of the Four States

 Dr. Allan Weston is a board-certified gastroenterologist with over 30 years of experience. He prides himself for being on the cutting edge of technology when it comes to cancer screenings. 

“One of the most gratifying experiences I’ve had was the successful completion of one of the largest national multicenter studies on early- and curable-state colon cancers,” said Dr. Weston. 

Dr. Weston has had the opportunity to work with the Mayo Clinic on advanced cancer screening studies, among other studies. He knows opportunities like this would not be possible without his staff. 

“My office, endoscopy center staff and the wonderful patients are the reason I get to do this,” said Dr. Weston. “We have built foundations, together, for current and future generations with respect to colorectal cancer screenings.” 

Dr. Weston plans to continue providing the Four-State population with state-of-the-art diagnostic and therapeutic GI-liver care for many years to come. 

ALLEN TRIMBL, Wayside Furniture 

 Allen Trimble has always enjoyed selling furniture, even at a very young age. He quickly realized how his store was helping people with the services they offered. 

“That makes you feel great knowing that you have truly helped someone and that they appreciate it as well,” said Trimble. 

Trimble started working at Wayside Furniture in 1985 and became the president and owner of the company in 2018. 

One of Trimble’s most gratifying experiences has been seeing the business grow year after year. 

“This past year we were able to help furnish the international lounge at Missouri Southern State University. Knowing that these students have someplace special is very gratifying.” 

Simply put, Trimble attributes the stores’ success to his employees and his great customers. 

Trimble supports the community every chance he gets. The store makes many donations to local non-profit organizations, schools and universities. 

MELANIE WAMBLE, Blacktorn Pizza and Pub

 Melanie Wamble has owned Blackthorn Pizza and Pub for the past six years but has worked for the restaurant for nine years. Wamble wasn’t always in the food and hospitality industry. She comes from over 13 years in the medical field, but Blackthorn has always been “family” for Wamble as her band, Brutally Frank, played multiple gigs at the venue over the years. After several attempts of Blackthorn staff to hire Wamble, she finally gave in and left the medical field. Wamble was quickly promoted to manager and the rest is history. 

Wamble loves the musical aspect of her job, too. 

“When people think of live music in Joplin, they think of Blackthorn, and I absolutely love that,” says Wamble. “We have bands from all over the country, and even some internationally touring bands that have played here.” 

Wamble is proud they only book bands that play their own original music. 

“I love finding fresh blood and seeing the excitement in someone’s eyes hearing a great band for the first time,” she says. 

Times haven’t always been great for the business, especially during a recession and pandemic, but Wamble has found a way to make it work. She attributes the help and success of Blackthorn to her amazing staff and her husband, who’s always handy to fix things that break. 

“I always joke that I hire lifers, because generally our staff is here for the long-haul,” says Wamble. “It’s very rare that I have a spot that needs filled. I love them all dearly, and I hope they know how much I truly appreciate each and every one of them. They always have my back.” 

Wamble is also a brand partner for Bravenly Global, where she sells high-impact, all-natural products formulated by a naturopathic doctor. 


 Alice Mangan is in the business of hope. She spends her time helping her customers find hope: hope of a different story than what doctors, genetics, society or family history projected or foretold. 

Her business, aliceCBD, has helped change the trajectory of her customers’ health—mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually—by developing and formulating products that offer relief and new hope. 

“Instead of increasing the number of pharmaceuticals my customers are on, I’m able to come alongside them to help decrease or eliminate altogether their dependency on medications,” said Mangan. 

It brings Mangan joy when she is able to watch her customers go back to work, start a business or just experience a better quality and joy in life. 

As a registered nurse and Army veteran, Mangan has spent a big part of her life helping others. In 2014, she started studying the anatomy and physiology of the body’s master regulator, the endogenous cannabinoid system, and ways CBD and other holistic approach wellness treatments can help people. 

“I study some of the most prevalent concerns and complaints of people who have been disappointed by modern day medical practices and pharmaceuticals,” said Mangan. “Many of their same concerns are ones I have suffered and struggled with myself.” 

aliceCBD is in its sixth year of business. With two locations and shipping to all of North America, Mangan is committed to continuing to help her customers. 

“I love hearing the feedback and the elation in customers’ voices when they feel it working,” said Mangan. 


 Nikole Culbertson loves helping clients find their self-confidence. As the owner of A Beautiful Image, Culbertson provides clients with laser hair removal and the removal of fine lines and wrinkles, acne scaring, sunspots, tattoos and much more. For almost nine years, Culbertson has helped many clients feel better and look younger. 

“Seeing a smile on my client’s face because of their new appearance brings me joy,” says Culbertson. “It means the world to me to know I am making a difference in their lives.” 

Culbertson’s work goes beyond the outer appearance. 

“I have clients who have struggled with different skin issues their entire lives, whether that’s major facial acne scarring or embarrassment from the amount of facial and body hair,” says Culbertson. “To be able to provide them with greater self-confidence is so important to me.” 

Culbertson attributes her success to the referrals she receives from her client base. 

“You come into A Beautiful Image as a client but leave as one of my friends,” she said. “Sometimes my clients say I am a good therapist.” 

When she’s not working, Culbertson is helping in the community. She provides sponsorships for many events and helps with fundraising with different organizations. Culbertson also enjoys spending time with her family and friends. 

SARAH PEAVLER, The Social Sip Mobile Bar

 Sarah Peavler loves being a part of her clients’ special memories and important days and works to ensure the services her company offers makes the evening or day perfect and unique. 

As owner of The Social Sip, Peavler brings the ultimate fun element to weddings, parties and special events by coordinating the alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage elements. 

“I feel I have a great understanding for what it takes to provide client satisfaction, as well as curating a beverage menu that guests will love,” said Peavler. 

Peavler has built a large network within the hospitality industry providing professional bartenders for events, and her business has continued to flourish year after year. 

“I simply couldn’t do this business without a team that believes in what we are doing,” said Peavler. “I have to give a lot of credit to them.” 

Alongside credit to her team, Peavler attributes her success to faith in herself and God for her successful business. 

Peavler is a big believer in community support and enjoys promoting and supporting small businesses. 

“I have a special interest in the Humane Society and hope to be involved in fundraising and furthering the abilities of our local shelter,” said Peavler. 

This year, business is looking bright for Peavler as she recently added a 360 photo booth to her services and plans to add additional wedding services in the future. 

BARRY LINDUFF II, Friday Night Fights

Photo by Drew Kimble 12-Eighty One Photography

 Most of you may know Barry Linduff for his work with Quapaw Nation, but it’s what you may not know about him that might surprise you. Linduff was a professional wrestler for 20 years. He worked for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and Impact Wrestling, among others. 

“I’ve wrestled hundreds of matches and held numerous championships,” says Linduff. “I don’t remember them all; however, steel chairs tend to knock out the information.” 

Linduff works several weekends a month providing contract work for All Elite Wrestling. 

As if that isn’t enough on his plate, Linduff is honored to be carrying on the tradition of Friday Night Late Night icon, Hank Rotten, and his movies. 

“Our new program will be called Friday Night Fights, where I will slip back into my alter ego, Mr. Saturday Night, and will host alongside Bubba Evansco and Howie Nunnelly,” says Linduff. 

Linduff enjoys that his days are never the same. 

“I love that in some ways, I’m able to bring people together,” says Linduff. “Building bridges with the community and the people in it leads to success no matter what you do.” 

Utilizing resources is how Linduff creates a successful environment. 

“This past November for Native American Heritage Month, we were able to partner with Show Me The Ozarks magazine for not only an exceptional article but an opportunity to launch a new blend of coffee and an educational component for the Joplin Public Library,” says Linduff. 

Linduff supports his community in many ways with many organizations. He’s also a proponent of open dialogue between local, state and federal politicians on Indigenous affairs and local matters. 

AMANDA DAVIS, Grove Area Chamber of Commerce

 Amanda Davis is no stranger to work in the community. And while she may be the new president of the Grove Area Chamber of Commerce (GACC), she comes with 17 successful years as the executive director of Visit Miami OK and the director of tourism for the City of Miami. 

“I am eager to get to work within the Grove business community and add value to hundreds of businesses and organizations that are members of the GACC,” said Davis. 

Davis loves working with people and being new to Grove, she is able to meet many great people. 

“Grove has been amazing and the warm welcome to this community is something that will always be special,” said Davis. “I am just so happy to be here!” 

Davis is excited to use her knowledge and abilities to help further economic development efforts in Grove and around Grand Lake, and her immediate goal is to use her strength of uniting leaders and moving everyone in a forward direction. 

“Building on great things in place with strengthening collaboration, teamwork, trust and strong communication will be a definite impression that I hope to make quickly,” said Davis. 

Her success has come by the support of her family and being surrounded by good people. Davis’ favorite quote is by Steve Jobs: “Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people.” 

“Without the support of my family and community, having this type of career would not be possible,” said Davis. 

Outside of work, Davis and her husband are active in sports activities with their kids. 

KATLYNN BISHOP, One 24 Boutique

One24 Boutique started as a small-town store that now has a large following across the United States. What once consisted of a single, small storefront has grown to include two large warehouses housing wholesale and retail products. 

Co-owner Katlynn Bishop attributes their success over the last year to their live-sales following. 

“When streaming our live shows, we can reach thousands of customers a day all across the United States,” says Bishop. “We ship over 1,000 orders a day on average to customers all over the U.S.” 

The boutique reached a Top 10 Status in the United States on their boutique selling platform in 2023. 

Bishop’s favorite part of her job is styling. 

“I love taking pieces that would be very simple by themselves and accessorizing them to make a statement,” says Bishop. “That is what makes One24 unique!” 

Bishop and her team give back in many ways. They support multiple local school sports and programs and also send checks every month to a cancer research program at the University of Kansas Medical Center. 


 When Taylor Swift is photographed wearing your jewelry, there is no doubt you’ve had an incredible year. What started as a small boutique in Joplin in 2012 quickly gained traction over the years as one of the most popular bracelet companies around, and when you have celebrities wear your brand, well, that’s just icing on the cake. 

Owners and sister duo Ericka Hamilton and Misha Wilson started their company, Erimish, to give customers the ability to mix and match single bracelets in the color scheme and material effect they desired. 

“All previous sets and pieces we bought for our boutique were pre-made sets and sort of a ‘take it or leave it’ situation as a whole,” said Hamilton. “We wanted to give the customer the ability to curate a look especially for themselves.” 

The best of their job is creating custom looks for customers as well as pairing colors and textures to create a unique spin on already available colors. 

Over the past year, Erimish opened its first location in Northwest Arkansas, something the sisters strived to do for many years. 

“It’s such a great way to showcase our product that doesn’t include going to a wholesale market or online,” said Hamilton. “Our customers can touch and feel the product and see just how exceptional the quality is.” 

Both Hamilton and Wilson enjoy giving back to their community, schools and local charities. They are dedicated to the Seneca community and donate much of their time to the schools as well as Bright Futures. 

See the full feature in the January 2024 issue