Philanthropic Women for Education

Philanthropic Women
Members of the Philanthropic Women for Education group helped furnish this classroom in Looney Hall on the Missouri State University-West Plains campus. The project is one of many the group has funded since its formation in 2003. From left are Andi Vaini, Marty Henry, Elizabeth Grisham Bennett, Janice Bowden, Inez Pahlmann, Jeanette Grisham and Brenda Smith, all of West Plains.

Women are becoming the rising tide in philanthropy. Studies show women are emerging as philanthropy decision makers, partially because women are increasingly the major bread winner in the family, and partially because they frequently outlive their spouses and are left with major financial decisions. Today, women view philanthropy not only as giving but also as investing in change, investing in the future and investing in causes that are personally meaningful.

Background and Membership

Philanthropic Women for Education was formed in 2003 as a way to support Missouri State University-West Plains in its mission by expanding the involvement of women as philanthropists. New members are asked to make a gift of $1,000 per year for a five or ten-year period. Those members who have completed at least a five-year pledge may renew their membership annually for $1,000 a year.

A junior membership is available to those under 40. Each junior member is asked to make a gift of $500 annually (or monthly payments of $50) for a minimum three-year period.


The group meets three times a year. Meetings include guest speakers and an opportunity to talk with prospective members. During the final meeting of the year, the group reviews proposals submitted by University faculty and staff and then votes on which projects to recommend be funded with their combined annual gifts. Junior members have one vote, while full membership is permitted two votes.


The Philanthropic Women’s group is helping fund the William and Virginia Darr Endowed Honors Professorship. This impacts about 100 honors students on the West Plains campus each year. Other projects have included funding tutors, equipment purchases and travel to conferences for various student groups. The group also furnished a classroom in Looney Hall, which serves as the new allied health building.

Please contact the development office at (417) 255-7240 if you are interested in joining this important group or would like additional information.

Why Join?

"I am honored to be a member to give back to the community by empowering others through a quality educational experience." - Brenda Smith

"I am a member because I am passionate about providing affordable accessible education for all.  I am a big believer in supporting this community and its future. I understand funding is limited and this group helps to enhance the educational experience." - Emily Grisham

"A blessed life is paid forward. You give back because people before you created opportunities with their gifts and service. You change the world one life at a time, one project at a time, one gift." - Regina Gleghorn

"Helping to change the lives of young students (or nontraditional ones as well) is very rewarding. It not only is a fulfilling way to improve individuals' lives, but also to change the economic climate of our community. We work in the background quietly, but very effectively." - Elizabeth Grisham Bennett

"As a teacher, education is a very important part of my life, and I want it to be an important part of everyone's life. Missouri State has given so many people the opportunity to go to college who otherwise might not have had that opportunity." - Mary-Louise Tollenaar

"I am a member of Philanthropic Women for Education to help the college have opportunities it might not otherwise have – especially helping out students and giving them opportunities to improve their futures. As a mom, I feel there is a need to help students and further their education in ways the college or a classroom can't provide." - Jacqueline Grisham


  • Elizabeth Grisham Bennett
  • Janice Bowden
  • Regina Gleghorn
  • Amy Grisham
  • Emily Grisham
  • Jackie Grisham
  • Jeanette Grisham
  • Libby Grisham
  • Connie Henry
  • Ashley Horn
  • Brenda Montgomery
  • Katie Montgomery
  • Inez Pahlmann
  • Kandi Phillips
  • Brenda Smith
  • Jane Streff
  • Mary-Louise Tollenaar
  • Valerie Williams