Branton/Hall Community Collaborator Award
The Branton/Hall Community Collaborator Award recognizes an individual from the Greater Kansas City area who has played an active role in civic engagement, leadership, fostering a spirit of service to others, and promoting the spirit of collaboration for social good.
About the Award
The Branton/Hall Award was named in memory and honor of two JLKCMO members – Mary Shaw “Shawsie” Branton and Adele Hall. These two women dedicated their lives to making Kansas City a better, more inclusive, well-cared-for community. Longtime pillars of our community, Shawsie and Adele were model volunteers who worked tirelessly as catalysts for change, sensing needs in our community and then working diligently to bring the right individuals together to solve some of our city’s most pressing issues. As Kansas City’s only recipients of the Association of Junior Leagues International’s highest honor, the Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award, Shawsie and Adele believed that every person in our community, regardless of circumstance, deserves a chance to succeed.
This distinguished award honors Shawsie Branton and Adele Hall’s commitment to and passion for advocating, influencing, and convening leaders for positive change. It recognizes like-minded individuals who continue their legacy of creating positive social impact in Kansas City.
2024 Branton/Hall Award Recipient
Maurice Alvin Watson
Maurice Alvin Watson, co-founder and principal of Credo Philanthropy Advisors, LLP, has more than 30 years of experience in law, social and public policy and board governance as a lawyer, advisor and board member. He has been a partner and chairman of the law firm of Husch Blackwell, which is among the 100 largest law firms in America, representing public and private schools and school systems and colleges and universities, education advocacy groups, education associations at the state and national levels.
Recognized as one of the most influential leaders in the Kansas City community and in the nation, he is a frequent speaker before groups across the country and has been named among the 100 most influential leaders in Kansas City, among the 500 leading lawyers in America, and among the most influential Black lawyers in America.
Past Branton/Hall Award Recipients
2023 - Michael L. Weaver, MD FACEP, CDM
Michael L. Weaver, MD FACEP, CDM was honored with the 2023 Award. He is a board-certified emergency medicine physician, Clinical Professor Emeritus of Emergency Medicine UMKC SOM, and was a member of the Inaugural Class of UMKC’s Six-Year Medical Program. At Saint Luke’s Hospital/System, he was Medical Director in several roles: Level I Trauma Emergency Services Department, Life Flight Air Ambulance, Clinical Forensic Program, (caring for victims of elderly/child abuse, sexual assault, interpersonal violence, and trauma), and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. For 17 years, he has led Critical Mass Gathering mentoring for underrepresented minority medical students at UMKC, KU, and KCU. He’s President/CEO of Mission Vision Project KC, a 501c3 nonprofit which advocates for underrepresented minority students entering the KC healthcare workforce. Learn more about Michael’s contributions.
2022 - Sandra A.J. Lawrence
Sandra A.J. Lawrence was honored with the 2022 Award. With a 30 year legacy as a leader on the boards of some of Kansas City’s most mission driven civic organizations, including the Hall Family Foundation (1998-present), the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Kansas Bioscience Authority, the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, the Children’s Mercy Hospital Governing and Foundation Boards, Midwest Research Institute, and Turn the Page, Sandra’s accomplishments and commitment to Kansas City are commendable.
Additionally, her roles as an executive leader include 13 years at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics where she was Chief Administrative Officer, CFO and EVP (she recently retired); CFO and SVP of Midwest Research Institute (now MRI Global), and President of Stern Brothers Investment Bank. Her past corporate board roles include J.E. Dunn and Waddell and Reed. Her current corporate boards are Evergy, American Shared Hospital Services, Recology, and the Delaware/Ivy Mutual Funds where she is a trustee. Read more about Sandra’s contributions.
2021 - Mamie Hughes
Mamie Hughes was honored with the 2021 Award. A Kansas City treasure with a history of convening people for lasting, positive change, her accomplishments include being the first Black woman to be elected to the Jackson County Legislature, appointed by President Carter to ACTION/VISTA, and serving as Chair of the Black Economic Union and the Mid-America Regional Council Commission on Aging.
In 2016 she wrote her autobiography, Mamie Who? The Life and Times of a Colored Woman, chronicling her efforts against racism and championing women’s rights. Her commitment to civic engagement, leadership and collaboration for social good is legendary. Mamie hasn’t slowed down a bit – she’s currently working politically across state lines for candidates, serves as a board member for Kanbe’s Markets (a nonprofit bringing nutritious food into Kansas City food deserts) and is adamant about voter registration drives. See our video about Mamie’s remarkable life.
2020 - SuEllen Fried
2020’s honoree was SuEllen Fried. SuEllen has built a lifetime of work reflecting active involvement in civic engagement, leadership and fostering a spirit of service to others. The Branton/Hall Community Collaborator Award recognizes this lifetime of service.
Among SuEllen’s many accomplishments are founding STOP Violence in 1982 and developing the Reaching Out From Within program, which teaches prison inmates to change their violent language, actions and thoughts. Learn more about SuEllen in this video.
2019 - David Oliver
David Oliver was the 2019 honoree. “Practicing law is my profession, building our community, my passion.” David is a trial lawyer with the Kansas City law firm of Berkowitz Oliver LLP. He also has his own consulting practice helping companies diversify their boards and implement best practices in board/management relations. David’s civic activities include serving as a board member of the Alliance for Childhood Education, MRIGlobal, the UMKC Trustees, Teach for America–KC and the Missouri Advisory Board for Educator Preparation.
David has strong ties with the Junior League: his mother, Gertrude Field Oliver was president of the JLKCMO in 1944-1945, and he currently serves as a Community Advisor to the C3KC Committee.
2018 - Albert P. Mauro
The first Branton/Hall honoree in 2018, Albert P. Mauro. Albert was the former Vice-President and Secretary at Kansas City Southern Industries. Mr. Mauro was active throughout the Kansas City community, having served with distinction on numerous boards, including the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Truman Medical Center, the Downtown Council, the Visiting Nurse Association, Friends of the Zoo, Crittenton Children’s Center, Starlight Theatre and the Board of Regents at Rockhurst College. He received many awards and honors recognizing him for his tireless efforts to positively impact Kansas City. Albert passed away in November of 2022.
The Award's Inspiration
The Branton/Hall Community Collaborator Award was inspired by and created to honor two JLKC member – Mary Shaw “Shawsie” Branton and Adele Hall. These two women were recipients of the Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award, an award established by The Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI).
About AJLI’s Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award
The AJLI Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award celebrates a woman of outstanding leadership in The Junior League who has used her talents and resources to improve the social and economic conditions of others and who exemplifies The Junior League Mission and Vision. She has made a positive impact in her League and her community, and her volunteer work continues in the tradition of Mary Harriman. Through advocacy, collaboration, direct service, or community education, she embraces her community and makes a unique and significant difference as a leader. This award provides a contemporary link to our founder’s sense of social responsibility, as well as her ability to encourage others to share their talents through effective volunteer service.
About Adele Hall
Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award – 1996
Causes: Philanthropy, Voluntarism, Child Welfare, Education
“The Junior League is a wonderful opportunity for brilliant women to network – to find that this person has a strength that this other person does not have, but together the sum of the parts is much more than the whole would be without them.” – Adele Hall, 2012
Adele Hall (1931-2013) believed in a world in which children would be healthy and well-educated, families would have decent livelihoods, and all people, regardless of status, race, gender, or religion, would have decent opportunities to pursue the comforts of successes in life. Narrowing the gap between that vision and reality was the mission to which Adele devoted her career. After being named the first female president of the Heart of America United Way in Kansas City, she went on to found the Women’s Public Service Network to provide a forum for women in Kansas City to focus on social issues.
Guided by an enduring interest in children’s welfare and education, Adele served in leadership roles for the American Academy of Pediatrics Partnership for Children, Children’s Mercy Hospital, the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation Partnership for Children, and Crippled Children’s Nursery School (now Children’s TLC) as well as De La Salle and Genesis Schools.
Her commitment to creating lasting community impact was evident in her other leadership roles, including those for the University of Kansas School of Nursing Advisory Board, Junior Achievement, Negro College Fund, the Youth Volunteer Corps of America, the Library of Congress Trust Fund, and Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
About Mary Shaw "Shawsie" Branton
Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award – 2011
Cause/Issue Areas: Child Welfare, Diversity
“If there is a need, fill it. It’s not what you have, it’s what you do.” – Shawsie Branton, 2011
In her seven decades of volunteer service, Shawsie Branton (1920-2016) was hailed as a catalyst who changed the landscape – and the people – of Kansas City for the better.
In 1944, in her first Junior League volunteer placement at a school for physically handicapped students, she saw the need for a therapeutic program that would prepare preschool-age children with cerebral palsy for elementary school. Exemplifying how the League could provide value beyond volunteers and funding, she spearheaded the founding of the Cerebral Palsy Nursery School (now
Children’s Therapeutic Learning Center) three years later, long before the concept of “special needs” entered our consciousness as a society.
On September 29, 1953, a full year before the Supreme Court’s historic ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Shawsie and the nursery school’s board voted to integrate the school, giving disabled students of color new opportunities to succeed. In the 1970s, while serving on the board of Planned Parenthood, she was a fearless advocate for birth control, and in 1993, at the age of 73, she became the first woman to lead the board of the Greater Kansas City YMCA.
Shawsie was involved with more than 60 organizations in the Kansas City area and served on more than 30 boards of directors for groups as diverse as Children’s Mercy Hospital, the Harry S. Truman Library Institute, the Camping Connection and the Missouri Repertory Theatre.
Whatever her role, she fought tirelessly and compassionately for her belief that every person, regardless of circumstance, deserves a chance to succeed. Watch The Shawsie Branton Story for more information about this amazing woman.