JOPLIN, MO. – Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Four States announces that the nonprofit organization’s long-time Executive Director, Annette Thurston is retiring at the end of 2023, starting a leadership transition over the next several months.
Annette’s decision to retire will bring to a close a career of nearly 26 years of outstanding servant leadership, compassion and stewardship to the Charity’s mission of creating, finding and supporting programs that better the lives of children and families.
Since Annette stepped into the role on January 1, 1998, she has overseen the construction and establishment of the Ronald McDonald House of the Four States program. With an even greater commitment to the Charity’s mission and values, the Ronald McDonald Family Room was established in November 2017.
Under her leadership and direction:
- Ronald McDonald House of the Four States, the Charity’s cornerstone program opened its doors on July 27,1998. Families of seriously ill children from 38 states and two foreign countries have been served. 3,569 unduplicated families have called Ronald House home for 35,873 lodging nights. Of the 386 houses worldwide, Ronald McDonald House of the Four States bears the unique distinction of being operated with over 100 volunteers.
- Ronald McDonald Family Room located inside Mercy Hospital Joplin opened on November 13, 2017, providing an oasis of rest and relaxation for 266 unduplicated families for a total of 1,607 visits.
- Annette guided her team during the COVID-19 pandemic, changing the way RMHC served families.
Following the 2011 EF5 Joplin tornado, the Charity partnered with Ingram’s Magazine, Kansas City to become a distribution center (a model being used in the current Maui fires disaster relief efforts), receiving a cash gift of $100,000; The Ewing Marion Kaufman Foundation awarded RMHC of the Four States $150,000 to be used to provide disaster relief for Joplin, Missouri.
In addition to overseeing the Charity’s programs, Annette worked with a volunteer team of area media to receive international recognition for its Public Relations campaigns; local recognitions include the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce Nonprofit of the Year, KOAM Four States Finest, The Joplin Globe Favorites of the Four States, and more.
Her work has earned her selection as one of the area’s Most Influential Women, A Woman of Distinction Award, among others. Annette’s community involvement extends to serving on the board of directors of various service, art, and cultural organizations.
“Annette announced her decision to retire to the Board of Directors in July, giving plenty of time to prepare the organization for her departure,” said Paula Baker, President and CEO of Freeman Health System and Chair for the Charity’s Succession Planning Committee. “We are thrilled to be working with The Moran Company to conduct the national search. The Charity has been blessed with Annette’s leadership. Our board is truly excited for her as she enters a new chapter in life and will be celebrating her service in the months to come.”
Learn more about Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Four States by visiting www.rmhjoplin.org or calling 417-624-2273.