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Ann Bax gives back and looks forward

March 15, 2023 at 9:55 a.m.
The departing United Way president is beginning a new stage in her life (Photo/Shelby Kardell).

It’s always been Ann Bax’s goal to give back to her community.

The departing United Way president and CPO has always had a passion for volunteering and led the central Missouri branch of the organization from 2010 until this year.

“I just think it's something special,” she said about the Jefferson City community. “I think it’s the people. The people care about each other, they want to see each other succeed and people care enough to give back.”

After 13 years, Bax decided to step down from her position to spend time with her husband of 38 years, her children and their spouses, her parents and her grandchildren. 

“This decision was not an easy one and is certainly bittersweet. It has been an honor, privilege and blessing to be part of the United Way family,” she said. “But I will always be there for United Way and our community.”

About United Way

Way back when she heard the former president was retiring, Bax was immediately interested in the position and threw her name into the hat.

“I knew the good work that United Way did, and I was at a point in my life where my children were busy and doing their own thing, and so I had more time to start a second career,” Bax said.

A national organization with local branches driven primarily by volunteers, United Way looks for gaps in services in the community and partners with businesses, agencies, faith-based groups and individuals to find solutions.

Those solutions range from quickly mobilizing volunteers for the community to serving as a fiscally responsible manager with partner agencies. In the past several years, United Way of Central Missouri has done plenty of both.

“A good example would be when the tornado hit,” Bax said. Since volunteer work is a priority for United Way, “we felt like we were well-positioned to be the volunteer engagement coordinator and the information management… We actually had a new volunteer platform that we started right before the tornado hit and basically, it was a platform on our website that if anyone wanted to volunteer, they could go on our website and see what opportunities were available,” she said.

Partnering with agencies such as Ameren, Bax was able to distribute volunteers as soon as it was safe.

“So, it was a real blessing that we had that (platform) when the tornado hit,” she said.

Maintaining a vetted and robust system of volunteer platforms year-round was a key part of Bax’s role as president, which allowed United Way to respond immediately in crisis situations such as the 2019 tornado.

Bax’s other main function as president was to ensure United Way served as a fiscally responsible entity for her organization’s partner agencies, which became especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had to figure out what United Way’s role was during that time,” Bax said. “We had some businesses come to us and say ‘We know our business partners in the restaurant and bar businesses are going to be devastated by this. So, we want to start a fund to support their employees.’ So that was a perfect fit for us.”

As a fiscally responsible agency with infrastructure already in place, United Way was an ideal entity to manage such a fund, which helped businesses and agencies throughout central Missouri retain their financial footing.

“We feel like our community trusts us, that we’ve proven that we are a trusted entity and that our best focus and our priority is to serve the community,” Bax said.

Growing up with civic-minded role models

Bax learned about the importance of serving others early in life with her parents as examples. Both her mother and father were involved with the Mid Mo Samaritan Center throughout her childhood, helping to collect items for food drives while her father served on the board.

They also sought ways to participate in their church, serve on the Parent Teacher Association and volunteer in the school cafeteria. It was often simple, day-to-day actions, Bax said, that served as the best examples.

Both Bax’s parents are still involved in the Vitae Foundation, a non-profit in Jefferson City dedicated to saving the unborn. Her father, Don Schnieders, even started the annual barbeque that today is held at the Capital Plaza Hotel with nearly 1,000 attendees.

She remembers how it began, nearly thirty years ago, when the foundation came to her father asking for a donation.

“Well, I don’t have a lot of money to give,” she remembers her father saying. “But I’ll have a backyard barbeque and invite all my friends and you can ask all of them for money!”

It was a huge undertaking for her family, but it was just one of the many examples that instilled in her a desire to be part of something bigger than herself.

“We all want to see this community grow and thrive and we all have a responsibility to play a role in that and not just sit back and expect someone else to do it,” Bax said.

Looking forward

As Bax transitions into her new life, she plans to continue her part in taking care of the community — a role she takes very seriously. “I also want to help my successor and the remarkable United Way staff that will continue to serve the central Missouri community with the utmost of passion, hard work and dedication,” she said. 

Outside of giving back, Bax will be planning a wedding for her daughter, spending time with her friends and family, exercising and reading for the first time in a long time. “I just want to continue living life to the fullest and celebrate the gift of every day,” she said.  

Bax echoes United Way’s mission to support the community and the reasons it is important to leave a positive mark on the world. “When you do good, when you serve others, you leave the world better than you found it and it fulfills you. It gives you a deeper purpose in your life to be part of something bigger than yourself,” she said. “When you serve you definitely get more than you can ever give.” 


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