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story.lead_photo.caption Brian Neuner, the new chief development and marketing officer for Special Olympics Missouri, poses at the facility. Photo by Jenna Kieser / News Tribune.

In the 35 years since he graduated from Helias High School, Brian Neuner has worn a lot of hats.

He from journalism school at the University of Missouri, and worked as the sports director for KOMU-TV, in banking and in the auto industry.

Then, late last year, the Special Olympics of Missouri began a search for a chief development and marketing officer. A board member who had known Neuner since they were children pitched him the idea of joining the team.

"Like so many people, I was aware of Special Olympics. I just didn't have any details," Neuner said. "But I saw how passionate he was."

It didn't take him long to decide to pursue the opening.

And, although he lives in Columbia, his mother still lives in Jefferson City.

Neuner remembers his father was a long-time auto industry worker who commuted from Jefferson City to Columbia to work every day for years.

Now, he'll be reversing the flow.

As the chief development and marketing officer, he'll lead a team of 17 professionals in Missouri who are responsible for funding the programs and operations for people with intellectual disabilities across all 115 counties in the state, according to a news release from SOMO.

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He'll work to develop major gifts, sponsors, partners, special events, direct marketing, and health and wellness programming. Neuner is responsible for directing communications for the statewide organization and programs.

More than 16,000 athletes use SOMO programs to empower themselves to be productive members of communities.

"Brian brings great influence from community involvement, leadership and professional experience that complements our strategic plan as we look to grow all aspect of our program," SOMO President and CEO Susan Stegeman said in the release. "We know that he will be a great addition to our already talented team."

Neuner is a trustee for the Boone Hospital Center and has been engaged in SafetyNet of Missouri, Thompson Center for Autism, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Boys and Girls Town of Missouri, Friends of Hospice in Jefferson City and Children's Miracle Network.

With all that, Neuner said SOMO offers the most positive work environment he's ever worked in.

He'll use all his experience in the new position, he said.

"This combines all my professional experience," he said. "It's fun for me. I know I'm going to enjoy this job."