Chamber building autumn

Chamber presents three Lifetime Achievement Awards

Meyer, Eilert and Birch honored for years of contributions

Published Thursday, December 7, 2017

Overland Park, Kan., December 7, 2017 – The Overland Park Chamber of Commerce has honored three individuals with Lifetime Achievement Awards for their many contributions to making Overland Park a better place. Recognized at the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Annual Meeting were Stan Meyer, Johnson County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Ed Eilert and Mary Birch. The awards were presented as the Chamber celebrated the 50th anniversary of its reorganization in 1967.

Stan Meyer co-founded the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce with Ben Craig and he served as its first president in 1967. He was involved in many initiatives in the 1960s and 1970s that helped advance Overland Park including advocating for the development of Interstate 435 as a direct route for Johnson Countians to Kansas City International Airport and the development of Johnson County Community College. Meyer is the former president of Rau Construction, a nearly 150-year-old company that has built many buildings in Overland Park and throughout the metro and is now operated by the fifth and sixth generations of his family.

Chairman Ed Eilert has devoted most of his adult life to public service, initially on the Overland Park City Council and as Overland Park mayor for 24 years, focusing on non-glamorous but essential municipal services during a time when the city experienced phenomenal growth. A champion of regionalism, he campaigned for passage of the first bistate sales tax that financed the renovation of Union Station and he has supported the work of the Kansas City Area Development Council and Mid-America Regional Council. He has served on the Board of County Commissioners since 2007 and has been chairman since 2011. Chairman Eilert helped lead the campaign in 2008 for a one-eighth-cent county-wide sales tax that created the Johnson County Education Research Triangle (JCERT) and he continues to serve as chairman of the authority administering JCERT. He helped achieve passage of the innovative public-private redevelopment of Meadowbrook Golf & Country Club that includes about 80 acres for a new county park in the heart of the city. Under his leadership, Johnson County weathered the 2008 recession in a sound financial position while not increasing property taxes. His reputation is one as a thoughtful leader, a conscientious listener to the public and a steward of community resources.

One of the most well-known people in Overland Park, Mary Birch was president of the Overland Park Chamber from 1984 to 2002. She led during a period of unprecedented growth when 62,000 jobs were created and 4,000 new companies located in Overland Park. She played an important role in many highly visible projects including the Sprint campus, Nordstrom’s, the Overland Park Convention Center, the 1999 and 2010 Kansas Transportation plans, construction of the Overland Park Chamber office building in Corporate Woods, creation of the Johnson County Education Research Triangle and the soon-to-be-built Johnson County Courthouse. She was the first woman in the country to earn a Certified Chamber Executive designation. She helped facilitate the Chamber’s government relations efforts and established relationships with elected officials locally and at the state and national levels.

During the Annual Meeting program, outgoing chairman Michael Tracy, OMNI Human Resource Management, reviewed the Chamber’s 2017 accomplishments and incoming chairman Brett Bogan, Spencer Fane LLP, previewed 2018 goals.

Also recognized were retiring board members: Joe Andrick, True North Hotel Group; Jarad Falk, Spectrum Business; Tim Kelley, Security Bank of Kansas City; Greg Musil, Rouse Frets Gentile Rhodes, LLC; Ryan Reeves, UnitedLex Corporation; Clint Robinson, Black & Veatch; Dr. Joe Sopcich, Johnson County Community College; Brad Stratton, Overland Park Wealth Management; Dr. Todd White, Blue Valley School District; and Lori Wright, Kansas City Power & Light.

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