Leawood has been Mayor Peggy Dunn’s home for nearly 40 years. For 20 of those years, she has had the honor of serving as mayor. She has had the opportunity to serve on numerous community boards and to be involved with many fundraising events, encompassing social service organizations, the arts, education, health care and a variety of civic institutions. Some of those near and dear to her heart include Truman Medical Centers, Children’s Mercy Hospital, St. Luke’s South, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Starlight Theatre, Union Station, United Way and the Salvation Army.
She is inspired by her faith and her family—in particular, her mother, dear husband, children and 14 grandchildren along with other family members, as well as many friends and colleagues.
Her advice for young women is to become involved by volunteering for causes they feel passionate about. Not only will they have the opportunity to develop good leadership skills, but they may also gain lifelong friendships with like-minded individuals.
“I delight in serving the city I love and the nonprofits with which I am affiliated,” she says. “I feel extremely fortunate to find joy in each day, and strive to never take my wonderful life for granted.”
Gayle Jagoda has been a dedicated volunteer at Children’s Mercy Hospital for the last 22 years. With a background in education and children’s theater, she was able to bring her previous experience and expertise to the patients and families at the hospital. She organizes crafts and games, which often can bring joy to a sick child and help them forget their infirmity for a while and immerse themselves in a project or activity.
While on the hematology floor for 12 years, she got to know children with sickle cell anemia. Because these patients returned periodically for treatments, she knew many of them from elementary school age until their high school graduations, which she attended.
Gayle is currently serving on the surgery and burn floor where she rocks babies and encourages sick children to participate in something enjoyable.
“I am fortunate to meet and work with many truly amazing families.”
Janet Fournier, a Realtor and miracle agent, donates a portion of each sale she makes to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The money donated locally stays in the community, and her clients are sent a card that a donation was made in their name when their transaction is complete.
Janet’s passion in life is connecting women, and she has been very fortunate to develop an invaluable circle of women around her. In her experience, once you find inner happiness, you can spread that love and joy without expecting anything in return.
“I challenge myself to learn something new every year,” she says. “This has included earning my pilot’s license, finishing my degree, learning to scuba dive, walking across hot coals and jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. I encourage everyone to keep growing and trying new things.”
Rhea Pimentel has lived in Leawood for more than 15 years with her husband, two daughters and a miniature poodle. She is a cardiologist specializing in heart rhythm problems at the University of Kansas Medical Center and is the director of the Electrophysiology Laboratory and the Fellowship Program director. In addition to caring for patients, she also serves on various hospital committees and as an educator for physicians training in cardiology.
Her favorite part of her job is interacting with people and being able to offer them some help. Each person that she sees is seeking her expertise, but they are also looking for guidance, support and reassurance. It is very important to her to make a personal connection with all of her patients so that she can treat the whole person.
She is inspired every day by the amazing support of her family, especially her husband who has made many sacrifices for her career while maintaining a thriving career of his own.
“I strongly believe that the best way to lead is by example,” she says. “If you want to teach your children an important lesson, you must live it yourself. “
Katie Fitzgerald has been involved with a number of organizations over the years, but has found that the ones that she enjoys working with the most are the ones involving kids. She served on the Crittenton Children’s Center Board and volunteered with the Boys & Girls Clubs and The Children’s Place, all of which focus on helping youth.
Katie strives to be the best at whatever it is that she is setting out to do that day and is thankful for all of the gifts God has given her and her family.
Katie looks up to her mom—Mayor Perggy Dunn—more than anyone.
“She is a hard worker and expects no recognition in return for all she does for our community,” she says. “She simply does things because they are the right thing to do.”
Katie’s advice to other women is to be an active participant in something you are passionate about.
“The more effort you put into something, the more you will get out of it!”
Jen Bjorem, a speech-language pathologist and owner of Children’s Therapy Services, lives every day with the goal of educating and empowering families, and dedicating time for a genuine connection to make a difference. Jen is raw, innovative, driven, compassionate and authentic and gives back to the community in a number of ways including by providing free screenings to nonprofits and supporting The Halo Project and its community outreach program, The Sensory Table.
As a mother of a child with a learning disability, she can personally relate to many of the fears, frustration and sadness that the parents have when they walk through her door.
“I am lucky enough to get to see the inner spirit of a parent who will do whatever it takes to help their child succeed.”
Barb Trum is a member of St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church and volunteer for Catholic Community Hospice ministering as an 11th-hour angel. Her role as an angel is simply to love, comfort and walk with those in their final hours. She has been graced and humbled by many end-of-life God moments. Her dog, Maisy, also is on the hospice team volunteering with pet visits.
As Mother Teresa would say, “Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.”
Barb and her husband, Greg, have made several trips to India as well.
“The children and elderly truly touch our souls, and we show them we are only the hands and heart of Jesus.”
They live by Mother Teresa’s motto, “A drop in the ocean is better than no drop at all.”