Pekarek Receives Highest Honor from Missouri Public Health Association

(Joplin, MO)City of Joplin’s Assistant City Manager Dan Pekarek recently received the highest honor given by the Missouri Public Health Association (MPHA) and was awarded the W. Scott Johnson Award. According to the MPHA website, this is the most prestigious award presented by MPHA to an individual for distinguished service in the field of public health in Missouri. The award is given in commemoration of the skills, integrity, devotion to duty, and constructive leadership which characterized the life of W. Scott Johnson.

Pekarek recently announced he will retire on October 4 of this year. He has worked for the City for 35 years. During this time, he served as the Public Health Director for 23 years and was appointed Interim City Manager in March 2019 through March 2020. He was named Assistant City Manager in June 2020.

Pekarek began his career with the City in 1986 as an Environmental Sanitarian (now known as Environmental Health Specialist) and worked in that position for about eight years when he was promoted to Lead Sanitarian of the Joplin Health Department. In 1996, he was named Director of the Health Department and served in that position for 23 years. During his tenure, he provided oversight and direction of the department’s operations and championed many public health issues through advocacy and education. Some of these issues include community water fluoridation, improved ordinances for the City’s Animal Control division, the City’s Tobacco 21 passage, and Joplin’s prescription drug monitoring ordinance approval in recent years.

He promoted healthy diets and active lifestyles for citizens, along with Community Health Needs Assessments conducted with affiliated health organizations. He led the Health Department’s response to the national disaster in 2011 when Joplin was struck by and EF-5 tornado, and assisted staff during the outbreak and management of the Coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. He served as the Interim City Manager from March 2019 to March 2020. He was named Assistant City Manager in June 2020 with administration and oversight responsibilities of City departments. In this role, he worked with the City’s management team to develop programs and processes to address Council’s recent goals to benefit the Joplin community. He worked closely with City Manager Nick Edwards to keep him apprised of ongoing projects, financial status, employee relation issues and other progress relating to legislation, economic development, City operations and governmental activities.

Pekarek has served as chairman of several health-related boards in the community, including Jasper and Newton Counties Community Health Collaborative and Joplin, Jasper and Newton Counties Emergency Healthcare Coalition. He also is a member of the One Joplin Steering team. He is a charter member of the Environmental Task Force of Jasper and Newton Counties and is chairman of the Four State Clean Air Alliance. Pekarek has also served on numerous other local and state committees over his 35-year career.

Pekarek enjoys camping, fishing and being outdoors. He has been involved with Joplin Area Catholic Schools in multiple ways over the years as a parent and as a supporter in other capacities. He is an alumnus of Missouri Southern State University. He has two daughters, Emily and Abby, and is a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church


Lynn Ontstot, Public Information Officer
City of Joplin
417.624.0820, ext. 1204

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