Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce Announces 2021 Outstanding Citizen of the Year

Joplin, MO  – The Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce (JACC) and Southwest Missouri Bank are excited to announce Mr. Dan Pekarek as the 2021 Outstanding Citizen of the Year. The Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award, now in its 55th year, recognizes a business leader in Joplin for their outstanding commitment to the community. The Outstanding Citizen of the Year is selected by a committee that is made up of the past three JACC Board Chairs and Citizen of the Year recipients.  

Pekarek has served the City of Joplin in various capacities throughout his 35-year-long career, starting as an Environmental Health Specialist in 1986 before being promoted to a Lead Sanitarian and, later, the Director of the Joplin Health Department. Most recently, he served as Interim City Manager from March 2019 to March 2020 and later became the Assistant City Manager in June 2020.  

His accomplishments have made a significant impact on Joplin, and he can be credited with the following achievements:  

  • Preparing the community water fluoridation proposal;  
  • Improving ordinances for the City’s Animal Control division; 
  • Passing the City’s Tobacco 21 ordinance; 
  • Creating a homeless coalition, which helps shelter, feed, and care for those without a home while connecting them with other resources; and 
  • Establishing a local prescription drug monitoring ordinance.  

 Additionally, he played a pivotal role in the disaster recovery after the 2011 tornado, leading public health efforts, establishing tetanus shot clinics, overseeing Animal Control’s rescue and relocation efforts for hundreds of displaced pets, and working closely with the EPA to ensure that homes and businesses were rebuilt on clean grounds. Pekarek was also instrumental in leading the community during public health emergencies, including Hepatitis A, SARS, Avian Flu, and COVID-19.  

In 2021, he received the highest honor given by the Missouri Public Health Association, the W. Scott Johnson Award, for his distinguished service in the field of public health in Missouri.  

“During my second term as Mayor of Joplin, it became necessary to make a change in our city manager position. With the approval of City Council, I asked Dan to fill that position until we could fill the vacancy. For that year of searching, Dan was nothing short of amazing,” says Gary Shaw, 2020 Citizen of the Year Award recipient. “The respect the employees had for him, and his unique leadership abilities, turned our staff in a very positive direction and made it easier for the incoming city manager to assume those duties.”   

Pekarek’s coworkers describe him as thorough in his work and a consistently modest individual who quietly goes about his job, resolved to work hard, study the issues, and deal with problems efficiently. They say he is often elected to chair or lead organizations, committees, and work groups because he is fair, compassionate, and extremely knowledgeable.  

Our Outstanding Citizen of the Year is a strong supporter of Joplin Area Catholic Schools as well as an active member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church. He enjoys camping, fishing, and being outdoors, and has two daughters, Emily and Abby.  


Erin Slifka
Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce

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