The 2015 Kansas City newsmaker of the year is...

Posted at 3:50 PM, Dec 31, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-31 17:57:56-05

There's no denying that 2015 has been a year full of newsmakers. 

Other than the entire Royals team--who are all rock stars as far as we're concerned--we wanted to know who you think the person of the year is.

First, we asked Facebook fans and 41 Action News staffers to nominate newsmakers who they believe made a difference in 2015 (see full list below). Then, anyone could go online and rank their top five picks.

Nearly 8,000 votes came in between Dec. 7 and Dec. 28. The person with the most first place rankings got the nod as newsmaker of the year. 

Drum roll!

1. Micheal Lawrence | CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City 
2. Stephanie Myers | Parenting Children With Special Needs 
3. Eric Berry | Kansas City Chiefs 
4. Ned Yost | Royals Manager 
5. Dayton Moore | Royals General Manager


Lawrence became Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City CEO in 2007. Since then, he has led the agency to become the fastest growing Big Brothers Big Sisters agency in the country, increasing the number of children served by more than 70 percent. 

Why he got the votes

  • He's touched lives: Serving more than 1,700 youth in Kansas City each year, BBBSKC provides children facing adversity in one-to-one life-changing friendships with adult mentors. 
  • People like to work for him: BBBSKC was recently recognized by the Nonprofit Times as one of the best nonprofits to work for in America (#30 out of 100,000 agencies evaluated).
  • He's an achiever: BBBSKC named Agency of the Year, an honor recognizing the top BBBS in the country.

Lawrence began his career at Big Brothers Big Sisters in 1992, starting as a Case Manager, working directly with the volunteers, children and families in the program.

Lawrence serves as a Big Brother in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program himself and has been matched to his Little Brother, Jesse for more than six years. He has been married to his wife Tina for 18 years and has two sons, Tyler and Blake.

Lawrence and his Little Brother Jesse accept a donation from the Chiefs. (Photo: M. Lawrence)



Why do you do what you do?
I have always wanted to work with children facing adversity. I was inspired by the mission of BBBS and the power of one-to-one  mentoring nearly 25 years ago. I still see the impact in our mission on a daily basis.

What are you most proud of in 2015?
Our agency was recognized by our national office as the #1 BBBS agency in America. Seeing our staff receive such a well-deserved honor was very rewarding. 

What are you hoping to achieve in 2016?
We moved into our new headquarters and added to our talented team in 2015. We are positioned to serve more children than ever before if we can recruit a record number of new volunteers.

What kinds of people do you admire? Do you have a role model?
I am fortunate to be surrounded by people who truly care about others. I am also fortunate to work with a very talented board of directors and agency supporters who graciously share their best practices for high-level success. I admire those who are immensely talented and yet unselfish with their time and knowledge. 

What’s your favorite part about living in Kansas City?
We have thousands of supporters of the BBBS mission in this city. I like that my wife and I run into people we know in just about every setting. It is a city full of friendships.



Adam Benton: He created Acts of Good Journal, a project to document the path, impact and effect of a journal showing how participants collaborate to make the world a better place.

Eric Berry: The Kansas City Chiefs safety took an aggressive approach to fighting cancer, rejoined the team and became a key player in the 2015 season. 

Big Slick KC: Led by Shawnee Mission graduates Rob Riggle, Paul Rudd and Jason Sudeikis, this nonprofit raises money for Children's Mercy Hospital.

Misty Copeland: The American Ballet Theatre's newest principal dancer is a Kansas City native and the first African-American female to achieve this honor in the company's history.

Gillian Flynn: The woman behind the bestseller (and feature film) "Gone Girl" is a cheerleader for her hometown, putting us on the map in many of her literary works.

Sly James: The Kansas City, Mo. mayor is known as the foremost champion for our city.

The Kansas City Originals: This collective of chefs and eatery entrepreneurs puts the spotlight on locally owned bars and restaurants and raises money for charitable causes.

Marlins Man: Laurence Leavy also goes by "Marlins Man." He's known for repping his Marlins at Royals games and for raising money for charitable causes.

Dayton Moore: The Royals General Manager made some controversial moves two years in a row to get the Royals into contention for the World Series.

Stephanie Myers: She runs the nonprofit Parenting Children With Special Needs, which aims to empower parents of children with special needs by providing general knowledge, understanding, information, encouragement, support and guides to services. WATCH: Homeless Kansas City family receives surprising Christmas gift

Heather O'Reilly, Amy Rodriguez, Becky Sauerbrunn: FC Kansas City soccer players on the women's World Cup team.

Paul Richardson: This teacher left his job at Washington High School in Kansas City, Kan. to open The KC Wordshop, a space where young people hone, create, and broadcast any project generated by language. 

Ned Yost: The Royals Manager took our boys in blue to the World Series and won a championship.

Editor's Note: 41 Action News anchor and reporter Justin Wilfon is a volunteer for BBBSKC.