Culver-Stockton College President Douglas B. Palmer, along with the Tri-State Development Advisory Group, and Thomas A. Oakley, who has recently made an investment to initially fund revitalizing and rebuilding the Tri-State Development Summit at Culver-Stockton College, are pleased to announce Ms. Leslie Payne has been named as its inaugural Executive Director. In addition to serving as the Executive Director of the Tri-State Development Summit, Payne will serve as the College’s first Vice President for Economic and Workforce Development, transitioning from her current role as Vice President for Advancement and Marketing at Culver-Stockton College.

Leslie Payne

As Vice President for Economic and Workforce Development and Executive Director of the Tri-State Summit, Payne will promote and implement initiatives to improve higher education engagement in community and industry partnerships through collaborative leadership and innovation. The Summit exists to bring together regional stakeholders to speak with one voice to three governors, six US senators, five US representatives, and state and local officials in Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa. Additionally, while serving as the key management leader, Payne will oversee the Summit’s administration, programs, and strategic plan.

C-SC President Dr. Douglas B. Palmer is enthusiastic about the new Vice President position for Economic and Workforce Development because it signals the College’s commitment to sustainability and growth of the region. “We are very pleased to have Leslie leading the conversations and connections as we work toward a strategic approach to our region’s economic health and vitality,” states Palmer.  “As we searched for the Executive Director to lead the Tri-State Development Summit, we determined that a focused leadership position that drew upon the resources of the College would further allow for deeper engagement in developing public and private collaborations that would assist in establishing and accelerating regional impact and growth.” Payne’s experience in business development, combined with higher education fundraising, will be valuable tools when creating partnerships for the Tri-State Development Summit, an organization that represents 36 counties throughout Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa.

The excitement of Payne’s appointment is shared by Mr. Thomas A. Oakley, philanthropist and founder of the Tri-State Development Summit, who strategically housed the Summit at Culver-Stockton College. Oakley shared, “I had worked with Leslie Payne for several months with no thought that she would consider the role of Executive Director of the Tri-State Economic Development Summit.” He noted that the “position will require a unique set of qualifications to restore and rebuild the Summit organization from top to bottom.”  With Payne’s appointment beginning April 1, 2022, Oakley looks forward to Payne’s leadership of the Summit. He said, “I am thrilled, beyond words, that she will lead our effort, recognizing she definitely has all the necessary skills to do the job in a truly outstanding way!”

Hannibal Regional Economic Development Council (HREDC) Executive Director Corey Mehaffy shared his congratulations on the new appointment and said, “A dedicated person steering the collaborative working relationships among our communities will be incredibly beneficial for our tri-state region as we collectively focus on drawing attention to the resources and opportunities that this area has to offer to businesses, organizations and investors. The Tri-State Development Summit, led by Leslie, will be an important partner to all of us in this region, and I’m very pleased to have her leading this important effort.”

Payne shared, “I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to serve as the first Executive Director of the Tri-State Development Summit and the first Vice President for Economic and Workforce Development at Culver-Stockton College. Our region is rich with resources and options for collaborative and strategic relationships to address the needs and take advantage of the opportunities for building a strong regional economy and workforce.”

Contact the Marketing & Public Relations Office, at or 573-288-6000 ext. 6728 for more information.

NOTE: A number that appears immediately after a person’s name (i.e. Jane Doe ’18) is a reference to the year that person earned their bachelor’s degree from Culver-Stockton.

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