Since 1994, the Office of Alumni has hosted a formal dinner, convocation and luncheon in the spring semester to celebrate the achievements of notable alumni and recognize current student leaders in an event entitled Achievement Day. This year’s list of Honorees reflect two pillars of life at William Jewell College – religion and sports.
Rev. Vernon Percy Howard Jr. graduated in 1986 and now serves as a pastor at St. Mark’s Church in Kansas City, as well as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City (SCLC). Through his work at SCLC, Howard has become a community activist dedicated to issues such as minimum wage increases, police violence and renaming the Paseo to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In 2020 the Missouri branch of the NAACP honored Howard with its Harold L. Holliday Sr. Civil Rights Award. In 2018 Howard was one of 51 “Missouri Influencers” named by the Kansas City Star to discuss issues related to the 2018 state elections.
During his time on the Hill, the communications major was president of the Black Student Association, captain of the men’s basketball team, a Resident Assistant and a recipient of the Col. Alexander Doniphan Award for being the senior male most likely to succeed.
The next Honoree is Jill McCrea Nagel. The 1998 graduate is now the head girls basketball coach for Rock Bridge High School in Columbia, Missouri and works as a manager for Eurofins Biopharma Product Testing.
Nagel’s tenure as head basketball coach has been hugely successful, holding a 16-4 record this season and a 330-90 record overall. The Bruins won the Missouri State Girls Basketball tournament in 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, the first Class 5 school in state history to win four years in a row.
For her outstanding record, Nagel was named Class 5 Coach of the Year five times and was inducted into the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association in 2019.
At Jewell Nagel was a member of the Women’s Basketball team, Beta Beta Beta biological honors society, Motor Board and served as president of Alpha Gamma Delta. She majored in biology.
The final honoree is Phil Youtsey, who graduated in 1982. Youtsey has had an illustrious career in the National Football League (NFL). He started out in ticket sales with the Kansas City Chiefs, where he was eventually named Director of Ticket Operations.
After 10 seasons at Arrowhead, Youtsey left for Charlotte, North Carolina for the newly minted Carolina Panthers. He spent a quarter of a century with the Panthers, rising all the way up to Vice President of Ticketing and Sponsorship. During that time he was instrumental in creating and expanding the NFL’s personalized seat license program.
Youtsey met his eventual boss – Panther’s General Manager Bill Polian – while Polian was a scout for the Chiefs and Youtsey was a college intern. From 1960-1990, Chiefs summer training was at Greene Stadium on Jewell’s campus.
Youtsey quickly became a staple in Charlotte, and during the 23 seasons and 237 games played during his tenure in charge of ticket sales, 235 of those games were sold out. He retired in May 2019 on the 25th anniversary of his first day with the Panthers.
While Youtsey was on the Hill, he was a member of the men’s baseball team and majored in business administration.
Howard, Nagal and Youtsey are among the best and brightest of William Jewell Alumni, and they were recognized for their service to their community during the dinner at the Downtown Marriott Muehlebach Tower Feb 27. Jon Sherman, chairman and CEO of the Kansas City Royals, and David Von Drehele, Washington Post Columnist, gave an address.
Achievement Day also consisted of a leadership dinner and honoree forum Feb. 26 and a convocation and a luncheon Feb 28.
During the leadership dinner, Jermery Hoffman, senior Oxbridge Institutions and Policy, economics, and ACT-In major, moderated the forum and the Col. Alexander Doniphan Award and Leona Kresse Award were presented to the senior male and female students voted most likely to succeed by their peers.
This year’s recipients are Ian McBride, biochemistry, political science and ACT-In major and Shaneann Fross, Oxbridge Molecular Biology and ACT-In major.