Tri-State Summit tabs Payne as executive director

Leslie Payne

Leslie Payne

CANTON, Mo. — Culver-Stockton College has named Leslie Payne as its new Vice President for Economic and Workforce Development and she will also be serving as the executive director of the newly formed Tri-State Development Authority.

Retired Quincy Media Chairman Tom Oakley gave the college $1 million earlier this year to bring the Tri-State Development Summit back. The event was established in 1996, but has been dormant for years due to lack of interest. Former Illinois Governor George Ryan once bailed on the event at the last minute when it was supposed to be held in Iowa.

The Summit was created to push a transportation agenda along with assorted other pet projects. The Great River Economic Development Foundation once was the body that organized the events when they were held on an annual basis, then a bi-annual basis, then periodically, then stopped.

Payne was the Vice President for Advancement and Marketing at Culver-Stockton before taking on her new dual role, which will “promote and implement initiatives to improve higher education engagement in community and industry partnerships.”

“I am honored and excited to have the opportunity…” Payne said. “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.” 

The language in the news release making this announcement contains many of the catch phrases used by past Summit organizers including claiming to represent 36 counties in the region and that “the Summit exists to bring together regional stakeholders to speak with one voice…through collaborative leadership and innovation”.

Payne was hired by C-SC in 2020 and Oakley said he had been working with her when he was preparing to pay the college to resuscitate the event he founded.

“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,” Oakley said. “The position will require a unique set of qualifications to restore and rebuild the Summit organization from top to bottom.” 

C-SC President Dr. Doug Palmer said the move reinforces 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.”

Palmer cited Payne’s experience in business development and higher education fundraising as “valuable tools when creating partnerships for the Tri-State Development Summit.”

Before coming to Canton, Payne, who is a Monroe City native, was director for corporate and foundation relations for the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio where she was responsible for designing and implementing the organization’s development plan. She has also served as the director of development for San Antonio Pets Alive, and director of development at St. Matthew Catholic School in San Antonio.

Payne has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from William Jewell College and a master’s degree in business administration from MidAmerica Nazarene University.

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