Contact: John Baker
Jo Sapp has been chosen to receive the fifth annual Howard B. Lang Jr. Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service to the City of Columbia. This is the first time in its history that the award is given posthumously. The award will be presented to Sapp's husband, David, and other family members at a brief ceremony at the beginning of the April 1 Columbia City Council meeting.
Sapp passed away in September after more than 20 years of vibrant volunteer service to the City of Columbia. The impact of her service is far reaching.
Dedicating countless hours to local boards, committees, projects and commissions, Sapp was a connected, informed and engaged citizen. Among the nearly 30 volunteer posts she held were president of the Columbia Public Library District Board of Trustees and member of Imagine Columbia's Future Visioning Committee, the Columbia Comprehensive Plan Task Force, the Mayor's Task Force on the Arts and the Development Excellence Awards Committee (Columbia).
According to one of Sapp's nominators, "Many people have suggestions about how to improve things in their community, but Jo Sapp put her time and considerable effort behind her suggestions."
Her passionate pursuits included establishing the city's Office of Cultural Affairs, expanding the Columbia public library building, establishing Community Access Television (CAT TV) and facilitating the Imagine Columbia's Future process.
Among the lasting influence of Sapp's volunteerism are a strengthened local arts community, including the Percent for Art program, a major expansion of Columbia Public Library services, and better means to respond to citizen requests for help and information, the latter taking the form of a new contact center in City Hall that will provide quick and easy access to city services and information.
While a listing of accomplishments has its own merits, "Her interest was in good government and dialogue, seeking compromises and understanding rather than one-sided wins," wrote another of Sapp's nominators. And a third nominator, in speaking of Sapp's accomplishments, wrote that "a committed citizen can make a lasting and meaningful difference by advancing a cause that benefits so many."
The selection committee for the annual Lang award changes every year but always includes the sitting mayor of Columbia. Mayor Bob McDavid says about this year's recipient, "While there is no intention to make a habit of giving the Lang Award posthumously, the selection committee felt that Jo Sapp's volunteer credentials, coupled with the impact she made, placed her in the winning position this year. We were very impressed by the broad array of selfless giving by the other nominees, as well."
Other members of the committee are Andrew Grabau, Amy Schnieder, Marcia Machens and Mary Anne McCollum.
Past recipients of the Lang Award are Ed Kaiser, Darwin Hindman, Dave Griggs and Robert C. Smith.