Focusing on Equity


For the past 15 years, Southwest Missouri has had an active and engaged community coalition. Originally under the banner of Barry County Connections, with the group focusing on collaboration and addressing community needs.

In 2013, the area was awarded one of 13 grants through Missouri Foundation for Health, to utilized community engagement and resources to reduce childhood obesity, while creating a community culture of health. This community engagement brought numerous community members, businesses, and leaders to appreciate the resources within Southwest Missouri, while shifting the community priorities to create a more active and healthy environment.

As the engagement from business, health care providers, and community members grew, so did the opportunities. Expanding from private funding, through a partnership with CoxHealth, we were one of 10 communities to work with the Environmental Protection Agency on the Healthy Places, for Healthy People project. This extensive collaboration brought numerous federal agencies to the Monett community to leverage the community focus on health to expand economic development, specifically in the downtown corridor. This partnership has grown and the MO SWITCH co-founders have presented with the EPA at numerous national conferences.

During the fall of 2018, Barry County Connections Coalition officially converted to Missouri Southwest Initiative to Change Health, a non-profit 501(c)3. This formal change allows for the organization to continue to engage members, community partners, businesses, and leaders, with the ability to apply for grants and focus on specific community needs.

As of 2019, MO SWITCH is also actively working with regional communities to help expand the culture of health and equity throughout Southwest Missouri.

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MO SWITCH always appreciates community support to expand our reach an efforts.

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Shawn Hayden

Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer


Shawn Hayden is co-founder and CEO of the Missouri Southwest Initiative to Change Health (MO SWITCH). Shawn is also a Project Coordinator II with CoxHealth. Shawn’s focus is on engaging community partners, creating functioning coalitions, facilitating policy discussions, and creating sustainable programming solutions in community health and healthcare equity. At CoxHealth, he has utilized and received more than $1.3 million in state and federal grant funding to combat childhood obesity in Southwest Missouri, while creating a coalition of community partners to examine policies and programming opportunities for increasing physical activity, improving healthy and local eating options, and engaging health care providers in their communities. Shawn is also a grant manager with Clark Community Mental Health Center. While working with Clark Community Mental Health, Shawn has received over $300,000 in grant funding to coordinate care for the most at-risk populations within the Clark service area. Shawn has extensive work with state and federal partners on incorporating policies to not only better the health of communities, but also the economy to ensure sustainability.


AT Still University
Doctorate of Health Education, 2021

Missouri State University
M.S., Health Promotion and Wellness Management, 2011

Drury University
B.A., Chemistry and Biology, 2009

Activities & Affiliations

  • Monett Area Community Foundation, Vice President

  • Monett Long Term Transportation Council

  • Kuat Road Cycling Team - Race Director

  • Dog Dad

Alexandria Severs

CO-Founder & Chief Operations Officer


Alex Severs is the District Wellness Coordinator for the Monett R-1 School District, along with being the COO and co-founder of MO SWITCH. For the last 6 years Alex has worked to increase access to healthy food and physical activity where Monett students live, learn, and play. She knows that aside from home, school is the place where kids spend most of their time and making schools healthy is vital to preparing students for success. Alex has a passion for improving the lives of students, staff and the community through wellness efforts. The Monett community and school district had the privilege of receiving a 5-year grant from Missouri Foundation for Health called Healthy Schools Healthy Communities where Alex and her counterpart made great strides in improving the health of both the school and community. The HSHC initiative ended in July 2018 and through its success Alex hopes to continue their growth as one of the nation’s healthiest schools. Under the Missouri Foundation for Health, and Administrative guidance Monett has been named one of the country’s healthiest schools according to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation in both 2017 and 2018. Alex provides a unique perspective on how local school districts can play a critical role in developing built environments that benefit all demographics of the community.


University of Missouri
B.S., Nutritional Sciences, 2013

Activities & Affiliations

  • Monett Bicycle and Pedestrian Foundation – Board Member

  • Monett Long Term Transportation Council

  • Missouri Council for Activity & Nutrition (MOCAN)


The MO SWITCH board is composed of a diverse collaborative of engaged community members and leaders. The board serves an initial one-year term, followed by a three-year term if they so choose.

Below are the current board members, along when their term concludes.

  • Board President - Dennis Pyle, City of Monett Administrator

  • Vice President - Leesa Ginther, RN, Barry County Health Department

  • Treasurer - Andy Goodson, First State Bank of Purdy

  • Secretary - Jessica Wagner, Barry County Health Department

  • Board Member - Kaley Thigpen, Cox Monett