Inspiring, motivating, captivating and approachable
Penny, ThinkFirst Missouri Assistant Director, is truly "one in a million."

Highly Acclaimed Motivational Speaker

Penny Lorenz Anderson and friends
Penny Lorenz Anderson

At 17, Penny was involved in a traumatic car crash. She was an unbelted passenger and less than a half mile from her driveway when she received a spinal cord injury that paralyzed her from the waist down.

Now the Assistant Director for ThinkFirst Missouri, at the University of Missouri-Columbia, School of Medicine, Penny speaks to children, adolescents, and adults at injury prevention/safety programs across the state and nationwide. Her motivational presentations have inspired thousands of people across the country.

To arrange a presentation, call 573-882-1176 or e-mail

Accomplished Professional

Penny and Emily
Penny Lorenz Anderson

Penny has spoken to thousands of schools, businesses, and organizations in Missouri and nationwide and has been featured at numerous state and national conferences. She has received numerous awards, both locally and nationally, for her accomplishments, including the National Lifesavers Award, Missouri's Best Award, Toastmasters International Community Leadership Award, Altrusa International Celebration of Service Award and Outstanding Personal Achievement Award from Gateway to a Cure. While receiving this  award in St. Louis, Penny met late actor Christopher Reeve, who also received an award.  She was one of nine women to win the 2005 Missouri University Tribute to Outstanding Women’s Award, and the first recipient University Health Care’s Hope & Spirit Award. In addition, Penny was crowned the first Ms. Wheelchair USA at a national pageant in Orlando, Florida and has been featured in numerous magazines, including New Mobility, LIFE, and Women’s World.

E-mail Penny at

Penny's Awards

Penny Ms. Wheelchair
Penny Lorenz Anderson
  • 2010 Presented the Commander General’s Coin Fort Leonard Wood Army Base
  • 2009 Finalist-University of Missouri Chancellor’s Outstanding Staff Award
  • 2006 University of Missouri Health Care Hope and Spirit Award
  • 2006 One of 18 Women You Should Know in Boone County
  • 2005 Columbia SAFE KIDS Award of Excellence
  • 2005 Tribute to MU’s Outstanding Women’s Award
  • 2003 Brain Injury Association of Missouri, Service Excellence Award
  • 2002 National ThinkFirst Speaker of the Year
  • 2002 ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation State Chapter of the Year Award
  • 2002 Columbia SAFE KIDS Excellence Award
  • 2000 Proclamation from Governor Mel Carnahan commemorating 20 years of successful injury prevention programming
  • 2000 Missouri Senate Resolution from Senator Ken Jacob
  • 2000 Missouri House of Representatives Resolution from Representative Chuck Graham
  • 2000 Missouri Head Injury Advisory Council Exemplary Program Achievement Award
  • 2000 Millennium Promise Award
  • 1998 Appreciation in Disability Awareness Award, Internal Revenue Service
  • 1997 Appreciation in Disability Awareness Award, Federal Council Employment of Individuals With Disabilities
  • 1997 National Outstanding Personal Achievement Award           
  • 1996 Triumph of the Human Spirit Award for contribution to the community of Columbia
  • 1996 Altrusa International Celebration of Service Award, for outstanding contribution in education
  • 1996 Featured in HBO Special “Without Pity”
  • 1996 Recipient “Key To The City” Shreveport, LA
  • 1995 Toastmasters International Communication & Leadership Award
  • 1995 The First Ms. Wheelchair U.S.A Title
  • 1995 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator’s Highway Safety Program of Excellence Award for youth programs
  • 1995 Easter Seals Personal Achievement Award
  • 1994 Missouri Head Injury Advisory Council Award, for outstanding contributions
  • 1993 Ms. Wheelchair Missouri title
  • 1993 Second runner up Ms. Wheelchair America
  • 1993 Personal Achievement Award, Howard A. Rusk Rehabilitation Hospital
  • 1993 ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation Certificate of Appreciation
  • 1992 Personal Achievement Award, Howard A. Rusk Rehabilitation Hospital
  • 1992 National Disability Employment Awareness Award
  • 1991 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Public Service Award
  • 1991 Missouri’s Best Award
  • 1991 Missouri Division of Highway Safety Comprehensive Traffic Safety Award
  • 1990 Missouri Coalition for Safety Belt Use Outstanding Service Award
  • 1986 Featured in national award winning film “Harms Way”

Memberships (Current)

  • ThinkFirst National VIP Leadership Council Member
  • University of Missouri Health Care Environment and Design Team
  • Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety
  • Columbia SAFE KIDS Coalition
  • University of Missouri PEER LINK Advisory Board
  • Columbia Catholic School – fundraising committee

Memberships (Former)

  • Missouri Representative for National Association of Women Highway Safety Leaders
  • Services for Independent Living, Board of Directors
  • Columbia Safety Council – president, vice president, secretary
  • Altrusa International of Columbia, Inc.
  • Carousel Preschool Board of Directors
  • Carousel Preschool Board of Directors – Fundraising Chair Director
  • Missouri Model Spinal Cord Injury System Advisory Board
  • University of Missouri Disability Awareness Committee
  • National ThinkFirst Foundation Board of Directors
  • Independent Living Advisory Committee
  • Missouri State Independent Living Council
  • National Spinal Cord Injury Peer Support Network
  • Columbia Area Rights Coalition
  • ThinkFirst task force to produce national film