Margaret Tollerton, State Outreach Director –

Margaret brings three decades of multi-media marketing and communication experience to Missouri Cures. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Margaret worked 10 years in health care, and served as a member of Disaster Preparedness Team for Boone Hospital Center. Her marketing efforts have advanced numerous campaigns and causes, including the premiere launch of American Cancer Society’s “Great American Smoke-Out Day” in Missouri, the creation and publication of the first “Guide to Deaf Communication (ASL) for Surgical Nurses”, bringing HealthSouth’s “Hero Tour” performance to Columbia, and the coordination of the most successful “PTA Summer Movie Festivals” in theater and PTA history, nationwide, resulting in raising millions of dollars for education in mid-Missouri. While with ABC-TV, she served as the Community Clubs & Associations Director, recruiting corporate media sponsorships for local, state, and national non-profit organizations. She co-founded “Computers for Students”, a non-profit organization that refurbished and recycled thousands of used, donated computers specifically to needy first grader homes, churches, and entire school districts that lost their computers in the Great Flood of ’93. Tollerton successfully lobbied the Columbia School Board to change policy, set guidelines, and implement its first district-wide student acceleration program. Tollerton earned her Black Belt in TaeKwonDo at age 50, is a licensed Reiki Master, and continues to be active in civic and community organizations and current events.


Dena Ladd, Executive Director –

With more than twenty years of experience in public policy and community affairs, Dena Ladd has been involved in issues that have both local and national impact. She has used her experience to advocate in both Washington, D.C. and Jefferson City for medical research and the children’s health insurance program. For many years, she was the principal of Ladd Consulting that specialized in Governmental Relations. Her clients included the Missouri Leadership Council, a PAC in which she acted as the State Director. The council was chaired by Senator John Danforth and former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman.

In 2006, she worked on the Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative campaign securing medical and patient endorsements. In 2010, she was named Executive Director of Missouri Cures whose mission is to promote and protect medical research in Missouri. Her job includes cultivating and maintaining relationships with key policy makers, business leaders and opinion leaders in the medical research field on the state and national level. In 2016 she over saw a campaign bringing together consultants, patient advocacy groups, volunteers and business leaders to defeat a ballot initiative that contained language that could potentially harm medical research in Missouri.

Dena’s prior work experience includes working as a Regional Training Director for an international company developing and implementing a training program for the Midwest region.

Dena has volunteered her services and served on numerous boards including the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, St Louis for Kids, Citizens for Missouri’s Children and Epworth Family and Children’s Services. In 2005 she received an appointment from Governor Blunt to the Children’s Trust Fund board. In January, 2009, she was re-appointed by Governor Nixon where she served three more years. Dena currently serves on the national board of the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine.

Dena has an undergraduate degree from Drury University and graduate degree in public administration / public policy from Southern Illinois University.