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University of Missouri

The Chocolate Champion

The Chocolate Champion: Mizzou awards honorary doctorate to alumnus Shawn Askinosie, chocolate maker, direct trade proponent, sustainability supporter.

Askinosie portrait

Askinosie Chocolate founder Shawn Askinosie, BA ’83, JD ’89, received an honorary doctorate from the University of Missouri during May 2016 commencement ceremonies.

Oprah Winfrey calls Shawn Askinosie one of the 15 guys who are saving the world. But on a typical workday, when a piece of equipment’s water valve is leaky or the telecommunication system is spotty, he feels like any other small-business owner.

Askinosie, BA ’83, JD ’89, is the founder and CEO of Askinosie Chocolate in Springfield, Missouri. In addition to making good chocolate, he has a reputation for practicing good business.

Askinosie lived in Thailand the summer after his freshman year at Mizzou, working for the U.S. Embassy to help Vietnamese refugees resettle in the United States. “That’s when I began to learn about needs outside of my own community,” Askinosie says. He also faced social justice issues every day for nearly 20 years as a criminal defense attorney in Springfield.

When Askinosie started making chocolate in 2005, he wanted to work directly with the farmers harvesting the cacao beans in Ecuador, Honduras, the Philippines and Tanzania. “I knew we would be sharing profits with farmers before we had profits,” he says.

Today, Askinosie Chocolate buys beans directly from farmers; shares profits with them; and gives back to their communities through the Product of Change program, sustainably providing more than 240,000 lunches to students in Tanzania and the Philippines. Closer to home, Askinosie founded Chocolate University, an experiential learning program for Springfield K-12 students.

In spring 2016 Mizzou awarded Askinosie an honorary doctorate for service to the community.