When extraordinary West Plains High School graduates come to mind, Andi Hilburn-Vaini is at the top of the list.
Andi was born and raised in West Plains, and her roots run deep. Her mother, Norma Hilburn, and father, Larry Hilburn, opened the very first restaurant in the community in 1980. While the Hilburn's were operating the burger business in town, Andi attended school in West Plains and had many tasks to help the family business. Her list was long, but the most memorable included counting ketchup packets when they would inventory or standing on a milk crate to hand out orders in the drive-thru.
Over the years, the family business expanded to several locations across the area. However, Larry Hilburn unexpectedly passed away in 1997, leaving the fate of the restaurants in the hands of his widowed wife, Norma. Andi had a front-row seat to a brave and determined example of perseverance, watching her mother take on a new role. Norma went through the process required to become a McDonald's Owner/Operator to keep the stores in the family, and she was officially approved in 1998.
After Andi graduated from West Plains High School in 1995, she furthered her education at Drury while continuing to work in the restaurants in a more official capacity. From crew-to-crew trainer to shift manager to general manager, Andi was determined to follow in the path of both successful parents and become a McDonald's Owner/Operator. She did so in 2010, taking ownership of the very first restaurant her father opened in West Plains. It was a proud moment for the Hilburn and Vaini families.
Today, Hilburn-Vaini owns nine McDonald's restaurant locations where she employs close to 800 members of the community. She is the President of the Missouri Advertising Co-Op, governing more than 120 McDonald's restaurants serving six states. Hilburn-Vaini enjoys leading with other women as the McDonald's Women's Operator Network (WON) National Membership Chair. Through her career with McDonald's, she has had many accomplishments, such as becoming the recipient of the prestigious Ronald Award in 2019. The award is presented to the top 1 percent of Owner/Operators across the U.S. for their outstanding contributions to strengthening the McDonald's brand and serving their customers and local communities. Her work in West Plains and surrounding communities played a large part in receiving this honorable recognition.
Hilburn-Vaini's passion lies in serving her community. Her small-town roots remain a part of her core, and with a heart of true gold, giving back when and where she can is just in her blood. She was recognized in 2019 as the Humanitarian of West Plains through the Chamber of Commerce. She has been a big supporter of the education system through grant programs and donating to the schools for any needs they may have. Andi exemplifies what it means to be a Zizzer. Andi inspires others and sets an example of Zizzer pride and character. She is without a doubt a Distinguished Zizzer Alumnus.