Kim Harris can often be seen around town with a life-size, academic superhero sidekick. That's Nate, the kid-friendly mascot of the North Springfield Betterment Association.

Harris, who is president of the NSBA, created Nate as a role model for elementary students.

“Nate has helped unite business leaders with the idea that instilling good attendance habits early helps students to become successful employers, employees and neighbors in our future,” says Harris, a Hillcrest High School graduate who is working toward her undergraduate degree in communications at Evangel University.

Harris is an account executive with MW Springmo Inc., which is part of the Mid-West Family Broadcast Group. She is also an owner of MW Springmo, which owns the license to operate four Springfield radio stations, including KKLH 104.7 and KOSP 92.9.

Harris is proud to have earned Mid-West’s Master Sales Performer Award for generating 25 percent of the company’s sales revenue.

“Another professional accomplishment has been maintaining ‘Superstar’ status within my company,” Harris says. “Only those sales professionals who meet at least 90 percent of their projected sales goals annually receive this. … I have been recognized as a Mid-West Family Superstar for the past four years.”

Perhaps because of her accomplishments, Harris was chosen to serve as a mentor and educator for Mid-West’s new hires at MWF University in LaCrosse, Wis.

As proud as she is of her career, Harris considers Nate her greatest accomplishment. He is well known among the students at Springfield’s 14 north elementary schools as “the kid who is at school every day and is never late,” Harris says.

As NSBA’s ambassador, Nate visits children at attendance celebrations and other gatherings.

“He regularly encourages kids in the classrooms with quarterly rewards for improved and perfect attendance,” Harris says. “Nate also inspires kids to believe great things are possible.”

As Nate’s reach has grown, attendance at NSBA-sponsored schools has increased, with a record number of students being rewarded at the 15th annual Attendance Party held May 4.

“This mascot campaign has had a very positive influence for (the) Springfield Public Schools District and the north school teachers by helping them reach their attendance goals from year to year,” Harris says.

Her support for local students also leads her to spearhead community partnerships, such as one this year between NSBA and Children’s Miracle Network that enabled CMN to reach elementary schoolchildren with cardiac health education, supported by a $42,000 Kohl’s Cares grant.

Click here for full coverage of the 2012 40 Under 40.