5/17/2012 4:54:00 PM 2012 40 Under 40 Honoree: Kristen Westerman Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce
Age: 32 Education: Bachelor’s in public relations and advertising and Master of Arts in Communication, Drury University Family: I have been married to Luke for almost nine years. He’s the owner and managing partner of the Computer Recycling Center here in Springfield. We have two children, Paige, 3, and Maci, 1. Recent travels: We went to Sarasota, Fla., for Thanksgiving to visit my sister-in-law. … The last day we were there we went to the Magic Kingdom at Disney World. Just for Fun: If you were throwing a party and could invite any two people, who would be your must-have guests? My grandmother (who) passed away when I was 13. I think I’d have much more appreciation for her and her life history now that I’m an adult. The other would be George Washington, I didn’t enjoy history much when I was in school. Now, I wish I … had paid more attention, but I think hearing it from him firsthand would be a totally different experience.
Kristen Westerman is not afraid to look an issue in the eye and find a solution.
At the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, the manager of work force development is tackling diversity, a priority issue identified by chamber officials.
“Although this is, at times, a contentious issue in our community, I feel that it’s the right thing to do in order for our community to continue to grow and prosper,” Westerman says.
Westerman recruits participants and arranges the speakers for the chamber’s two-day Facing Racism Program, which she completed in 2011.
“Recognition of the issue is the first step in taking initiative to helping find solutions to the problem,” she says.
Up next for Westerman and the chamber is creating a task force to engage minority professionals with chamber efforts and identifying a staff member and a board member to participate in the Minorities in Business group.
Her work with the diversity program came on the heels of successfully launching The Network, a chamber networking group for young professionals ages 21 to 40. In 2006, Westerman was charged with developing the group, in part to curtail the city’s “brain drain,” and it launched the next year with 300 members.
“This organization is helping the community’s young professionals to make the connections they need and want, which in turn will influence their decision to stay in Springfield,” she says.
Westerman then applied her experiences with The Network to start an intern version in 2010 called IN.network. “We’ve had nearly 60 participants in that program and are excited to be able to offer it again this summer,” she says, noting that some participants took jobs and stayed in Springfield after graduation.
Westerman also serves on the steering committee for the P-20 Council of the Ozarks, a partnership of educators, employers, community members and policymakers formed in 2010 to improve the transition from education into the work force.
She and her husband, Luke, have ventured into business ownership with their 2011 purchase, along with partner Jim Conley, of the Computer Recycling Center.
“This is something that we’ve wanted to do for a long time and were just waiting for the right opportunity to arise,” she says.