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If multitasking were a degree, Amy Blansit would have a doctorate.
She runs a foundation, works on her startup, teaches wellness and advocates for people in poverty through a program based in a building she saved from dilapidation. She’s also almost finished earning a doctorate in health sciences.
Downtime for Blansit is when she sits still long enough to answer emails. She likes to move – a helpful trait for someone who focused on exercise and sport science in college with the intent of attending medical school.
“I wanted to make money because I’d grown up without it,” she says.
Blansit was born in Branson, the sixth of eight kids. Her mother stayed home, and, while her father commuted to Springfield for a higher wage, it was tough to provide for a family of 10 that also fostered dozens of kids.
Her parents were resourceful, and she never went without, but Blansit says her family met the standards for poverty. That, coupled with learning about what foster children face, formed the basis for her interest in helping people living on the margins without the social capital to get ahead.
“I grew up in a version of poverty and saw the worst version of poverty,” Blansit says.
Blansit decided to pursue the clinical route, focusing on wellness. After a brief time on the East Coast, Blansit moved back to Springfield and has held a variety of wellness positions.
She is perhaps most recognized for her work with the Northwest Project based at The Fairbanks, a century-old former school that is being renovated to support the Grant Beach area. Blansit and her late husband, Drew Lewis, bought the dilapidated building during what turned out to be a brief remission from his cancer. The couple wanted something positive to focus on.
“Drew was, almost to a fault, optimistic,” Blansit says. “So if I presented a sound idea, ... he would be like, ‘We can totally do this.’”
When he died in 2013, Blansit moved forward with their vision of creating a place of stability to help families move out of poverty. The Northwest Project is a partnership between Missouri State University, the Drew Lewis Foundation Inc. and Drury University.
When she’s not teaching college kids wellness and how poverty affects health or running the Northwest Project, Blansit focuses on her startup, Solely Jolie, a water-free solution to cleaning makeup brushes.
Is there anything Blansit does just for herself? Sometimes. She’s learning archery.
SBJ interviews the interim dean at the William H. Darr College of Agriculture at Missouri State University.