David Thiessen got his first taste of leadership as captain of his high school football team.
“Making decisions, organizing and coordinating for the team were very fulfilling for me,” he says. “I knew from that experience that I wanted to pursue an education that would allow me to work in a leadership position where I could make a difference.”
Thiessen set forth with a personally developed action plan in mind, which started with working part- and full-time to help pay tuition at Southwest Baptist University, where he earned three degrees.
In 1999, Thiessen was hired as a recruiter for the human resources department at Missouri Rehabilitation Center in Mount Vernon. He was promoted a year later to manager, in charge of the operational, financial and personnel activities of the human resources department. The position made Thiessen the youngest board member ever to hold a spot on the hospital’s six-member administrative council.
Four years later, Thiessen was promoted again, this time to associate director of support services, his current position. It was at this time that he earned his Master of Business Administration from SBU.
“As an associate director providing leadership to 18 departments, I find great satisfaction in the success of my staff,” he says. “I enjoy discovering talented staff and helping them grow and develop.”
Thiessen manages the operational, financial and personnel activities of departments within the support services division of Missouri Rehabilitation Center, a 79-bed hospital that serves as part of the University of Missouri Health System.
It would seem his leadership is effective, as seven out of 10 of his managers have been recognized as employees of the month, two were recognized as managers of the year, and three of his 18 departments have been selected as departments of the year.
Thiessen, who was born and raised in southwest Missouri, says he cares a great deal about the community, but he admits a special calling to help the disabled. A member of the Missouri Brain Injury Association, serving on its education committee, he also serves as vice president of the executive board for Southwest Center for Independent Living, a Springfield nonprofit organization that supports individuals with disabilities.
He was involved with Southwest Center’s recent 6,700-square-foot building expansion, and he says he plans to run for president of the organization in fall 2012.
“My goal is to become more involved and continue to contribute by being the best servant leader I can be,” he says. “I strive to become the best advocate I can be and do whatever I can to ensure that persons with disabilities have the same civil rights, options and control over choices in their own lives as do people without disabilities.”Click here for full coverage of the 2011 40 Under 40.