Springfield, MO

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2011 40 Under 40 Honoree: Mary Helen Snider

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Mary Helen Snider arrived in Springfield only six years ago from Raleigh, N.C., and she didn’t waste time finding her niche in the local mental health field.

Armed with an undergraduate degree in psychology from Hendrix College in Conway, Ark., and a master’s in clinical psychology from the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, she is a state-licensed and nationally certified professional counselor.

Her first job in Springfield was with Burrell Behavioral Health as a supervisor for a team of children’s case managers. Within the span of a year, she was promoted to director of children’s services at Burrell.

In 2007, she accepted her current position as a domestic relations officer for the Greene County Juvenile Office and Family Court.

“All of my job tasks in my current position are devoted to issues related to helping children and families who are experiencing custody disputes in the Greene County Family Court,” she says. “I am committed to making Springfield and the surrounding area a better place for children and families.”

One of her primary responsibilities is to coordinate the Common Ground Supervised Access Program, providing children an opportunity to see their nonresidential parent in a safe and neutral environment while the issues of child custody are pending in court. “Common Ground … follows all of the national guidelines and standards for a supervised access program, as set forth by the Supervised Visitation Network,” Snider says.

Snider is also a trained mediator for civil and family disputes and is often called upon to provide free mediation services for low-income families in an attempt to resolve their family court cases without going to trial. In that role, she is able to influence others in the field.

“I have had other community professionals observe my mediations as part of their training and experience to (join) the court-approved list of family court mediators,” she says.

She also has supervised interns and practicum students, as well as recent college graduates who were perhaps working in their first jobs.

“It is an honor to be part of helping young people develop their careers, and it is something professionals should do to pay it forward,” she says.

Snider is an accomplished grant writer for funds to improve services to children and families. Two grants written in 2009 and 2011 have brought more than $26,000 to the community, providing training for professionals who work with children in the court system and financial support for Common Ground.

Snider is a founding member of Safe Havens, a community collaboration that supports family violence survivors, and she sits on KY3 Inc.’s recently established Task Force on Child Abuse. The task force is helping to develop effective public service messages and news stories to combat child abuse.

Click here for full coverage of the 2011 40 Under 40.
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