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2015 40 Under 40 Honoree: Mike Kromrey

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Mike Kromrey has a passion for Springfield – the city, the community and its environment.

As director of the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks, Kromrey uses the “triple bottom line” approach to further his passion, which means considering economics, people’s health and well-being, and environmental health in all decision making.

“Springfield is awesome,” he says. “I felt the most important contributions I can make are to help promote sustainability.”

Kromrey used the approach in 2011 as the city of Springfield embarked on its strategic planning process to update Vision 20/20 with what was dubbed Field Guide 2030.

“Along with Matt O’Reilly, I co-chaired the natural environment chapter,” he says. “The planning process required an epic amount of work, vision and consensus building.”

The philosophy also leads WCO to utilize local businesses for goods and services whenever possible. Kromrey says during the past year, WCO did several hundred thousand dollars in green infrastructure-related projects, using local contractors when possible. “We believe in the multiplier effect on locally spent dollars,” he says, noting it also uses local graphic artists and locally grown foods.

Kromrey’s personal mission of environmental education and stewardship led to his greatest honor, being named WCO executive director at age 32. Formerly a resource science aide with the Missouri Department of Conservation, Kromrey joined WCO in June 2005 as a project assistant, rising through the ranks to lead the organization in just under seven years.

“Quite a few other highly qualified people applied for the position, but the board made a vote of confidence in me,” he says. “Since then, I have worked very hard to exceed their expectations.”

Since he became director, WCO has had zero turnover, something Kromrey attributes to his servant-leadership approach.

“I’m not a big fan of the word boss,” he says. “(My) job is to make sure my employees are happy, provide the resources they need and empower them to learn and grow professionally.”

To celebrate the organization’s 30th anniversary this past summer, the board further tasked Kromrey with its first major fundraising event and a goal of $30,000 for long-term education programs. Kromrey continued to exceed expectations, raising more than $40,000.

“We are not structured as a fundraising organization, and there are myriad competing causes out there, so this was actually a pretty ambitious goal,” he says.

Kromrey’s work with WCO has led to board positions with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Kitchen Cabinet, which serves as a sounding board for water issues, and the Ozarks Regional Food Policy Council. Last summer, on behalf of WCO, Kromrey took home the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Natural Resources.

“I can’t take credit for the 30 years of success of the organization, but I think I’ve kept us headed in the right direction for the past three, and God willing, hope to continue for many more.”[[In-content Ad]]


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