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Helping people may not be an official career, but Dean Thompson has made it his life’s work. As director of water treatment and supply for City Utilities, Thompson is responsible for ensuring 200,000 people have reliable, clean water every day. But as important as that is, it’s only one aspect of Thompson’s career in public service.
“I have led and managed organizations from various sectors providing vision, inspiration, direction and resources to accomplish things many deemed impossible,” Thompson says. “Each position provided multiple unique leadership challenges.”
One of Thompson’s former roles was as Republic’s city administrator. In that position, one of his greatest challenges was consolidating the village of Brookline and the city of Republic. Such consolidations had successfully occurred only seven times in Missouri’s history, but under Thompson’s direction, an eighth was born.
“I provided the initial vision and roadmap to accomplish this endeavor, but it was a collaborative effort from multiple people in each community that made it happen,” Thompson says.
His efforts in Republic led the way for significant economic growth: There was the creation of more than 650 new jobs and $120 million in annual retail sales. His leadership also helped add more than $400 million in capital investments for the community and infrastructure improvements totaling more than $50 million.
In his current role at CU, Thompson also has propelled groundbreaking work. He recently led the development of a strategic management system and linked long-term strategies with short-term actions to achieve measurable results. The initial development process took about a year, after which it was approved by CU’s Board of Public Utilities. Now, efforts to integrate the strategic plan into operational objectives and financial planning are ongoing, says Thompson.
But that’s not the only job Thompson currently holds: He’s also a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army Reserve, where he serves as deputy commander of the 321st Civil Affairs Brigade. Thompson enlisted in the Army Reserve 30 years ago, and also has served as the U.S. government representative to four provinces in Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004.
“Due to security concerns, our teams of special operations forces were some of the only U.S. personnel present to interface with the local populace and international organizations,” Thompson says. “My responsibilities included representing U.S. diplomatic and military interests while interfacing with ministers, governors, warlords, tribal elders, aid organizations, United Nations, foreign militaries and many others.”
Then there’s Thompson’s civic work. He’s served as a city councilman and was a founding member of the Republic Community Foundation. He’s organized community events such as Pumpkin Daze, participated in Springfield Vision 20/20, and served on advisory committees for Missouri State University and Ozarks Technical Community College.
Thompson says he simply tries to identify community needs and fulfill them to the best of his ability.
“Sometimes that entails providing leadership and other times it may be a supporting role,” he says.
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