Springfield, MO

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2015 Most Influential Women Honoree: Karen Scott

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Karen Scott has demonstrated leadership for nearly 40 years with a passion for helping others across two careers that have often intersected: education and counseling.

During the past eight years, Scott has worked as executive director of the Lost & Found Grief Center, which she co-founded as a way to support grieving children and families struggling with loss.

“My work in educating others about healthy grief responses and my service in crisis response, both in schools and the business community, has enhanced the ability of individuals, businesses and the entire community to respond to grief and crisis situations in a healthier way that makes the entire community better,” Scott says.

In education, her leadership largely involved counseling and working with at-risk students. Beginning in 1976, she was a teacher for Springfield Public Schools for 12 years before being named alternative high school counselor for the district. In 1994, Scott – who holds a doctorate in educational leadership and a master’s in guidance and counseling – was selected to serve as coordinator of counseling for SPS. In 2000, she began a seven-year stretch working as director of student services for the district.

“My first leadership success as a district administrator was implementing the (Missouri) Comprehensive Guidance Program in Springfield schools, defining the role of school counselors and enhancing their ability to provide support to students,” she says. “By utilizing the expertise of counselors from all levels and enlisting their support, I was able to implement change in a large system that was resistant to change.”

Scott also demonstrated her leadership through the development of a crisis-response team and protocol for an organized, therapeutic response to support students and staff at schools where a death or crisis occurred. Those efforts have led to a sphere of influence across 35 school districts in Missouri, Kentucky and Texas, where she has provided crisis-response team training. Her dropout prevention and intervention strategies have been shared via presentations at over 100 professional conferences.

But her proudest professional accomplishment comes from establishing the Lost & Found Grief Center.

“Lost & Found now serves families from 23 counties across southwest Missouri and Kansas. During my time as executive director, I have developed effective programs for therapeutic grief support, expanded programs to serve individuals of all ages, added trauma groups and established a crisis-response team to serve children in other communities in times of widespread community crisis,” Scott says.

Through the years, she has served many organizations, including the Missouri School Counselors Association, the National Dropout Prevention Center and the National Alliance for Grieving Children. Scott also has given her time to numerous committees, such as the Governor’s Task Force on Children’s Justice.

In all, she has presented at over 200 professional conferences and workshops on various aspects of grief, suicide, trauma, crisis response and nonprofit management. 


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