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To Marie Murphree, leadership means applying equal parts communication and compassion to inspire others to action.
Murphree, senior associate director of the Springfield office for the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Missouri Chapter, says whether she’s telling the stories of those struggling with the disease, fundraising for the organization or asking staff members to tackle a new project, the ability to effectively articulate concepts plays a key role in realizing their success.
“I feel that it is important to inspire people to follow their hearts,” Murphree says. “By following our passions, we invest more of ourselves in our endeavors.”
Murphree’s professional endeavors have varied across industries but in each role she served as the face of the organization.
Managing a list of over 150 clients as an account executive for Midwest Family Broadcast Group, she went on to become the executive director of Springfield Regional Opera in 1996. During her eight-year tenure at the post, Murphree raised a $20,000 endowed scholarship for the organization’s newly developed Young Artists program, which graduated talent to national and international stages. She also increased the opera boards’ underwriting expectations from $500 per production to $20,000.
Prior to joining the Alzheimer’s Association, Murphree served 11 years as Missouri State University’s director of development where she continued to raise funds for the arts, helping to bring in $70,000 over a two-year period for MSU’s Jazz Studies program and $500,000 for Tent Theatre’s 50th anniversary in 2012.
Gloria Galanes, dean of the College of Arts and Letters at MSU, says Murphree was instrumental in acclimating faculty members to their new roles.
“Another leadership characteristic that is crucially important is the desire to maintain good relationships with others, and Marie is outstanding in that capacity,” Galanes says. “She was a solid asset to our college staff. She added genuine warmth, a ‘can do’ spirit and a sense of fun to our work.”
As the director of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Springfield office, Murphree focuses on bolstering support from new committee members across the 58-county region and re-energizing participation and revenues for the organizations’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraiser events. At the Springfield event alone, Murphree says walkers increased to 1,300 this year, up 30 percent from roughly 1,000 in 2014. The group also raised $135,000 in 2014 – up nearly 29 percent from $105,000 in 2013. She says the group is projecting to reach its fundraising goal of $160,000 in 2015.
Murphree says while solving the world’s problems may be beyond her individual abilities, she isn’t deterred from trying to make a positive impact in her community.
“I am dedicated to leaving this earth a better place than it was when I entered it,” she says.
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