2016 Most Influential Women Honoree: Linda Ramey-Greiwe
Linda Ramey-Greiwe’s career took a sharp left turn in late 2015, when she accepted the executive director position at Springfield nonprofit Care to Learn.
The 28-year Gannett Co. Inc. veteran had led the Springfield News-Leader as president and publisher. There, she helped launch a community journalism project known as Every Child, which focused on bringing greater awareness to the red-flag Ozarks poverty issue and its effect on children. The report earned awards, but it also led to the creation of the Every Child Promise nonprofit organization that’s raised some $1.3 million to help Ozarks children, as well as boosted momentum for the Impacting Poverty Commission, Zone 1 Blitz and Northwest Project.
“Great leaders challenge the status quo and have a vision for how things can be different,” Ramey-Greiwe says. “Whether as publisher of the newspaper, executive director of a nonprofit or a community volunteer, I demonstrate leadership by taking action and getting others to follow once I have a vision of where our community should go.”
Her community service and passion for helping heal the region were the impetus behind her career switch.
Care to Learn seemed a good fit. The nonprofit, started by Doug Pitt with help from his actor brother Brad Pitt, actress Angelina Jolie and Springfield businessman Jim D. Morris focuses on the health, hunger and hygiene needs of children at school districts via 25 Missouri chapters.
The nonprofit fills requests for hundreds of thousands of such items as clothes, shampoo, hearing aids and backpacks loaded with food.
“I am working to bridge the gap between the business community and nonprofit community,” Ramey-Greiwe says, noting she added four chapters in the past nine months. “I have worked to help improve communication, understanding and appreciation between them.”
She had big shoes to fill.
In taking over the lead role at Care to Learn, Ramey-Greiwe succeeded longtime community activist Morey Mechlin, the nonprofit’s first and only executive director since its 2009 founding.
Mechlin says when she and Doug Pitt began planning for her successor, Ramey-Greiwe was their first – and only – local candidate.
“Her professionalism, integrity and compassion are unmatched,” Mechlin says. “I was fortunate to retire from an organization I love knowing that it is in better hands and will flourish under her care.”
Ramey-Greiwe’s inclination not to sit on the sidelines doesn’t stop with Care to Learn. Her passion extends to others.
A self-described mentor, Ramey-Greiwe encourages other women to get involved in business and community leadership roles. She believes it helps the individuals and their organizations as a result. Ramey-Greiwe also served as a champion and mentor for the Jobs for Life project at Schweitzer United Methodist Church. During that experience, she took a page from nationally recognized poverty activist Ruby Payne, who says it takes education and mentors to help people escape poverty.
“Serving as a champion/mentor for my Jobs for Life participant was my direct way to help mentor someone on their journey out of poverty,” Ramey-Greiwe says.