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2016 Most Influential Women Honoree: Patty Quessenberry

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After 38 years in Springfield with Kraft Foods Group, now The Kraft Heinz Co. (Nasdaq: KHC), Patty Quessenberry has earned a quiet retirement. But there appears to be no slowing down this woman of influence.

Quessenberry continues to work hard to advance and shape the future of the city of Ozark and the Christian County area.

The founder and chairwoman of Reading Around the Square, an annual Ozark community event that supports literacy and buys books for children, Quessenberry’s civic influence is most clear in the realm of public education.

For 20 years, she has served on the Ozark R-6 School District Board of Education, and currently leads the board as president. Among other efforts, she is the current president of the Christian County Library Foundation, a member of the Christian County Children’s Charities Sertoma Club, a charter member of Impact 100 Ozark and part of the Premier Class of OzarkLeads.

As part of the Ozark school board, she has helped represent the district and the state the past three years in Washington, D.C., via the Missouri School Board Association Federal Relations Capitol Visit, which allows school board members to meet with federal lawmakers.

“I am so proud to champion issues that are important to education for all students,” she says.

During her tenure as president, the Ozark school board received the MSBA Outstanding Board of Education Award for Governance, Leadership and Accountability – one of 12 districts recognized by the state body for demonstrating leadership.

“This fall, the board vice president and I will be presenting a workshop at the MSBA annual conference to share the effective practices we used to achieve this award. This will give me further opportunity to use my leadership skills to help fellow board members from across the state,” Quessenberry says.

Leadership seems to come naturally to Quessenberry.

While at Kraft Foods, she was one of the first female line operators, served as a line coordinator and lead person for several years, headed safety and environmental teams, and instructed in the area of diversity awareness as a member of the corporate diversity team.

An avid reader, Quessenberry these days is advocating for Ozark-area literacy through Reading Around the Square. She is working to build four libraries via the Christian County Library Foundation.

“The intent of the foundation is to acquire funding to start the process to achieve this building plan and to gain further support from the citizens of Christian County,” she says, adding the group has been busy fundraising and increasing public awareness.

“The steady growth of Christian County has pushed for the need of better access to library services, and I am encouraged and determined to help lead this endeavor.”

Although it’s Quessenberry who is giving, retirement, it seems, is quite rewarding.

“Through these leadership experiences, there are valuable traits that I have obtained and continue to strengthen, such as how to be a team player, to be a better listener, to have more patience, to not be afraid of constructive criticism, to be outspoken, to be a problem solver and to become a better public speaker,” she says.


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