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2019 40 Under 40: Laura Farmer, 36

Executive Director, Court Appointed Special Advocates of Southwest Missouri

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Less than two years into the role, Laura Farmer has made quick work of her position as executive director of CASA, which appoints volunteer advocates to work on behalf of abused and neglected children in the foster care system. Revenue, including grants and donations, climbed 33 percent in 2018 and private contributions have jumped 38 percent since she took over.

Her leadership was in full force last year when the nonprofit was informed it would have to vacate its low-cost office space with administrative support at Preferred Family Healthcare. In six months, Farmer rallied CASA staff, board members and stakeholders to find a new space, and she also found time to lead the organization’s expansion into Christian County. “CASA of Southwest Missouri is not the same organization it was when I became executive director,” she says.

What is your proudest moment? When CASA was granted approval to expand our program into Christian County. We are the first in the state to expand into a second court jurisdiction.

What are you doing to make the Ozarks better? I recruit volunteers called CASAs. It only takes one caring, consistent adult in a child’s life to make an impact.

What did you learn the hard way? It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Child welfare is not easy, because change takes time.

What is your theme song? “Whatever It Takes” by Imagine Dragons. My son and I sing it on the way to school every morning. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day!

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