Acknowledging the past year has been the most challenging of her career, Carrie Richardson says it also has been the most rewarding.
Starting in July 2018 as executive director of Leadership Springfield, Richardson was tasked with leading a newly independent organization that had spent three decades as an affiliate program of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. With her leadership, the organization launched Access Class, designed to provide a community crash course for individuals in leadership new to the community or looking to expand professional connections.
Access Class is in addition to the organization’s existing Signature Class, Leadership Springfield Academy and Principals of Leadership programs.
“This class has real impact with individuals as well as increasing community leadership retention impact moving forward,” Richardson says of Access Class, which she led from concept to creation and implementation.
While noting her new role has required a delicate balance and intentional journey every day, she takes particular satisfaction in seeing other employees flourish.
“Being in leadership often puts me in a unique position to know someone’s goals and be able to help them achieve those,” she says. “There’s little else in life that makes me so proud as seeing someone I’ve poured my energy into succeed.”
One of those she’s influenced is Bernadette Losh, chief clinic officer at Ozarks Community Hospital, where Richardson worked as chief operating officer 2007-18.
“Our leadership team leaned on her in times of crisis and stress, and she never wavered,” Losh says of Richardson. “Her ethos is important to her, and she doesn’t let anything compromise that.”
Heading up an organization with more than 2,000 alumni, Richardson says she brings qualities of being both detail oriented and strategically minded to connect dots between resources, people, places and opportunities.
“I led the organization through great transition a year ago so that we were in a position to meet community needs, scale and grow programs,” she says of the community leadership programs. “Our mission has to be living, and I ask myself this question every day: How can I inspire, develop and connect local leaders to serve our community?”
Her influence extends beyond the workplace as Richardson has served since 2011 on an advisory council for the Greene County Children’s Division and Greene County, Missouri Alliance for Drug Endangered Children. She’s also volunteered with Community Partnership of the Ozarks, serving as a past chairwoman of the planning committee for Hope Connection, an annual homeless outreach event.
“The biggest impact we can make in our community is one interaction at a time, one day at a time,” she says. “I approach every day as an opportunity to live out the mission of my organization and to do that in an ethical and honest way.”
Element Springfield South opened; Outlaw Gentlemen Barbershop added a second location; and wellness studio Stretch Zone launched.