As the COVID-19 pandemic has lasted through much of this year, Mary Kromrey says trails and parks have experienced a tremendous uptick in people using them – a fact that suits her just fine as the executive director of Ozark Greenways Inc.
“This unprecedented demand for places to bike, walk and wheel highlights the value that trails have always delivered to communities,” she says. “Connected trail systems protect and conserve our outdoors, support healthy activity, provide transportation choices for all, and serve as catalysts for transformative community development and redevelopment.”
An employee of Ozark Greenways since 2016, Kromrey was promoted to the leadership role in 2017, directing the nonprofit under the guidance of a 14-member board of directors. At Ozark Greenways, her work includes engaging donors, organizing special events, leading local advocacy efforts and participating in land trust activities such as easement acquisition.
Kromrey works closely with a long list of partners on various projects, including local government on the city and county levels, as well as private developers, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and City Utilities. Several stakeholders were contributors to a trail connection project along the Fulbright Spring Greenway completed in July. Kromrey led the project, noting it provided her “the opportunity to learn something new every day.”
“Several key stakeholders have been a part of this project for over 20 years,” she says of the trail connection that travels over a former city landfill. “Having the opportunity to learn from them while gaining leadership experience helped grow my knowledge base of environmental best practices, construction management and communication skills.”
Prior to arriving at Ozark Greenways, Kromrey was executive director of the School Age Services program for Ozarks Regional YMCA. At the YMCA, she led a team of nine with an annual operating budget of $2.3 million for service of over 2,000 youth each school day.
“It was by making the change from working for a larger organization to leading a small nonprofit that created many new experiences and opportunities, and I developed new leadership skills as a result,” she says. “Whether its convening groups, co-creating projects that have the potential to transform our region or completing a capital trail project, building community is at the heart of it all.”
Susie Turner has known Kromrey for nearly 20 years, going back to when they were co-workers at the YMCA. As a former board president of Ozark Greenways, Turner says she’s witnessed Kromrey’s leadership firsthand.
“Her manner of combining humor, confidence and direction in her leadership style brings people together and gets things done,” she says.
Kromrey’s love of community extends beyond the outdoors. Among her many civic roles, she’s been a member of Junior League of Springfield since 2006, which includes three stints on the board of directors. She’s also a board member of the Missouri State Parks Foundation and on the advisory committee for Sculpture Walk Springfield.
Springfield Business Journal’s 2023 Trusted Advisers event honors 20 businesspeople.