"My plan was to never leave college,” says Jaimie Trussell, CEO of Council of Churches of the Ozarks Inc.
Fortunately, for Trussell, things didn’t go according to plan. After working at Drury and Missouri State universities, she started a career in nonprofits, at Convoy of Hope and Adult & Teen Challenge USA. But she felt compelled to fulfill a greater calling. “I knew that I was created to help feed hungry kids,” Trussell says.
Earlier this year, the board president of Council of Churches of the Ozarks asked Trussell, 44, to consider filling the position of CEO, a title previously held by Mark Struckoff, who retired in 2019. Despite multiple recommendations, she was hesitant.
“I said, ‘I’m not Mark,’” Trussell says. “Mark is quiet and gentle, and I’m loud and enthusiastic. I’m a cheerleader; he’s a pastor.”
But Trussell says a cheerleader is exactly what the nonprofit needed. The 51-year-old organization wanted someone to grow its network of 70 churches, increase fundraising and tell the stories of the work CCO is doing.
CCO has a $5.2 million operating budget for 2021 and 59 employees. The organization has nine outreach services, including Ambassadors for Children foster care outreach, Crosslines food pantry, Connections home repair service and Safe to Sleep women’s shelter.
She assumed the role in August, and it was not without challenges. “Who wants to take over a nonprofit in the middle of a pandemic?” she jokes.
During the shutdown, CCO saw demand for food assistance go up by 46%, she says. Trussell’s main goals for her position are to “do good well and safely,” and to streamline efficiencies while serving as many people as possible.
This year, Trussell assumed another challenging role: board president of the Springfield-Branson National Airport.
“Again, who wants to be chair of the airport during a global pandemic?” she says with a laugh.
Trussell says the staff and their ability to manage the situation has far surpassed her expectations. Trussell also is a member of the Community Partnership of the Ozarks Advisory Board, the Chief of Police Advisory Board and the Junior League Advisory Board.
“When I’m not working long hours, I’m at home playing in the dirt,” she says.
She and her husband, Robert, live on a hobby farm in Fair Grove with their two children, Connor and Carson. Although her plate is full, Trussell embraces the chance to do this work.
“The opportunity to bring my private self fully into my work self, that seemed like an opportunity I couldn’t pass,” she says. “It’s like getting paid to have your personality.”
Revival 98 opened a dispensary; the 101st store for Andy’s Frozen Custard Inc. debuted; and Collectomaniacs card shop consolidated two stores in a move.
Oftentimes it takes a while before your sidegig starts rolling. Barak Hill gives his experience slowly seeing his business improve, and how he used his connections and reputation to gain more clients. Barak Hill is a local professional musician.
Sandra Smart, a technology and commercialization specialist, shares helpful tools and resources to use for the customer discovery phase of launching a new tech business. Smart works with tech entrepreneurs and hosts training workshops through the Missouri SBDC at Missouri State University's efactory.
Jared Rasmussen, Office Leader for Springfield and Joplin with the engineering firm Olsson, explains the vision of the Renew Jordan Creek Project. He says the city's investment demonstrates it's commitment to the community.
Both Jeramey and Julia Henson talk about their experience in PDR (paintless dent repair), and elaborate on the need for efficient time management. Sometimes you need to know when to move on to the next project. Jeramey and Julia Henson are co-owners of the HM Dentworks Academy with Chris McWhirter.
Jessica Oliva, owner of Pickles and Buns food truck and co-owner of Tinga Tacos, says not to assume you know everything. She says her time in the industry has taught her that she always has more to learn.
Sandra Smart, a technology and commercialization specialist, explains what entrepreneurs should know about starting the customer discovery phase for launching your great tech business idea. Smart works with tech entrepreneurs and startups and hosts training workshops through the Missouri SBDC at Missouri State University's efactory.
Hollie Elliot describes the trends she sees in small towns after the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. She says that people see opportunity in these rural places they might not have seen before. Elliott is the Executive Director of the Dallas County Economic Development Group.
Sean Thouvenot, vice president of Branco Enterprises, gives an overview of what the process looks like once you have decided to invest in a new building. This video is sponsored by Branco Enterprises.
Caleb Scott, owner and coach for Queen City Insane Asylum semi-professional football team, talks about team cohesion. He says that despite the fact he may not look the part of a coach, the men look past it to see how they can work together.
Barak Hill, a professional musician living in the Springfield area, recounts when he first realized he could take his music career seriously. He recounts his journey to the point when he realized his passion could do more than pay for itself.