Springfield, MO

Log in Subscribe

Tawnie Wilson | SBJ

2023 Most Influential Women: Brandi VanAntwerp

Foster Adopt Connect Inc.

Posted online

Last edited 8:48 a.m., Oct. 17, 2023 [Editor's note: Foster Adopt Connect Inc. no longer plans to move from its new building downtown.] 

Connecting with nonprofits has been part of Brandi VanAntwerp’s life for three decades, tracing back to when she hosted her first fundraiser at the age of 12. Raising over $1,000 for the Council on Families in Crisis and its domestic violence shelter in Nevada helped establish a path that has led her to nonprofit leadership, including her role since 2021 as executive director of Foster Adopt Connect Inc.

VanAntwerp says under her leadership, the FosterAdopt Connect team has experienced a significant boost in productivity and collaboration, which has led to completion of several high-profile projects, such as its Youth Connect Center, which opened late last year in downtown Springfield. The center is a drop-in facility that provides community services for youth ages 13-18.  The downtown building initially was planned to be a temporary home, but VanAntwerp says the organization has now decided against a move. Having helped nearly 430 youth at the center in just under a year, the nonprofit wants to stay connected to the downtown resources that are helpful to those they serve, she says.

“I recognize talent and enjoy developing potential of individuals, encouraging their growth and fostering a positive work environment,” she says. “My ability to listen attentively, genuinely remain open to feedback and engage others in meaningful discussions has been invaluable in building consensus, resolving conflicts and driving positive change at our nonprofit.”

For VanAntwerp, leadership is not dictating or telling others what to do – a lesson she learned in her 20s from a past supervisor.

“It’s giving them the chance to try it themselves while giving them grace to stumble,” she says, adding her philosophy is to allow space for employees to think independently. “It’s walking alongside them to pick them up, dust them off and encourage them while they try again. The simplest visual for it would be bowling with guardrails – there’s still a chance for a strike or spare, but no chance for a gutter ball.”

Prior to FosterAdopt Connect, VanAntwerp was grant administrator for the CoxHealth Foundation for three years. She notes she and her team in 2020 successfully secured over $7.1 million in federal funding for the health system. From 2012-18, she was development director for Habitat for Humanity of Springfield, Missouri Inc., a position in which she managed all fundraising initiatives, including grants, donations and special events.

Abby Glenn, who worked with VanAntwerp at Habitat for Humanity, counts the nonprofit leader as a mentor and friend.

“The work Brandi has done to serve our community by having a career in the nonprofit sector is true dedication,” Glenn says. “She has undoubtedly impacted hundreds of lives by her work and passion for serving others.”

A graduate of Leadership Springfield Class 33, VanAntwerp’s prior civic roles include being a board member with the Diaper Bank of the Ozarks and past president for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Ozark Region chapter. Her current community service roles include being a member on the Friends of SPS Committee and president of Southwest Missouri Grant Writers.


No comments on this story |
Please log in to add your comment
Editors' Pick
Open for Business: The Flying Lap

Plaza Shopping Center gained an arcade with the March 1 opening of The Flying Lap LLC; the repurposing of space operated by Burrell Behavioral Health resulted in the March 18 opening of the company’s second autism center; and a group of downtown business owners teamed up to reopen J.O.B. Public House.

Most Read
Update cookies preferences