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Opinion: Connecting with the change makers

12 People You Need to Know in 2019

Posted online

If the idiom is true that variety is the spice of life, then this 2019 class has some kick to it.

Among the 12 People You Need to Know is a U.S. attorney, an NCAA Division I basketball coach, a farmer/agritourism entrepreneur, a city manager, a social entrepreneur and a historian of local African-American culture. And that’s just half of the bunch.

This is a milestone year for the editorial series that’s capped off by monthly live interviews over breakfast. It’s our 12th year highlighting the 12 People. The objective is to tell the stories of those doing important work in our community and to make connections with top-level businesspeople that otherwise might not be possible. We provide the context for a handshake, and you can take it from there.

Our first year was in 2008. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and look at some of those interview selections. I’ll update you on where they are now.

Mark McFatridge had just moved to Springfield for the top local post for Regions Bank. He’s now out of banking, living in Arkansas and bringing a Hurts Donut Co. franchise to Little Rock.

Sarah Kerner was the legal counsel for Springfield-Branson National Airport. She remains in a city role but now as economic development director.

Josh Nixon surprised me by accepting our invitation when he was a special agent for the FBI. I found him on LinkedIn, now working as director of global investigative governance for Walmart Inc.

Still in the president’s seat for Convoy of Hope, Hal Donaldson is leading the humanitarian nonprofit into its 25th year in 2019. And Steve Childers remains at the helm of the city of Ozark, which is nearing 20,000 residents.

Jerry Henry was corporate director of research for Herschend Family Entertainment Corp. He now co-owns a company, H2R Market Research, and Herschend Family Entertainment is a client.

See the full list of 12 People from past years here.

What I appreciate about this series is that, in a moment in time, we make connections for businesspeople that change the future.

Can’t help but wonder where Jody Dow, a social entrepreneur through the Springfield Dream Center, will be in the next decade. Or the condition of the city of Springfield under the direction of new City Manager Jason Gage. Or how many businesses (and business partners) serial entrepreneur Josh Widner will have amassed through his bar and restaurant concepts; he had four at last count with more in the pipeline.

But first, 2019.

Arvest Bank is back as annual sponsor of the series – where it’s been since the first year. We’ll be back at Hilton Garden Inn for the breakfast events – the third Tuesday of every month.

I’ll see you there.

Springfield Business Journal Editorial Director can be reached at eolson@sbj.net.

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