Springfield, MO

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Manager of transportation, City Utilities of Springfield, 301 E. Central. CU was created in 1945 when the city of Springfield purchased local gas, electric and transit operations, adding water in 1957. The transit system, once comprising mule-drawn streetcars, now has 19 buses shuttling citizens around the city 6 a.m.-midnight 365 days a year. Fritts began working at CU in 1989 in the information systems department, moving to operations in 1994. She became manager of transportation in 1996. Fritts is a member of Sunrise Rotary, Leadership Springfield Alumni Association and Leadership Missouri Alumni Association. She is also a past board president of Center City Care Corporation (Uptown Kids) and a retired board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks.

Age: 40

No. of years in Springfield/area: 10

Education: Fritts graduated from Carthage Senior High School in 1977 and earned degrees in accounting and computer science from Missouri Southern State College in 1981.

Early career: Fritts began her accounting career in college with Leggett & Platt Inc. When her boss left the company to start his own accounting practice, Hardy & Associates, he asked her to join him as the only staff accountant. In 1981, Fritts was recruited by a partner from the Dallas office of Arthur Andersen and Co., now Andersen Consulting, who was seeking students who had education in both accounting and computer systems. In 1986, Fritts accepted a three-year transfer to staff Andersen's Calgary, Alberta, office in Canada. Seeking an escape from the high-pressure life of consulting work, Fritts and her husband returned to the Ozarks in 1989.

Current projects: Fritts and her staff are working on a new route to provide transportation for their passengers traveling to East Kearney. They are continuing to focus on expanding their advertising program in order to increase revenues and reduce the subsidy required from the electric and gas systems.

Management philosophy: "Listen carefully to your employees and understand their concerns. Experience the day-to-day activities firsthand to better understand the issues if problems arise. However, once I've done this, I try to step back and trust the wisdom of the employees making daily decisions."

Spare-time pursuits: Fritts enjoys outdoor activities at the lake with her family and supporting her kids at their soccer, baseball or football games, depending on which season it is. She also spends time helping her husband with the administrative side of his business, which he operates out of their home.

Family data: Married to Drew for 14 years. Two children: Melissa, a sixth-grader at Hickory Hills Middle School and Thomas, a third-grader at Wilder Elementary School.

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