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Springfield, MO

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Preston is the director of business operations for the American Red Cross (Disaster and Safety Services) at 1211 S. Glenstone. Beginning June 1, she will be going into private practice with Preston and Nacy, CPAs, 1411 E. Primrose. The American Red Cross Greater Ozarks Chapter provides Disaster Assistance, Armed Forces Emergency Services and Health and Safety Education Services to a 10-county area in southwest Missouri. Preston and Nacy is a local accounting firm, co-owned by Preston's father, Jack, and specializing in closely held businesses and non-profit organizations. The company offers a full range of accounting services. Preston is an active member of the Delta Gamma Alumni Association and a member of the Arkansas Razorback Alumni Association.

Age: 32.

No. of years in Springfield/area: Has lived in Springfield since the age of 4, with the exception of 5 1/2 years (1989-1994) in Florida.

Education: A 1983 graduate of Kickapoo High School, she received a bachelor of science degree in accounting/computer information systems from the University of Arkansas in 1987.

Early career: After graduating from college, Preston went to work for her father's CPA firm. Her primary responsibility at that time was the computerization of client records and the selection and installation of software. Two years later, she got the opportunity to move to Florida and work for Walt Disney World. She moved to Orlando, intending to stay only one year and have "a lot of fun, which I did," she said. She worked the front desk at Fort Wilderness Resort as an operations lead. After a year, Preston wanted to start using her college education again, so she transferred to the financial reporting division of the company "probably the best career decision I could have made," she said. The division was responsible for all financial statements, departmental statements and analysis, statistical reporting, budget-vs.-actual reporting, special events reporting and numerous special projects. Because the financial reporting division moved people around quite a bit to allow them to get a good cross-section of experience, Preston worked in several different areas during her 4 1/2 years there, including the marketing and advertising division, the recreation division (golf courses, water parks and Discovery Island the Disney zoological park), premium hotels, and attractions merchandising and attractions sales, which had operations on both coasts, as well as international and regional offices. "The job was sometimes high-stress, high-pressure, long hours and extremely frustrating, but it was always exciting, challenging, educational, fun and incredibly interesting," she said. After 5 1/2 years of missing her family, Preston decided to return to Springfield. In 1994 she became director of business operations for the American Red Cross Greater Ozarks Chapter. "It has been quite the learning experience. Working for a not-for-profit organization is completely different than anything I've ever done before and has presented more than a few challenges," Preston said. Of all the things she likes about the organization, Preston said she is most impressed by the dedication of its volunteers. "Working here has given me a whole new appreciation for those in need of help and those who offer their help."

Current projects: Preston is active in the Junior League of Springfield and will be secretary during the coming year. She has also just returned from Leadership Training School in Kansas City for the LOGOS youth program offered by her church, First and Calvary Presbyterian, and is looking forward to being involved in that program.

Management philosophy: "I've always believed that you should never ask someone to do something you would not want to be asked to do," she said.

Spare-time pursuits: Golf, water skiing, softball, volleyball, hiking. She has "developed a newfound interest in yard work and landscaping since buying my house two years ago." She also loves to read and do cross stitch.

Family data: Single, the daughter of Jack and Rita Preston, who live in Springfield, as does her older sister, Laura. Her younger brother, Scott, lives in New Hampshire.

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