Michael R. Kromrey

Executive Director at Watershed Committee of the Ozarks

Michael R. Kromrey
Photo by Katy St. ClairMichael R. Kromrey is Executive Director at Watershed Committee of the Ozarks. Purchase Photo

Mike Kromrey is always thinking about decades when it comes to his work.

At Watershed Committee of the Ozarks, Mike leads a team of about 30 educators, conservationists and scientists who have a simple mission: keep our water clean. But 40 years after its founding, the organization’s work is increasingly challenging and complex.

“Global ecological systems are in crisis,” he says. “We’re using our 40th anniversary as a platform to use what we’ve learned in the last 40 years to scale up our local impact and prepare us to face the challenges of the next 40 years, which include population growth and climate change. We know what works best, we know how to do it, we just need to do more to keep pace with the threats we’re facing.”

Since 2006, Kromrey has worked to improve 417-land’s waterways through projects and education. When he was promoted to executive director in 2012, he helped foster partnerships with municipalities and other nonprofits to do more: more stream restorations, more innovative programs, more educational opportunities with local schools.

When it comes to clean water, there’s always more to be done, he says.

“Mike is a visionary leader who sees opportunities where others may see challenges,” says Marra Holt, communication coordinator for Watershed Committee of the Ozarks.

“He’s willing to take risks and use lessons learned to adapt for the future. Mike embraces bold ideas and cultivates collaboration among community groups, nonprofits, agencies, businesses, students and hobbyists to make our collective clean water dreams a reality.”

For Kromrey, he’s always thinking about how his work will impact the next generation. But when there’s an endless stream of projects, literally, Kromrey is now focused on how the work for cleaner water can be more strategic for even greater impact in the decades to come.

“The challenges of population growth and climate change are tracking on an exponential growth curve, but our progress has only been linear,” he says. “We need to catch up. We need to do more.”

Nailed It, Failed It with Mike Kromrey

“Recently, we finished a stream restoration project. We stabilized and healed a section of stream, and we were able to find the grant money to assist the land owner in paying for it. We grew the plants and trees with our Watershed Native Plant Nursery in partnership with Hillcrest High School students. We planted the trees with our team. That project will have a lasting positive impact on the river, and we were there every step of the way with programs and partners making it possible.” #NailedIt

“In the last seven years, we’ve grown from four people to about 30 people, and with that tremendous growth, we’ve had a lot of growing pains. We’ve failed to have some of the systems and support in place for our team members, so they have what they need for personal and professional growth and work-life balance. In spite of the challenges, we’ve kept on going. We’re getting better at making sure our policies are there to support the people doing the hard work and continue focusing on the most effective ways to advance our mission.” #FailedIt

For the Record

Book recommendation
From Strength to Strength by Arthur Brooks

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A conservationist with the Missouri Department of Conservation

Your hometown
Sullivan, Missouri

Your coffee order

Favorite way to unwind in the Ozarks?
Floating, fishing and hunting throughout the seasons

Meaningful mentors
Brian Fogle, Dan Hoy, Mary Kromrey

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