Rachel Fortenberry

Founding Attorney at Fortified Elder Law

Rachel Fortenberry
Photo by Katy St. ClairRachel Fortenberry is Founding Attorney at Fortified Elder Law. Purchase Photo

When Rachel Fortenberry was in law school, she had a plan: She was going to work in the prosecutor’s office of a county in Ohio. She had accepted a job, had plans for the summer and had a path paved for her career ahead.

And then, she made a phone call.

“I called my dad to wish him happy birthday, and he said he was in the hospital,” she says. “They told me my dad had a mass on his liver and that the doctor said ‘cancer.’ He had to have a tumor removed, and I gave up that job and came home.”

Her father recovered, but her life changed. Now, she helps people navigate their own life-changing news: a terminal diagnosis, a devastating prognosis, a tragedy unfolds. And for so many of her clients, she’s the person they look to for guidance in navigating next steps as a person reaches life’s end.

As an attorney specializing in end-of-life care, Fortenberry is a millennial attorney paving the way for better, kinder end-of-life care for baby boomers and beyond. At Fortifield Elder Law, she helps her clients, but she’s also helping organizations and care providers increase and innovate their services, with more and better end-of-life care available for an aging population.

“Seniors are a forgotten population,” she says. “But they are an increasing population. What we’re trying to do is put Springfield and Southwest Missouri on the cutting edge of navigating these hard topics.”

Fortenberry serves on the executive board for Hospice Foundation of the Ozarks, a nonprofit that has distributed millions in grants for end-of-life services. With her help, the nonprofit is working to launch a premier End-of-Life Care Summit in 2025, with attendees from the four-state region coming together to design, develop and discuss best practices for end-of-life care.

“Knowledge truly is power, and education is the cornerstone of empowerment,” says Fortenberry. Working with HFO to create and distribute reliable information is crucial to helping others understand the necessary steps to take when faced with end-of-life situations.

“Rachel’s dual role as an HFO Executive Board Member, co-chair of the HFO Advisory Committee and an elder law attorney underscores her holistic approach to serving the community,” says Anjanette LaBellarte, executive director of Hospice Foundation of the Ozarks. “By combining her legal expertise with her commitment to compassionate care, Rachel makes a significant and lasting impact on the lives of those she serves.”

Nailed It, Failed It with Rachel Fortenberry

“Last winter, I presented about end-of-life decision-making at Prosper U with Central Bank of the Ozarks. I received such great feedback, I was invited by Republic School District to do a similar presentation for their school district because one of their leaders was there at my talk. It felt really gratifying to know that I can share about a complicated topic in a way that’s accessible, in a format that is making an impact.” #NailedIt

“When I worked at Blockbuster in college, I didn’t get promoted. I was next in line to be promoted and I was passed over by a high school student. What that taught me is that it doesn’t really matter if you’re smart. It matters the effort and hard work you put in. I realized that I wasn’t putting in as much hard work as I could and should be doing. Ever since that experience, I’ve brought hard work to every job that I've been in and bring maximum effort to everything that I do.” #FailedIt

For the Record

Book recommendation
Mindset by Carol Dweck.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
First female president of the United States of America.

Your hometown

Your coffee order
Lavender latte at Kingdom Coffee.

Favorite way to unwind in the Ozarks?
Camping at Stockton Lake.

Meaningful mentors
Noble Bowman and Sativa Boatman.

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