Women Who Mean Business

Dr. Grenita Lathan is a Woman Who Means Business

Dr. Grenita Lathan, one of Biz 417's 2024 Women Who Mean Business, is the Superintendent of Springfield Public Schools.

By Jordan Blomquist | Photographed by Brandon Alms

Mar 2024

Dr. Grenita Lathan, Superintendent of Springfield Public Schools
Photo by Brandon AlmsDr. Grenita Lathan is the Superintendent of Springfield Public Schools. Purchase Photo

Many days, it feels like Dr. Grenita Lathan is carrying the entire world on her shoulders. While she’s not exactly carrying the world, she is carrying the entire Springfield Public School District—the largest school district in Missouri. Even so, as the Superintendent, Dr. Lathan strives to bring composure, grace and strong leadership to every interaction. “She is smart and has the focus to drive success in herself and others but is able to do so in a collaborative and non-threatening way,” Mary Schrag says in her nomination.

Dr. Lathan is in her third year as superintendent, but she has been in education for more than 30 years. In Springfield, she serves 23,500 students and over 3,500 staff members.

Since Dr. Lathan took over the superintendent role in 2021, the community passed Proposition S, a project focused on safer students and stronger schools, with over 77% approval from voters. Dr. Lathan also rolled out SPS University—an initiative to engage parents and the community through events—and launched Let’s Talk!, which gives family and community members the opportunity to interact with Dr. Lathan face-to-face or by submitting questions online. “We work hard at communicating and trying to reach out to everyone in Springfield,” Dr. Lathan says. “It’s my goal to... share our story and share the great things that are happening in Springfield Public Schools.”

While some consider Dr. Lathan’s career rather taxing, she navigates it with confidence and poise, which she attributes to prayer. “A lot of prayer, a lot of support from trusted colleagues that offer the encouragement that’s needed, but also great advice,” she says. Prioritizing the specific needs of children, parents and staff can be challenging, but Dr. Lathan falls back on her spiritual beliefs and trusts that she is in the right place. “I’m reminded of who I am and what I need to do and that I’ve been called to serve children,” she says. “I know right now, at this point in time, it’s the right work.”

When she’s not working hard to communicate with the community and leading the Springfield Public School District, her favorite thing to do is curl up with a good book (maybe two), particularly a murder mystery. Her love for books ties into why she loves her job so much: “Children learning to read for the first time,” says. “Being able to know that some children’s lives will truly be changed as a result of receiving a quality education. ”

People say it’s lonely at the top, a sentiment that resonates with Dr. Lathan, but she considers herself fortunate to be in a position where she can make a positive impact. “I’m mindful that somebody else could have this job or have this blessing to be able to interact with so many people,” Lathan says. “I try to be mindful of that even when I get down, and just be thankful that I can have so many other things going on.”


Favorite Podcast
No BS with Jim Farrell

Favorite Book
Anything by the late Mary Higgins Clark

First Job
I worked the salad bar at Western Steer Steakhouse

#1 Thing on Your Bucket List
A 14-day cruise

Who Are Your Role Models
My mom and my late grandmother.