Women in Business

Southwest Missouri Businesses That are Powered by Women

Meet the local leaders who are moving their respective businesses forward.

Mar 2021

Business women in a meeting
Photo courtesy Shutterstock

It’s no secret that southwest Missouri is full of female leaders guiding businesses to success. Read on to learn how local companies are committed to building diverse leadership, empowering their employees and enriching our business community.

OakStar Bank is Powered by Women
Left to right: Rita Baron, Chairman of the board, Oakstar Bancshares; Jessie Tindall, Senior Vice PResident, Private Banking Manager; Layne McBride, Senior Vice President, Corporate Services; Renee Samuels, Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer/Culture CEO
OakStar Bank Springfield MO
OakStar Bank lobby

OakStar Bank

2155 W. Chesterfield St., Springfield, MO | 417-447-0535

Imagine walking into a cozy home and being greeted by old friends. Now, imagine these same friends helping you with your banking needs. OakStar Bank is all about creating close relationships. Not only do each of their team members genuinely enjoy what they do, but they also love creating fun banking experiences and actively serving the 417 community.

The bank is firmly committed to its values, which are appropriately represented by the acronym SERVE: Stewardship, Empathy, Responsiveness, Vision and Empowerment.

These values define OakStar’s company culture because employees and their families are always put first. When the team is happy, their customers will be happy from the moment they walk into the bank’s doors. They can expect to be greeted by friendly people who know their name, care about them and are excited for their future.

At OakStar, banking is about helping customers take some of the biggest steps in their individual journeys, from buying the home of their dreams to making their small business goals come to life. In addition, OakStar’s team members share the same passion for the communities they serve. Whether they are sponsoring a local event, volunteering at the local food pantry or even coaching the youth baseball team, these bankers are active and caring citizens who will leave a lasting legacy.

As a part of an ever-changing business community, OakStar believes that diversity, flexibility and empowerment are needed to create both solutions and success. Similar to how customers receive a distinct banking experience, each female member of OakStar’s team is a leader in her own way. Rita Baron is Chairman of the Board at OakStar Bancshares. Renee Samuels is the Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer/Culture CEO. Layne McBride is the Senior Vice President of Corporate Services. Jessie Tindall is the Senior Vice President and Private Banking Manager. These are just a few examples of outstanding role models for women both at OakStar and throughout 417-land.

“So, who really enjoys banking?” Well, not only are OakStar’s customers about to see and feel the difference, but the surrounding community will as well.

Heather Rooney McBride
Heather Rooney McBride
Rooney McBride & Smith is Powered by Women
Entire Rooney McBride & Smith Team
Jennifer Brodersen, Heather Rooney McBride, Mallory McDonald
Jennifer Brodersen, Heather Rooney McBride, Mallory McDonald

Rooney McBride & Smith

1445 E. Republic Road Suite 300, Springfield, MO | 417-708-9681

Rooney McBride & Smith does not just aim for excellence. Instead, the firm is committed to “practicing excellence.” In 2011, Springfield native Heather Rooney McBride founded her practice in a manner that would provide the same quality as a large firm, which is one of the environments that she worked in for several years. Rooney McBride also incorporated the sense of service-oriented and personalized connection that distinguishes both small firms and her hometown.

As a civil practice firm, the experienced team of attorneys handles cases that actively improve the lives of Springfield citizens. Whether these cases involve business matters, litigation, estate planning, real estate or family law, clients can expect to be significantly involved. Each attorney regularly communicates with their clients as well, which helps ensure that they feel respected and valued.

“Practicing excellence” starts with outstanding professional development, which naturally leads to promoting the well-being of the community. Instead of solely building up law practices, attorneys are able to nurture their interests, develop their clientele and receive continued education. These attorneys, all of whom are either Springfield natives or long-term residents, give back to the city by serving on at least one local nonprofit board and contributing pro bono legal service hours each year.

When it comes to promoting female empowerment, Rooney McBride is a true advocate in every sense of the word. “I have always made it a priority to foster relationships with female professionals and to mentor young women who aspire to be leaders,” she says. “Contributing to their success makes our business community better and more attractive to outside talent.”

Rooney McBride takes pride in serving as the managing member of the firm, and in handling complex litigation matters, which is a unique pedigree for southwest Missouri. Not only does Rooney McBride believe that the legal culture of 417-land is “changing for the better,” but she wants her example to show women that “hard work breeds success, irrespective of gender.”

2021 marks Rooney McBride & Smith’s tenth anniversary, and their mission remains the same. In Rooney McBride’s words, ”We work under time constraints and with client budgets to make sure that everything that leaves this office is as perfect as it can be.”

BKD CPAs & Advisors is Powered by Women
Left to right: Juli Pascoe, Brandy Buckler, Mary Anne Pipkin, Jean Nyberg, Amber Popek, Camille Lockhart, Stephanie Weis, Erica Smith, Kristen Wannenmacher Bright, Kim Hamm

BKD CPAs & Advisors

910 E. St. Louis St., Springfield, MO | 417-865-8701

At BKD CPAs and Advisors, over 2,900 dedicated professionals combine the ideas of thought leaders across multiple industries. Whether you need solid tax, audit or consulting advice—or a blend of them all—BKD’s team of experts will provide solutions that simplify your life.

Gender diversity is an integral part of BKD’s SKY initiative, and it is exemplified through the 11 women partners who work at the Springfield office: Juli Pascoe, Brandy Buckler, Mary Anne Pipkin, Jean Nyberg, Amber Popek, Camille Lockhart, Stephanie Weis, Erica Smith, Kristen Wannenmacher Bright, Kim Hamm and Angela Morelock. The firm focuses on inclusivity and personal career growth through several educational programs, such as the SKY Professional Development Series and the SKYx Women’s Conference.

As a “we, not me” firm, BKD’s People First culture respects individual differences, because they strengthen the team as a whole. This culture, as well as the firm’s unmatched client service, is made possible by the PRIDE values of passion, respect, integrity, discipline and excellence. The BKD Foundation shares many of these values through charitable giving and volunteerism.

By leveraging unique talents and developing an awareness of unconscious biases, BKD wants to earn the community’s trust on both a financial and interpersonal level.

Erica Lea Design Studios is Powered by Women
Left to Right: Tiffany Amass, Kayla Ziehr, Erica Hendrix, Isabelle Yeary

Erica Lea Design Studios

380 E. State Highway CC, Suite D 105, Nixa, MO | 417-731-4086

Since 2010, Erica Lea Design Studios has worked with a host of clients both locally and nationally. This Nixa-based interior design firm partners with artistic and detailed professionals who represent all different trades, helping them make high-end concepts a reality.

This customer-focused design company uses a white glove, service-oriented approach. According to owner and founder Erica Hendrix, each project is unique because it “reflects the people who reside there.” She also says that creating a positive sense of place and home helps facilitate a family’s sense of belonging and enriches the community as a whole.

In addition to collaborating with an insightful team of female leaders, Hendrix regularly conducts pro bono work with organizations like Habitat for Humanity and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The company also facilitates the Guild, which is a group of talented interior designers working toward becoming better business owners.

Whether they are working on a house or out in the community, the team at Erica Lea Design Studios hopes to “enhance and elevate” the lives of the people who make 417-land home.

Lash Love is Powered by Women
Sara Matthewson

Lash Love

5420 N. Town Centre Drive Suite 101, Ozark, MO 417-597-8206

Your lower face has to be concealed by a mask, so now is the perfect time to make your eyelids beautiful and captivating. Since 2017, Lash Love and Skin Decisions has been proud to “bring the highest quality without the highest price tag.” Not only is Lash Love the only full service lash studio in 417-land, but they also offer a variety of services that promote optimal relaxation and refreshment. From cleansing hydra derm facials to soothing massages, you are sure to look dazzling and feel delightful for any occasion. Even the men can receive a sparkling smile with Lash Love’s classy teeth whitening service, which Sara is a licensed dental hygienist for.

Each client is treated to a private room during their session, allowing for personalized care and maximal comfort. Lash Love is also located right off of Highway CC in Ozark, which makes your drive serene and Springfield traffic-free.

Thanks to an inspiring team of licensed female professionals, Lash Love gives women the confidence that will help them become leaders. By helping women “feel their best,” owner Sara Matthewson believes that they will be able to “do their best” as they show the world what they are capable of.

Contact Lash Love today for your pampered getaway!

Ozarks Elder Law is Powered by Women
Ozarks Elder Law team

Ozarks Elder Law

2832 S. Ingram Mill Road, Suite 100, Springfield, MO 417-868-8200

When you think of a law firm, you may envision stuffy conference rooms and intimidating lawyers. For Lori Rook, managing attorney, and her law partner, Elyse Hartley, and their team of all women attorneys, Ozarks Elder Law is breaking the mold of the stereotypical law firm.

At Ozarks Elder Law, the focus is on you and your family. Through estate planning and asset protection, Ozarks Elder Law helps you plan for what lies ahead and navigate the crippling costs of long-term care. Ozarks Elder Law specializes in nursing home planning, Medicaid, probate, business succession planning, elder abuse, special needs trusts and trust administration.

With a passionate and holistic approach, Ozarks Elder Law was built to serve the needs of your life, schedule and situation. Their focus is accommodating you in person, by telephone, or virtually at one of their seven offices.

These are not your run-of-the-mill attorneys. These are women—mothers, wives, daughters, grandmothers, professionals and community volunteers with the mission to support and protect your life’s unique situation as they would their own.

Whenever and wherever you need them, this ladies-only law firm has offices in seven communities to better serve you: Springfield, Joplin, Ozark, Marshfield, Nixa, Lebanon and Branson.

Specialty Risk Insurance Agency is Powered by Women
Left to right: Alexis Lawhead, Tiffany Ingle, Quincy Charleston-Atwood, Kelly Dannels

Specialty Risk Insurance Agency

2023 S. Garrison Ave., Carthage, MO 417-359-5470

Specialty Risk Insurance Agency is recognized for providing agribusiness insurance, commercial business insurance and much more, to regional and national customers. The agency treats customers like family by providing personal phone numbers, showing up during crises and going out to see customers to review policies and changes. The agency has a custom group health benefits program that helps clients retain and attract quality employees while working within the framework of the clients’ business, big or small.

Specialty Risk thrives on a “don’t stop until the job is done” mentality, placing equal value on employees who are both highly qualified and hard workers. The agency is proud to highlight that 66% of their employees are women, many of whom hold leadership positions. As a part of the agency’s all-female health benefits team, Quincy Charleston-Atwood guides fellow team members Tiffany Ingle, Kelly Dannels and Alexis Lawhead.

Supporting the communities where their agents work and live is an integral part of Specialty Risk’s company culture. In addition to providing training for grain bin safety, the agency insures thousands of businesses that are vital to feeding America. From working with decision makers to strengthening 417-land, Specialty Risk believes that “when a business is focused on serving people, success follows.”

TierOne is Powered by Women
Left to right: Hollis Presley, Hattie Hopwood, Claire Porter


3036 S. Fremont Ave., Springfield, MO 417-843-7663

In an industry in which women are underrepresented in the workforce, TierOne is proud to be powered by women. Women make up only a quarter of the tech and telecom workforce, despite representing over half the country’s workers in all industries. At TierOne, women constitute a significant portion of the firm and are instrumental in propelling business forward. 

TierOne’s differentiating factor is its customer-first focus. In the inherently frustrating telecom industry, TierOne connects clients to better-performing voice, connectivity and cloud solutions while saving them money and providing lifetime IT and customer support beyond the fine print. The success of those programs relies upon the contributions of the firm's female leaders. 

Midwest Territory Manager Hollis Presley listens to each client’s unique needs, identifies pain points and opportunities for improvements, and helps craft custom solutions that optimize efficiency and performance. Sales Support Manager Hattie Hopwood oversees the analysts responsible for Inventory Analytics, which take stock of clients’ current telecom environments and uncover added savings and customer relationship data. Strategic Communication Manager Claire Porter manages education and engagement, keeping clients abreast of the industry’s latest solutions and improvements. 

TierOne’s own Women Who Mean Business are instrumental in executing the company's core mission: providing clients with the top-tier telecom experience they deserve.

U.S. Bank is Powered by Women
First Row: Sharon Koechner, Candice Reed, Leana Johnston Second Row: Chris Hazen, Jacqueline Ruiz-Esparza Third Row: Jennifer Patinsky-Pillado, Lelia Voss, Laurie Adams Back Row: Lisa Traulsen, Janet Weber, Joyce Wong-Hsu, Carissa Read

U.S. Bank

1615 S. Glenstone Ave., Springfield, MO | 417-888-2275

In 2020, Fortune magazine named U.S. Bank the number one most admired superregional bank for the eleventh straight year. From directly wiring funds for traveling consumers to offering same-day depositing for business owners, U.S. Bank and their affiliates customize their services while maintaining ethical integrity. Customers can count on receiving local expertise from an impressive team of female leaders in areas like wealth management, payment solutions, mortgage lending, commercial, treasury management and trust. The company also provides funding and volunteering programs for their employees, encouraging them to enhance the communities where they live, work and play.

U.S. Bank identifies inclusion as a “core behavior” of success. In 2020, DiversityInc named the company to the Top 50 Companies for Overall Diversity list, recognizing categories like disability representation and philanthropy. The Women’s Advancement Initiative and the African American and Hispanic Leadership Summits helped highlight the unique needs of specific employee segments. An Inclusive Leadership series created business strategies through the framework of equity and diversity as well.

Although they are the fifth largest commercial bank, U.S. Bank has local teams committed to maintaining a diversified business model, delivering state-of-the-art solutions and spreading cultural awareness throughout the community.

Volt Credit Union is Powered by Women
Front Row: Caroline Richardson, Shana Jahnke, Barbra Berrios Back Row: Tina Campbell, Loretta Roney, Lyndsey Robertson, Vicki Owens, Teri Bee, Taryn Ice

Volt Credit Union

2624 W. Republic Road | 2440 N. Kansas Expressway, Springfield, MO | 417-862-0471

When it comes to managing finances, the team at Volt Credit Union is highly qualified to calculate the numbers. But their credit union members are never “just a number.” CEO and President Loretta Roney and the team at Volt have crafted a culture within their walls where they are encouraged to be themselves, get to know each member and treat each other with sincerity and respect.

Looking out for the interests of others is simply a part of the Volt experience, and it has not gone unnoticed. In 2020, Volt was named a Springfield Chamber of Commerce Small Business Finalist, which recognizes innovative products, services and community outreach. Annually raising thousands of dollars for charitable organizations such as the Child Advocacy Center and Habitat for Humanity is one of the many ways that generosity and kindness extend beyond Volt’s walls. That is why the credit union was named the 2020 Philanthropic Business of the Year by the local chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Volt portrays their banking experience in a bold manner through the motto, “reVOLT against banking as usual.” At the heart of their adventurous efforts, though, is a team of financial professionals who, in the words of Edith Piaf, never hesitate to “send the elevator back down to help others.”

BluCurrent Credit Union is Powered by Women
Left to right: DeAnna Downs & Hannah McCaig

BluCurrent Credit Union

1770 W. Sunset St., Springfield, MO | 417-887-1983

Founded right here in the Ozarks in 1929, BluCurrent Credit Union has grown to 23,000 members and over $239 million in assets. BluCurrent’s growth would not be possible without leaders like deAnna Downs, VP of Mortgage Lending, and Hannah McCaig, Mortgage Sales Manager. Under deAnna’s direction, the mortgage team earned the Members Mortgage Services’ 2020 Credit Union of the Year Award and the 2020 Rising Star Award. By returning profits to the community it serves, BluCurrent treats its members with the friendliness and generosity that 417-land fosters. BluCurrent has helped build better lives in the Ozarks for over 90 years.

© 2021 BluCurrent Credit Union—Equal Housing Lender—NMLS #459303—Your savings are federally insured to at least $250,000 and backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government. National Credit Union Administration, a U.S. Government Agency.

I Pour Life is Powered by Women
Front row: Lauryn Masters, julie higgins, Mikenzie Sorgenfrei Back row: Rita Gurian, vanessa higgins, Alia Lee

I Pour Life

1006 N. Cedarbrook Ave., Springfield, MO | 417-755-7039

Since 2011, I Pour Life has provided coaching and development in at-risk and underserved communities, both locally and globally. Under the leadership of founder and CEO Julie Higgins, I Pour Life focuses on positive people development using a curriculum-based and data-driven approach. The organization applies this model not only to the communities it serves but also to its staff. They are proud to be a workplace developing the future leaders of 417 and believe that when you invest in one, the entire community thrives.

Ireland Architects is Powered by Women
Stephanie D. Ireland

Ireland Architects

1908 E. Sunshine St., Suite A, Springfield, MO | 417-881-3409

“Where are all the female architects?” asks a New York Times article. “They’re in Springfield!” answers Stephanie D. Ireland. Ever since she founded Ireland Architects in 2000, Stephanie and her team have designed innovative facilities for emerging and expanding businesses. Their dedication to fulfilling each objective is just one of the reasons why the firm is highly respected among its clients and contractors, especially non-profit organizations. It was rare for a female architect to launch a firm 21 years ago, but it is even more noteworthy that Ireland Architects “takes your business personally” by blending distinct solutions with genuine connections.

Loehr Health Center is Powered by Women
Front Row: Brittany Zachary, Kelsey Abbott; Back Row: Anna Mooney, Kelly Cook, Chelsey Scott

Loehr Health Center

2144 E. Republic Rd., Suite A-104, Springfield, MO | 417-887-8075

Loehr Health Center is led by women who are committed to getting patients back on their feet, literally. Several of them implement manageable solutions by transitioning patients to different treatment plans. Others create meaningful interactions by spearheading engagement opportunities. Loehr’s female leadership draws their impeccable strength and camaraderie from helping individuals make healthy decisions regarding their nutrition, physical activity and overall well-being. By serving as examples both in the office and out in the community, it is no surprise that these women make Loehr Health Center the “go-to place for patients seeking a holistic approach to their health goals.”

Little Bird Marketing is Powered by Women
Ashley Leblanc

Little Bird Marketing

1027 S. Main St., Suite 350, Joplin, MO | 417-782-1780

A little bird told 417 Magazine that Little Bird Marketing, a premier agency based in Joplin, wants to recognize Ashley LeBlanc. As the Executive Director, her duties range from facilitating internal operations to presenting best social media practices. LeBlanc’s extensive management experience, hands-on mentoring and passion for storytelling inspire other birds in the nest to bring their best to each project. Her female-driven team, which is part of a Women Business Enterprise and minority-owned business, pulls digital transformation across organizations and maintains an exceptionally accountable system. Together, they create marketing plans that meet the short-term and long-term revenue goals of their clients.

Morgan Stanley is Powered by Women
Kim Nichols, Financial Advisor

Morgan Stanley

1535 E. Primrose St., Springfield, MO | 417-885-1611

What do a retiring citizen, a young entrepreneur and an established business owner have in common? A need for an empathetic and compassionate advisor who will help them achieve their long-term financial and investment goals. As a woman in a male-dominated field, Kim Nichols focuses on enabling her female clients to independently manage their finances. The firm supports gender equality in the workplace through their partnership with Catalyst, a global nonprofit, and the Multicultural Innovation Lab. Morgan Stanley is a multinational company, but clients can rest assured that Nichols and her team will work with them on a personalized level.

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. Member SIPC. CRC3444965 2/21

Queen City Real Estate Group is Powered by Women
Andrea Crawford

Queen City Real Estate Group

1660 N. Campbell Ave., Springfield, MO 417-576-8889

Andrea Crawford has spent over 21 years serving the community through volunteer and career-driven leadership roles. She served two years as President of Ozark’s Historic River District. As President, her passion for revitalizing communities was recognized by Titus Williams, President of Prosperiti Partners; he then recruited Crawford to lead his real-estate development company as Vice President. Crawford, now President of the new Queen City Real Estate Group, will continue to oversee the development of a 300+ multifamily unit development off of Historic Commercial Street, which includes the Missouri Hotel and several other historic properties, a new 168-unit multifamily development in Strafford, Missouri, and a new 55+ single-family development in Springfield, Missouri, along with many other planned developments.

Prosperiti Development is now Queen City Real Estate Group, partnered with Prosperiti Partners.

Simmons Bank is Powered by Women
Front Row: Marla Mitchell, Sherri Moffitt Back Row: Jennifer Moore, Caroline Butler, Krista Walker

Simmons Bank

Member FDIC

4625 S. National Ave., Springfield, MO417-875-5267

For more than 100 years, Simmons Bank has developed financial products and services that help make each customer’s dreams come true, whether they involve buying a home, starting a business or managing money safely and securely. With approximately 200 branch locations across six states, Simmons takes pride in being one of the premier banks in the region without sacrificing its community foundation.

One of the key reasons for Simmons’ long-term success is its powerhouse female leaders. Each of them has a distinct management style as well as genuine concern for their team’s well-being, enabling the organization to achieve new heights.

Biz 417's Women Who Mean Business


When presented with challenges, these women don't back down. These five stories are about braving the unknown, conquering tragedy and pioneering the future. Meet the 2021 Biz 417 Women Who Mean Business.