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.

Rita Baron, Chairman of the board, Oakstar Bancshares; Renee Samuels, Culture CEO and Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer; Layne McBride, Executive Vice President, Director of Treasury Services; Jessie Tindall, Executive Vice President, Director of Private Banking
Rita Baron, Chairman of the board, Oakstar Bancshares; Renee Samuels, Culture CEO and Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer; Layne McBride, Executive Vice President, Director of Treasury Services; Jessie Tindall, Executive Vice President, Director of Private Banking

OakStar Bank

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

OakStar Bank strives each day to prove that banking can and should be a joyful and fun experience by creating a unique work culture that is cultivated throughout every aspect of the bank. OakStar team members love what they do, love the people they work with and love serving the community.

The core values of OakStar are summed up in one word: SERVE. This acronym stands for “Stewardship, Responsiveness, Empathy, Vision and Empowerment.” The bank’s commitment to these values has fostered a unique banking experience that is comfortable, warm and based on relationships within the community. When you walk in the door at an OakStar branch, you’re greeted by people who know your name. OakStar welcomes customers inside to have a cup of Starbucks and a friendly conversation with a team member while completing a transaction.

An empowered team of female leaders guide OakStar to success, fostering a sense of empowerment through the whole organization. Whether it be a teller on the front line, a commercial lender or even a bank president, each woman at OakStar plays a critical role. OakStar’s strong female leadership inspires other women to believe that the sky is the limit. The OakStar team is proud to be a part of an ever-changing business community and believes that diversity, flexibility and empowerment are all vital in finding solutions and success.
OakStar team members share a vision and passion for creating differences in the communities they serve and leaving a legacy of trust. These shared goals help everyone at OakStar come together and serve communities not just through financial services, but through volunteering and taking part in community events.

Each OakStar Bank location is run by a team of people who are committed to and involved in the community they serve. Decisions are made at a local level and team members are well-known to customers and clients because of their involvement in what goes on every day. Whether it’s sponsoring a local event, volunteering at the local food pantry, or even coaching a youth baseball team, OakStar Bank’s team is there because they’re more than bankers... they’re members of your community.

Tammy Panter, Casondra Harris, Jill Bomar, Trish Ghan, Kaci Hart, Michele King, Jana Bobbett, Anna Presley, Jessie Hughey
Tammy Panter, Casondra Harris, Jill Bomar, Trish Ghan, Kaci Hart, Michele King, Jana Bobbett, Anna Presley, Jessie Hughey

The Bank of Missouri

Springfield | Ozark | Branson | Republic | Fair Grove | Bolivar | 417-881-4600

We stand by our motto: Live Well, Bank Well. Neighbors helping neighbors is the way things get done in Missouri.
It’s the way The Bank of Missouri began, as a single location where people helped those neighbors, walking with them through life’s challenges and changes.

After 100 years, that single location took its first steps, with a continued focus on each community it served. Now, with 30 branches and four digital branches, The Bank of Missouri covers the four regions of the state, but its mission remains: to provide financial empowerment and make a difference in the lives of their customers.

That empowerment is provided daily from a diverse team with strong female leadership in all departments. The Bank of Missouri focus on representation ensures that multiple points of view are taken into consideration in each decision, and management has a focus on the staff and the best interest of each community it serves.

The sense of community that has been the backbone from those early days remains. From donations to volunteer hours, The Bank of Missouri is there for its neighbors, both inside the doors and out.We delight in helping to make the community the best place to live for our families and future generations.

BKD CPAs & Advisors is Powered by Women
Christy Yoakum, Catherine Gilpin, Kristen Wannenmacher Bright, Erica Smith, Julie Bilyeu, Amber Popek, Brandy Buckler, Camille Lockhart, Juli Pascoe

BKD CPAs & Advisors

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

At BKD CPAs and Advisors, over 3,000 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.

At BKD, SKY is their firm-wide initiative and the foundation for creating an inclusive culture. Through SKY, BKD emphasizes and strengthens gender and ethnic diversity with a focus on attracting, retaining and developing diverse leaders. Goals include identifying biases and removing cultural barriers so all BKDers can maximize their potential.

Now in its eighth year, SKY has developed a strong foundation for D&I at BKD. Here in Springfield, BKD has increased the pipeline of female leaders and currently has 14 female partners and managing directors in the office.

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.

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.

Front: Debbie Kitchen, Nicole Hager, Emily Givens, Amber Gibson  Back: Brittony Tiger, Connie Griffin, Lou Rios, Tina Keymer, Ericka Peppers
Front: Debbie Kitchen, Nicole Hager, Emily Givens, Amber Gibson Back: Brittony Tiger, Connie Griffin, Lou Rios, Tina Keymer, Ericka Peppers

Bryan Properties

840 S. Roanoke Ave., Springfield417-864-6303

Everyone is welcome.

At Bryan Properties, it really is that simple. A development company specializing in housing and hospitality, Bryan Properties offers an array of properties for each of life’s stages, from college to retirement.

While staff is focused on the array of client needs, owner Bryan Magers is also focused on company culture and happiness. Recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusion, Magers built a team comprised of a range of voices, each with a seat at the table.

The company’s female-led Executive Committee includes Director of HR Nicole Hager, Director of Hospitality Debbie Kitchen, and Director of Operations Ericka Peppers. Together, the trio brings nearly 30 years of experience to Bryan Properties, helping to grow the company from a small business offering one single-family house for rent to a team of more than 150, providing housing to over 1,400 residents.

Bryan Properties’ recent highlights include leading the way on premier student housing with Bear Village. Other projects in the works include Ozark’s new apartment community, River Ranch, the bright design and fresh look of The Element on Battlefield, and an expansion of The Timbers in Lebanon.

We see the future of 417-land as a big and exciting place.

Krystal Simon
Krystal Simon

Care to Learn

1740 S. Glenstone Ave., Suite R, Springfield417-862-7771

A coat. A meal. A pair of glasses. Simple things like these often stand between a child and their ability to learn. Since 2008, Care to Learn has been partnering with school districts and community members all across Missouri to fill health, hunger and hygiene needs and keep kids focused on what matters most: Learning.

In addition to Chapters in 417-land, Care to Learn has Chapters in Kansas City, St. Louis and rural southwest and southeast Missouri. If a child needs help, these Chapters are there to meet that child’s needs. Care to Learn isn’t about replicating what already works: The organization looks different in each community they serve, collaborating with school districts to find out what’s working well and where the gaps are. Care to Learn then empowers teachers, counselors, staff and administrators with the tools they need to help the children they see every day.

According to Care to Learn, there are currently 32,762 children in Springfield living in poverty. Care to Learn is committed to bringing hope and help to kids who need it.

Care to Learn is led by CEO Krystal Simon, along with Director of Operations and Administration Jhasmine Watson, Director of Chapter Services Michelle Houghton, Director of Marketing and Communications Andrea Harp and Closet Project Coordinator Melissa Rea.

Adreanne Dudley, Rachel York, Kellie Kingery
Adreanne Dudley, Rachel York, Kellie Kingery

Donco 3 Construction, LLC

1035 Schoolview Dr., Marshfield417-859-0560

Donco 3 Construction, LLC is a family-owned, full service concrete subcontractor owned by Rachel York (managing member) and Aaron York (general superintendent) based out of Marshfield in southwest Missouri and is proud to be a state certified Women-Owned Business Enterprise.

Established in 2010, Donco 3 Construction has a mission to deliver the best quality projects safely and on time. The company utilizes the latest technology on the slabs they place and finish, as well as offering Laser Screed and Concrete Pumping services to other concrete subcontractors. Donco 3 excavates, forms, pours, places and finishes structural concrete, paving, sidewalks, curbs, walls and pervious concrete.

The dedication to the quality of their work is built on a foundation of caring for their employees. The safety of their team is a high priority for Donco 3, and the company strives to create a safe and thriving work environment that gives each team member opportunities to learn, grow and lead. With strong leaders in the field and in the office, Donco 3 Construction infuses its values and knowledge of the concrete industry—developed over more than two decades—into its work. If you need a concrete subcontractor for your project, Donco 3 Construction is a solid company for your solid foundation.

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, Springfield HBA Board of Directors 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.

Ozarks Elder Law is Powered by Women
Elyse Hartley, Lori Rook

Ozarks Elder Law

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

Lori Rook, managing attorney, her law partner, Elyse Hartley, and their team of all-women attorneys at Ozarks Elder Law are breaking the mold of the stereotypical law firm, taking “powered by women” to new limits.

The Ozarks Elder Law team is composed of real women—mothers, daughters, sisters, professionals and community volunteers who are driven by their hearts for family. Each expert attorney holds extensive knowledge and experience in elder law, but the empathy they offer is what sets them apart.

Each attorney takes the time to get to know the client, their family dynamics and their goals in order to customize a plan for preserving their assets, protecting their legacy and providing peace of mind. Ozarks Elder Law specializes in estate planning, nursing home planning, Medicaid, probate, business succession, elder abuse, special needs trusts and trust administration.

These are not your run-of-the-mill attorneys. These are women with the mission to support and protect your life’s unique situation the same as they would their own, with a passionate and holistic approach.

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

Choosing a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.

Cindy Gibson, Deidre Morris
Cindy Gibson, Deidre Morris

Quality Clean

2305 E. Olive Ct a, Springfield417-833-4250

Quality Clean certainly offers quality service, but make no mistake: there are far more layers to that quality than meets the eye. The locally owned, family-operated company is driven by a team who strives to elevate small business and give back to the community it serves.
Owner Cindy Gibson stresses the importance of community and its role in helping Quality Clean succeed. “Our business is here to grow and help others succeed in the process. Small businesses are the core of the 417 area.”

Gibson is grateful for the opportunities given to her team, and credits the hustle of her female leaders, from human resources to management, with uplifting and empowering staff every day. “Our leadership sets the tone. Diversity allows for beneficial collaborations between employees of varying gender and ethnicity, which offers a sense of inclusion and belonging. This helps us to be more productive for all our employees.”

In a time of uncertainty, Quality Clean has not only retained staff, but expanded its services, including low and no-cost cleanings to those in need, and electrostatic spraying to combat the spread of Covid.

The name says it all. They provide the "Quality" results you deserve for your business.

Simmons Bank is Powered by Women
Front: Darya Shesteva, Treasury Management Officer; Stephanie Matthews, Vice President Business Development Officer Back: Niccole Henderson, Financial Center Manager; Melody Crigler, Supervisor of Commercial Loan Assistants; Sumer Tripp, Vice President and Private Wealth Strategist; Sheila Falls, Mortgage Loan Officer; Amber Miller, Financial Center Manager; Alicia Wilkerson, Vice President Director of Fraud

Simmons Bank

Member FDIC

4625 S. National Ave., Springfield, MO | 417-875-5267

For more than a century, Simmons Bank has offered a full suite of financial products and services designed to meet the needs of individual consumers and business customers alike. It is this attention to service and detail, paired with a caring team focused on delivering an exemplary experience, that elevates Simmons Bank’s customer service.

This next-level care is due in no small part to Simmons Bank's female leadership team. All pictured associates have contributed to the organization's continuous growth through high performance. Each understands the value of teamwork, passion and perseverance, and lives by those examples daily.

Beyond cheering on their in-house team, supporting women in leadership positions at every level is important to Simmons Bank. They are honored to have opportunities to demonstrate that support, and as a result, recently announced being the presenting sponsor of women's athletics at multiple universities across their footprint. This is much more than a traditional sponsorship. In collaboration with each university, Simmons Bank is creating distinct programs that include: financial education, leadership training, mentoring, internship programs and women-in-business development initiatives. All are focused on Simmons Bank's goal to enhance career opportunities for the amazing and hardworking female student athletes.

Volt Credit Union is Powered by Women
Loretta Roney

Volt Credit Union

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

Members of Volt Credit Union know that their money is in good hands. After all, they own the business. The member-owned, non-profit credit union is overseen by a volunteer board of directors, and profits made are returned to those members in forms including reduced fees, higher savings rates, and lower loan rates.

Volt recognizes the anxiety surrounding money at every stage of life, from young people learning financial responsibility for the first time to those recovering from financial setbacks, hoping to start anew. The credit union accepts deposits, makes loans, and provides a wide array of other services to help its members with any financial questions or needs they might have.

That same foundation of member support applies to Volt’s staff. They invest in the lives of our employees, so their cups overflow into the lives of our member and community.

Employees are provided with ongoing training and tools to help increase their awareness and understanding of differences and why they matter.

Female leaders driving Volt’s success include President/CEO Loretta Roney, Chief Retail and Commercial Officer Caroline Richardson, Chief Operations Officer Shana Jahnke, and Chief Experience Officer Vicki Owens.

Volt celebrate's diversity. They believe it makes for a strong business community because it brings in new ideas and talented people.

BluCurrent Credit Union is Powered by Women
DeAnna Downs, Hannah McCaig & Courtney Pruente

BluCurrent Credit Union

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

BluCurrent Credit Union has been dedicated to building better lives together right here in the Ozarks since 1929. Today, the financial institution proudly serves over 23,000 members and currently has over $274 million in assets. BluCurrent may be the largest credit union in southwest Missouri, but the team still excels at providing personalized, convenient service to every member.

BluCurrent’s growth and success would not be possible without the female leaders that proudly head up the mortgage department: deAnna Downs, VP of Mortgage Lending, Hannah McCaig, Mortgage Sales Manager, and Courtney Pruente, Mortgage Support Manager. Under deAnna’s direction, the mortgage team assisted 763 families purchase or refinance their homes in 2021.

Equal Housing Lender. NMLS #459303. Member NCUA.

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.

Little Bird Marketing is Powered by Women
Brentney Hutchinson, Katie Taddei, Priscilla McKinney, Ashley Le Blanc.

Little Bird Marketing

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

Little Bird Marketing is an award-winning digital agency serving revenue-minded leaders. Their strategic approach turns marketing chaos into clarity. From licensing their proprietary content system, SOAR™, to digitally transforming companies, they align all marketing actions with brand goals. Their clients sleep better knowing the right message is in front of the right audience at the right time, resulting in increased brand awareness and social influence for revenue growth.

This female-driven team has created a company where people are excited to innovate, happy to serve, motivated by their own excellence, and proud of their work. With clients all around the world, Little Bird's nest is proudly located in historic Downtown Joplin.

Leadership includes Priscilla McKinney (Momma Bird and CEO), Ashley Le Blanc (Executive Vice President), Katie Taddei (Executive Director) and Brentney Hutchinson (Digital Transformation Director).

Amy Kiefer, Whitney Morrow, Becky Scorse, Meridith Conboy, Heather Ramsey
Amy Kiefer, Whitney Morrow, Becky Scorse, Meridith Conboy, Heather Ramsey

SFC Bank

2006 S. Glenstone Ave., Springfield417-882-8111

Since 2008, SFC Bank has been dedicated to having a positive impact on the surrounding community through volunteerism, philanthropy and a responsible approach to financial services. SFC’s impact would not be possible without extraordinary leaders like Amy Kiefer, Chief Operating Officer and Executive VP; Whitney Morrow, Executive VP of Treasury Management; Becky Scorse, Chief Lending Officer and Executive VP; Meridith Conboy, Chief Credit Officer and Senior VP; and Heather Ramsey, Senior VP of Private Banking. In 2021 the team earned Platinum Elite status with the U.S. Small Business Administration 504 Loans. As a community bank, they have made it their priority to provide a high level of service unmatched by any financial institution.

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.