Annual Report FY22
A Message from Laurie Edmondson
I cannot tell you what an honor it is to serve the CFO as the Board Chair. One part of the CFO’s mission that truly resonates with me is connecting passion with purpose. The CFO provides opportunities for everyone in our community to connect with charitable organizations and to support the causes that truly impact people in need.
As I reflect on celebrating 50 years of the CFO in 2023, I think about the amazing women in my life who helped establish this organization and who have had a lasting positive impact in our community. Growing up as a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church, I attended services with Dorothy Coover. Often after church, my family would go to the Heritage Cafeteria for lunch with Dorothy, Hope Elsie Harris and a few other church members. Dorothy would go on to establish one of the more impactful legacies for the CFO. She worked for Commerce Bank for 30 years and established the Louis L. and Julia Dorothy Coover Charitable Foundation in her husband’s memory, which is managed by Commerce Trust in partnership with the CFO to administer its grantmaking. The grant program currently supports rural communities and the principles of place-based education. Since 1992, Coover grants have awarded more than $7 million across the Ozarks.
Laurie Edmondson is the CFO’s board chair for FY23.
Another family I was lucky enough to grow up with was the Drummond/Close family. Early on, I attended church with them, but I also went to kindergarten through high school with Anne Drummond’s grandson Joe Close. Anne is considered an honorary founder of the CFO because she had a vision for taking care of this community and changing it for the better. Anne served on Springfield’s City Council from 1977 to 1983. Anne and her family, particularly daughter Marthe Close and her late husband Major with his sister, Ruth, have created funds at the CFO to benefit the Springfield Botanical Gardens at Nathanael Greene Park, which includes Close Memorial Park. A lovely sculpture of Anne on a bench with a book in her lap overlooks the park’s beautiful Drummond Lake. Since Anne’s death 20 years ago, Marthe has continued to honor Anne’s legacy and advocate for our community (and always cheers me on in my work and community endeavors). I am a better person for knowing this family.
Last, but certainly not least, by far one of the most influential women in my life was Jewell Schweitzer. Not long ago, I found a newspaper article that highlighted a bridal shower Jewell held for my mother at her lake home Winoka Lodge. It featured the recipes she served and described in beautiful detail everything about the celebration in the summer of 1963. It was such a treasure to find that article! Jewell became my Aunt Jewell when I was born about a year later. She was my godmother. My brother and I would go to her house frequently and bake cookies or go on Easter Egg hunts. She attended all my birthday parties, special occasions, graduations, wedding and parties celebrating my daughters up until just a few days before she passed away. Jewell supported the CFO early on, serving on the Investment Advisory Board for many years. She had the idea to establish the Humanitarian Award in 1990 to honor people in the community, in partnership with the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. The list of recipients who have gone above and beyond their careers to help our community is extraordinary. Additionally, she made a significant legacy gift to the CFO that will support the community for generations, including the Jewell Schweitzer Collective Impact grant program.
Because of these extraordinary women — Dorothy Coover, Anne Drummond, Marthe Close and Jewell Schweitzer — I stand before you today as the board chair of the CFO. I never dreamed I would have a leadership position in this amazing organization, but I vow to make these ladies proud of the work we do and the people we aim to help in this coming year.
—Laurie Edmondson · FY23 Board Chair