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Report documents community leadership during pandemic


Springfield-Greene County leaders reflect on actions taken in effort to inform future generations

When the first coronavirus cases were confirmed in the United States, Springfield Mayor Ken McClure began consulting library resources from the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak. Within two weeks of the first Spanish flu case in Springfield, businesses were closed and public gatherings were prohibited. McClure began to get the feeling that history would repeat itself with COVID-19.

“I read the orders from the mayor at that time and used those to help craft my own,” McClure said. Seeking to provide similar guidance to community leaders during a future pandemic, the Community Foundation of the Ozarks has published “First Response: Springfield-Greene County Confronts COVID-19 · March–July 2020.”

The report archives reflections of Community Leadership Forum members and a cross-section of leaders in other sectors. Interviews were conducted in June and July 2020 by Alexis Jackson to capture the community response during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than two dozen leaders participated in the report:

  • Ken McClure (Mayor, City of Springfield
  • Jason Gage (City Manager, City of Springfield
  • Bob Dixon (Presiding Commissioner, Greene County
  • Chris Coulter (Administrator, Greene County
  • Harold Bengsch (Commissioner — First District, Greene County)
  • Clay Goddard (Director, Springfield-Greene County Health Department)
  • Steve Edwards (President and CEO, CoxHealth)
  • Craig McCoy (President, Mercy Springfield)
  • Dr. John Jungmann (Superintendent, Springfield Public Schools)
  • Dr. Hal Higdon (Chancellor, Ozarks Technical Community College)
  • Clif Smart (President, Missouri State University)
  • Matt Morrow (President, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce)
  • Samuel Knox (Executive Director, Minorities in Business)
  • Ryan Sivill (Board Chair, The Network)
  • Bart Brown (President and CEO, Ozarks Food Harvest)
  • Starr Kohler (CEO, SeniorAge Area Agency on Aging)
  • Rob Blevins (Executive Director, Discovery Center of Springfield)
  • Janet Dankert (President and CEO, Community Partnership of the Ozarks)
  • Greg Burris (President and CEO, United Way of the Ozarks)
  • Brian Fogle (President and CEO, Community Foundation of the Ozarks)
  • Regina Greer Cooper (Executive Director, Springfield-Greene County Library District)
  • Gary Gibson (General Manager, City Utilities of Springfield)
  • Rev. Mark Struckhoff and Rev. Bob Roberts (leaders of the Have Faith Initiative)
  • Cora Scott (Director of Public Information and Civic Engagement, City of Springfield
  • Amos Bridges (Editor-in-Chief, Springfield News-Leader)
  • Jennifer Jackson (Owner and Publisher, Springfield Business Journal)

With myriad challenges posed by the pandemic, these leaders share the insights gained and lessons learned from the onset of a once-in-a-lifetime crisis. Unsurprisingly, many come back to the strength of the Springfield-Greene County community.

“I don’t know if it’s because of the size of Springfield, or if it’s because we know each other, or if it is because where we are located in the United States, but it’s always impressive to me to see how we react in times like this,” said Bart Brown, President and CEO of Ozarks Food Harvest. “No one ever panics. Instead, we focus on what we have been able to accomplish and how we have been able to meet community needs.”

Download “First Response” PDF

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