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2009 40 Under 40 Honoree: Sarah Kerner

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Starting a new job in the middle of a $117 million building project is truly the test of leadership and tenacity. Sarah Kerner has more than risen to the challenge.

As legal counsel for the Springfield-Branson National Airport and its board of directors, Kerner stretches her customary advisory capacity to a decision-making role.

"I have been called upon to demonstrate leadership as I represent the airport's interests in the many meetings with contractors, architects and engineers that it takes to get the project to the finish line," she says.

Kerner believes her position at the airport, where she joined the staff in November 2007, has called upon her leadership skills in areas she'd not experienced in private practice.

"Seeing an issue from the perspective of many disciplines - management, legal, media, finance, etc. - has broadened my perspective in a positive way," she says.

Kerner began her law career with Ellis, Ellis, Hammons and Johnson PC, where she worked for three years. It was there that she became a mentor for the newly formed Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association's mentorship program.

Her greatest community involvement is working as president for the Rotaract Club of Springfield. Rotaract, forming its name from "Rotary" and "action," is a branch of the Rotary International for young professionals younger than 30 years of age.

Kerner is a member of the board of directors of the Rock 'n Ribs barbecue festival board, and she's proud that her work on the event through Rotaract has resulted in thousands of dollars for charities that help local children.

"My proudest accomplishment as a leader is being able to carry on and improve Rotaract's tradition of volunteering with and fundraising for Boys and Girls Town of Missouri," Kerner notes.

Kerner recently accepted the Star Volunteer Award from Boys and Girls Town of Missouri on behalf of Rotaract at the organization's annual board meeting. The award reflects Kerner's commitment to nurturing the relationship between Rotaract and Boys and Girls Town.

"I have learned how much the kids enjoy interaction with the Rotaract members," Kerner says. "We are young enough that they can relate to us, and we are able to model successful young adulthood as well as positive friendships between the Rotaract members."

In both her job and community involvement, Kerner strives to influence the success of others.

"I think mentoring and just being present as a positive role model is one of the best ways to influence the success of others," she says.[[In-content Ad]]This story has been corrected. It originally stated that Sarah Kerner received the Star Volunteer Award.

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