Admitting it was a very difficult choice that required a huge leap out of her comfort zone, Jessica Kruse’s decision to run for Christian County Associate Circuit Judge was rewarded in August as voters elected her to the position. Since she was running unopposed in November and the seat was vacant following the June retirement of Judge Larry Luna, Kruse was appointed Aug. 31 by Gov. Mike Parson to begin her term in office in September.
Her new position meant leaving behind her role in Ozarks Elder Law LLC, which she co-owned with Lori Rook since 2014. Still, Kruse says she’s proud of the journey she embarked on this year to run for public office, as it’s strengthened her faith in God, the relationships with her family and shown her what true friendships are meant to be.
“I also hope my journey will inspire other women to step out of their comfort zone and get involved in government at any level,” she says. “Our voices matter in the bigger conversation and we need to be in positions that allow us to make changes. If I have inspired one other woman to make this leap, then I consider my journey an absolute success.”
Aside from her decision to pursue political office, Kruse says she was incredibly humbled to testify in November 2016 before the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging regarding fiduciary abuses. Her leadership roles on both the Elder Law Committee of The Missouri Bar and president of the Missouri Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys resulted in her being asked to testify before the bipartisan committee.
“I believe that through this testimony I was able to contribute in a small way towards the bigger fight of protecting the elderly and disabled from these fiduciary abuses,” she says.
Community involvement has been an ongoing pursuit for Kruse, whether it’s volunteering at her children’s school or serving on a civic board of directors. She currently serves on the boards for the Ozark Care to Learn chapter and Ozark Rotary Club.
“In listening and being willing to be a ‘boots on the ground’ volunteer, I have demonstrated leadership by example and hopefully been able to exhibit a humble attitude of service to others,” she says. “I try never to go into a situation thinking that I know best and people must listen to what I think should be done. I believe, in having this type of attitude, I have been able to demonstrate to a small degree servant leadership, which is the style of leadership I try to attain in all situations.”
In addition to leadership roles in her community, Kruse also has earned a number of honors, including the 2018 Ozark Woman of the Year Award from the Ozark Chamber of Commerce, a 2013 40 Under 40 award from Springfield Business Journal and a 2011 Rising Star award at the Women’s Justice Awards from Missouri Lawyers Weekly. She is also a 2010 graduate of Leadership Springfield’s Class 25.
The Forward SGF comprehensive plan was born from the input of residents, and one message that came through loud and clear was their desire for connection.