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2020 12 People: Daniel Ogunyemi

Your New Best Friend

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Daniel Ogunyemi is the new cool kid on the Queen City block. He’s everywhere – almost literally. From chamber of commerce events in three cities, to action committees galore and the latest Twitter hashtags, Ogunyemi has made a splash on the local networking scene in a short period of time.

In the professional business community a scant three years, the 24-year-old has made it his mission to meet people.

“I see people networking wrong all the time or trying to force it. It’s an art,” Ogunyemi says, noting he’s only been attending chamber events since April 2018. “I remember walking into one of my first events and the only person I knew was (Arc of the Ozarks CEO) Mike Powers. He was like three titles away from me at the time and I thought, ‘What am I doing here?’

“But I stuck to it. I have a passion for meeting people.”

His mission to truly see people means to help people. In nonprofit work the past three years, most recently as volunteer coordinator at Court Appointed Special Advocates of Southwest Missouri, he’s taken on the mantel of strengthening the organization through public face time. He’s on more committees than one can shake a stick at – including the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Policy Committee, Forward SGF, The Network Leadership Council, Mayor’s Commission for Human Rights and the Child Abuse and Neglect Collaborative. Somewhere in all there he found time to be part of Leadership Springfield Class 36.

“Someone said to me the other day, ‘I see you everywhere and every time I think of CASA,’” Ogunyemi says. “That’s how I know it’s working.”

But Ogunyemi is not just lip service and selfies, he’s got the chops to back up his helpful mission, and the Louisiana transplant is poised to unify Springfield in a way the city doesn’t realize yet.

The millennial was struck by Springfield’s lack of diversity – 88% white at the latest census count in mid-2018 – and the city’s short-sighted approach to remedying it.

“Wes Pratt is my mentor. He’s great, but he’s invited to be on just about anything that has to do with diversity,” Ogunyemi says of the Missouri State University chief diversity officer. “There is more to diversity than just race, and inclusion does not happen just by including a person of color on your committee.

“It happens by talking to people, by getting to know them. Because when you know them, you see things from their point of view. People are more willing to help a friend than a stranger. Imagine a community with more friends. We’d be unstoppable.”


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