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2020 Men of the Year: Ryan DeBoef

Missouri State University

Posted online

Missouri State University’s Ryan DeBoef role as chief of staff is to be a team player, whether it’s helping shape legislative policy or advising President Clif Smart.

“By necessity, my leadership is collaborative – I work with people to achieve mutual wins,” he says.

His most significant professional win was achieved last year, when he led a successful strategy to boost MSU’s core operating appropriation by $10 million – an 11.9% increase – during the 2019 state legislative session. He credits two Springfield legislators, Sen. Lincoln Hough and Rep. Elijah Haahr, among other stakeholders, for helping turn his data-based advocacy strategy into funding in the state’s budget.

“This was the largest ongoing appropriations increase in MSU’s 115-year history, both in terms of dollar amount and percentage,” he says. “It was a team effort by the entire MSU community, and I had the privilege of coordinating that effort.”

DeBoef was promoted to his current role six years ago after starting at MSU in 2011 as legal counsel. During his chief of staff tenure, he’s also successfully collaborated with Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller to establish the first countywide polling station on MSU’s campus. Aside from providing faculty, staff and students voting access, the polling site also is open to any registered Greene County voter.

At MSU, DeBoef manages the president’s schedule and coordinates assigned projects. He also manages internal and external relationships important to the university and its leadership team.

However, he says his position also has a mentoring influence for the next generation of leaders. A new student is appointed every two years to the MSU Board of Governors, and DeBoef takes them under his wing.

“I have developed deep friendships with each of the student governors with whom I have worked,” he says of their time reviewing board agendas and discussing questions. “I frequently serve as a professional reference for them when they apply for jobs.”

DeBoef earned a bachelor’s degree in public administration and government from Evangel University in 2002, followed by a Juris Doctor from the University of Missouri-Columbia three years later. Prior to being hired at MSU, he worked three years as a law clerk for federal Judge Richard Dorr and two years as an associate attorney for Husch Blackwell LLP.

For DeBoef, he’s been involved in professional organizations his entire career. He’s a 15-year member of the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association, serving on the federal bench and bar committee and the in-house counsel committee. He’s also served twice on the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Foundation board of directors, and been a member of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce since 2007. At the chamber, he currently serves on the government relations and legislative policy committees.

“At the time, my employer was not a member, so I paid for the membership out of my pocket,” he says of joining the local chamber. “That decision catapulted me into the Springfield business community.”


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