Andrea Bishop loves what she does and where she works. It’s hard not to when the office mascot is bacon.
“The close-knit culture was established long before I arrived, but I’ve done what I can to enhance it,” says Bishop, executive director of the Betty and Bobby Allison Ozarks Counseling Center.
“Our work is indeed very meaningful, but frankly, it is just plain fun to work with a bunch of wildly intelligent, quirky and hilarious professionals.”
She arrived nine years ago to take the reins at the nonprofit that serves the mental health needs of more than 2,300 people a year regardless of their ability to pay.
“I lead a staff of 27 therapists and administrative staff who provide approximately 12,000 hours of treatment every year,” Bishop says. “Our clients consistently praise our work in surveys, and more than 50% of our new clients are referred by word-of-mouth.”
The center was founded in 1952, and Bishop credits previous leaders with establishing and maintaining the close, collegiate culture. But when Bishop started in 2011, the center had no cash reserve and offered low pay, even for a nonprofit.
“Our strip mall office was painted a shade of green which would depress anyone who wasn’t already down before they got there and furnished with couches and chairs your grandmother would not have allowed in her basement,” she says. “There was a huge disconnect between how we presented ourselves to the community and the high-quality services we offered.”
Bishop has a master’s in business administration and prior to earning her clinical psychology degree, she taught business and economic classes at Drury University. She was the first director who combined a therapy background with an emphasis on the business side.
“I was able to introduce a fresh perspective,” she says. “A first-time nonprofit director, I adopted a ‘yes’ attitude to our staff and board members. It turns out, if you encourage the people you work with to share their ideas and try as hard as you can to make those ideas work, success for the whole organization follows. By both getting out of everyone’s way and supporting their initiatives, we pulled together as a team and had the financial condition of the organization completely turned around within two and a half years.”
The center now has a cash cushion, offers increased pay and owns its building — the historic Day House on South Avenue.
“We have ensured the … center will continue to be the safety net for mental health services in Springfield and the surrounding area for decades to come,” Bishop says.
She also owns Knightsbridge Consulting LLC, a small private practice, and advises other therapists with an entrepreneurial bent about starting a business.
Bishop teaches graduate psychology classes at Missouri State University and has volunteered at several organizations, including the Junior League of Springfield and Springfield Public Schools.
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