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McKenzie Robinson | SBJ

2021 Most Influential Women: Natalie Murdock

Foundation for Springfield Public Schools

Posted online

Natalie Murdock admits building a career in the nonprofit industry wasn’t part of her plan.

“It was what I thought would be a foot in the door,” says Murdock, executive director of the Foundation for Springfield Public Schools since 2015. “Almost 20 years later, my feet are firmly planted. I have never looked back or regretted my decision to stay focused in a career that provides countless opportunities for thousands of kids in our city.”

Murdock has served since 2007 as an employee of the 31-year-old nonprofit, whose mission is to raise, manage and distribute private investment for the benefit of SPS students.

Her career at the nonprofit started as its development director, overseeing advertising campaigns, marketing, events and programs. She says her leadership roles for the organization, as well as civically through involvement in the Association of Fundraising Professionals and Leadership Springfield, helped propel her into the SPS Foundation’s top spot six years ago.

“In my first year as executive director, I led the Foundation to national recognition, being named the seventh-highest performing public school foundation in the U.S. by the National Stepping Up Study, which reviewed 188 school foundations,” she says. “The study was done two years in a row, with the Foundation ranking in the top 20 both years.”

Beyond her Foundation work, Murdock has served the past five years on the Leadership Springfield Board of Directors. She also participates on several Leadership Springfield committees and is an adviser for its Signature Class, the organization’s flagship program. Additionally, she is a Rotary Club member of both Springfield Metro and Springfield Southeast.

Leadership Springfield Executive Director Carrie Richardson says Murdock “is a force in the Springfield community” and has a direct impact on the business, civic and philanthropic communities in southwest Missouri. Murdock’s commitment to her multiple roles with Leadership Springfield is appreciated, Richardson says.

“I can count on her to always show up, bring a positive perspective, ask questions and lead with intention,” Richardson says. “Natalie is one of those volunteers and leaders that makes your meeting, task, committee, group or event better, and I wish I had a dozen more like her.”

Murdock says when she makes personal connections and stewards relationships in small ways, it can bring big things for the community. One example was a connection she initially facilitated at a Foundation luncheon three years ago with the Darr Family Foundation, which has resulted in construction of the Springfield Public Schools Agricultural Magnet School. The $5.5 million project on the Missouri State University Darr Agricultural Center campus is set for completion by December.

“One of my core beliefs centers around the idea that what is good for public education is good for the community,” she says. “With each relationship I cultivate, with each new partnership created, our schools are made stronger. When our schools are stronger, our community thrives.”

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