Typically, this time of year would be all about preparing for the holidays – traveling through busy airports, meeting up with distant family members and friends, thoughts of “Friendsgiving,” Black Friday crowds, and many large and joyous events. Of course, the trajectory of 2020 makes those things nearly an impossible thought, and instead we worry about how to keep our families and communities safe and thriving.
This year, it is even more important to celebrate those health care providers and organizations that have worked tirelessly and selflessly at a time that seems to never end and with ostensibly insurmountable concerns. The 11th class of Springfield Business Journal’s Health Care Champions is a group that exemplifies the values of our community and the many priorities that keep the area flourishing. These individuals and businesses have created hope, joy and accessible information in a year that has not been easy for anyone.
Overall health has been a recurring theme in many unexpected venues this year, putting a spotlight on such demure topics as handwashing that otherwise typically lie dormant in our conversations. Despite the challenges, this set of health care leaders has risen to the occasion, and we are all better for it.
From individual providers who put the health needs of children at the forefront to organizations whose focus is to create dignity in end-of-life care, the Health Care Champions of 2020 are a unique and robust group. Thank you to the Springfield Business Journal for reflecting on these providers and giving us an avenue to celebrate their accomplishments.
Dr. Ashley Popejoy is the director of pediatric dentistry at Jordan Valley Community Health Center and was a 2019 Health Care Champions Top Doctor. She can be reached at
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Marc Thornsberry, a Senior Engineer at CJW, says he joined the company after working in the public sphere. He says CJW had a ton of experience working with the community, and putting their customer's and clients.
Sandra Smart, a technology and commercialization specialist, shares helpful advice and cautionary tips about the importance of tracking cash flow for new or established businesses. Smart works with tech entrepreneurs and hosts training workshops through the Missouri SBDC at Missouri State University's efactory.
Michael Smith and Chris Sawyer, COO and CEO of Next Level Solutions respectively, discuss how they keep their remote teams and offices in and out of country on the same page. Next Level Solutions was ranked #1 in the Springfield Business Journal's 2021 Dynamic Dozen.
John Oke-Thomas, architect and co-founder of minorities in business, responds to the accusation that minority businesses are only successful because of the priority they have received in lending. He says that if a business uses a loan well, it shows their worth.
Sandra Smart, a technology and commercialization specialist, shares tips for entrepreneurs who are ready to seek funding. Some of her tips apply broadly; some target technology industry businesses. Smart works with tech entrepreneurs and startups, and hosts training workshops through the Missouri SBDC at Missouri State University's efactory.
Hollie Elliott discusses common misconceptions about locating your business in a small town. She says that there are a lot of benefits that people may not consider.
Drawing on his own experience dynamically evolving his company and business model, Jim Meinsen discusses when and how you might need to draw on new technology. Jim and Debbie Meinsen are co-owners of TCI Graphics in Springfield.
John Oke-Thomas, longtime Springfield architect, discusses his philosophy on architecture. He says that future historians will be focused on the sustainability of our contemporary architecture.
Erin Hedlun, director of marketing and communications at Evangel University, says compassion is an important job skill. Hedlun says it is a component of what makes a leader.
Rachel Barks, owner of Artistree Pottery, talks about the concepting that went behind the aesthetic of the business.