Meet the Team

The New Growth team is a combination of talent and leadership at community development corporation New Growth and parent organization West Central Missouri Community Action Agency.

Chris Thompson
Chris Thompson
Chief Executive Officer, West Central Missouri Community Action Agency, New Growth CDC

Innovation is Chris Thompson’s middle name. He is not satisfied with a status quo that keeps rural people and places behind. His experience working across the nation to lift up struggling communities with innovative community development led him to West Central from a career in law. It is also the inspiration behind his launch of New Growth as an affiilated and innovative community development corporation.

Mary Lou Schussler
Mary Lou Schussler
President, West Central Missouri Community Action Agency, New Growth CDC

Mary Lou guides the development of New Growth with a steady and gracious hand. Her 27 years of service at West Central Missouri Community Action Agency fortify her perspective on ups and downs, and challenges and opportunities. She is a human resources professional with years of experience. She also serves on the New Growth Women’s Business Center advisory board.

Patty Cantrell
Patty Cantrell
Outreach & Development Director, New Growth CDC

Patty Cantrell is a rural development champion. She brings an MBA and a career in community economic development and journalism to her job since 2018 building New Growth. As a writer, facilitator, and project developer, Patty tells the story of what is possible, and helps make it happen.

Sheridan Garman-Neeman
Sheridan Garman-Neeman
Chief Community Wealth Building Officer, New Growth CDC

Sheridan is a powerful leader and excellent manager. This is on top of her heartfelt love for rural and lifelong quest to improve life for the people she loves, in the places she loves. She now leads New Growth after several years building a partner nonprofit in the region, and being part of New Growth’s founding in 2017. She brings an extensive background in business, finance, and economic development to this executive director work.

Aaron Franklin
Aaron Franklin
Chief Finance Officer, West Central Missouri Community Action Agency

Aaron brings an extensive background in nonprofit management and accounting, as well as financial industry experience, to his job overseeing finances for both West Central Missouri Community Action Agency and New Growth CDC.

Kelley Ast
Kelley Ast
Regional Mobility Chief Officer of New Growth Transit

Kelly Ast has a passion for community development and brings an infectious enthusiasm for meeting the growing rural transportation needs. Having lead and grown many projects with tremendous social and community reach for Vernon County, Kelly is a tenacious advocate who leads the strategic planning and development of New Growth Transit.

Kenney Hutchison
Kenney Hutchison
Regional Mobility Director of New Growth Transit

Kenney Hutchison is a Certified Community Action Professional who started as WCMCAA’s Network Administrator in 2004, but then moved to New Growth Transit in 2020. His invaluable knowledge and his key role at New Growth Transit ensures smooth day-to-day operations for our ride-coordinators, volunteer-drivers, and riders.

Katie Nixon
Katie Nixon
Food Systems Director, West Central Missouri Community Action Agency

Katie Nixon is a farmer and local food systems champion who has been working with and for food producers for more than 13 years in the Kansas City region. She has built a dynamic and growing Food Systems Program while operating a certified organic diversified market farm, and providing leadership for the Kansas City food Hub, a local farmer cooperative.

Lakyn Coleman
Lakyn Coleman
Business Counselor, New Growth Women’s Business Center

A born entrepreneur, Lakyn brings a keen sense of rural life and small business dreams to her job. It’s her job to help entrepreneurs, men and women, assess where they are and where they want to go, and then assist them in taking their next best steps to success.

Tiffany Frost
Tiffany Frost
Business Services Director/WBC Director, New Growth CDC

Tiffany loves getting down to details. It’s a great passion to have as overall manager of the New Growth Women’s Business Center and related business services at New Growth. Her background in business and regulatory compliance supports her, and all of us.

Rondle Dines
Rondle Dines
Marketing Coordinator, New Growth CDC

Rondle brings a love for her community and a passion for online marketing to her work here. Through social media, website, email, and more, she helps us bridge the gap between our services and those organizations and individuals eager to engage with and learn more about what we offer.

Bridget Luff
Bridget Luff
Farm Outreach Coordinator,, New Growth CDC

Bridget’s a registered and licensed dietitian having served on the farm to school committee with Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and combined with her love of mini flower farming makes her a knowledge leader in supporting existing and new farmers in their entrepreneurial journey.

Rachel Healy
Rachel Healy
Administrative Coordinator, New Growth CDC

Rachel combines a strong drive and valuable business insights from her experience as a local business owner, making her an ideal fit for managing the New Growth events and services that provide so much to our community's enrichment.

Wacey Rivale
Wacey Rivale
Business Center Director, New Growth Women's Business Center

Wacey comes with passion for driving the growth of small businesses. Though she has a rich business history in large metros, she had local roots here and is eager to support new and existing entrepreneurs across our rural region.

Jaclyn Carroll
Jaclyn Carroll
Farm Business Counselor, New Growth CDC

Jaclyn brings rural west central Missouri roots and a farming background to her work as a Farm Business Counselor. Through tailored business planning sessions, she helps farmers develop strategic roadmaps for their operations, ensuring long-term viability and profitability.

Kim Carter
Kim Carter
Microlending Coordinator at New Growth CDC

Kim Carter, with 27 years of experience as a bank manager, now serves as the Micro-loan Coordinator at New Growth. She guides individuals and business owners through the process of applying for micro-loans, which are designed for credit building and business expansion, offering smaller, non-traditional lending options that traditional banks typically don't provide.