Meet The Team
The New Growth team is comprised of staff and West Central Missouri Community Action Agency associates, as well as leaders from partner organizations across the region.
Staff and Associates
New Growth Community Initiatives Coordinator
JOURNEY: Kelly comes to New Growth after leading the drive for innovation in rural living and health care at the Vernon County-based Healthy Nevada initiative. Achievements include a Prescription Drugs Monitoring Program in Vernon County, the Seeds of Faith gleaning project, a new multi-use farmers’ market facility, and local beef in local schools with the MO Beef MO Kids initiative.
WHY NEW GROWTH: Through the collaborative efforts of regional partners — their shared ideas and resources — counties will begin to see an example of effective community development.
New Growth Community Wealth Building Director
JOURNEY: Patty brings a career in community economic development to New Growth, including 12 years developing regional food economy programs in Michigan. Achievements include the now-statewide Taste the Local Difference marketing initiative and Northwest Michigan’s ongoing, 10-county Food and Farming Network.
WHY NEW GROWTH: New Growth is an opportunity to connect and channel the positive energy and assets of this region so that together we can build a just and joyous future for everyone here.
WCMCAA Strategic Development and Communications Director
JOURNEY: Gina brings an extensive background in public relations, sales, marketing, business, fundraising and promotions to her job building West Central’s connection to community members and leaders.
WHY NEW GROWTH: I love being a part of something that will help our rural communities grow and succeed!
WCMCAA Finance Director
JOURNEY: Aaron puts years of experience as a nonprofit executive director and in private banking and other industries into his job managing West Central’s finances and helping to navigate business opportunities.
WHY NEW GROWTH: New Growth is an opportunity to be innovative with our thinking, and more collaborative than we have ever been, in order to meet the needs of rural communities in West Central’s region.
WCMCAA Food Systems Specialist
JOURNEY: Katie leads West Central’s Food Systems Program building healthy farms and food in the region. Her background includes six years as a Small Farm Specialist at Lincoln University and developing the cooperative KC Food Hub, which markets to the metro area and includes produce from her own Green Gate Family Farm.
WHY NEW GROWTH: It’s a chance to make our rural economies stronger through food and agriculture.
New Growth Assistant
JOURNEY: Dani is a St. Clair County native who made her way to New Growth after learning and working in the title side of real estate, with county parcel mapping and other jobs.
WHY NEW GROWTH: It’s exciting to be part of an organization that thinks and works outside the box.
President and Chief Executive Officer
JOURNEY: Chris brings a background in both community economic development and law to his executive director and CEO role at West Central and New Growth. Highlights include the innovative business accelerator StartME he helped Atlanta’s Emory University develop and launch and community development support to American Indian communities.
WHY NEW GROWTH: New Growth is a vehicle for real, impactful, innovative transformation in rural communities. And, a great team!
WCMCAA Grant Research and Development Manager
JOURNEY: Debbie was a classroom teacher and Parents as Teachers (PAT) educator for more than 30 years, including four years as a state PAT trainer. She began her grant-writing, community organizing and communications work at the Missouri Pork Producers Association.
WHY NEW GROWTH: I love watching local connections strengthen and grow as new ideas spark hope and enthusiasm in our communities!
JOURNEY: Kelly provides business training and no-cost confidential one-on-one counseling to entrepreneurs in the region. She is an experienced small business owner and Missouri SBDC’s 2018 Rookie of the Year.
WHY NEW GROWTH: I love the commitment from the people at New Growth, and their desire to help others in their communities from every angle.
Executive Director, Kaysinger Basin Regional Planning Commission
JOURNEY: Sheridan leads this local government member organization serving seven rural counties and 55 cities in west central Missouri. Accomplishments include developing the region’s 2017-2022 Stronger Economies Together (SET) plan and launching a regional economic development program.
WHY NEW GROWTH: We learn from each other, we support each other and, through partnership, we are achieving more for our rural communities than was possible with our organizations working alone.
JOURNEY: Teresa works with St. Clair County businesses and governments as part of Kaysinger Basin Regional Planning Commission’s regional economic development program. Her background includes more than 20 years in the Health and Beauty Industry, during which she managed a chain of salons.
WHY NEW GROWTH: New Growth reminds communities of great assets they already have in place and helps us build on those assets.
West Central Region Director, University of Missouri Extension
JOURNEY: Wayne is a Vernon County native who started his career as a regional agricultural business specialist in Carthage and then Nevada, Missouri. He has 34 years of Extension experience, including seven as regional director.
WHY NEW GROWTH: Working together we can grow Missouri’s economy!