Long-time nonprofit leader to retire Aug. 1

Jill FinneyAnnouncement

After decades of serving communities in which she’s lived, United Way of the Ozarks President/CEO Debi Meeds will retire effective Aug. 1, 2019.

Meeds joined United Way of the Ozarks as the President/CEO in September 2014 after serving more than 25 years with American Red Cross. During her time with United Way of the Ozarks, Meeds led the workgroup that created the system for and began the implementation of Coordinated Case Management now called Connect Springfield.

“On behalf of the United Way Board of Directors, I would like to thank Debi for her dedicated service to our community,” said Eric Bilyeu, United Way of the Ozarks Board Chair.  “Debi’s passion for helping those in need in our area and fulfilling the United Way Mission will be sorely missed.”

Before coming to United Way of the Ozarks, Meeds served as the Regional CEO for American Red Cross Southern Missouri Region based in Springfield. She began her long career with American Red Cross as an assistant station manager serving the U.S. 8th Army on Yongsan Army Base in Seoul, Korea, nearly three decades ago.

Serving her community has always been a passion for Meeds. She began her volunteer career in seventh grade as a candy striper for American Red Cross in Springfield and the rest is history. Currently Meeds serves as Chair of the Missouri Governor’s Faith-Based and Community Service Partnership for Disaster Recovery as well as the Chair for the Greene County Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD).

“Debi is a phenomenal leader, especially in times of disaster. Her depth of knowledge from her experience has garnered her respect at the national level. She’s the only person I know that can pick up the phone and call the national office of American Red Cross and be talking to the lead person in minutes,” said Larry Woods, director of emergency management for Greene County. “At the same time, Debi has a deep compassion for people. She can walk into any home during or after a disaster and walk out with a new best friend. Her true passion is helping people.”

Meeds says creating the model to service disaster survivors at Multi-Agency Resource Centers (MARC) is among her proudest achievements in her 30-plus year career. This model has now been adopted by both the state of Missouri and the American Red Cross nationally. During the Joplin Tornado response, Meeds opened both the Red Cross Shelter and the MARC immediately following the disaster.

“I have been blessed to serve in a community that serves each other, said Meeds. “When we know the need — whether it is helping those homeless, struggling, disadvantaged, or those that have been devastated by disaster, together we help. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity I have had to serve this community.”

Meeds also serves on numerous community collaboratives and boards including: Healthy Living Alliance, Every Child Promise Executive Committee, and is a member of Downtown Rotary. In her spare time, Meeds is very active in her church teaching Sunday school to children. She plans to continue in many of the roles during retirement.

“We have a strong past to build upon, and Debi has been an important part of our recent history,” said Brad Crain, immediate past chair of the United Way of the Ozarks board. “Now as we look forward, we will look for a strategic leader who can lead us into the next chapter of United Way’s history. We look forward to announcing our decision once it is made.”

The United Way board has begun a formal search process and we look forward to announcing our decision once it is made.

For more information, please contact Jill Finney at [email protected] or 417.988.2866