Hawthorn Bank will open a downtown banking center, COO Kathleen Bruegenhemke announced Friday. The center will be located on the first two floors of...
Job description: Chief storyteller of all things City of Columbia.
Years lived in Columbia/mid-Missouri: All of them.
Original hometown: Fourth generation Boone Countian; born and raised right here in Columbia.
Education: Columbia Public Schools, MU (before I was asked to leave), and then on to Columbia College.
Professional background: Municipal government. I’ve worked in four departments through many positions with the City of Columbia. I have learned and continue to learn many things from each position.
My next professional goal: After this, the goal is to retire healthy and be able to travel and spend more time with grandkids and family. I’ll certainly be on the lookout for and participate in volunteer opportunities to continue serving the community.
Why I’m passionate about my job: It boils down to love of community. I can’t think of anywhere else I would rather be or anything else I would rather be doing right now. I continue to meet and work with so many smart, passionate, and fun people every day. Columbia’s not perfect. No community is. But the people I meet and work with continue to make it one of the best places I can think of to live. Their passion and ideas help drive my passion to work harder to make Columbia the best place to live, work, learn, and play.
What people should know about this profession: It takes compassion, commitment, and a love of community. Government exists to serve its citizens.
If I weren’t doing this for a living, I would: be tossing dough at Shakespeare’s. If they would have me.
Biggest lesson learned in business: Listen. Listen some more. Listen again. You can’t learn when you’re talking. Support your team. Take some risks. Celebrate your successes. Don’t beat yourself up when you trip. Move forward, not backward. I guess that’s many big lessons.
Family: My wonderful wife, Kim, who has put up with me for almost 23 years. Four great kids who have blessed Kim and I with 13 grandchildren (that’s why I am a youthful 57). Oh, and a little Maltese named Nick, who runs the house.
Favorite place in Columbia: Any park or trail will fit that bill. And Murry’s — the Murry’s Special salad makes that a favorite eatery for Kim and me.
A favorite recent project: Columbia Regional Airport, and it’s a project that’s still in progress. When I was 12, I attended the grand opening of the current airport and watched the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds perform — wow! The terminal was open and spacious, with natural light coming from the front and the airfield side. When you were there, you thought of all the possible places you could go. Today, the terminal is old, tired, dark, and cramped. It’s been an honor to work with so many smart and passionate professionals to begin a new era at COU: an era that will continue the airport’s mission of economic and tourism development for Columbia and mid-Missouri. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.
What I do for fun: I try to improve my poor composition skills with photography. And we love to travel; while there’s no place like home, there are so many grand things to see and do in our state and across the country.
Accomplishment I’m most proud of: From a personal perspective, it’s family. I’ve been blessed to have a family that has supported me professionally. From a professional perspective, its being given the chance to contribute to making Columbia a great place to live. I’ve worked in the 911 center, been a commissioned police officer, and worked up through the ranks in the Columbia Fire Department, and I now have a dream job of working with a great team of professionals to tell the stories of our city.
Most people don’t know that I: Sink like a rock in water. Straight to Davy Jones’s locker. Even Jo Ann Macher has all but given up trying to teach me to swim. Still, I love cruises and beaches. First cruise, we sailed through the tail of Hurricane Sandy, but we still love ’em. Go figure.