As Director of Prosper Springfield, Francine Pratt has a history of putting her passions to work and a strong conviction to help those in need within the community. From time supporting Every Child Promise to the Chamber of Commerce to the Impacting Poverty Commission (Commission) and working with local education institutions, Pratt has continually remained involved both professionally and personally in addressing the needs of others in Springfield, MO.
Prosper Springfield came out of the Commission. In 2013, the Commission issued a two-year charge to understand the causes and effects of poverty and what the community can do about it. In 2015, the Commission released action items that, if completed, could reduce poverty by five percentage points and increase postsecondary attainment to 60 percent – both by 2025. Pratt works with other community entities and partners to oversee the achievement of the Commission’s action items. After moving to Springfield full-time in 2010, Pratt quickly began making a difference in the world around her. She has served in a variety of positions that have allowed her to focus on helping those in need in Southwest Missouri. As the past Executive Director for Isabel’s House, Pratt helped to provide families a safe place if they were facing a crisis or anticipating neglect or abuse in their home. Pratt describes it as, “a marvelous opportunity to serve at Isabel’s House and something I’m just very passionate about.”
In addition to her focus on helping those in need in Springfield, Pratt is a former president of Missouri’s Springfield NAACP chapter and is also active in enhancing diversity in leadership positions throughout the community. As a former Executive Director for Multicultural Programs for Missouri State University, Pratt identified opportunities to celebrate diversity and create a positive environment at MSU. “I have learned that even though our non-majority population has smaller percentages in Springfield, they have the largest amount of families living at or below the federal poverty level. I believe that diversity needs to be manifested at leadership levels because leaders set the pace for the rest of their organization. If the leaders are not understanding of the make-up of the community and why certain situations exist, then we will go ten steps backward.”
A Leadership Springfield Signature Class 27 graduate, Pratt has strong feelings about her experience in Leadership Springfield’s signature class: “It was amazing!” Having already been a citizen of the Springfield area for three to five years before becoming involved with the group, she recognized the benefits that Leadership Springfield provides for the community. “You need to have every new leader that comes to Springfield go immediately through Leadership Springfield!” Today, Pratt serves on the Board of Directors for Leadership Springfield and works to increase diversity within the programs and in community leadership.