As a graduate of Leadership Springfield Signature Class 2, Gerald “Gerry” Lee cites his experience as to how he “began to understand the needs of the community and developed a strong urge to begin getting involved.” Gerry grew up just east of Springfield in Turners, Missouri. He and his wife Lynn have three children: Greg, Christie, and Abby. Gerry’s parents, who were also his top role models, instilled the importance of community involvement from a very young age. Their involvement included owning and operating the local general store (Turners Station), serving as the town postmaster and Logan-Rogersville school board secretary, and helping open four local Consumers grocery stores.
Gerry attended K-12 at Logan-Rogersville where he first demonstrated his propensity for being involved in his community. Throughout school, Gerry could be found participating in nearly all the clubs and sports school had to offer. After high school, he demonstrated his ambition and courage through his studies at Missouri S&T, where he graduated with a double major in Aerospace Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. Post-college, he took a job at McDonald Douglass (now known as Boeing) where he worked to design the components for the cockpit of the F-18 Fighter Jet. A year later, Gerry was offered a job as a Gas Engineer for Springfield City Utilities, which brought him home. He worked at CU for 28 years where he retired as Assistant General Manager in 2005.
Retirement did not slow Gerry down. He and his wife, Lynne currently operate five area UPS Stores. Gerry is also actively involved in a non-profit organization within the American Public Gas Association called Security and Integrity Foundation (SIF) where he currently serves as program manager. Through this organization, Gerry is able to use his expertise in municipal utilities and help small utility companies remain compliant with industry regulations. Additionally, he is currently the Associate Executive Director on the Missouri Center for Education Safety with the Missouri School Board Association where he works to plan and develop safety measures for schools around the state.
Gerry has served on countless boards and committees after returning to Springfield in 1978. Most of his involvement has had a direct tie to education which, after discussing in-depth, is clearly an area of service he is greatly passionate about. He has demonstrated this through his long-term service and leadership on boards of the following organizations:
- Springfield Public Schools
- Discovery Center of Springfield
- Mayor’s Commission on Children
- Springfield Sports Hall of Fame
- Missouri School Boards Association
- Community Blood Center of the Ozarks
- Interact Committee – Southeast Rotary Club of Springfield & Glendale High School
These are just some of the organizations he has been involved in, all of which having served a period as president or other leadership position. Gerry simply asks himself two questions when deciding what to get involved in:
- Would he have time to give it 100% of the effort it would require?
- Does he have enough passion for the cause to want to take on a leadership role in the future?
After graduating from Leadership Springfield, he began to pursue his passion for educational and leadership development within Springfield Public Schools. He was initially involved in a partnership with Central High School and City Utilities to promote leadership development for high school students. He began working with local schools and the Chamber of Commerce to develop the Academy Class of Leadership Springfield where local high school students could take part in a very similar leadership program. Not only was this intended to develop strong young leaders in our local schools, but it was also the hope that these kids would become great leaders in the Springfield community. 2019 marks the 30th anniversary for Leadership Springfield’s Academy Class program and it is fully expected to continue benefiting Springfield long into the future.
This was not the only program Gerry played a major role in forming. Gerry was a founder of Leadership Missouri – of which, he was also a member of the charter class – and LIFT (Leadership Is For Teachers) which transitioned into the Principals of Leadership program with Leadership Springfield, designed for school principals in the Springfield community.
Because of fellow Leadership Springfield Signature Class 2 classmates and other alumni, Gerry has had so many opportunities to serve and has been able to make instant connections to complete strangers who have also graduated from Leadership Springfield programs. He has found ties to Leadership Springfield on nearly every board or committee he has served on, and the knowledge and experiences Gerry shares with other alumni have served as a strong foundation for working together in the community.
This is only a short list of Gerry’s involvement and accomplishments to date, but it certainly paints a picture of the asset he has been to Springfield. Citizens could learn from Gerry Lee’s philosophy on life: “Be involved and don’t just sit on the bench.” No matter the cause, the community can greatly benefit from more leaders with Gerry’s mindset.