Alumni Spotlight Stephanie Wan

Stephanie began her career in 2006 as an assistant in the attorney general’s office after graduating from the University of Missouri School of Law.

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Stephanie began her career in 2006 as an assistant in the attorney general’s office after graduating from the University of Missouri School of Law. Since being hired by the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office in 2007, she has worked her way from assistant prosecuting attorney to first assistant prosecuting attorney, where she supervises the general crimes unit and trains new attorneys. Stephanie specializes in persons crimes, which includes sex crimes, child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, and child homicide.

As a St. Louis native who pursued her undergraduate education at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, Stephanie understands why newcomers to the Springfield community are often hesitant to stay. However, she has learned that Springfield has a lot to offer young professionals:

“Springfield’s makeup gives you a lot more opportunities to get ahead. You go to St. Louis or Kansas City prosecutors’ offices and they are great, but they have hundreds of people who work for them. Recognizing what Springfield has to offer in terms of career development helps narrow down your competition and elevate your career trajectory.”

Stephanie credits her revelation about Springfield’s potential to her participation in Leadership Springfield’s Signature Class program in 2018. She emphasizes the networking opportunities she gained from the program and says she is still friends with many of her classmates. She recalls the moment she realized the value of those connections: “It really kick-started me to get involved in the community outside of just my niche bubble as a prosecutor.”

Connecting with other area professionals has allowed Stephanie to learn more about her community. “Even for some of us who are so plugged in, it’s like ‘What? We have an opera?’ I didn’t know Mercy Hospital offered simulation labs for EMTs, nurses, and doctors to train.”

Since graduating from the Signature Class, Stephanie has joined Leadership Springfield’s board of directors. In her new role, she has found an opportunity to expand the program’s reach. Specifically, she is working to diversify Leadership Springfield’s applicant pool in hopes of attracting a community of diverse leaders to the Springfield area. She states: “I fully believe that representation matters. Being able to see diversity with your eyes and having a broad spectrum of backgrounds and experiences allows for your community to grow.” Stephanie believes that being exposed to different backgrounds and experiences makes a person more empathetic. She says this is an important part of maintaining a healthy community.

When asked how her own minority identities have affected her success in Springfield, Stephanie recalls feelings of alienation and discomfort but acknowledges the privilege of having a boss who shares her value of diversity and gender equality. Stephanie refers to Leadership Springfield as a vehicle for empowering underprivileged members of the community and recognized the influence the program had on revealing her own potential as a leader. “Springfield isn’t just the place I live anymore. It’s not just my address. Leadership Springfield helped me recognize what I could do to make Springfield a better place.”

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