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PYSK: Julie Swope

PYSK: Julie Swope

Director of Special Projects for the Columbia Chamber of Commerce

AGE: 34

JOB DESCRIPTION: One of my main responsibilities with the Chamber of Commerce is directing our Total Resource Campaign. I work with more than 100 volunteers to sell chamber sponsorships, advertising, memberships, upgrades and trades. I coordinate their sales, product inventory and incentives and motivate our members to reach a lofty, yet attainable, goal. In addition, I oversee the alternate income committee, which plans the Twilight Cruise event in the spring, and I assist in the planning of the annual Chamber Classic Golf Tournament. A new responsibility over the past year has been working with the Emerging Professionals in Columbia (EPIC) group. EPIC’s mission is to engage, develop and celebrate emerging leaders through professional growth opportunities and social interactions.


ORIGINAL HOMETOWN: I grew up mostly in Jefferson City. However, my family is originally from Kansas City (where most of my extended family still resides). My dad was transferred to Jeff City when Gov. Bond asked him to be the director of the Missouri Division of Savings & Loans.

EDUCATION: I graduated from Helias High School in Jefferson City. I then attended Northeast Missouri State University, where I received a bachelor’s degree in music with an emphasis in piano, along with vocal and instrumental certification for grades K-12. I received a master’s degree in education from Truman State University. Since working for the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, I have received my Institute for Organizational Management certification through the University of Arizona.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: I am involved with the Truman State Mid-Missouri Alumni Association, Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity (Columbia Alumnae Chapter) and Alpha Phi Alumnae organization. I sing in the Contemporary Choir at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church. I also teach private piano lessons, choreograph the color guard for the Hickman High School marching band and take tap dancing classes at DanceArts studio.

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: I started my professional career in Kirksville, where I taught elementary music at Mary Immaculate grade school. After graduating with my master’s degree, I taught middle school and high school instrumental music for the Fulton Public School District for 4 1/2 years. Since leaving the teaching profession, I have been with the Columbia Chamber of Commerce. My first position was with the Women’s Network as its director.

A COLUMBIA BUSINESSPERSON I ADMIRE: There are several Columbia businesspeople I admire. Bo Fraser, Jerry Price, Dave Griggs, Michelle Hill-Ishmael, Jose Lindner, Lynda Baumgartner, Kim Stonecipher-Fisher and Joe Moseley are top on my list. I am truly grateful for these individuals who have seen the value of leading the chamber’s Total Resource Campaign. Because of their leadership and devotion, we have been hugely successful.

WHY I’M PASSIONATE ABOUT MY JOB: It is easy to be passionate about my job when so many people care about the Chamber of Commerce. The people in this community are truly amazing, and it makes my job so rewarding.

IF I WEREN’T DOING THIS FOR A LIVING, I WOULD: probably be teaching band in one of the middle schools. I love teaching 6th and 7th grade students who are just learning to play their instruments. Or, I would pursue an acting career. My friends often tell me I’m rather dramatic.

BIGGEST CAREER OBSTACLE I’VE OVERCOME: The biggest career obstacle I overcame was deciding not to renew my teaching contract without another position already in place. During that same time, my husband had accepted the band director position at Hickman, so we decided to move to Columbia. I had heard there was a position open with the Chamber of Commerce and immediately knew this was what I wanted to do.

A FAVORITE RECENT PROJECT: The 2007 Total Resource Campaign. Although the campaign has been successful each year, we had a very large goal this year, and all of the volunteers worked hard to achieve—and surpass—the goal! It’s awesome to be able to reward your members who have done an amazing job with a trip to Cabo San Lucas!

WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THIS PROFESSION: Working for a Chamber of Commerce is often a little stressful but extremely rewarding. Although chambers are not-for-profit organizations, there is a misconception that they should not operate as any other business. Our organization, regardless of tax status, strives to provide a quality product, impress our customers (membership) and promote commerce in our region.

WHAT I DO FOR FUN: I like to spend my free time doing a variety of different things. I enjoy biking, taking dance classes, scrapbooking, attending various concerts and performances, hanging out with family and friends and enjoying many of the great restaurants in Columbia.

FAMILY: My husband, Denis, is a band director at Hickman High School. We have three children: Mackenzie,14; Brett,10; and Evan, 2 1/2. We also have a little shihtzu named Lucy.

FAVORITE PLACE IN COLUMBIA: Sitting in Murray’s on a Saturday night listening to live jazz.

ACCOMPLISHMENT I’M MOST PROUD OF: I have two recent great accomplishments. I am so proud of my son, Evan. He is truly a gift from God! Also, I am very proud of my daughter, Mackenzie, who made the decision to move to Columbia to live with her dad and me about a year ago.

MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW THAT I: took a lot of honors math and honors science classes in high school. I was on the Math Team (I know, it screams “geek”!) and seriously considered a degree in mathematics or biology/pre-med.

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