In 1982, Texas Governor Ann Richards sought a pool of qualified women leaders from which she could appoint to various state positions, commissions and boards.
Governor Richards was unable to find this pool of prepared, qualified women leaders to take on these assignments.
In order to fill this void, Governor Richards supported the work of the Foundation for Women’s Resources, who established Leadership Texas in 1983. Its purpose was to identify and develop the women leaders of Texas by providing them with essential information, an awareness of ongoing changes, sharpened skills, and an enduring network of women from diverse backgrounds.
They developed a women’s leadership training program targeted at mid-career, professional women, to specifically prepare them for state leadership positions. This later became known as Leadership Texas. Southwestern Bell Corporation-Texas was one of the primary sponsors of this leadership program.
The Move to Missouri
In the late 1980s, Southwestern Bell employees who were graduates of Leadership Texas were transferred to St. Louis, Missouri. These women unsuccessfully looked for a program similar to Leadership Texas and decided to start a comparable program in Missouri. Southwestern Bell-St. Louis became the lead sponsor for this newly founded leadership program. The program was organized and the first Board of Directors for the newly formed Missouri Foundation for Women’s Resources included women from across the state from a variety of industries. The board selected emerging or established women for a year-long traveling symposium program through a competitive application process that examined the leadership roles applicants had in their profession or community. That process is still in place today.
Yearly Class Experience – The Challenge
During each year, a dozen session days are held when critical local, state, national and global issues are discussed with accomplished experts from a variety of fields during four geographic venues. Missouri’s most respected leaders stimulate breakthrough-thinking with a series of highly interactive sessions. Networking with the class, alumnae, sponsors, and presenters offers immense advantages in gaining different perspectives for the cohort’s business challenges. The year provides participants with unique enrichment opportunities and creates a more valued resource for their organization and community. Through interaction with other business and professional leaders, Greater Missouri Women bring back to their businesses and communities new solutions to help organizations and communities thrive.
Refocused and Renamed
In 1997 the organization was renamed the Greater Missouri Leadership Foundation, Inc. Today over 1,000 prestigious alumnae from both rural and urban areas include corporate executives, lawyers, physicians, allied health professionals, journalists, education leaders, artists, financial service industry leaders, nonprofit executives, engineers, entrepreneurs and elected officials.
We applaud these outstanding women who have invested in their professional development and reinforcing commitment to their organizations and communities. And we celebrate the vision established by the founding women whose legacy endures.