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Girls On A Mission
By: Annie Stewart, ShowMe the Ozarks Magazine August 2013 Issue
Lamar, Missouri is the birthplace of Harry S. Truman and where Wyatt Earp first tried his hand at being constable. Also influential were women such as Little Britches and Cattle Annie, notorious cattle thieves in the 1890s and early 1900s. Luckily for Lamar, though, today's influential women administer order and command over the local Chamber of Commerce, each serving in a separate capacity.
Executive director of the Chamber of Commerce Astra Ferris chose a profession that came naturally to her. With a professional background in banking, and a former volunteer for the Chamber, community involvement came to her easily and without reserve.
"Community involvement was something I have always been passionate about," she said. A graduate of Joplin High School, Astra attended Pittsburg State University and majored in marketing. She is active in the community and has served as president elect of the Rotary Club, was on the Lamar Fair Queen Committee, and is active with United Way, Relay for Life and Cherubs.
As executive director of the Chamber, she oversees all Chamber functions, and creates and implements the Chamber's vision for future activities. "I love a challenge," Astra said. "Getting people in the community involved - it is definitely a trial and error process and finding out what works."
Camping with her family and friends, playing guitar and singing, playing cards, and doing crafts with her children are a few of her hobbies. "Having a musical family growing up, it was natural for me to pick up a guitar and join in. My husband also plays guitar and sings, and through music is how we met."
Her husband is Jerrad Ferris, an engineer for TAMKO. They have two daughters Elise and Laryn. "I am blessed to have a position here at the Chamber where I feel I can make a positive impact on the quality of life in Barton County. Through all activities we do here, I'm always asking, 'How can we improve and enhance what we are doing?' I am grateful for a dedicated team that assists with this mission every day."
DeAnna Ross began her career in web design while working with student organizations at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan, and Baker College in Owosso, Michigan.
Now the Executive Assistant for the Barton County Chamber of Commerce, DeAnna is responsible for keeping the Internet resources looking good, including Facebook and the Chamber's website. She assists with Membership Services, maintains the Chamber of Commerce's financial records and promotional materials including advertisements flyers, newspaper ads, and the weekly Chamber eNewsletter.
DeAnna said that working for the chamber has been a good thing for herself and her family. "God's hand has been in my coming to the Chamber of Commerce, and every step of the way has been an incredible blessing for me and my family; as some people say, I was ready for the right job and the right time.
"I enjoy the website/graphics design work I get to do here, but helping to organize events with my fellow staff members and interacting with the public. I did all those sorts of things for hobbies and charity groups in the past so most days it really doesn't feel like work. I truly love my job."
A self-professed 'geek', DeAnna shares her love of science fiction hobbies with her husband, Randy, both enjoy superheroes, Star Trek, Doctor Who, and even cartoons. She collects comic books and participates in art of all kinds, including sketching and performing in theater productions. She is also an avid gamer. DeAnna hopes to share her love of these hobbies with her daughter Edwina Mae (Winnie.)
"While I'm originally a Michigan gal, I'm now a resident of Barton County," she said. "As an employee of the Chamber of Commerce, I am an active participant in the destiny of my hometown and the surrounding area. I'm using my skills every day to help my friends and neighbors to make things better. I don't think anyone could ask for anything more than that out of a career."