10 Most Beautiful Women 2018 presented by Bharat Shah

Kim Crist, 44

Lives in: Springfield, MO
Director of Operations-Women’s Services, Mercy Springfield Communities
Charity: Great Circle

The woman who receives the most online votes and brings the biggest crowd to Indulge will donate a portion of the event proceeds to her local charity of choice. The winner will be announced at Indulge on October 3.

What is your local 417-land charity of choice, and why is it important to you? 

Great Circle. When I graduated from Drury, my first job in the social services field was at Boys & Girls Town of Missouri, now known as Great Circle. I had the opportunity to work with the kids who were in residential care and basically served as their “houseparent” every other week. We did all the things a true parent would do but also had the opportunity to help guide them on a positive, healthy path. It was a hard, emotional position to fully understand what they were experiencing as kids but also very rewarding to see them succeed. Today, Great Circle is much more than traditional residential care. They also provide targeted outpatient therapy; work with foster parents and those interested in fostering; provide counseling, home-based outreach and reunification support to the whole family; offer emergency shelter and crisis services; and provide housing options for homeless teens and myriad other services to our community. 

Do you volunteer, or are you involved in any philanthropic or community organizations? If so, what are they, and what do you do?

I currently serve on the Great Circle Regional Council where I have the opportunity to work alongside others who have a passion for the organization that is near and dear to my heart. I also get to interact with the kids who might benefit from a mentor or might just appreciate having adults around who care.

I also serve as a member of Mercy’s Women with A Mission which is composed of female philanthropists who are bringing high-quality healthcare to all people who need it, no matter where they live, no matter what they can afford. It’s an opportunity not only to give financially but to give of myself differently than what I do every day when I walk in the doors for work.

What do you think makes a woman beautiful?

I think someone is beautiful when they are confident in their own skin no matter what that looks like, because you have to love yourself first. I also think it is defined by how much you love and are loved, how you put others before your own needs, how you lift others up instead of tear them down and how you communicate with those around you through words and nonverbal actions.

What has been your proudest moment? Or, what are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the fact that I survived severe postpartum depression 11 and a half years ago. I was hospitalized 10 days after my daughter was born at the Marian Center, and it took about everything I had to pull myself out of that darkness. I would not have been able to survive if my neighbor had not taken action so quickly and had my family and friends not shown up to support us. Once I got the help, it took medication, therapy and literally making myself do all the things recommended to help improve my outlook. I was fortunate enough to help form a support group after my experience, and I openly share my story today to try and help erase the stigma. 

What was one particularly defining or life-changing moment in your life?

When I graduated from Drury over 20 years ago, I knew I wanted to be in either marketing or social work. I pursued social work initially but ultimately changed course and got my master’s in integrated marketing, which led to my position at Mercy. After eight years in the marketing department, I was recruited by a vice president to fill an operations position. I knew nothing about clinic operations at the time and was forthcoming from the beginning about what I saw as my weaknesses. Fortunately, the leader took a chance on me and saw what I could bring to the position. I was nervous to make the leap and questioned my decision but dug in and learned the business from a brand-new perspective, which took me to where I am today. In my time in operations, I’ve been able to stabilize our teams, improve patient and co-worker satisfaction and grow our talent. And along the way, I’ve been able to help our patients and co-workers who need it the most, really tapping into my desire to help others.

Bharat Shah MD FACS

When you were a child, who did you think was the most beautiful woman? Why?

Mary Rose. My grandfather died when my mom was 19, so my grandma, Mary Rose, was a constant in our life. She watched us when my parents were gone, she vacationed with us, she threw the best parties for the holidays, stood in line for hours for the hot gift each year and always surprised us with something extraordinary. On one night out, she took us for pizza, followed by ice cream for dessert and then the sugar led to a need for salt, so she took us to McDonald’s for fries. It’s one of those moments you will remember forever. She loved sports, singing, pizza with beer and bingo. She knew how to enjoy life and have fun and taught us how to love family like there is no tomorrow. She was beautiful because of the supreme joy she brought to all of us grandkids. She recently passed, and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about Mary Rose, my lady.

What advice would you give to a young girl about being beautiful?

I have an 11-and-a-half-year-old daughter, so I am constantly thinking about what I say and how I say it so that she feels good about herself and doesn’t spend too much time on questioning her own outward beauty. When it comes to inner beauty, I tell her to always be the one who is nice to other kids who may be struggling, to make sure not to get caught up in the drama or gossip about other kids, to imagine yourself in their shoes and then react in a way that would make you feel good if someone was doing the exact same to you. I think it’s important for kids her age to understand it’s not about the clothes or the makeup or the hair. It’s all about who you are, how you treat people and how you set an example for others.

What’s something that might surprise us about you, or a story you love to tell?

My husband and I were both working at the Downtown YMCA when we met in 2000. He ran the adult sports leagues while still in college, and I worked in an administrative position a few years after graduation. Yes, he is younger! When I initially met him, I was not a fan. He came across as way too confident and seemed to know how to push my buttons, which was infuriating at the time. Somehow, the sarcasm and ribbing back and forth formed an unlikely friendship, and a year later, we started dating. We’ve been together 19 years, and, while he still drives me crazy at times, he wouldn’t be the success he is today without that confidence, and now it’s one of the things I love most about him.

What is your biggest source of inspiration?

I love going into meetings with one of my Mercy mentors, Bill Hennessey. It doesn’t matter what kind of day he’s having, he is always upbeat, happy and trying to move the mission of Mercy forward. He lives by the mentality of “it’s all good,” which inspires me to put aside anything that might be stressful at that moment, redirect my attention and reengage my excitement to do the work of Mercy. 

My current vice president is also a lot like that in the fact that she doesn’t let barriers impede progress and is always looking for the positive solution to the problem. I truly appreciate her approach because I’m also a “don’t take no” type of person so it’s refreshing and inspiring to work alongside other leaders who are similar and want something greater for our patients, co-workers, physicians and Mercy.

Where do you find beauty in 417-land?

Everywhere. I am surrounded by so much beauty in the people who I am fortunate to have in my life and those I have yet to meet. I have some of the best friends, both new and old, who each have traits that are uniquely theirs and beautiful; a daughter who is tenderhearted and filled with empathy and compassion; a workplace that is filled with the love and healing ministry of Jesus; a husband who, unbeknownst to me all those years ago, was actually the perfect match; and a family, both immediate and extended, who show me unconditional support. So, when I wake up and look around, I see beauty in the people right in front of me and for that, I am grateful. 

What do you think is the biggest issue or challenge 417-land is facing right now, and how would you tackle it? 

Right now, we are hearing a lot about teen homelessness. Although it might not be the biggest issue today, if the problem is not addressed now while they are still young, it will lead to adult homelessness, which creates myriad other issues for our community in the future. There are many organizations that offer some sort of homeless program for teens, but the perception is that many are working independently of each other. As an individual organization, they are helping a small subset but if they worked collaboratively with each other, their impact could be that much greater. After learning about some of these issues through Great Circle and knowing leaders involved with other nonprofit organizations trying to tackle the same thing, it only makes sense to bring all the parties together to work in tandem with one another and figure out how to better improve access to housing and other much-needed services for teens who are on their own. 

Fill in the blank: Friends would describe you as “The _____ One.” 

Behind the Scenes, Get Things Done

See the winners in the September issue!

Get to know our 10 Most Beautiful even better. Then, watch them walk the runway at 417 Magazine's Indulge on October 3 at Oasis Hotel and Convention Center.