Local nonprofit directors dedicate their lives to the common good. photos by Keith Borgmeyer Cheryl Howard, Nora Stewart Early Learning Center As a former graduate...
Jessie Kwatamdia, Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Association Greater Missouri Chapter
Photo by Anthony Jinson
What’s your background?
I’m a native of Nigeria, and I have two daughters, 27 and 24. I hold a bachelor’s degree in horticultural therapy and a master’s in adult and continuing education. Both degrees are from Kansas State University. Most of my career has been in nonprofits.
What are three words your best friend would use to describe you?
Insightful, humorous, and dedicated.
On a typical weeknight, we could find you doing what?
I enjoy listening to classical music while I read.
Who or what has been your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspirations are my parents. They instill in me the principle of doing unto others as you would like them to do unto you. They always asked what I thought on issues (even as a kid) and infused in us the importance of helping others.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Knowing that one day soon our vision of a world without Alzheimer’s disease will be realized. I don’t want others to have to deal with this brutal disease like my father and other people and families around the world are currently doing.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
Les Brown once said, “When life knocks you down, fall on your back, because if you can look up, you can get up.” I truly believe that trials and obstacles are opportunities you haven’t realized yet.
From what do you draw strength?
I draw strength from regularly reading the Scriptures and from the support of my family.
What is your passion?
I enjoy working and helping older ones cope with aging.
What does it mean to be a strong woman?
Allowing your vulnerability, weakness, and emotions to show. Not always being in charge or showing you got it together while you’re falling apart inside. Embrace your feminine side and be true to yourself.
What advice would you give a younger version of you?
Take that trip around the world. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Enjoy life’s journey, play, and laugh more.
What would we be surprised to learn about you?
I was a regular on a children’s television program, which led me to always wanting to be a news anchor like Bimbo Roberts, a famous Nigerian female anchor. I still do.