Our Board of Directors
Willows Way is a 501c3, not-for-profit organization that is directed by an experienced administrative team and an active Board of Directors.
Willows Way Board Members are vital to our organization’s mission. We are very fortunate to have such a knowledgeable and dedicated team serving as advisers, decision makers, problem solvers and advocates from several different industries around the St. Louis area. We’d love to expand our team of professionals to make an even greater impact.
For more information about volunteering on the Board of Directors, please inquire.
Bio Coming Soon!
Senior Consultant in Learning and Development
Julaine Murphy, a Senior Consultant in Learning and Development, holds the position of Secretary on the Board of Directors. She said her family was searching for a day program for her brother and sister when the sibling’s case manager recommended Willows Way. Growing up, Murphy’s family included her biological sister with Down Syndrome and foster brothers and sisters with Down Syndrome and other developmental disabilities.
“The more I researched and learned about Willows Way, the more I wanted to get involved. Willows Way became our provider of choice and an organization that I wanted to serve,” said Murphy.
Murphy has a brother Matt, 43, who came to her family as an infant, and a sister Lori, 52, who has been with her family since the age of five. Matt and Lori, who both have Down Syndrome, use services provided by Willows Way, including Individualized Supported Living which allows them to live with the right balance of independence and supportive care in homes within neighborhoods. They also attend the RISE day program three days a week which gives them social interaction and community involvement opportunities.
As a member of the Program & Quality committee, Murphy has set a goal to continually find ways to develop the skills and attitudes of team members when it comes to providing the best care possible to Willows Way’s clients.
“We must care for our team members so they will care for our clients. Willows Way provides excellent training and is absolutely on the right track. I am also interested in building board engagement, empathy and insight by creating opportunities for connection between board members and clients, and board members and staff,” she said. “The vision and mission of Willows Way are powerful, and their leadership is second to none. I feel honored to join the Board of Directors.”
CEO of Geeding Construction
Resides in St. Charles, MO for 25 years and is married to Kristy, 3 Kids (Lillian, Jack & Caroline) I have always had a soft spot for those with developmental and intellectual disabilities. I have an adult nephew that is developmentally disabled and sometimes the brightest part of my day is when I get my daily snapchat from him telling me what his day was like on the farm. I also wanted to look for an organization where my skills would be useful. As a business person, my skills with finances and personnel can be utilized and allow me to give back to the community. I instantly fell in love with Willows Way tagline of “Life Beyond Limits.”
Quality Systems Engineer for Synergetics (Bausch + Lomb)
Abby Hare, a Quality Systems Engineer for Synergetics (Bausch + Lomb), says she had been looking into volunteer opportunities and searching various websites when she came across the Willows Way Board of Directors position and liked what she read about the organization and its mission.
Hare has a younger sister who was born 10 weeks premature and is greatly impacted developmentally and somewhat physically.
“I was five years old when she was born, so I grew up with her restrictions and disabilities being my normal life,” said Hare. “She will never be independent, and I know how much of a burden this can be on caretakers. She currently lives with my parents, but I will be her provider should anything happen to my parents. Organizations such as Willows Way are great resources.”
As a graduate student (many years ago) studying Clinical Psychology, I found myself increasingly frustrated with clients who seemed content with being “stuck” in their lives. As luck would have it, my advisor suggested I work for Life Skills (now Easter Seals) and I discovered the joy and perseverance individuals with developmentally disabilities displayed as they worked toward a more independent life.
I was fortunate to move through the organization fulfilling various roles including Director of Residential Services, Director of Employment & Socialization and, for a short period, interim Director of Fundraising. After several years, I assumed position of Executive Director of St Louis Society for Physically Disabled (now LifeBridge Partnership). Three years later, I accepted a position at Delta Center, a Center for Independent Living supporting individuals with disabilities in St Charles, Lincoln and Warren counties in living independently in their homes.
I became familiar with Willows Way and, after my retirement, was eager to serve on their board. Throughout my career, I’ve worked with many directors and agency staff. Without exception, Willows Way personnel never fail to consider client, staff and agency needs as they navigate the never-ending challenges faced by not-for-profits. I’m honored to be affiliated with them.
My nephew has Down Syndrome, so that gave me an understanding of the disability and the demand in the community for programs that assist others with those types of needs. Additionally, I worked for the Missouri Attorney General's Office in the Mental Health Unit and witnessed cases of caregivers who would misuse funds and verbally and physically abuse the vulnerable people who they were supposed to be taking care of. I wanted to do some good and be involved in something that helped people with disabilities. I was recruited to the Willows Way Board of Directors by a former board member in 2012.
One of my goals in serving on the board is to keep Executive Director Joy Steele and her staff well supplied with what they need in order to run the type of organization that I believe they are, and are striving to continue to be. I also want to try to increase our board reserve fund so that if, and when, there is another economic downturn or cuts that could negatively impact our services, we will be in good shape. I am also striving to increase participation in our RISE day program and helping to build up our Individualized Supported Living (ISL) program.
I was introduced to Willows Way by former board Vice President Kirby Cole. I have also been personally affected by a family member with I/DD and wanted to use my personal experience to improve the lives of others.
My four-year-old son Liam has Down Syndrome. He has had an amazing, positive effect on my family's life. He has shown us the true meaning of love and joy. There are many private and public support organizations to help people with disabilities when they are young. I wanted to help support and grow an organization that helps adults with disabilities lead fulfilling lives and focuses on building relationships and achieving independence.