A public collaborative: Increasing equal opportunity for diverse local businesses, contractors, consultants and employees

2:15 - 3:30 p.m., Thursday, April 20, 2017
PSU 315

Local public entities, including institutions of higher learning, can positively create a climate of inclusion. Learn more about how they can generate opportunities for employment, contracting, procurement, as well as attract consultants from diverse backgrounds (including minority, women, disadvantaged, disabled and veterans).


City Manager Greg Burris

Greg Burris

City Manager
City of Springfield

Greg Burris is Springfield city manager, a post he has held since 2008. In this role, Burris serves as the chief executive and administrative officer for the city and is responsible for directing the overall operations of the City of Springfield and for executing all policies and programs authorized by City Council. Burris serves City Council, and provides supervision and general direction to the city's leadership team. He has direct responsibility for approximately 2,300 full- and part-time employees, a $315 million annual budget and $1.4 billion in assets. 

Previously, Burris was vice president for administrative and information services at Missouri State University. Over his 25-year Missouri State career, Burris held many roles including junior computer programmer to chief information officer.

Burris holds a master’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems from Missouri State University.

Chief Finance and Operations Officer Carol Embree

Carol Embree

Chief Finance and Operations Officer
Springfield Public Schools

Carol Embree is the Springfield School District chief finance and operations officer. She has 25 years of experience as a school business official, having also served the Liberty, Blue Springs and Clinton School districts.

Embree is serving a third term as a board member of the Missouri Association of School Business Officials. She initiated the Greater Ozarks Association of School Business Officials, partnering with leaders throughout the southwest region of Missouri to grow together professionally. She is a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast and serves as a board member for Don’t Meth with Us, educating students on the dangers of drug use. Embree also serves on the Public Entities Diversity Committee and is a director on the board for Mercy Hospital.

Embree has a passion for process improvement and organizational development. She utilizes her strengths as relator, learner, arranger, achiever and individualization to advance the work. 

Executive Director Samuel Knox

Samuel Knox

Executive Director
Minorities in Business

Samuel Knox is the co-founder and president of the monthly Unite News Publication. He also serves as executive director for Minorities in Business, an organization dedicated to the promotion of economic development through capacity-building, advocacy and networking for minority business owners and entrepreneurs. His professional career spans more than 25 years of non-profit administration and community involvement.

Knox is a member of the Bartley Decatur Neighborhood Center Board of Directors, the Deliverance Temple Board, the Juanita K Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts Advisory Committee, the Biz 417 Magazine Advisory Board, the MSU Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council, the Springfield Police Chief’s Community Advisory Committee, the Springfield Public Entities Diversity Initiative and the 2017 Springfield Community Leadership Forum. He organizes the annual Springfield Multicultural Festival

General Manager Scott Miller

Scott Miller

General Manager
City Utilities

Scott Miller is general manager and chief executive officer for City Utilities of Springfield. He serves on the American Public Power Association Board and is past chair of the Energy Authority Board of Directors in Jacksonville, Florida.

Miller is active in a number of community organizations and boards, including Springfield Business Development Corporation; Springfield Innovation, Inc.; Partnership for Sustainability; Mercy Hospital and the Sunrise Rotary Club.

Miller joined City Utilities in 2002 as the associate general manager for electric supply. Prior to his career at City Utilities, Miller served as director of steam generation for The Dayton Power and Light Company in Dayton, Ohio.

Miller earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Business Administration from Wright State University. He holds a professional engineers license and has 30 years of experience in the utility industry.

Vice President for Administrative Services Matt Morris

Matt Morris

Vice President for Administrative Services
Missouri State University

Matt Morris is vice president for administrative services at Missouri State University. He has served in various roles at Missouri State since 1999.

Morris’ is an active member of the Springfield community, contributing to a number of organizations, such as the City Utilities Citizens' Advisory Council, Community Listen/Zone Blitz Partner and Partnership for Sustainability board. He is a graduate of Leadership Springfield – Class 30, and was named by the Springfield Chamber of Commerce as the 2015 Young Professional of the Year.

Morris holds a BBA from Pittsburg State University and an MBA from Missouri State University.

President and CEO John Oke-Thomas

John Oke-Thomas

President and CEO
Oke-Thomas + Associates, Inc

John Oke-Thomas is the president and CEO of Oke-Thomas + Associates Inc., an architectural and design-build company based in Springfield.  His experience spans more than 30 years in the construction industry.  

His company was named the Design-Build Firm of the Year in 2008 by the Minority Development Council of Kansas City and he was awarded the Minority Business Person of the Year in 2011 by U.S. Small Business Administration. Oke-Thomas was part of the 2012 delegation from the Midwest invited to speak on economic issues at the White House.

Oke-Thomas received an associate’s degree from Polytechnic of Northern London and a Bachelor of Architecture from from Drury University. He is a founding member and past president of Minorities-In-Business (MIB), a local business organization that provides

networking opportunities and mentorship programs to the area’s minority-owned businesses. He is married to Helen, a nurse practitioner with CoxHealth. Together, they have four children.

Director of Management Services Ken Reasoner

Ken Reasoner

Director of Management Services
City Utilities

Ken Reasoner is director of management services for City Utilities of Springfield, a post he has held since 2009. His responsibilities include purchasing, inventory management, facilities management, telecommunications, physical security and damage prevention. Reasoner joined City Utilities in 1991 and has 26 years of utility and financial experience. 

Reasoner earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Missouri Southern State University. He is a certified public accountant and a chartered global management accountant.

He is an active participant in the Springfield Public Entities Diversity Initiative and serves as a co-chair for the performance measurement subcommittee.