Spotlighting GSKSMO Board Member Ramona Farris
Courage, confidence, and character, three powerful words in the Girl Scout mission and inspiration for Ramona Farris’ work to advocate for the next generation of leaders.
As a Girl Scout alumna and one of four sisters, Ramona learned these words early with encouragement from her parents. Ramona’s father never treated his daughters differently based on their gender. He supported their leadership journey every step of the way and pushed them to keep reaching for their dreams.
Ramona’s roots are incredibly diverse and tell such a captivating story. Her mother’s lineage begins in Mexico with Maria Suarez Colin Hernandez, known as “Mamaquita”. Ramona is the great-great granddaughter of Mamaquita, and in June the family (yes eight generations of sons and daughters) celebrated the 100th anniversary of Mamaquita bringing her 11 children to the United States from Mexico. This incredible family built their life on Kansas City’s West Side, where Mamaquita’s children raised Hernandez and Garcia and Aguirre and Mendez and Herrera families of their own within a few blocks of one another.
“With firefighters, cops, teachers, restaurant owners, city hall workers, descendants of beloved local coach Tony Aguirre and one federal court judge, people recognize our family’s footprint across the West Side of Kansas City,” Ramona said.
Ramona’s father’s roots are in the north part of our council. He worked for Union Pacific Railroad for 32 years. Ramona was raised in Wathena, Kansas but with St. Joseph so near, she went to elementary school at St. James Parochial and then onto Bishop LeBlond High School. She and her family were active members of their community. Ramona followed their lead and excelled in academics, athletics (she ran cross country & track) and community service.
With her community advocacy and hometown roots, it was a natural path for Ramona to attend Benedictine College and pursue her political science degree (while playing softball and being a cheerleader). She immersed herself in college life continuing advocacy work and honing her political science savvy. Hard work and a great respect for every relationship cultivated led Ramona on an incredible journey.
Ramona began her career with the Northeast Kansas Community Action Program (NEK-CAP) assisting the low-income population of Doniphan County with various services to assist with self-sufficiency and moving out of poverty. She then moved on to the Doniphan County Education Cooperative, an organization that delivers educational services for exceptional children. She strengthened and created new relationships to bring the best opportunities for these gifted students. Ramona’s fantastic work got her noticed quickly. Before long she was asked to be the county coordinator for former Kansas Governor John Carlin’s Congressional campaign.
Though Carlin would lose that election to now Governor Sam Brownback, he would go onto to have a well-respected political career. In fact, while Ramona pursued her next career opportunity with Junior Achievement, she lived with Carlin’s family. Ramona learned many life lessons and built such a strong relationship that she was asked to hold the bible when Carlin was sworn in after being appointed the US Archivist by President Bill Clinton.
Following her time with Junior Achievement, Ramona was looking for her next career endeavor and yes another past relationship crossed her path. She met her former music teacher who recommended her for a position at a new local insurance company.
Ramona’s journey is such an incredible example for today’s girls. She has done it all from returning to Benedictine to earn her Executive Masters of Business Administration to running for City Council for the City of St. Joseph. There is no hurdle too high for Ramona to jump, including life challenges. Ramona is a proud breast cancer survivor and the founder of Cinderella’s Closet in St. Joseph, MO which assists low-income high school girls attend their proms and other key events. Through her relationships, she worked with a retired high school teacher who expanded the program and the Junior League now runs this vital program, assisting over 300 girls yearly.
Today, Ramona is Director of Business Development for WellMatch Health and continues her volunteer service. She was a candidate for Woman of the Year with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, serves on the University of Kansas Advancement Board and has recently joined our council’s Board of Directors.
“I am honored to be on the GSKSMO Board of Directors and to be able to open the door for leadership opportunities and strong role models for our girls,” Ramona said. “I want girls to dream big while we encourage and make sure they know everything is possible.”
Ramona is committed to all girls across the council’s 47 counties in northeast Kansas and northwest Missouri, but because of her hometown roots she is focusing on girls in Wathena, Troy, St. Joseph and the region that has given her so much.
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