By Andrea Morrow
Claudia Sands lives by Winston Churchill’s words, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give,” and she is certainly no stranger to giving back. A 2004 Leadership Missouri Graduate, Sands has been named the 2012 Leadership Missouri Alumni of the Year for her tireless work to make Missouri a better place through her work and volunteering.
“I’m truly honored to win this award, because I truly love this program,” Sands said about her award. “Leadership Missouri provides participants with leadership skills, but I think anyone who participates is already a leader. The Leadership Missouri Program just sharpens and enhances those leadership skills, and I’m so glad I was able to participate.”
Sands began her career in 1979 with United Telephone, as a telephone operator and worked her way to the position she currently holds as State and Local Government Affairs Manager.
“I’ve seen so many changes with this company,” Sands explained. “But I’ve gotten to work with great teams of people through the years and I wouldn’t be the person that I am, with the current job title that I have, or the leader that I am, without this company.”
Sands takes leadership very seriously, and she believes anyone can be a leader.
“Leadership is measured by what you do, not what you say,” she explains. “It’s how it impacts your community. You don’t have to have a special job or role to be a leader, it can start from home.”
“Claudia is totally devoted to her job, community and this industry, said coworker Greg Gaffke. “Her leadership over the years speaks for itself. Like many of us who are called to volunteer, I’ve never heard Claudia say no to requests for helping to serve others or benefitting the community or even the state.”
While growing up, Sands actually wanted to be a nurse, so it’s no surprise she’s chosen to make helping people her life’s work. Sands is active in the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce as an Ambassador, United Way, and Leadership Missouri Alumni, having served as a past president. One of her proudest achievements was serving on the Newburg School Board for 12 years. Sands was a graduate of the district and had a son, Holden, graduate from the district as well.
“Being on the school board doesn’t always make you more friends or make you popular, but I feel like my time on the board made an impact on the district, and it meant a lot to serve on the board,” Sands said.
In 2008, Sands was named the Spirit of Rolla Award winner by the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce. The award is presented to a woman in the Rolla community in recognition for significant achievement and/or lifetime contribution to the spirit of giving that is so indicative of Rolla and the surrounding community.
At the end of the day, after her work and volunteering, Sands is most proud of her family including husband Orel, son Holden and daughter-in-law Amanda. She firmly believes that all leaders need the support of their families, for without a support system, there wouldn’t be as strong a level of leadership.
In her spare time, which she admits she has very little of these days, you might find Sands fishing on the Gasconade River with her family, which counts among her favorite things. She doesn’t stay still for long, however, she’s too busy giving back.