Zone 1 City Councilwoman Monica Horton loves northwest Springfield. She and her husband Leonard and daughter Ari’el live in the Grant Beach neighborhood, but have lived in Westside, Bissett and Heart of the Westside neighborhoods since moving to Springfield in 2013. Horton grew up in Kansas City and has lived in Tallahassee and Havana, Florida.
Parks are her favorite things about the Springfield neighborhoods she’s lived in, specifically, Nichols Park in Heart of the Westside when it served for three years as the location for National Night Out.
“That was a great memory, seeing all those folks come out to Nichols Park,” she said.
More favorite things about Zone 1 include:
“The Library Station was my gateway into civic engagement where I was first asked if I was a registered voter to get me to sign a petition for the ballot. I got registered to vote! If it were not for Bartley-Decatur Neighborhood Center in Midtown being the birthplace of Ujima Family Literacy Nights, our family wouldn’t have found connection to community. The African American Heritage Trail keeps me grounded in the history of Springfield where I teach youth about it each year at the Black History Summer Academy leading to the Juneteenth holiday that is celebrated at Silver Springs Park. C-Street is the place to be! I conduct just about all of my business meetings at Big Momma’s Coffee and Espresso Bar.”
Horton was appointed to the Zone 1 council seat in April. She will serve Zone 1 until the April 4, 2023 election.
“What I’m most looking forward to in my role on council is collaborating as a unit to focus our efforts on improving neighborhoods and making things better as we continue our recovery from COVID-19,” she said. “Gaps exist in Zone 1. When people don’t have a stable economic base, it’s a barrier to engagement. As a city, we need to look at how resources are allocated to result in more equitable decision-making.”
Horton says former Zone 1 Councilwoman Phyllis Ferguson demonstrated excellent leadership and is a great role model and mentor encouraging Horton to use the Zone 1 Blitz report as a guide.
“I saw a lot of improvements to Zone 1 as a result of the Zone Blitz. I see my role as the Zone 1 representative as finishing the unfinished business of the Zone Blitz, which Phyllis advocated for,” Horton said. “I value continuity of leadership, and want to continue that work.”
Horton is pleased to be the second African American woman to serve on council (Councilwoman Heather Hardinger was the first) because the more diverse people we have in leadership positions, the more young people will see themselves represented, which in turn leads to more diversity in leadership and more voices being heard.
“We have to serve all of our citizens, not just a few,” she said.
She says the Forward SGF Comprehensive Plan has the potential to be a game-changer for Springfield.
“I’d like to see more development in Zone 1 by the people that live there, because they’re more invested in those communities,” she said.
Horton is self-employed as an organizational consultant and is an adjunct instructor for Drury University in the College of Graduate Studies teaching required coursework for diversity, equity, and inclusion certification. Her business, Lenica Consulting, has business contracts with Pratt Consultants as a data curator; Community Partnership of the Ozarks as a program evaluator and researcher for the Latino Leadership program and the Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council’s School-to-Prison Pipeline Study; and Missouri State University working as a contributing researcher to the Springfield Inclusion Study funded by Community Foundation of the Ozarks.
She holds a bachelor of arts in psychology degree from Tuskegee University and two master’s degrees – a master of public administration from Missouri State University and a master of music therapy from Florida State University.
Horton has served on the Greene County Senior Citizens’ Services Fund Board, serving as treasurer of the $2.9-plus million tax levy for two of those years.
In 2019, she was appointed to the Mayor’s Commission for Children and as Ujima Language and Literacy’s founding board president while at the same time beginning a three-year appointment serving on Leadership Springfield’s board of directors.
Horton served on the advisory council and the performance measures and data management workgroup for Prosper Springfield from 2017 until 2020. In 2013, shortly after moving to here, she volunteered at Community Partnership of the Ozarks’ annual Hope Connection as a guest guide, then co-produced the Hope Connection’s survey data results report and presented the report to CPO’s Continuum of Care team and later served as a survey volunteer during CPO’s Point in Time count of homeless persons in the Springfield area.”
Contact Councilwoman Horton at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the City Clerk’s office at 417-864-1651.