40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Chrissy Howard

Instructional Leadership Specialist, Springfield Public Schools; Age 34; Education: BS, Wheelock College; MA, Harvard University; Simmons College (CAGS); UMass Amherst

Howard is dedicated to increasing access to education and the arts. Locally, she builds literacy in Springfield Public Schools and volunteers with foundations to provide Springfield children with access to books. In 2018, she was awarded the Pioneer Valley Teacher of Excellence Award for her work in literacy education. She is president of the board of Hilltown Families, a community-based education network, and on the boar

Chrissy Howard

Chrissy Howard

d of the YWCA of Western Massachusetts. She mentors young women earning their highest award in Girl Scouts. She is also the co-founder of the new, hyper-local Young Patrons groups with the Springfield Museums and Springfield Symphony, and is currently fundraising for the new East Forest Park Library branch. Howard, who is currently pursuing her PhD at UMass Amherst, lives in Springfield with her husband, Geoff, her two daughters, Cadence and Danica, and their dog, Birdie.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? From a young age, my mother developed my drive and put the wind in my sails. She always pushed me to work hard and be my best. Every time I felt like giving up, she reminded me about commitment. When I needed a fan or cheerleader, she was always there for me. She taught me determination.

My husband, Geoff, is my compass. When I feel myself drifting about my many projects and committees, he pulls me back in the direction we set for ourselves. I have learned to say “no” and stay focused on a few priorities. It was so important to have someone to say, “why are you doing this? What makes this important to you?” before making a time and energy commitment. I could honestly say “yes” to everything without this guidance in mind.

My two girls are my anchors. Every day, my daughter comes up with some new and curious wondering of the world. She makes me stop and think about everyday occurrences with a new, grounded perspective. My new baby girl reminds me how important each individual moment is. They are both growing so quickly, I have to remember to stop, take a breath, and live in the current moment.

My best friend, Meg, has been my first mate since we met! She is incredibly intelligent and able to offer keen insight to current issues and help strategically plan for our next endeavors.

Without these people in my life, I could never have the perfect balance of my work, volunteering, and family that I currently enjoy.

Photography by Leah Martin Photography