Debra Shantz Hart’s law career was good preparation for the founding of Housing Plus. After graduating from the University of Missouri School of Law, she spent more than 20 years representing clients in real estate development, real estate finance and business law. In 2008, she and partner Becky Selle created Housing Plus in Springfield, which develops affordable housing. The organization works in partnership with non-profit agencies to deliver quality affordable housing to workforce, special needs and senior households.
What are your proudest career accomplishments?
Becoming the first female partner at Farrington & Curtis, serving as senior vice president and general counsel for John Q Hammons Hotels for 13 years, and developing affordable housing since 2008.
What inspired you to get involved in the public service or justice system?
I decided I wanted to be a lawyer in high school. I liked the idea of being able to help people in complex situations get equitable results.
What is the best advice you have given or received?
Don’t ask anyone to do something that you haven’t done yourself.
What is something that would surprise people about you?
I am a beekeeper.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Visiting with community leaders and non-profits about new affordable housing developments.
When you were growing up, what did you want to be?
I initially thought I wanted to be a doctor until I realized that involved a lot of bodily fluids. I decided I wanted to be a lawyer in high school. I thought I would be a litigator but found that I preferred a transactional practice much more.