That desire made a career in law a logical choice for Hayes, who said her family encouraged her to pursue any dream, no matter how great.
“I still love it,” said Hayes, who’s served as in-house counsel at AG Financial, advising the company and its subsidiaries on complex financial, tax and legal matters for more than a decade. “I get to help all kinds of people all the time, so it’s great for me.”
Hayes earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting from William Jewell College and her law degree and LLM in taxation from University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.
Her father, who she calls her biggest supporter, died halfway through her law-school studies but continues to influence her career. Not long after she graduated, she received a phone call from one of his friends, who said there was a job in Springfield her dad would have been excited for her to explore.
Hayes pursued it. For the past 13 years, she’s taken on a wide range of challenges at AG Financial, an institution with 20 companies under one umbrella, half of which are nonprofit. The company is the sole provider of Assemblies of God 403(b) retirement plan, which requires Hayes to navigate complex tax codes. It also manages the Assemblies of God Foundation, allowing Hayes to do charitable and estate planning.
She also works on the for-profit side with private equity investments, and she travels each quarter to Houston, where AG Financial owns an investment company.
Hayes is active with the Springfield Junior League, James River Church, the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association and Southern Missouri Women Lawyers Association.
She also teaches as an adjunct professor at Evangel University in Springfield, a role through which she became an advisor for the school’s Enactus competition team. Enactus, a Springfield-based nonprofit dedicated to inspiring students to improve the world through entrepreneurial action, is supported by many large companies and each year hosts a competition in which leaders of the business community judge student projects.
When Hayes came on as advisor, the team had not competed in several years. It’s finished in the top five nationally for the past two years.
“I get to see the kids explore their dreams, and through that, they get a lot of job opportunities. That’s always a very proud moment for me,” she said.
Hayes also does pro bono consulting for people who otherwise can’t afford an attorney. She keeps her full life organized with one simple rule: Everyone else comes first.