When Debra Hollingsworth moved to St. Louis in 1988, a friend took her to Union Station and showed her the hand-cut Tiffany stained-glass window in the Grand Hall, which features the three great train cities of the 1890s: New York, San Francisco and St. Louis. The idea of the city as an important and vibrant place has stuck with Hollingsworth ever since. “So many organizations and businesses in our area help create this great city,” she says. “I think it’s beneficial personally for all of us to be engaged and involved in the community.”
Having grown up in Raton, N.M., Hollingsworth made her way here through her work with AT&T, starting with then-Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1979 after college. Having started in a very technical side of the business, Hollingsworth worked in many different areas before joining external affairs, of which she is now regional VP for AT&T-Missouri. “I enjoy the diversity of my job—you never know what you’re going to get until you come in and hit the ground running,” she explains.
Hollingsworth’s responsibilities include overseeing the statewide external affairs team of managers who deal with municipalities, work with state legislators, partner with sales and represent the company in the community.
Even with an extremely full plate, Hollingsworth finds one of her smaller duties the most rewarding: handling the local charitable giving for the company. “It allows me to connect with so many wonderful people and organizations throughout the area.”
AT&T-Missouri’s primary giving focus is education and improving dropout rates. It is a focus that also is very important to Hollingsworth. She is part of the Missouri Mathematics and Science Coalition and sits on the board of Harris-Stowe State University. She also has served on the board of St. Louis Community College Foundation and the Chancellor’s Council at University of Missouri-St. Louis. “It’s about that whole continuum from pre-school through college, and making sure we’re making progress all along the way.”
But Hollingsworth’s engagement in the community does not end with education. She is involved with health and human services as a member of the board of United Way of Greater St. Louis, and is dedicated to the arts through her work with organizations like Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. After being honored with the Women of Achievement Award in 2010, she became a member of the board and co-chaired the annual luncheon this year.
Looking at her busy life, it is easy to wonder how Hollingsworth juggles everything. She attributes that ability to the support of her family, including her husband, Mark Stacye, and daughters, Lauren and Leslie. She was raised to always give back to the community, has passed that outlook down to her daughters, and hopes to share it with her little granddaughters one day, as well. “We all have something to offer. Whatever it is, we all have a gift we can give to make the world a better place.”