Debra “Debby” Ballard
Director, Community Affairs and President, Sprint Foundation
Overland Park, KS
Debra “Debby” Ballard is proof of triumph over adversity after her oldest son died in a motorcycle accident five years ago. “Even though it has been the worst tragedy in my life, I want people to know that by the grace of God you can get through things — never over it, but through it,” she states.
Ballard is the director of Community Affairs at Sprint and president of Sprint Foundation — the culmination of three decades at the communications services giant and earlier tenures at Procter & Gamble and Xerox Corp.
In 2016, she added the Greater Kansas City Chamber’s Athena Award to the string of honors and recognition she has received for her transformational leadership in enhancing not only Sprint’s productivity, processes, profit margins and competitiveness, but also local communities and community organizations, through Sprint’s corporate social responsibility and philanthropic activities and her own private endeavors. “I select things based on causes I am passionate about — anything that has to do with making lives better for kids, particularly urban kids, and for women,” Ballard says. “Leadership is really about motivating and inspiring people to achieve greatness. That’s what I try to do with my team.”
The daughter of a Baptist minister and a kindergarten teacher who schooled her in faith and accomplishment, Ballard obtained a bachelor’s degree in home economics and business at Central Missouri State University. She acknowledges working “for amazing people who gave me the runway to do the job and more,” but notes that the support of her husband and children allows her “to work hard, work late, travel when needed, and be ready for the next opportunity.” The loss of her son, however, was transformational. “Since Steven’s accident I have tried to simplify my life and focus more on my family, giving back, being kind to others, mentoring young African-American women, and urban education,” she admits.