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PYSK: Sarah J. Read

President, The Communications Center Inc.
Owner, Law Offices of S. J. Read

AGE: 52

JOB DESCRIPTION: Whether working as a facilitator, mediator, attorney or consultant, I’m helping individuals and organizations work through difficult issues.



EDUCATION: Yale, B.A. in British Studies, 1978; University of Wisconsin Law School, J. D., 1981

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Moderator, First Christian Church; Columbia Metro Rotary, Community Services Chair; Columbia Parents for Public Schools (president); Columbia Public Schools Foundation, board member; Missouri Bar, Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee Chair; Imagine Columbia’s Future, Co-Facilitator of the Development Citizen Topic Group.

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: As an attorney, I’m admitted to practice in Illinois, Wisconsin and Missouri. I spent most of my law career in Chicago, first working with Isham, Lincoln & Beale, and then Sidley Austin LLP where I became a partner in 1990. At Sidley I was a member of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Resource Group and worked on a wide range of complex multiparty transactional, regulatory, litigation and legislative matters, particularly in the areas of energy and telecommunications. Although I moved to Columbia in 1996 and withdrew from the partnership in 2000, I maintained a practice at Sidley through July of last year. With regard to my consulting practice, I obtained my first Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument certification in 2004 and the second in 2006.

A COLUMBIA BUSINESSPERSON I ADMIRE AND WHY: Paul Sturtz, owner of Ragtag Cinema. He has a vision for both his business and the community, is willing to take risks and commit time and energy to build toward that vision. His True/False festival has been great for Columbia

WHY I’M PASSIONATE ABOUT MY JOB: Conflict resolution is a healing process. When people find ways to work together and resolve conflicts, they are happier, energized and able to move forward in accomplishing things that are positive for them and for our community.


BIGGEST CAREER OBSTACLE I’VE OVERCOME AND HOW: My first law firm in Chicago, where I worked for 7 years, went through a merger and then dissolved when I was seven months pregnant with my second child. I was able to make the transition to another, larger firm through strong relationships with clients and colleagues, family support, maintaining a focus on what needed to be done immediately and physical endurance.

A FAVORITE RECENT PROJECT: I’m now consulting with the city on implementing the Community Vision and Action Plan adopted through the Imagine Columbia’s Future visioning process. The visioning process engaged many different people and the implementation process has the potential to engage many more. Working together in pursuit of that vision has great promise for our community.

WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THIS PROFESSION: “Communicating” requires a complex interaction of listening, speaking, and thinking skills, and it is hard work.

WHAT I DO FOR FUN: Read, cook and walk with my husband.

FAMILY: Husband David, daughters Anna (23) and Molly (20).

FAVORITE PLACE IN COLUMBIA: The Village of Cherry Hill.

ACCOMPLISHMENT I’M MOST PROUD OF: Raising two daughters who are independent, interesting and civically engaged.

MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW THAT I… love country music.ϖ

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