Kirsten F. Dunham says she wants to build on the legacy of predecessor Susan Lutton as executive director of Mid-Missouri Legal Services.
Dunham took on the role July 1 following Lutton’s retirement from the organization.
Lutton served as director for the past 15 years.
“(Lutton) is leaving (MMLS) in a very strong position, and we very much appreciate all of her hard work to build and develop its practice areas,” Dunham said. “I’m looking for more ways to be community-based in our approach, whether that is more clinics or participating in more community events in our rural counties.”
A recent strategic planning process aims for further service expansions, Dunham said.
MMLS provides free legal assistance to low-income and vulnerable individuals within an 11-county service regionincluding Boone County.
Dunham joined MMLS in 2017 to craft its consumer law project for community redevelopment and foreclosure prevention. She was promoted to program development director in late 2021 and now executive director.
The community redevelopment and foreclosure prevention project “was at removing legal barriers to employment, which does involve a lot of consumer cases,” Dunham said, adding the project went after predatory lenders whose practices lead to wage garnishment or vehicle repossession.
The focus was on stabilizing communities through preventing foreclosures and assisting with loan modifications.
“We wanted to cover a full range of legal assistance advice and help people keep their homes,” Dunham said.
Dunham wants to expand the organization’s connections with the University of Missouri School of Law and have students aid its housing and uncontested divorce clinics.
A recent $10 million state appropriation will help with MMLS’ expansion.
“We’ll have the funds to reach and