For Cecilia Harris, helping others is her greatest passion. Her company Extracare Home Health Agency provides in-home care to families throughout the St. Louis region. Alongside her daughters Katie and Tyler, she also founded Building Opportunities in Support of Sisters (BOSS), a nonprofit dedicated to reducing professional and financial disparities for underserved young women.

How did your company start?
I was attending Saint Louis University, and like a lot of college students, I had to figure out a way to make some extra income. I decided to take a health care route. I worked with families to provide care for their loved ones. I found that the experience felt really good. There was something about giving back to someone else that made it more than a job but something worth living for. I’d discovered what I was passionate about.

With 20 years in the business, what have you learned?
If you’re getting into this field, you have to have the heart to care for people. You have to want to make a real difference in other’s lives, not just be a temporary presence. I’ve also learned the importance of selecting employees. I’m sending people into our client’s personal spaces. You have to invest in people who you would feel good about placing in your own home.

Why St. Louis?
This is home for me. It’s where my family is, and that’s very important to me. After having worked with so many other families, I also believe in the community here. I’ve always felt like St. Louis is where I need to be.

Tell me about BOSS.
It’s a nonprofit I started with my daughters to support high school students who need some coaching and mentoring. We prepare them with the tools they’ll need for success through lectures and career workshops, but it’s not just a seminar. We also match them with mentors who continue working with them throughout the year. It’s phenomenal to watch these young women and see what they take away from the opportunity.

As a businesswoman, what’s the must-have item in your closet?
You have to have that ultimate gown. That statement piece for when that big networking event or gala happens. Personally, the pieces I really enjoy in my closet are my sneakers and athletic wear. Working out is a way of investing in your health, and that is important to me.

What are your favorite travel destinations?
I would have to say D.C., Atlanta and Chicago.

Beach or mountains?
Beach for sure—I love being near the water!

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
If you do something, do it with passion. If you love it, then it won’t feel like work and you can pour your whole self into it.