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that is continuing to take our organization to the next level. For instance, the great mix of Hispanics, Non- Hispanics, small business owners, corporations and community leaders constantly keeps us aware of the various needs of the region. We are learning the concerns of our small business owners, as well as promoting diversity and inclusion with our corporate members. With the Hispanic business growth rate 15 times the national average, we are assisting a demographic that is providing tremendous economic growth for the region. Not only are areas being revitalized and rented, but the buying power in Missouri for Hispanics alone is $5.4 billion. These powerful contributions are reshaping our economy and encouraging the region to provide a welcoming and inclusive city that can attract and retain diverse talent. With over 2,000 Hispanic- owned businesses in the St. Louis metro area, The Hispanic Chamber understands the importance of providing resources and connections to increase opportunities for Hispanic businesses and professionals. I have been pleased with the amount of support we have received from the St. Louis community and strive to continue to engage and retain the leaders championing for diversity, sparking innovation, and enriching our workplaces.

Foreword By: Karlos Ramirez

Dynamic and diverse leaders play a key role in the success of organizations, businesses, and the community. They are the innovative leaders that drive diverse ideas and strive for an inclusive environment. Recognizing these accomplishments illustrates the importance of unique perspectives that help our region thrive. Diversity in Color goes beyond appearance and acknowledges the benefit of diversified thoughts, experiences and opinions. This initiative highlights and promotes the people that are making the St. Louis region a more progressive city. By highlighting their accomplishments and success, we are showcasing a truer portrayal of our community and addressing more needs. At the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, we are constantly in a position to connect with various types of professions, cultures, and experiences. These unique insights and ideas improve our organization and help us reach a wider audience. We are lucky to have such a passionate and innovative membership

St. Louis has had its challenges like any other city, but what is so unique to St. Louis is the joint effort so many leaders are making to ensure the progress and development of the city. We are lucky to have quality leaders like the ones featured in this book who illustrate how vital everyone’s contributions are to making St. Louis a welcoming and inclusive environment for all communities. Because of Diversity in Color’s efforts, influential leaders are recognized for their contributions and their varied experiences. These leaders are a great testament to the type of talent that St. Louis has attracted and the influence they can have on our community. They provide fresh perspectives and I’m inspired by their ingenuity and dedication. I am humbled to be a part of this initiative and honored to congratulate the 2016 Who’s Who Diversity in Color winners.

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Celebrating 10 Years (2006-2016) of St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative’s Fellows Program

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Congratulations to the over 500 alumni who are leading, serving and making a difference every day where they live, work and play!

education.inclusion.talent attraction Creating a people first region Inspiring a greater St. Louis


Table of Contents Foreword by Karlos Ramirez.................................................................... 3 Criteria for Inclusion................................................................................ 6 Meet The Team ............................................................................................ 7 Letters of Greeting ................................................................................... 8 Introduction by Judge Judy Draper ......................................................15 A Word From the Publisher ....................................................................17 The Host Committee ................................................................................24 Organizational Highlight: COCA .......................................................32 Organizational Highlight: Urban League of

Metropolitan St. Louis ..............................................34

Most Intriguing People ...........................................................................39 Corporate Highlight: Monsanto ..........................................................74 Corporate Highlight: Grace Hill ........................................................82 Corporate Highlight: Washington University .................................96 Corporate Highlight: Edward Jones ..................................................110 Executive Profile: Aerotek ..................................................................120 Executive Profile: EmedRX ..................................................................121 St. Louis’ Best Bold & Brightest ........................................................123 Biographical Index ................................................................................166 Advertiser Index .....................................................................................168

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Criteria For Inclusion W

ho’s Who Diversity in Color® is an opportunity for us to afford a measure of recognition to men and women of color who have made their mark in their specific occupations, professions, or in service to others in the Greater St. Louis region A sincere effort was made to include those whose positions or accomplishments in their chosen fields are significant and whose contributions to community affairs, whether citywide or on the neighborhood level, have improved the quality of life for all of us. The names of those brief biographies included in this edition were compiled from customary sources of information. Lists of a wide variety were consulted and every effort was made to reach all whose stature or civic activities merited their inclusion. In today’s mobile society, no such publication could ever claim to be complete; some who should be included could not be reached or chose not to respond, and for that we offer our apologies. Constraints of time, space and awareness are thus responsible for other omissions, and not a lack of good intentions on the part of the publisher. Our goal was to document the accomplishments of many woman of color from various occupational disciplines. An invitation to participate in this event was extended at the discretion of the Publisher and a committee of Human Resource professionals. Biographies were invited to contribute personal and professional data, with only the information freely submitted to be included. The editors have made a sincere effort to present an accurate distillation of the data, and to catch errors whenever possible. However, Who’s Who Diversity in Color® cannot assume any responsibility for the accuracy of the information submitted. There was no charge for consideration of this recognition, also inclusion was not guaranteed; this will be an annual publication. Comments and other concerns should be addressed to: Ericca Willis, Publisher Who’s Who Diversity in Color® 7274 South Winchester, Suite 200 Saint Louis, Missouri 63121 Phone: (314) 473-5257

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Meet the Team

Keith A. Willis Sr. Senior VP of Sales & Marketing

Brittany P. Davison Associate Editor

Ericca Willis Publisher Julissa Castillo

Amanda Blanton



Inquireis for bulk book orders for schools or commemorative plaques should be directed to: Who’s Who Diversity in Color, LLC 7274 South Winchester, Suite 200 Saint Louis, Missouri 63121 314.473.5272 or 888.675.7424 All books are $29.95 Each

Sylva Wilson

Brad Glotfelty

Patrick Guydon

Marketing Director

Creative Director


Who’s Who Diversity in Color | 7

From the

Governor Of Missouri Governor Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon

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From the


Of St. Louis Francis G. Slay

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From the

President Of Alderman Lewis E. Reed

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From the

Collector Of Revenue Gregory F. X. Daly

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From the

President Of St. Louis Is Kathleen M. Ratcliffe

Greetings! Congratulations to all of those honored and noted in this 2nd edition of Who’s Who Diversity in Color. Explore St. Louis’ team is reflective of the community that we serve, which includes St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and the greater metropolitan region. St. Louis’ story to potential visitors is powerful, incorporating the histories of our citizens and our attractions. Tourists can explore our region's African American history through sites such as the Scott Joplin House, Old Courthouse, Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing, and the Missouri Botanical Garden’s George Washington Carver Garden. The new National Blues Museum explores and preserves the historic significance of the Blues as the foundation of American music, celebrates the genre’s various styles, and recognizes the diversity of the musicians who created, sustain and advance the art form. It joins the St. Louis Black Repertory Company, Jazz St. Louis and other entertainment venues that excite and delight visitors to our region. Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site celebrates the story of prehistoric native civilization with the largest archeological remnants north of Mexico. Our neighborhoods speak to the diversity of cultures found here. Guests can shop or eat authentic Mexican cuisine in the Cherokee Street business district. The South Grand neighborhood restaurants offer Persian, Mediterranean and Ethiopian cuisine; food from 11 countries are found here. As we welcome visitors from around the world to our community, we honor the influential persons of all cultures that continue to contribute to the greatness of our region. Sincerely,

Kathleen M. Ratcliffe President

701 Convention Plaza, Suite 300 | St. Louis, MO 63101

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Emerson’s success?

Talented and diverse men and women in St. Louis and around the world. Just like you. A global company based in St. Louis, Emerson brings technology and engineering together to provide innovative solutions for businesses around the world. Our culture supports diversity, embraces inclusion, and cultivates respect for the individual. It’s a place where you can choose from many career opportunities and contribute in meaningful ways to company growth – and your own future. EmersonCorporate

@Emerson_News Emerson Company/Emerson

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Introduction Ladies and Gentleman... It is a great honor and privilege to write the Introduce for the second edition of Who’s Who Diversity in Color. Ericca and Keith Willis are the pillars of advancing the Who’s Who Diversity in Color publication. I understand that “Diversity is being invited to the Party, but inclusion is being asked to dance!” Ericca & Keith have invited us to every party they have assembled and they have made sure that each of us has had an opportunity to “dance.” We should applaud this couple in their hard work and dedication of going beyond talking and actually doing. They have helped to narrow the distances between men and women, people of color and people not of color, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and disabled persons from feeling marginalized in our communities. Our world is growing smaller and if we look around St. Louis, we can see a microcosm of the world with more Americans: Hispanics – Latinos – Asians – Bosnians – Central Americans – Indians – Africans-African American- Mixed Race individuals and too many more to name. Diversity is to appreciate and value all the combinations that are available in our lives. Imagine “flowers” all different, yet each one with its own beauty and worth. If you look around the room, you should see a collection of “flowers” this evening. It is written that a person without vision will always return to the past. Ericca and Keith have shared their vision of hope for the future that St. Louis will progress into the millennium by embracing diversity. They have presented to us many times in the past years with “Who’s Who” celebrations, in order for us to visit with each other and help us recognize and share our successes. Thank you Ericca and Keith for your vision of Diversity for St. Louis. You have been generous with your time and efforts to assist in ushering us into the millennium, which embraces people from all walks of life. Congratulations and Great Success tonight and in the Future! Judge Judy Draper Honorable Consul to the Republic of Korea (ROK) Who’s Who Diversity in Color | 15

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unify and continually strengthen the fabric of the St. Louis community, much like the incredible COCA and Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, who’s core purpose is to improve the lives of St. Louisan’s through providing resources and the Arts.

A Word From the Publisher The second edition of the Who’s Who Diversity in Color has proven to be even more fulfilling than the inaugural. The first edition was the rebirthing of a different direction for the book as a whole. We needed it to be more inclusive and to broaden the perspective of the concept. The idea of including all people of color was a natural progression. As we all have something of value to contribute and share with the world!

Last year, our region was in the beginning stages of healing from racial unrest. While we still have a ways to go, I am proud of the steps that have been taken. And I am also proud to share the stories that show the greatness of our fair City. The finite possibilities of hope and the faith of the good of our fellow St. Louisan’s, is the fuel we use every year to produce this wonderful publication. It is truly a privilege to have such outstanding people such as Karlos Ramirez, our Foreword writer and the Honorable Judge Judy Draper, our Introduction writer to participate and share their thoughts with us and include a piece of their life in the rich history of the St. Louis region. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the wonderful team we have in place to bring this publication to fruition once again! Kudos to our sponsors and advertisers who simply “Get it” and continue to support. The production of the book would not be possible without their dedication. Lastly, I thank God for this vision, as we are now on a course where we will do great things with this product and make our City greater in the process!


Celebrating St. Louis’ Brightest

I like the fact the road less traveled is starting to feel more and more familiar. We are elated to be able to celebrate and document such lovely and talented individuals. Each year we look to partner and collaborate with various organizations and companies with the common focus of finding ways to

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At Commerce Bank, we recognize that workplace diversity makes for a stronger company. We value, embrace and leverage the variety of perspectives that come as a result of our innovation and productivity that allow us to better serve the needs of our customers and communities, now and in the future.

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2016 Host Committee

Photo by: Jason Cluts Who’s Who Diversity in Color | 23

Host Committee extensive, including corporate/commercial developments, educational, cultural/ institutional, hospitality, fitness/recreational, retail, multifamily and single family residential. Formerly resident in New York City and London, England her business experiences include working in Europe. At TAO + LEE, Helen Lee focuses on a wide variety of project tasks, including client guidance, project supervision, concept design development, design leadership, technical overview and interior design, including decorative finishes, furnishings and artwork specification, selection and purchasing.

Helen Lee Helen Lee is a founding principal of TAO + LEE Associates, Inc. With over twenty eight years of diverse experience, Ms. Lee’s project experiences are

Ms. Lee received her Masters of Architecture degree from Columbia University (New York) in 1985 and her Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from University of Southern California (Los Angeles) in 1981. Ms. Lee was nominated for the SOM Traveling Fellowship at Columbia University and received an Architectural Guild Traveling Fellowship and Max Starkwell Scholarship at USC. Ms. Lee is involved with the community, serving on a variety of boards and committees. This

has included the following: COCA / Center for Contemporary Arts, past member Advisory Committee; Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, past member Advisory Committee; Forest Park Forever Women’s Committee, past Member; Laumeier Sculpture Park, Board Member; Metro Theater, past Board Member; Metro Theater, past New Facilities committee; OCA / Organization of Chinese-American, Board Member; OCA / Organization of Chinese-Americans, Advisory Committee; OCA MAAP (Mentoring Asian American Professionals), Mentor.; Special Friends Extended Mentor Program, Mentor; University of Southern California Alumni Association, past St. Louis Chapter Volunteer; USSC / University City Swim Club, past Committee Member & Volunteer; Washington University Women’s Society, Member & Volunteer Ms. Lee regularly participates with the Asian American Chamber of Commerce of St. Louis (AACC) and OCA St. Louis (Organization of Chinese-Americans). Ms. Lee is registered architect in the state of Missouri.

Valerie E. Patton Valerie E. Patton serves as Vice President, Inclusion and Talent Attraction and Executive Director of the Saint Louis Business Diversity Initiative at the St. Louis Regional Chamber. As Executive Director of the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative, she develops strategies, solutions and programs for organizations in the St. Louis region in the area of workforce diversity and inclusion (recruitment, retention and advancement of talented people of color) through training, convening and consulting and regional economic inclusion initiatives. She is the first Executive Director of the Initiative. She is founder of the Initiative Fellows Program (a yearlong leadership development experience) and Gateway Connections (a welcoming orientation for professionals of color.) In her role at the Chamber, she leads leadership development, customer service, diverse business solutions and talent attraction. She was featured in May 2008 Black Enterprise Magazine. 24 |

Prior to accepting this position in April 2002, Valerie held numerous positions at Southwestern Bell and SBC (now AT&T) and Bank of America in the areas of information systems and technology, process management, project management, product management supplier diversity and accounting (budget analysis and administration). Valerie is community focused and engaged serving on the board of directors for: United Way of Greater St. Louis, St. Louis Sports Commission, University of Missouri St. Louis College of Business Leadership Council and Washington University in St. Louis Alumni Board of Governors and has received numerous professional and community awards and distinctions. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. She serves as adjunct professor at The Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

Valerie holds degrees from Howard University (BBA-Accounting), Webster University (MAManagement) and Washington University (MSW-Social/Economic Development) and has done post graduate studies in Business Management.

Host Committee Jorge Riopedre Jorge is the President of Casa de Salud, a clinic providing high-quality, low-cost clinical and mental healthcare to the uninsured, focusing on the foreign born community of the St. Louis region. He is the former executive director of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan St. Louis.  Jorge has a degree in Communications from Loyola University in New Orleans, and is a 2015 USA Eisenhower Fellow. He was appointed by former Missouri Governor Matt Blunt to the Hispanic Business, Culture & Trade Commission, and by current Governor Jay Nixon to the Missouri Complete Count Commission. Jorge was previously named a Minority Business Leader by the St. Louis Business Journal.

Betsy Heller Cohen Betsy Cohen is Executive Director for the regional Immigration & Innovation Initiative, the St. Louis Mosaic Project. This initiative is a joint collaboration of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, the Regional Chamber and leaders of 27 organizations on the Steering Committee. The goal is that by 2020 our region will have the fastest growth rate of foreign-born people, reversing our current declines on our regional population of 2.8 million. We will involve business, government, education, faith, safety, health, culture, diverse local chambers and agencies plus the people of our region. The St. Louis Mosaic Project is part of the World Trade Center-St. Louis within the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. Betsy is on Welcoming America Leadership Advisory Group for national immigration integration. She is on the Advisory Board of the St. Louis University Cook School of Business, the St. Louis Crisis Nursery Advisory Board and the Washington University Council for Sustainability. She has been recognized by the St. Louis Business Journal and the YWCA. Betsy received her BA from Wellesley College and MBA from the Harvard Business School. She worked with international colleagues in her previous role as a vice president at Nestle Purina. At Purina, she also launched and led a St. Louis regional coalition.

Eric Henderson Eric Henderson is an Area HR Manager for UPS. He is responsible for all HR related items covering the St.Louis, Columbia, Metro East, and Southeast portions of Missouri. Eric is in his 29th year at UPS. He started as a part time package handler working his way up to his current position. Eric has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business/ Administration from SIU Edwardsville University.

Eric is involved with many community based organizations, and participates in many of UPS’s volunteer events. Eric is married to Jennifer Henderson and they have celebrated 23 wonderful years of marriage. They have one daughter Amanda. Eric’s hobbies include watching NFL football, particularly the Cincinnati Bengals, and watching his 16 year old daughter compete in Basketball, Track and Field, and Cross Country. Who’s Who Diversity in Color | 25

Host Committee Sreenu Dandamudi Since 2010, Sreenu Dandamudi has been serving as a Commissioner with the Administrative Hearing Commission, presiding over more than 100 statutorily specified matters, including state income tax, sales/use tax, Medicaid provider issues, and state personnel cases. Commissioner Dandamudi began his career in 2001, as an Assistant Attorney General representing several state agencies. In 2006, Commissioner Dandamudi went in-house with Missouri’s medical board. In 2007 he became a member of the faculty for the Federation of State Medical Boards annual Board Attorneys Workshops.

Commissioner Dandamudi volunteers as a member of the Board of Directors for Affinia Healthcare and for the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. In June 2012, he was selected by the American Council of Young Political Leaders to participate in a seven-member bipartisan delegation to China and Taiwan. Commissioner Dandamudi earned his JD from Washington University in St. Louis, his MA from American University, and his BA from the University of Illinois.

Beth Davis Beth Davis, is one of 36 Region Presidents for iHeart Media. Her responsibilities include oversight of the seven iHeartRadio markets in Iowa and Missouri. iHeartMedia reaches a quarter billion consumers every month with radio, digital, outdoor, mobile, social and events. Beth graduated from Texas Woman’s University in 1976 with a degree in education and certification for special education. After five years in education she chose to refocus her career choosing broadcasting sales as an opportunity to build a career growth plan. Beth Davis began her broadcast career in 1983 in the Rio Grande Valley, which is in South Texas where she was born and raised. Beth started her career as an account executive, then in 1985 accepted her first local sales manager’s position in Dallas, TX. Beth’s career path has taken her to Dallas, San Diego, Birmingham, and Paris, France. However she has made St. Louis her home after moving to the area in 1997. Beth participates on boards that represent her concerns for the region’s economy and children’s and women’s health needs. She currently actively serves on the board of St. Louis Civic Pride Foundation, LLS, and the Urban League. She had created the iHeartRadio St. Louis Local Advisory board and is also responsible for bringing Sista Strut, a breast cancer awareness walk for women of color, to St. Louis.

Everett Dietle As a member of the Missouri History Museum’s leadership team, he leads a dynamic team of marketing, communications, graphic design, guest service, and cultural tourism professionals. Everett earned his bachelor’s degree in art history and archaeology from the University of Missouri and attended graduate school at MU’s School of Journalism. He has served as board members for the Community Service Public Relations Council (CSPRC) and the Friends of CHARACTERplus. He is an alumnus of Leadership St. Louis, a program of FOCUS St. Louis (Class of 2014-2015). 26 |

It’s not lonely

at the top. IT’s POSITIVELY


congratulations to the 2016 who’s who in diversity

m a e T y it s r e iv D in o h W From the Who’s

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RESPONSIVE PHILANTHROPY OUR STRATEGY Strengthen the region’s capability to achieve positive outcomes for children and youth through collaborative engagement and investment with diverse partners to improve systems and sustain actions that have long-term impact on the health and well-being of children.








Organizational Highlights

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COCA: Bringing Joy Through the Arts Author: Amanda Blanton

Center Of Creative Arts (COCA), is a non-profit organization that strives to help people experience joy through the arts. Through their many programs, this organization encourages individuality, personal expression, and growth, in new and innovative ways. All are welcome at COCA, as they serve more than 50,000 people of all ages, backgrounds, and artistic skill sets. In the St. Louis region, they are the largest multidisciplinary arts institution. On top of that, they are ranked the fourth largest multidisciplinary community arts center in the entire country. COCA features many opportunities to explore different mediums of art at their facility. These mediums include design, dance, and theater, along with several other creative means of expression, as they help their students become recreational learners. COCA was founded and developed by Richard D. Baron, in 1986, with the purpose to create an arts center based on the community it serves. In order to make that happen, he renovated the vacated B’nai Amoona Synagogue, which was originally designed by internationally recognized architect, Eric Mendelsohn, and made it into what is now known as COCA. At the time the organization was created, it was important to Richard that this building was designed to promote unity among all racial, social, and geographic backgrounds. Since then, COCA has helped an abundance of students. In 2004, due to high demand, COCA was renovated to increase its building size to 11,000 square feet, leading to their accomplishment of having their building on 32 |

Organizational Highlightse

All are welcome at COCA, as they serve more than

50,000 people of all ages, backgrounds, and artistic skill sets. In the St. Louis region, they are the largest multidisciplinary arts institution.

the list of National Register of Historic Places. In addition to the people served through art programs in this historic building, COCA makes an effort to specifically focus on area schools and business leaders, giving purpose to its two branches, COCAedu and COCAbiz. Through COCAedu, teachers are paired up with a teaching artist, which in turn, promotes students in their involvement and comprehension of core subjects. COCAedu also helps teachers open their eyes to new and creative forms of teaching and engaging their students. COCAbiz on the other hand, aids local business professionals with arts-based training in order to help them become better leaders. This strategy helps to inspire business leaders and assist them in becoming more confident.   Currently there are 30 participating COCAbiz partners in the program, such as BJC Healthcare, U.S. Bank, and Nestle Purina to name a few. Since COCA is a non-profit arts center, they rely on the support of the community to keep the center going at full capacity. One of the options COCA uses to raise funds is the donation to its Annual Fund, which is a group of supporters who continue to promote the arts and the mission of COCA through their giving each year. Through donations like these, it ensures COCA will be able to continue to bring artistic expression to the people of Greater St. Louis. The money raised is used to improve classes, provide a stellar faculty, and keep the organization running approximately twelve hours a day, seven days a week. The donations also help ensure all people will be able to receive the great experience of attending and participating in such a wonderful organization.

Who’s Who Diversity in Color | 33

Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, Inc. Produced by: Julissa Castillo

​ he Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, at its core, T is a civil rights and social services organization that works to fulfill its mission of assisting African Americans and others throughout the region in securing economic selfreliance, social equality and civil rights. ​ he beginnings of this Urban League can be traced to T a race riot during the summer of 1917 in East St. Louis, Illinois. At least 39 blacks were killed, hundreds were wounded and thousands left homeless. During this time, many individuals were facing racial tensions, destabilized communities, and poor living conditions. The primary purpose of the Urban League was to be a Civil Rights Organization, but evolution occurred throughout the years. The transformation included the addition of services needed in the quest for prosperity. The rebirth of the Urban League included Economic Opportunity, Educational Excellence, Community Empowerment, Civil Right and Advocacy. ​ urrently, the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis C has been an antidote for the victims of poverty and discrimination in the region. The antidote was possible 34 |

Organizational Highlightse

due to partnering with corporations, organizations, community leaders, governmental institutions, and civic institutions. ​ D ue to the Urban Leagues accomplishments, the organization has moved far beyond its initial plan, positively impacting the lives of many for the better.   The Urban League has been empowering African Americans and others for over 98 years. This organization has spread community programs onto three counties across the bi-state region. The community programs have been helping impoverished areas through employment, housing, Head Start, utility assistance, job training and other programs. ​or many years, people of the F region have been able to secure the economic self-reliance, social equality, and civil rights the Urban League has fought hard to help the impoverished and underserved obtain. Furthermore, there are four core foundational priorities found within the Urban League Organization: Economic Opportunity, Educational Excellence, Community Empowerment, and Civil Rights & Advocacy.  ​ he Economic Opportunity Initiative is T to grant resources, in order to strengthen individuals who can then bond effectively with their families and communities. It is the Urban League’s goal to

create ladders out of poverty through jobs, entrepreneurship and fiscal responsibility. The Education Excellence Initiative is to help people gain access to quality education from preschool through college. The Community Empowerment Initiative is to help supply individuals with food, clothing, and anything that can strengthen and assist families towards gaining their independence and conformity. This initiative also provides a social safety net

The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis has been an antidote for the victims of poverty and discrimination in the region. to stabilize the area’s neediest families. The Civil Rights and Advocacy Initiative is to actively incorporate effort towards eliminating the barriers that do not allow equal participation in all aspects including: political, economic, social, educational, or cultural. These priorities are the building blocks that help to increase confidence in the human mind

to effect creating a better quality of life. ​ here are four auxiliaries which stem T from this organization that help those in need: The Urban League Guild of Metropolitan St. Louis, The Federation of Block Units, The Urban League Young Professionals of Metropolitan St. Louis, and NULITES (The National Urban League Incentives To Excel and Succeed). The ​

Urban League Guild of Metropolitan St. Louis is mainly composed of community volunteers. These volunteers are altering the minor and major details of the environment in order to achieve positive results. The Federation of Block Units is a volunteer organization, which focuses on improving the St. Louis communities and neighborhoods by working to eliminate concentrated poverty. The Urban League Young Professionals’ main purpose is to develop and seek the right future leaders, so they can continue the Urban League Movement towards its fundamental purpose of securing economic selfreliance, social equality and civil rights advocacy. NULITES (The National Urban League Incentives To Excel and Succeed) is a nationwide youth initiative to stimulate personal and leadership development with youth of today and tomorrow. “Empowering Communities. Changing Lives.” Who’s Who Diversity in Color | 35

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Most Intriguing People

Photo by: Jason Cluts Who’s Who Diversity in Color | 39

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Most Intriguing People

Anna Eriko Crosslin Leader of Diversity

Anna’s motivation and personal mission is to spread awareness and appreciation for all people in the

United States.


Anna Eriko Crosslin is a U.S. Citizen from Tokyo, Japan. Anna’s name was passed down from her paternal grandmother. She came from a Japanese National mother and a father who served in the U.S. Armed Services. At the age of 2, she came to the United States and was raised in Seattle, Washington. Anna moved to St. Louis to pursue a degree in Political Science and a Minor in Asian Studies at Washington University. During her time of living in Missouri, she met Wayne Crosslin, her husband. They were married, and now she is the beloved mother of Clare. Since September of 1978 to the present, she has been the President & CEO of the International Institute of Metropolitan St. Louis. For 38 years, she has been known as one of the most inspiring leaders of this institution. Anna’s responsibilities for running such an important organization includes, but are not limited to the following; determining the agency priorities, recruiting, supervising 90 staff members, evaluating department directors and subordinate administrative staff, overseeing the agency’s annual $6.2 million budget, developing and integrating the agency services and programs, negotiating contracts, overseeing strategic planning, working with Board committees, serving as the Board’s Assistant Secretary, troubleshooting, serving as the agency’s official spokesperson and chief liaison with St. Louis’ ethnic and international organizations, and serving St. Louis Region’s authority on issues of immigrants and immigration. Some of the National and International participations include: being a Panelist for “The Next America: Population 2043,” National Journal LIVE, Washington D.C. in January 2015; presenter: “Economic & Cultural Impact of Immigrants in St. Louis,” Burch University and Bosnia & Herzegovina in October 2014; Network for Integrating new Americans (NINA) Office of Vocational & Adult Education (OVAE), U.S. Department of Education. She is currently active in various community participations: St. Louis Mosaic Project Steering Committee as an Infrastructure Committee Chair, St. Louis Regional Commerce as a Board of Directors Member, National Asian Pacific Centers for Aging as the Board of Directors Member, Women’s Leadership Giving Initiative part of the United Way of STL as a Cabinet Member, Japanese American Citizens League as the St. Louis Chapter Member, and as a member for the International Affairs Advisory Committee for the University of MO-STL. Mrs. Crosslin has been honored and recognized by numerous awards which include: Leadership St. Louis Program from Danforth Foundation in 1985-1986, “100 St. Louis Leaders of the New Millennium” from St. Louis Business Journal’s in 2000, Washington’s University Honorary doctorate in humanities in 2006, No. 43 “50 Most Powerful People in St. Louis” from the St. Louis Magazine’s in 2006, “Buzz List: 25 of St. Louis’ Most Talked-About Visionaries, Culture Sharpers & Influentials” from the St. Louis Alive Magazine’s in 2007, “Most Influential Minority Business Leaders” from St. Louis Business journal’s in 2007, No. 38 “52 Most Powerful People in St. Louis” from St. Louis Magazine’s in 2008, STL Board of Director’s Leadership Award from FOCUS in 2009, STL Children’s Hospital Board of Directors from the Community Advocate of the Year in 2010, Global Ambassador Award from the World Trade Center –STL County Economic Council in 2012, Leadership Award from the Princeton Club of St. Louis in 2013, St. Louis Most Influential Business Woman from St. Louis Business Journal in 2013, Top 100 St. Louisian to know 2013 from St. Louis Small Business Monthly, Most Influential STL leaders from the STL Business Journal for every year since 2000, St. Louis Mosaic Award from the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership in 2014, White House Champions of Change Award in recognition of World Refugee Day in 2015, Mayor’s Award in 2015, Innovation & Talent Attraction, Arcus Awards, STL Regional Chamber in 2016, and 50 Missourians You Should Know from Ingram’s Business Magazine in 2016. Anna’s motivation and personal mission is to spread awareness and appreciation for all people in the United States. She will continue to be remembered as an individual who has made a difference in the world. The prosperous growth of the International Institute has definitely shown the meaningful life Anna is living each day!

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Most Intriguing People

Annette Morris

Director and Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Gender

Balance Nestlé Purina PetCare Company

Annette’s uniqueness comes into focus when you better understand the journey that has led her to this role.


Annette Morris, a St. Louis native, is the Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Gender Balance at Nestle Purina PetCare Company. In this role, Annette is responsible for the development and execution of business inclusion strategies in the focal areas of Workforce, Culture, Community and Marketplace. Annette is an accomplished senior manager with proven leadership capabilities in strategic planning, project management and customer relationship management. Her personal and professional mission is to position Purina and its initiatives to address recruitment, development and retention of talent in response to an increasingly more diverse workforce, while building a broader footprint in the community. But her uniqueness comes into focus when you better understand the journey that has led her to this role. Annette began her career through a work study internship designed to transition students into the business environment. This internship began in the Human Resource department, which back then was called, Corporate Employment. This afforded her the opportunity to experience how talent was recruited. One of her roles involved escorting talent to their interview, which is where she mastered the art of small talk. Many associates, who like Annette, have had a long tenure at Nestlé Purina, remind Annette of her welcoming personality before joining the organization. With that experience under her belt, she assumed several positions, increasing her responsibilities within the company, with every move. Annette understands the journey and challenges women and young professionals might face as they progress through their careers. Young people entering any professional environment today are faced with different challenges and opportunities than just a generation ago. Technology and social networking has evolved and become a very integral part of the employment process. Companies are increasing globally and being able to manage virtual teams is a requirement. Annette has lived this evolution over decades and has embraced the challenge of helping young people carve out opportunities in this ever changing landscape. One way of staying connected to our youth is through leveraging Purina’s relationships across the region and fostering new connections that help them meet their corporate mission. As the company’s leader for Diversity and Inclusion efforts, Annette has launched a number of successful community partnerships and initiatives made up of a number of organizations that reflect one or several of the “24 Dimensions of Diversity” that Purina embraces. An example of Purina’s recent community partnership is the leadership and mentoring programs for local youth. Several months ago, her team contacted the Ferguson Youth Initiative’s “Next Step Program”, and as a result of a collaboration between the Purina’s Ambassadors and Purina Business Diversity Multicultural Resource Group, they have been able to establish a relationship in Ferguson, providing leadership development and youth employment options for those participating in the program. Other strong community partners include, The Asian Pacific American Advocates (OCA), Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Mission Continues, National Sales Network and Starkloff Disability and others that she has helped to nurture. Throughout 2016, one of the goals for Annette is to expand the breath of these partnerships for the betterment of the St. Louis community as a whole. Annette is a graduate of Lindenwood University and is currently affiliated with the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative Alumni, Diversity Awareness Partnership Corporate Roundtable, Leadership St. Louis #39, Corporate Executive Board Advisory and is a Board member for Cultural Leadership St. Louis and Thomas Dunn Learning Center. Annette resides in Florissant, Missouri with her husband of 28 years. She is also the mother of two adult sons.

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Most Intriguing People

Bethany A. Johnson-Javois Dedicated Woman of Faith

Bethany A. Johnson-Javois is a woman who inspires change from within and without. Her father, a local pastor, chose her name because of its biblical origins. Javois’ parents have always been her motivation. Bethany grew up valuing the hardships and sacrifices that were made for her to obtain a fulfilling life.

Bethany grew up valuing the hardships and sacrifices that were made for her to obtain a fulfilling life.


Since 2009, Bethany has lead as the CEO of the St. Louis Integrated Health Network (IHN), a non-profit organization with a budget of $1.7 million that serves as the region’s safety net health care providers and the community. Ms. Johnson-Javois also works with multiple organizations that seek to advance equity and justice for the socially and economically disadvantaged. In 2014-2015, Bethany became the Managing Director and exofficio member of the Ferguson Commission, a group appointed by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to produce a living report of policy recommendations that address the underlying social and economic conditions underscored by the unrest in the wake of the death of Michael Brown, Jr in Ferguson on August 9, 2014. She formerly served as the radio host of Alive and Well STL, a local radio program spreading awareness on promoting community wellness by addressing trauma and toxic stress. She currently serves on the board of trustees for Deaconess Foundation and is a member of the Executive Advisory Council for Missouri State University College of Business. Ms. Johnson-Javois graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in International Business Management with a minor in Latin American Studies at Missouri State University. She also has a Master’s degree in Social Work from Washington University Brown School. Some of the most notable awards that honor her include: St. Louis Business Journal 2015 Class Diverse Business Leaders; St. Louis Business Journal Class of 2014 40 under 40 voted Most Successful; Washington University Brown School of Social Work 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award; St. Louis American Inaugural Class Young Leader under 40 recognition in 2011, and the Access to Equal Justice Award from the Washington University School of Law’s Clinical Education Program. Bethany lives her life with intention and strives to make a tangible impact on her community. When she thinks about legacy, Ms. Johnson-Javois is less concerned about being remembered and more focused on the impact she desires to make. During April of 1996, a perfect storm of crisis appeared in her life. This crisis was a defining moment that provided her with great clarity about the path she must choose. Her path has been one of servant leadership and advocacy. When asked to name things she cannot live without, she says, “human interaction, quality time with her loved ones, deepening her faith, and advocating for system change.” She shares a favorite Bible quote that brings all of her busy life into perspective: He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly[a] with your God. Micah 6:8

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Most Intriguing People

Dr. Yemi Akande-Bartsch The Wonder of Nigeria

Dr.Yemi Akande-Bartsch is a Nigerian-American woman filled with wisdom. Her actual name is Ola Yemi, which means, “Honor surrounds her”. She is fluent in Yoruba, English, and has a working knowledge of Spanish and French. Although she is knowledgeable about many languages, as she has traveled extensively, Dr. Akande-Bartsch was raised in Nigeria and America throughout her life.

She has trained many people to take the driver’s seat of their own life.

This is the hallmark of her career.


Dr. Akande-Bartsch’s motivation comes from her paternal grandmother, who believed in the transformative power of education. Her grandmother upheld values that were passed onto her father, and now Dr. AkandeBartsch is practicing those same principles and values. Education in Dr. Akande’s family was the key that opened the doors to America. Dr.Akande-Bartsch is described as a designer, facilitator, and planner to the maximum extent. She has delivered over 100 seminars about leadership development and has practiced close to 20 years of higher educational training and development. She is a published author who has presented at national and international conferences. She is passionate towards art and culture, children, civil rights, social action, economic empowerment, education, health, human rights, politics, poverty alleviation, and social services. As an avid hiker, photographer and traveler, she has travelled to Turkey, Japan, Sweden, Germany, South Africa, and Spain. She is quite an adventurer and explores many of the region’s parks with her husband, Bill Bartsch. She studied in Bolivar, MO at Southwest Baptist University for her B.A. in Speech Communication from 19841986. She then completed three separate degrees at the University of Oklahoma for a M.A. in Public Relations & Journalism, MHR for Human Relations and Organizational Development, and a Ph.D. in Communications with a focus on intercultural, organizational and political communications. Since August of 2011, she has been the managing partner for the YsA group, which is a leadership training and development company in Cleveland, Ohio. Dr. Yemi Akande-Bartsch is well-known for being the current President & CEO of FOCUS St. Louis, since July of 2014. Dr. Akande-Bartsch has a broad resume which spot lights her experience in several areas of education and business: board member for The Sheldon Art Foundation, Association of Leadership Professionals and International Leadership member, Associate Director of the IES Abroad (1998-2002), Assistant Professor for The Boler School of Business at John Carroll University (2002-2006), Program Director for Cleveland Executive Fellowship (2006-2011), Senior Director for Civic Education for Cleveland Leadership Center (2007-2011), faculty member of Kent State University, Making the Case Host on WJCU 88.7 FM in Cleveland, OH (conversations with leaders from the government and organizations that offer views of leadership and legacy) (2009-2012), and Vice President of Leadership and Alumni Programs for Focus St. Louis (2009-2012). When Dr. Akande-Bartsch was a college professor in Ohio, she often found that she was the first NigerianAmerican teacher to many of her students. This was a challenge for her, but she relished in the challenge by showing them the blind spots of acceptance. She spoke to them about studying abroad and those words changed many individual’s perceptions. She has always strived to promote diversity and inclusiveness. Furthermore, she has taken advantage of any opportunity that has come her way, because as she says, “failure is not an option.” She has trained many people to take the driver’s seat of their own life. This is the hallmark of her career. She hopes that in 100 years from today, no one will forget that “she came, she tried, and gave it her all.” She encourages us as humans to try and give it their all as she follows in the words of Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

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Most Intriguing People

Edward Bryant

The Faithful Hero in Diversity

“I’ve been very blessed and what

I want to see is for our community to flourish,”

Mr. Bryant, born and raised in Memphis, TN by his single mother, has truly made a name for himself in the city of St. Louis. Ed made his way to St. Louis with the goal of marrying his wife, who is a St. Louis native. He is extremely passionate about helping others and creating all things equal. He is a modest man with a very humbling spirit. He acknowledges that everyone, regardless of their status, has something to add to this thing we call, “life”. “If we are going to experience true flourishing as a community, then we each have to have opportunities to be meaningfully involved,” Ed says. Everyone has a special word which defines them, and his special word is “faithful”. Faith and works are two attributes that are apart of his DNA. Ed has been given awards for his work in the community by the St. Louis Business Journal Inclusive Business leadership and the Who’s Who in Black St. Louis Awards. In February 2015, he was also acknowledged as the Hero in Diversity. Ed’s interests are as vast as his ideologies, which include; corporate social responsibility, health, literacy, and public policy, jazz, bicycling, and soccer. Ever aware of the need to exercise, it is no coincidence that he has served as a youth soccer coach, coaching his son’s team for several seasons, as he’s played the sport from the age of 8 through his adult years. Beyond his many interests, education has also been a priority. Ed earned a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from The University of Memphis, and a Master’s degree in Public and Government Policy from Regent University. During his time at Regent University, he became a Regent Merit Scholar, a Dean’s Scholar and recipient of the Azusa Street Scholarship Award. Ed continued to further his education by completing an additional year of graduate coursework in urban planning and public policy from Rutgers University and the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. Mr. Bryant’s experience has been very broad, as he’s carried out roles in communications and public relations for The University of Memphis, the US Census Bureau, and Kupper Parker Communications. In 2002, he accepted the role of Director of Communications and Community Engagement for the St. Louis Regional Health Commission (RHC). After nearly two years with the RHC, he accepted a role with Pfizer, as Director of Public Affairs. Following this role, he became Vice President of Economic Development Collaborations for the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership (SLEDP), where he led several key regional strategic planning initiatives, including the Regional Economic Adjustment Strategy, the Regional Entrepreneurship Initiative, and the first ever City/County Economic Development Strategic Plan. Currently, he holds the title as President of the St. Louis Minority Business Council, where he has served since July 2014. Although Mr. Bryant has had an extensive resume, and has many obligations to keep him occupied, he still finds time to give back. Volunteerism has played a very big role in Mr. Bryant’s life as a community leader. He has held numerous volunteer leadership roles with organizations including the United Way of Greater St. Louis, the Coro Leadership Foundation, Focus St. Louis, the St. Louis Contractor Loan Fund, and the St. Louis Development Company. In addition, he has served as the Children’s Sunday leader and teacher for his church. “We won’t grow as a region without diverse individuals and diverse businesses,” declares Mr. Bryant. He admits that it is difficult for him to identify a single person as his inspiration, because he realizes that it was the combined contributions of many people that helped him become a success. “I’ve been very blessed and what I want to see is for our community to flourish,” he says. “I know that when our communities are flourishing as a whole, the people, many of whom come for situations like my own, will also flourish.” With his accolades, he wants to be known for being a good husband, loving father of his two beautiful children, and a devoted man to his friends, family, and community. He has inspired and will continue to inspire positive change.

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Most Intriguing People


Wolfington La Mujer Que Revive –

The Woman Who Revives Eileen (Otero) Wolfington is considered to be an inspiring, modest, and humble woman in the St. Louis Hispanic/Latino community. Born of immigrant parents, she uses her culture and beliefs as an advantage to create harmony for the world.

Eileen has definitely discovered her gift and purpose in this world and she wants each person to identify his/ her purpose as well.


As a woman with integrity and gratitude, she has not forgotten her roots nor the blessings that she has received. Her favorite saying is, “to whom much is given, much is required.” Her love for mankind and passion to serve inspires her to be of assistance to anyone in need. She believes in equality and justice for the vulnerable and the underserved. She wants everyone to embrace and welcome others, particularly immigrants and refugees. She believes in and promotes racial justice and equality to improve the unification in our society. After completing thirty-three years in the banking industry, Eileen joined the nonprofit world by becoming a community health worker for Casa de Salud. Her new journey in the field of public health opened her eyes to the health disparities that exist in the delivery of health care to those who are uninsured and underinsured. “Navigating for patients through our complex health care system had an impact on me. Conveying to patients what the doctor said transformed my life when I began to apply some of their suggestions toward my lifestyle.” The five years she spent in a health care setting prepared her to continue her labor of love when she joined Kingdom House, another nonprofit agency, to become their coordinator of health and wellness programs. “Empowering women to recognize that they can make small incremental changes toward feeling well is what motivates me.” Professionally, Eileen is a woman of action who works to support the community as a whole as evidenced by two prestigious honors. In October of 2013, the Hispanic Leader’s Group of Greater St. Louis awarded Eileen with the Anthony B. Ramirez “Premio Esperanza” or “Hope award.” The inscription reads “To you, for giving hope. To those, who seek change.” The following year, the YWCA Metro St. Louis honored Eileen as one of ten Leaders of Distinction for her achievement in racial justice. Personally, Eileen is a woman of impetuous passion toward networking and toward her ethnic heritage. Since 2004, she has facilitated the convening of a monthly network called the Professional Latino Action Network (PLAN). The network optimizes available community resources and services for Hispanics/Latinos in the metro St. Louis area. Culturally, Eileen seeks to illuminate her Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage as a folkloric artist. Known as La Morena, Eileen delivers presentations of traditional dance, culture and traditions. In 2015 she was selected as a Latina interviewee for the “Latino Americans Living and Working in St. Louis – An Oral Histories Project” to share her story on health and wellness of Latino Americans in St. Louis Eileen has definitely discovered her gift and purpose in this world and she wants each person to identify his/ her purpose as well. “I am committed to coaching others toward living a healthier lifestyle one person at a time.”

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Most Intriguing People

Jason Yen

Making a Difference in the Community

Jason Yen is the owner and creator of everyone’s favorite frozen yogurt company FroYo in St. Louis. This humble entrepreneur was born and raised in Malaysia. However, after two years of college, he decided to leave his home country and come to America to complete his education. His first stop was Milwaukee, WI, but eventually found his home in St. Louis, Missouri. The Midwest hospitality is what attracted him to the city.

Considering his background,

Jason feels a sense of responsibility to give back to the city that has given him so much over time.


Jason knew that he wanted to complete his college career, so he began visiting college campuses. After touring the University of Missouri, St. Louis (UMSL), it soon became the school of choice, partly due to the friendly faculty, affordable price, and their stellar international department. Ironically, on his second day at UMSL, he met a woman named Yen Luu, who was also a student in the international program, and who would eventually become the woman he would marry. After the two graduated, they moved to Orange County, California. While in California, Jason earned his MBA. This was also where he used his degree, as he helped operate two barbecue restaurants. However, after living in California, Jason and his wife couldn’t help but feel their hearts still belonged to St. Louis. The couple, after having their first child, decided to move back to St. Louis. They missed the reasonable living costs, and wanted to find a good school for their young son. Shortly thereafter, Jason decided to pursue his dream of opening up his own business. In the 2008, he created the fun and highly popular brand: FroYo. His first store was opened in the fall of that year in the Delmar Loop, a trendy college friendly neighborhood in St. Louis city. He took a great risk, but it paid off, because the hype for the first frozen yogurt shop in St. Louis continuously grew. He admits that there was a learning curve when it came to the operations of running a dessert store, however, Yen caught on quickly, as there are now 8 stores in the St. Louis area. He is focused on keeping the business local since he is heavily dedicated to being involved in the community. He takes pride in his mission of evolving and partnering locally, instead of making the company a franchise. Considering his background, Jason feels a sense of responsibility to give back to the city that has given him so much over time. He and his company are currently involved with the International Institute, which is a non-profit organization that assists refugees with transitional needs in St. Louis. Jason gets great joy from this, as he states, “Business is one thing, but seeing kids enjoy the product opens up your eyes a bit. I don’t mind giving it for free, because there is a purpose”. Jason is also involved with another organization linked to the International Institute, named, the Nahed Chapman School, which provides quality education for young refugees. Jason is connected with the St. Louis Mosaic Project, an initiative that invites and attracts foreign born families, helping them find homes and employment in the St. Louis area, as well. FroYo makes an effort to assist and promote local Girl Scout troops; and every year, the frozen yogurt store purchases Girl Scout cookies from the troops and sells them on their topping bar. Then, they host an event where the Girl Scouts sell their cookies at the St. Louis area stores in order to promote a greater sense of community. Overall, Jason Yen is a successful man. He has been featured in many magazines over the years, but is an extremely humble man when it comes to his accomplishments. He considers his greatest accomplishment as being a good father to his three children, and feels very fortunate to share a beautiful marriage with his wife. When it comes to business, his greatest accomplishment to date is growing the FroYo Frozen Yogurt stores from 1 to 8 in just seven years, four of which were opened in 2011 alone. In the future, Jason hopes to use his skills as an entrepreneur to continue to create more jobs in St. Louis. He is currently working on a new project, with his recently opened Japanese Ramen restaurant in Clayton, called Nami Ramen. Another concept Jason would like to promote is starting a new company involving his passion, tennis. As for right now, Jason will continue to enjoy his community, with his family and friends, making the most of his life and making a difference in the St. Louis area.

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Most Intriguing People

Dr. Kelvin Adams

The Man Who Creates Great Options

Dr. Kelvin Adams is the man who has inspired many dreams and is an accomplished leader who has turned those dreams into realities. He is the second oldest of six children, raised in an impoverished area of New Orleans. However, his limited means did not prevent him from becoming the man we see today. Dr. Adams was named after his uncle, and now he has marked a positive connotation in the history of his family name.

Dr. Adams is best-known for his seven successful years as the superintendent for the

Saint Louis

Public School District and still has more years to come.


When Dr. Adams was a child, people did not discuss the possibility of higher education. He was one of the few who took a chance and left home to attend college. In 1978, he received his B.A. in Elementary Education and Special Education from Northeast Louisiana University. He later earned his M.A. in Elementary Education from Xavier University. However, these two degrees did not end his educational journey. In 2005, he was granted his PhD in Educational Leadership in Administration. Before he accepted his current role as a superintendent, Dr. Adams held positions as: Chief of Staff, Associate Dean/Interim Dean, Charter School Liaison, Middle School Principal, High School Principal, and Executive Director of Middle Schools. Dr. Adams is best-known for his seven successful years as the superintendent for the Saint Louis Public School District and still has more years to come. Dr. Adams is responsible for multiple operations in the district. He oversees more than 25,000 students between grade levels Pre K- 12th, assists over 4,000 employees, and manages a budget in excess of $300 Million. Due to his hard work and efforts, the district’s high school graduation rates are increasing, state test scores are rising, and attendance rates are improving. Adams learned that self-discipline is needed to accomplish maximum results, and there is a time for quitting. Due to his perseverance and dedication, the district’s accreditation status improved from Unaccredited in 2008 to Provisionally Accredited in 2012. In fact, .the St. Louis Public School District earned enough accreditation points in 2015 to qualify for Full Accreditation for the first time since 2000. Despite a very busy work schedule, Dr. Adams sets aside time to be active in his church. He is also a Big Brother volunteer and spends quality time with his two great kids. Dr. Adams gives credit to his grandfather for his motivation and drive. His grandfather gave him the fabric, and now it is Dr. Adams’ turn to continue sewing together the fabric of success. “To whom much is given, much is required,” explained Dr. Adams. This is how servant leadership becomes vital for his purpose and goal in life. Like his grandfather, he wants to serve people and build better connections, as he finds it impossible to give up his commitment to children. By going the extra mile, Dr. Adams feels this is his way of strengthening his bond with the children in the St. Louis Public Schools. In the new chapter of his life, Dr. Adams is currently learning Spanish, and plans to become closer to his community by being able to eliminate language barriers. The following is a favorite quote and effective motto of Dr. Kelvin Adams. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” -Dr. Martin Luther King

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Most Intriguing People

Big Sister Lydia Padilla

Making a Difference at TRC Staffing Services

“I think St. Louis has a lot more to offer than people give it credit for.”

Lydia Padilla, a San Diego native, is now the franchise owner of TRC Staffing Services, Inc. Her journey in this industry began after she received her college education at Mt. San Antonio. In 1995, Padilla moved to Memphis, Tennessee to open up a staffing services franchise. Just a few years later, in 2000, the young entrepreneur moved to St. Louis, Missouri to open her very own franchise of TRC Staffing Services, Inc. TRC Staffing Services is a personnel placement firm for individuals looking for a great opportunity. The mission of Lydia’s work is to place great people in the right type of job. She has accomplished many great feats as the head of TRC. One of these accomplishments includes receiving the 150 percent award on behalf of her franchise for having excellent revenue growth in consecutive years. However, she believes her greatest accomplishment to date is being a part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Organization for twelve years now. In 2007, as part of the President’s Mentoring Initiative, Padilla was honored for her involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri. However, according to Padilla, receiving that award is not the most important benefit of her role as a mentor. It is her relationship with her little sister/mentee, Ra’Shonda, that is held most dear to her heart. They enjoy spending time together and doing activities in the St. Louis area. Inside of the workplace, Padilla has achieved many accomplishments. In 2003 and 2008, Padilla was named the Hispanic Businessperson of the Year by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of St. Louis. Later, in 2004, Project Interchange of the American Jewish Committee chose Padilla to travel to Israel as one of its national Latino delegates. In 2005, Lydia was featured as one of the 40 Under 40 Outstanding Professionals by the St. Louis Business Journal. Padilla has been featured in many sources such as, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis Commerce Magazine and the West End Word for all of her outstanding endeavors. Outside of the workplace, Padilla is very active in the St. Louis area. Along with being an active participant in the organization Big Brothers Big Sisters, her current involvement includes being a member on the board of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, and serving on the board of the St. Louis Community College Foundation. In addition, Padilla is a long-time supporter of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan St. Louis and serves as the chair of their Foundation Board.


Padilla thoroughly enjoys living in the St. Louis area. She states, “I think St. Louis has a lot more to offer than people give it credit for”. She believes the area does a fantastic job of giving everyone access to activities, such as the free St. Louis Zoo and Art Museum. Padilla resides in historic Lafayette Square with her husband, Chris Salinas. They are currently rehabbing a historic home in the area, and are hoping to finish the project soon. During her leisure time, she enjoys cooking, spending time with her nieces and nephews and indulging in hot yoga with her husband. Padilla is also an avid Cardinal’s baseball and World Cup soccer fan. She has a passion for traveling, and enjoys traveling alone at least once per year. She is fun, passionate, genuine, caring, and lives by the motto “Work hard, play hard”. Padilla is a great example of being determined, achieving greatness, and living life to the fullest.

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Most Intriguing People

Dr. Roderick Jones Defying the Odds: From the Projects


Prosperity at Grace Hill Settlement House

“I believe we show up to our work with a set of assumptions—about who people are and how they got to where they are, and what they deserve. My mission is to suspend judgment, to give voice to the lived experience of those in our communities, and to help others understand that both people and place matter.”

“My mission is to suspend judgment, to give voice to the lived experience of those in our communities, and to help others understand that both people and place matter.”


Dr. Roderick Jones arrived in St. Louis in 2008 ready to take on the position of President & CEO of Grace Hill Settlement House, an organization that works within neighborhoods to deliver high quality early childhood education, help families achieve their financial goals, and promote the healthy growth of whole communities. Since being founded in 1903, Grace Hill has captured the essence of what it means to be a Settlement House— committed to changing neighborhoods and working with families to strengthen their future. Grace Hill’s mission is to provide opportunities for individuals, families, and communities to become stronger, healthier, and more self-reliant. That’s why Dr. Jones doesn’t just talk about educating children, but also about making sure their parents have access to economic opportunity—a two generation approach to ensuring every child, every family, and every community has a strong and healthy future. As a leader, Jones values collaboration across multiple sectors, fostering tough conversations, and amplifying the voices in our community that often go unheard. These values come from a childhood spent overcoming obstacles in the projects of Brooklyn, where he worked hard to balance education, volunteered with teens and special needs adults, and part-time employment after school. Jones graduated from high school at age 16, after commuting two hours on the train each day to attend a quality school outside of his own neighborhood. With advanced degrees from SUNY Brockport, Syracuse University, and St. John Fischer College, Jones pursued a corporate career with General Electric before beginning to work for settlement houses and community centers in the 1990s. He blends strong leadership abilities with a fresh, visionary outlook on community development in St. Louis. He has earned a reputation for his ability to forge unique partnerships in the community, with funding partners, local universities, public schools, and other human service agencies on both a local and national level. Jones has also been creative in diversifying revenue so that Grace Hill may continue to serve the community and move its mission forward.  He admits that his role carries a lot of pressure to serve his community and do it well. “It’s like a pressure cooker in your own mind. You have a burden to carry and nobody can walk with you. A lot of people’s lives are in your hands,” Jones states. He says his greatest accomplishment is his ability to move organizations to a place where they are healthy and thriving, and be able to deliver life changing work to others. At the end of the day, Jones is motivated by the people he meets, and the moments of grace he experiences through his connections to the hundreds of children and families Grace Hill serves each year. His work has not gone unnoticed. In 2002, he was a recipient of the 40 under 40 award in the Rochester Business Journal and in 2006 was awarded the National League of Negro and Professional Women’s Man of the Year Award. Also, in 2006 and 2007, he was named “Rochester’s Emerging African-American Leader.” In 2010, Jones received the Non-profit Executive of the Year award by the St. Louis American Foundation, St. Louis RCGA, and the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis. Outside of work, Jones is an active community volunteer, serving on the Mayor’s Crime Commission, the Board of Metro Theater Company, and the board of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities – a national network of non-profit organizations. He is an advocate for a strong and vibrant downtown St. Louis. Jones is the proud father of three adult children and enjoys traveling with his partner and the standing neighborhood poker game. In the evenings, you can find him working out at the Fitness Factory and listening to house music.

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Most Intriguing People

Elizabeth “SiSi” Beltrán Martí World-Wide Empress of Smiles

Elizabeth “SiSi” Beltrán Martí was raised in Puerto Rico by her Cuban father and mother, an Oklahoma native. She has been known as “SiSi” for as long as she can remember, and was given this nickname by her brother as a child. Interestingly enough, an 1800 Austrian Empress has the same first name and nickname. SiSi did not know of the connection to the historical figure, but somehow these two women have more in common than their names.

“... It is so stimulating to be around other civic leaders with different backgrounds and learn from their perspectives while working together.”


Sisi of Austria found relief and joy in many communities outside of her country because she met people and supported them through the use of her empowerment. SiSi Beltrán has exhibited the same behavior, excelling at work while keeping her community at the top of her priority list. As SiSi Beltrán stated, “being involved in the community ‘balances’ me out; it gives me a chance to meet new people, understand my surroundings more, and collaborate with others to achieve common goals beyond our ‘day jobs’. It is so stimulating to be around other civic leaders with different backgrounds and learn from their perspectives while working together.” SiSi’s father has always been her role model. At the age of 16, he was in charge of his own life when he left Cuba without his parents through Operation Peter Pan. If he could work and study his way off of welfare and become an accomplished and esteemed businessman, then why couldn’t she? She sure is off to a strong start. She speaks four languages (English, Spanish, French, and Italian) and has traveled to every continent except for Antarctica. This intelligent woman also dedicated time and hard work in her college years at Washington University to achieve a triple major in International Business, Marketing, and Romance Languages. Volunteerism has been a key part of her life since childhood. Her parents believed volunteering was a family activity and that became a key component of SiSi’s character today. Some of the organizations that she is actively involved with are: Washington University’s Olin Business School Alumni Board (since 2004), United Way of Greater St. Louis (since 2007), Focus St. Louis (since 2010), Forest Park Forever (since 2011) and more recently, Casa de Salud. SiSi’s day job is with Build-A-Bear Workshop, where she has worked for nearly 12 years. She currently is the Director of Marketing Activation and is responsible for all marketing within the corporately held stores in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark and more recently, China. The first 10 years of her career were more focused on the international franchised operations of Build-A-Bear, leading the marketing side of the business, growing the brand and sales on almost every continent. SiSi thinks about the memories that are made at Build-A-Bear Workshop stores every day, and can’t help but smile. The more than 140 million furry friends that have been brought to life over the past two decades have resulted in countless smiles for others, as well. Sounds like she has a lot on her plate, and she does, but SiSi claims that being involved with the community has helped her balance a healthy personal and professional life. Her favorite quote is from the Spanish writer, Miguel de Unamuno, “No llegará muy lejos, de seguro, quien nunca sienta cansancio” which means, “He who has never felt tired, surely, will never get very far.” She believes that you need to work hard to achieve not only your goals, but those of your company or community. Her contributions and achievements have been recognized several times by the St Louis Business Journal. First in 2007, being named to the 30 under 30 list and more recently in 2014, when she received the Diverse Business Leader Award.

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Most Intriguing People

Chin & Sue Prapaisilp Bringing About Global Awareness with

It all began when Chin saw an ad that

Sue had in the newspaper, made a call and the rest is history.


Global Foods Market

Chin and Sue Prapaisilp are the owners of St. Louis’ premier international and specialty supermarket, Global Foods Market. The Thailand natives decided to come to America to further their education as well as explore other opportunities. Chin was the first to arrive in the states, in 1975, and found job opportunities right away. Later in 1978, Sue moved to Chicago and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. During their educational endeavors, both admit that the learning curve was rather difficult since they were both taught to read and write English, but not how to speak it. Nonetheless, they adjusted quickly. Although, this dynamic duo did not meet each other until after Sue graduated college, it took her no time to recognize a potential opportunity to open a business with a friend. It all began when Chin saw an ad that Sue had in the newspaper, made a call and the rest is history. Their relationship began to blossom, as Chin convinced Sue to move to St. Louis. Reluctant at first, Sue made her position clear on the subject when she told Chin, “If I don’t like St. Louis after two years, I’m moving back to Chicago”. Needless to say, Sue has grown fond of the Gateway City. Not to mention, the couple has celebrated over 30 years of companionship; and beyond running their business, they also enjoy being parents to their 3 children. It is extremely important to them that their children recognize their Thai heritage, as well as the American culture. That being said, they intend to keep the business within the family, as they prepare their children to continue their legacy at their Global Foods stores. Today, the two currently have 3 restaurants and 2 grocery stores. Running Global Foods store can be physically and mentally demanding, as they sell thousands of different products from over 100 countries; which requires that they know specifics about almost every brand they sell, in order to cater to each customer. It is very important to them that they earn the trust of their customers by respecting every culture they encounter. “I would like to see more people get involved in understanding that people come from different cultures, and we should respect them”, says Sue. The pair constantly makes a conscious effort to ensure they are treating their customers with the utmost care and respect. They also acknowledge and honor every holiday that is celebrated around the world at their store. Chin and Sue say that they learn from their customers and the different cultures every day. They strive to offer the best merchandise to their customers, and if a customer is looking for an item they do not have, Chin and Sue make every attempt to find it. The appreciation these lovers of learning have for their customers runs deep, as they feel their customers are their best teachers. It is extremely clear that these two genuinely not only love what they do, but also the community they serve. Money is not the motivation for them; instead, it is helping others, and making sure their customers feel that Global Foods is a meeting place for them. They diligently work to bring a piece of home to every person who shops at their market. Although, they enjoy what they do, the job is still challenging. However, as Chin says, “You have to work hard to make things happen. Never give up, try hard, and something will happen”.

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Most Intriguing People


Gonzalez The Renaissance Man

Mr. Gonzalez is known to be a Renaissance man, very knowledgeable about many subjects. He is self-taught and loves to learn. He explained, “As I discover, I understand better and feel more human.”

“As I discover, I understand better and feel more human.”


Gonzalez’ life experience over the years changed his motivation. As a child, his motivation was his parents. As he became a young adult, his motivation became historical figures he read about. He started imagining his figurative role model by synthesizing different ideals, biographies, various topics, and wisdoms. He successfully formulated a personalized ideal role model that he used to help mentor him toward a successful life. He honed the ability to simplify complex subjects to clarify and share information. Gonzalez is great at problemsolving, and pulls from varied sources of information, creating connections with others around the world. Some of his personal interests involve: gardening, naturalist, Westies, traveling, food, wine, art & antique collecting, family & friends, entrepreneurship, philosophy, reading, documentaries, hiking, off-road cycling, running, soccer, and Tai Chi. Among his professional interests, he is most passionate about construction, economics, and design. Mr. Gonzalez understands the values of hard work. Having grown up on a farm, he is familiar with farm and construction labor, as well as warehouse and retail industries. Prior to building an engineering-architectureconstruction management company, he is familiar with investing and consulting. He’s worked as a senior contracts management officer for 4 years, a senior managing partner for 17 years, and is currently a partner of TOTA Investments, LLC. He earned two Bachelor degrees from the University of Illinois at Chicago, in Liberal Arts & Sciences and Architecture Construction Science & Design degree. He later attended the University of Illinois Springfield to earn his Master’s degree in Public Administration and Economic & Community Development. He also attended Dartmouth College, Tuck School of Business Minority Entrepreneur Executive Training for Business Development & Management. Mr. Gonzalez has dedicated long hours to his work and education, but he has also devoted time to volunteering, community service, and his family. He volunteers as a Regional Business Council and International Institute of St. Louis Board Member, Mosaic Immigration Innovation, and the Southside Early Childhood Center. He supports several organizations; Stray Rescue of St. Louis, Westie Rescue, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, The Little Bit Foundation, College Bound St. Louis, LPUMC, PROMO, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, HACIA ChicagoIL, Gonzalez Charitable Foundation, The Bridge (mitigating homelessness in STL city center), Southside Early Childhood Development, Casa de Salud and the World Trade Center St. Louis. Some of the most prestigious honors and awards he has achieved include: Missouri Fast Track, St. Louis County Rising Star, Minority Business Enterprise of the Year, Inc., 5000 America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies (75th percentile), Diverse Business Leader, NFL Hispanic Heritage Award, Inner City 100 Winner (16th) Fast Growing Private Companies, and Businessman of the Year HCC-STL. Throughout his life, Mr. Gonzalez realized that it is impossible for him to live a happy, healthy, and wealthy life without gratitude. He keenly stated, “Gratitude is fundamental to exercising freedom of choice, loving family, personal responsibility, and self-discipline.” He explains, “Earning your achievements is one of the most valuable life lessons to obtain, because if something is not earned it has less value. Too many free and easy things in life often lessen personal value and increase ‘easy come, easy go’.” Mr. Gonzalez believes in living his life as a good steward of his gifts, a truth-sayer, a helping hand in the time of need, a problem solver, and a peace- maker. His last advice to anyone listening in the world would be to take responsibility and control of your life by planning, designing, and building your own life so that you become your best self….and the pieces of the puzzles to a wonderful life will fit together.

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Most Intriguing People


Sheridan Designer of Communities

“Most people can only see what is at the horizon, but only a few can see beyond the horizon.” PRODUCED BY: JULISSA CASTILLO

Mr. Sheridan understands the essence of diversity quite well, partially due to the fact that he is the product of bi-racial parents from African American and Caucasian decent. He also is no stranger to adversity being that he is oldest of three boys of a teenage single mother. Raised in California, Travis watched as his mother worked extremely hard and long hours to keep food on the table. It was in his upbringing, where he accepted, whatever he wanted, wasn’t going to come easily. Travis, at the tender age of nine years old, began to develop a strategic plan for his life. Travis has always had a tenacious and independent spirit, and at a very early age, has strived to help his family in any way he could. His character was shaped by these events and it continues to show today. Although, he grew up in an environment where resources were limited, he never let it deter him from moving forward, instead, he used his adversity to make better choices. Travis is always mindful of his decisions, making sure he never purposely impacts anyone in a negative way. The biggest transition in Mr. Sheridan’s life came in January 2012, after the move to St. Louis. He found his calling and began to work on his current mission of bringing business minds together to create an expansive think tank of ideas. As a natural risk-taker, he accepted the upcoming challenges and overcame them by learning from his failures. He knew he could take a leap, because failure was an acceptable option – not desirable, but acceptable. It all started with passion, and now Travis Sheridan has used that passion to run a successful organization. As Executive Director of Venture Café, he has been able to adapt, improvise, and overcome many obstacles in the quest for a successful business. He has found a way to use innovation to improve the human condition, which is why he has been honored as one of the Top 100 Business Leaders to know. Throughout his career he has worked with and supported more than 400 startup businesses in California and St. Louis. He has been able to continue to develop the St. Louis community by creating a free organizational atmosphere known as “The Venture Café Gathering”. People in St. Louis or even around the world are warmly welcomed to this event, which is ongoing every Thursday. The purpose of these gatherings is to give innovators a safe place to gather, learn, grow and connect. He takes into consideration The Event Horizon as a way to promote young people to become productive in this ever changing world. Most people can only see what is at the horizon, but only a few can see beyond the horizon. His goal is to assist others with this conceptual thought that must be acknowledged. He has also been an active volunteer by serving on the Board of Old North St. Louis, Prosper Women’s entrepreneurship, and has been effectively improving his current neighborhood. Not only has he been supporting these volunteer opportunities, but he seeks to build communities in other ways. He and his wife host an annual Friendsgiving dinner for their friends living in St. Louis and host a monthly creative problem-solving session called “Boozestorming”. In everything he does, he seeks to bring people together in a meaningful way. He is a frequent speaker and honed his skills doing standup comedy for three years. This activity helped teach him about failure, dealing with stress and engaging people at a human level. This has prompted him to design communities wisely and carefully. As he places the right people at the right place, Mr. Sheridan possesses great management and conflict resolution skills. His uniqueness has made him stand-out amongst the business community. This man is well-known for his unique style of fashion. He wears colorful shoes that represent equality. Each day is a surprise for his co-workers, because of the different color shoes worn with the word equality embroidered. He is a man filled with surprises. Mr. Sheridan works hard every day to make things better by adding a creative spin to businesses and joining people together. “Tomorrow we can be better than today” is his motto. There are five words that will inspire to make a difference. People will be successful if they use these five words “In what ways can we…” In what ways can you?

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Most Intriguing People

Villie M. Appoo

Empowering Women One Girl at a Time

Villie will always be remembered as a passionate woman who succeeded in making a positive, lasting difference by touching the lives of many.


Villie M. Appoo, the first CEO of the Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois, (GSSI), was born in Mumbai, India. When in first grade, Villie followed in her mother’s footsteps and joined the Girl Guides, an organization similar to Girl Scouts. Villie first developed her passion for social service as a volunteer for the Society for the Education of the Crippled through Girl Guides. Throughout her school years, Villie participated in numerous service projects adopted by her troop. As a Girl Guide, she learned perseverance and gained self-confidence. As a member of the Zoroastrian community, an ethnic minority in India, the value of education and personal integrity were instilled in her at an early age. This early exposure to serving others laid the foundation for her chosen career in social services. Villie worked in the slums of Mumbai for two years before moving to St. Louis to pursue her MSW at the Brown School of Social Work, at Washington University. Villie applied for several scholarships and had to overcome numerous obstacles and biases against funding higher education for girls. Villie did her field practicum at Grace Hill Settlement House and was offered employment there upon graduation. During her 30 years at Grace Hill, Villie worked her way up to become the COO and Vice President of Grace Hill Neighborhood Health Centers. At Grace Hill, Villie procured numerous grants to implement innovative primary care and community health programs and increased access to affordable health care for the underserved. One of her most notable accomplishments was procuring federal funding to implement the Health Care for the Homeless program in St. Louis, expanding it over the years to include Respite Care and Mobile dental services with an annual budget of over $2 million dollars. Throughout her 30 years at Grace Hill, Villie did an outstanding job of identifying unmet needs, finding needed resources and touching many lives along the way. She has always strongly believed in making a difference. After leaving Grace Hill, Villie came full circle to become the first CEO of the Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois in 2009. Through Girl Scouting, girls are helped to discover their full potential and are exposed to career opportunities in different fields including STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) - programs that lie very close to Appoo’s heart. Over the last 7 years, GSSI has grown from having one robotics team to over 30 robotics teams throughout GSSI’s service area of 40 counties in southern Illinois. Additionally, Villie ensures that GSSI also offers programs to develop financial literacy, leadership, provide community service and address issues such as bullying in schools by ensuring the emotional and physical well-being of young girls. Villie’s commitment to providing girl scouting to underserved girls resulted in the expansion of outreach services to girls in the East St. Louis school district, detention centers and in public housing. It is her mission to make sure that through Girl Scouts, girls grow up to be well rounded, informed, and confident women and leaders. Villie brings much strength to her work, including project design, program development and implementation, grant writing, and fund development. She is extremely analytical and enjoys tackling complex issues. These skills show through her life’s work. Villie successfully guided the merger of two Girl Scout councils to form a new organization, the Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois. The GSSI addressed serious budget deficits and restructured programs and staff. Outside of her CEO responsibilities, she actively volunteers for GSUSA and other organizations, and serves as a consultant to North American Management. In 2013, Villie received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Brown School, Washington University, for the life changing work she has completed with her degree in Social Work. She credits these successes to her dedicated colleagues, mentors and friends with whom she has had the privilege to work with; without their help, she would not have been able to provide help to others. Like a good Girl Scout, Villie believes in looking for an opportunity to make a difference and to make this world a better place. Villie will always be remembered as a passionate woman who succeeded in making a positive, lasting difference by touching the lives of many.

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The Transformational Agenda MAGAZINE DOWNLOAD

THE APP The Catalyst for Healing the African American Community. 70 |

(314) 531-7300

Spend Consciously

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• Twilight Tuesdays • Genealogy Series • Storytelling • Theatre • Archaeology Programs • Indie Lens Pop-Up Film Series • History on the Side Films • Parent & Me Programs

2016 Exhibitions • Little Black Dress: From Mourning to Night • Route 66: Main Street Through St. Louis • Toys from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s Visit for exhibit information and dates!

Building a Healthier Community Together. Who’s Who Diversity in Color | 71


With commitment, determination, and effort, great things happen. We at Anheuser-Busch salute the 2016 honorees for their achievements and work.

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Corporate Highlights Corporate Highlights

Photo by: Jason Cluts Who’s Who Diversity in Color | 73


dicated to e world.

tion. and opinions ome of the

s Monsanto Technology LLC. Š 2016 Monsanto Company

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We are more than 20,000 employees dedicated to contributing to a smarter way to feed the world. At Monsanto, we know the best ideas come from collaboration. Bringing together diverse perspectives, experiences, ideas and opinions is the most effective way to develop creative solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges. Sound like a place for you?

Learn more @ Monsanto is an equal opportunity employer, we value a diverse combination of ideas, perspectives and cultures. EEO Employer Minorities/Females/Protected Veterans/Disabled. Monsanto & Vine Design® is a registered trademark of Monsanto Technology LLC. © 2016 Monsanto Company Who’s

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Corporate Highlights



Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer at Monsanto Company

Astad leads Monsanto’s

A Human Resources professional with over 15 years of experience across two continents, Astad Dhunjisha has had an opportunity to distinguish himself across multiple aspects of human resources including organization design, talent management and development, change management and talent acquisition.


Astad leads Monsanto’s efforts to expand and engage a highly inclusive and diverse workforce. Astad leads a team that embeds inclusion as one of Monsanto’s strategic cultural pillars, working to build a diverse, globally representative employee base. In this capacity, Astad has the opportunity to link with various local organizations that promote greater diversity and inclusion in the St Louis metropolitan area.


to expand BIG CHALLENGES and engage a highly inclusive and diverse workforce.

Astad joined Monsanto in 2005 in Mumbai, India before moving to St Louis in 2009. In St Louis, Astad has had the opportunity to the HR function for multiple Monsanto research and commercial areas. Prior to Monsanto, Astad has worked in human resources for in the Banking and Pharmaceutical industries. He has a Master’s degree in Human Resources from the London School of Economics, London and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

employees dedicated to way to feed the world.

come from collaboration. , experiences, ideas and opinions eative solutions to some of the a place for you?


f ideas, perspectives and cultures. ine Design® is a registered trademark of Monsanto Technology LLC. © 2016 Monsanto Company

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Corporate Highlights

Daphanie Pointer

North America Supplier Diversity Lead at Monsanto Company

A strong and passionate advocate for


diverse suppliers



Daphanie focuses on identifying and increasing opportunities for suppliers.

Daphanie Pointer is the North America Supplier Diversity Lead at Monsanto Company. A strong and passionate advocate for diverse suppliers and their development, Daphanie focuses on identifying and increasing opportunities for suppliers. Her most recent accomplishment has been creating and implementing Monsanto Supplier Development Mentoring Program, for diverse suppliers to grow their businesses by utilizing industry and Monsanto best practices.    Daphanie has been with Monsanto for 14 years with roles within the Procurement and Information Technology. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Saint Louis Contractor Loan Fund, Mid-States Minority Supplier Development Council and several Local, National, and Global Supplier Diversity committees.   Daphanie was recognized as 2016 Women’s Enterprise USA’s Top 100 Leaders in Supplier Diversity. In 2015, she was named by DiversityPlus Top 30 Champions of Diversity and DELUX Magazine Power100. Also, the 2014 St. Louis Minority Business Council Buyer/Coordinator of The Year. Daphanie received the YWCA Leaders in the Workplace Award from Monsanto for significant leadership and contributions to Monsanto’s business and the Saint Louis community. Daphanie holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Fontbonne University. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.  

employees dedicated to way to feed the world.

come from collaboration. , experiences, ideas and opinions eative solutions to some of the a place for you?


f ideas, perspectives and cultures. ine Design® is a registered trademark of Monsanto Technology LLC. © 2016 Monsanto Company

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Corporate Highlights

Melissa Harper

Vice President of Global Talent Acquisition, HR Compliance and Inclusion & Diversity at Monsanto Company

Melissa leads

a global team VERSE PERSPECTIVES responsible


for what it takes

to attract talent, ensure an inclusive environment,

Melissa leads a global team responsible for what it takes to attract talent, ensure an inclusive environment, and manage risk in people practices, for nearly 70 countries across over 500 worldwide locations. She leads strategies ensuring a competitive advantage and ability to deliver against talent needs that align to strategic business goals, and preparedness for the workforce of the future. This includes leveraging progressive and innovative technology, analytics and driving effective processes. Global scope of responsibilities includes Recruiting, Operations, Inclusion & Diversity, University Relations, Employment Branding, Talent Pipeline/Sourcing, HR Compliance, Contingent Workforce and Onboarding. Melissa is from Chicago, IL, and received her BA in Psychology from Roosevelt University, and her MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management. She is on the Board of the St. Louis YMCA; member of the International Association of Corporate and Professional Recruiters; Board Member, Diversity Awareness Partnership; and, a St. Louis Mosaic Steering Committee member. In 2012, she was recognized as a Diverse Business Leader by the St. Louis Business Journal.

and manage risk.

employees dedicated to way to feed the world.

come from collaboration. , experiences, ideas and opinions eative solutions to some of the a place for you?


f ideas, perspectives and cultures. ine Design® is a registered trademark of Monsanto Technology LLC. © 2016 Monsanto Company

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The success of Grace Hill Settlement House is not possible without you. Call 314-584-6843 to plan a volunteer experience that fits your business. Opportunities range from classroom aides, beautification projects, health screenings, speech & language therapy, class facilitators, mentors, and more. You can find additional information online at Who’s Who Diversity in Color | 83

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Corporate Highlights

Alyce Wilson Alyce is passionate about working with startup businesses and specializes in motivational and developmental training in organizations.

Alyce serves as the Director of the Grace Hill Women’s Business Center, where she is a champion for women and minority entrepreneurs. As Director, Alyce is responsible for business development training through a 16 week program, Workshop in Business Opportunity (WIBO). She also oversees business plan development through one-on-one counseling, and offers monthly speaker series to support small business owners. Alyce has earned her Bachelors in Psychology, with minors in Religion and Women’s Studies from Webster University. She has also earned a Masters of Management and Leadership, and holds a certificate in Non-Profit Management from Webster University. Alyce currently attends Northcentral University, where she is nearing the completion of her Ph.D. in Business with a specialization in Organizational Leadership. Alyce has served as Vice President and Financial Secretary of the Professional Organization of Women, and serves as an adjunct professor in Lindenwood University’s School of Business. Alyce is passionate about working with startup businesses and specializes in motivational and developmental training in organizations.

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Corporate Highlights

Carla Reid Her business is not just a barbershop but a catalyst for reaching the salon’s mission

Carla is the owner of Elevated Men’s Salon located at Kingshighway and Page. She successfully launched her business in 2012 after attending our Grace Hill Women’s Business Center Workshops. Her business is not just a barbershop but a catalyst for reaching the salon’s mission statement which requires barbers to be involved in community service and to specifically work to support and empower African American men. Since the opening of Elevated Men’s Salon in May of 2012, Carla holds a quarterly recruitment drive for male mentors in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters and hosts an annual men’s health fair in partnership with 100 Black Men.



Harrell RareGem Productions broadcast inspire change by

Jade is a recent Grace Hill Women’s Business Center graduate. She owns and operates a “uniquely positive” radio production company, RareGem Productions. Jade utilized Grace Hill Women’s Business Center to hone her focus and confidence in her business acumen. “They provided me with tools that I could implement immediately.” RareGem Productions broadcast inspire change by delivering positive messages rooted in live and tangible initiatives currently taking place in St. Louis City.

delivering positive messages...

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Corporate Highlights

Carolyn Nichols when she is not overseeing production equipment,

Carolyn is an active member of the

Grace Hill Settlement House Board of Directors

Carolyn is the program manager of the Australia F/A-18F Super Hornet Program for The Boeing Company and when she is not overseeing production equipment, Carolyn is an active member of the Grace Hill Settlement House Board of Directors. The Grace Hill Board of Directors includes individuals with financial and legal expertise, marketing and fundraising skills, and a passion for community development. Carolyn Nichols is no exception. Nichols joined McDonnell Douglas in 1986 as a Radar Systems engineer on the Air Force F-15 aircraft program. During her 25-year career at Boeing, she has worked in the tactical aircraft Avionics Integration Laboratory, the Flight Test department, and Mission Systems areas, and completed two long-term assignments as a technical representative on the F-15 program at Edwards Air Base, Calif., and the Swiss F/A-18 production program in Emmen, Switzerland. As champions of the Grace Hill mission and leaders in a dynamic economic and political nvironment, the Board of Directors is committed to tackling tough challenges and leveraging personal talent to create a stronger, healthier St. Louis for us all.

Who’s Who Diversity in Color | 89

Head Start Staff from the left: Isyed Jorrin, Katina Magnussen, Tango Walker, Tamala Stallings, Renee Haynes, Vickie Evans, Keith Hunter, Jennifer Rucker, and seated Martina Guiterrez, Karen Douglas and Jasmine Johnson.

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Corporate Highlights

Grace Hill Head Start Staff Meet the people that teach the future leaders of tomorrow!

We combine an excellent education, resources, and quality who’s who staff to create the

This diverse group of individuals serve as Center Managers, Case Managers, Nutrition Aids, and strategic communicators for the 313 zero to five year olds that we serve everyday in our Head Start Centers under the leadership of Tamala Stallings, Interim Vice President of Early Childhood Advancement. Our Case Managers, Isyed, Katina, Martina, and Jasmine work with each child to help them enroll and connect their families to our comprehensive resources including banking, job training, and legal assistance. Once enrolled in our centers led by Tango, Jennifer, and Vickie, Grace Hill offers the only inner city Grow Up Great program which partners with PNC Bank to deliver cultural experiences to our low income youth. We combine an excellent education, resources, and quality who’s who staff to create the future Who’s Who of St. Louis City.

future Who’s

Who of St. Louis City.

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Corporate Highlights

Lachrisa Crenshaw Grace Hill – School Partnerships

We combine an excellent education, resources, and quality who’s who staff to create the future Who’s

Who of St. Louis City.

LaChrisa is our lead on the first school partnership effort in North St. Louis. She has over 17 years of experience and served three years as the Dean of Student Support Services at a nation-wide charter school. Through our initiative full-time case managers in public elementary schools provide wrap-around resources to families, and make sure kids are ready to learn while helping school staff create an excellent academic environment. St. Louis BWorks is one of the after school programs at Clay and Bryan Hill Elementary School teaching children how to construct and repair a bicycle while opening their minds to engineering. At the end of the program each child receives a bike for graduation.

Our presence has quantitative results as well. Clay School’s enrollment increased 10% overall since the program began in 2013, its mobility rate dropped by over 60%, attendance increased by 5%, and the school went from being unaccredited to fully accredited. Grace Hill plans to expand the success at Clay to other schools in its target zip codes of 63107 and 63111. Together, we guarantee the next generation of St. Louisans is strong, supported, and eager to tackle the future.

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Corporate Highlights

Creating the next generation of “Who’s Who” in a diverse St. Louis does not happen by accident. This is the ultimate outcome of our work at Grace Hill Settlement House. Through our mission to provide opportunities for individuals, families, and communities to be stronger, healthier, and more self-reliant, we foster strong leaders and healthy families. This is accomplished through long-term, intentional work to build people up so more can participate in the American Dream. As a Settlement House, Grace Hill has worked tirelessly for 113 years to provide such opportunities to every child, every family and every community we serve. We cannot do this work without the generosity and grace of our supporters, partners and friends. For this, we thank you every day. In this section of Who’s Who at Grace Hill, you will read about important ways that we help our region develop leaders that will move us all forward. Our Women’s Business Center inspires hundreds of minority entrepreneurs to open their own businesses. Our community “hubs” offer wrap-around, community-based services that reach at least two generations of each family — as the wellbeing of children cannot be separated from the health of their caregivers. You will also read about enhanced partnerships with local schools and a collective impact approach that holds us all accountable for long-term change — all of which is only possible through the essential work of our supporters, funders and donors. Every Child, Every Family, Every Community: All have boundless value, and Grace Hill upholds this value whenever someone walks through our doors. We hope you join us as we continue to build the next generation of “Who’s Who.” Sincerely,

Roderick L. Jones, Ed. D., MPA President & CEO Grace Hill Settlement House


Roderick L. Jones Ed.D, MPA President & CEO

GHR1603_WhosWho10p_FNL.indd 2

Aundrea C. Young, CPA Chief Financial Officer

Kelly L. Laura, MBA Interim Vice President of Family and Community Development

Tamala Stallings MS, MBA Interim Vice President of Early Childhood Advancement

LaChrisa Crenshaw, MSW Director of School and Institutional Partnerships

Alyce H. Wilson MA, ABD Director of the Grace Hill Women’s Business Center

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Corporate Highlights

Adrienne D. Davis As a legal scholar, Davis is renowned for her scholarship and teaching on gender and race relatios.

Adrienne D. Davis is Vice Provost and William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law at Washington University in St. Louis. As Vice Provost she focuses on faculty diversity and development, consulting and collaborating with the university’s seven schools on their goals for diversity and leadership development. She chairs the university’s Diversity Commission, which is charged with designing a university-wide plan for diversity. As a legal scholar, Davis is renowned for her scholarship and teaching on gender and race relations; theories of justice and reparations; feminist and critical race theory; and law and popular culture. She has written extensively on the gendered and private law dimensions of American slavery, the legal regulation of intimacy, and how culture and law converge to distribute justice. Davis also is actively involved in several civic institutions: she is a member of the Links, Inc., St. Louis Chapter, and serves on the Board of Trustees of Opera Theatre St. Louis, Laumeier Sculpture Park, Our Little Haven, and is currently in her third term as President of the Board of Trustees at the St. Louis Art Museum.

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Corporate Highlights

Angela L. Brown, MD Associate Professor of Medicine

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

Brown and her colleagues are interested in encouraging better communication and interaction between school researchers and community members of diverse races, ethnicities

Angela L. Brown, MD, is a physician in Washington University’s Cardiovascular Division and treats patients with severe, complicated hypertension. She co-leads the Department of Medicine’s Office of Faculty Development and also is actively involved in teaching medical students, residents and cardiology fellows. Brown directs the Outpatient Hypertension Clinic and has been recognized for her work to reduce health disparities by the International Society on Hypertension in Blacks and the Metro St. Louis Division of the American Heart Association. She is also heavily involved in community education, providing education materials about healthy lifestyle to local community groups and discussing heart health on KMOX radio. Brown conducts research on diabetes prevention and hypertension, and is codirector of the Center for Community Engaged Research, dedicated to forming partnerships between the school and local communities. In particular, Brown and her colleagues are interested in encouraging better communication and interaction between school researchers and community members of diverse races, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds to improve community health.

and socioeconomic backgrounds to

She earned a bachelor’s degree from Southern Methodist University and her medical degree from Washington University.

improve community health.

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Corporate Highlights

Daniel Blash, PhD, LPC, NCC

Assistant Dean for Cultural Awareness and Staff Diversity Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

Blash’s passion for this challenging work was born from personal experiences and a desire to speak up on

Daniel Blash, PhD, leads the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Washington University School of Medicine, dedicated to raising awareness, supporting recruitment and providing training and development opportunities related to diversity and inclusion for school employees. Blash’s passion for this challenging work was born from personal experiences and a desire to speak up on the behalf of others. A long-time St. Louis resident, he is an experienced educator with a proven track record of advocacy and has worked as a counseling professor for nearly two decades prior to his current position. Outside of Washington University, he is the founder of Blash Counseling Associates, a leading counseling agency that bridges the gap between mental health and some of St. Louis’ underrepresented minority communities. Blash has given educational presentations in over 30 states and 5 countries. He is a decorated combat veteran of the U.S. Army, is very active in the St. Louis deaf community and speaks conversational German and American Sign Language. He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s in counseling and a doctorate in marriage and family therapy.

the behalf of others.

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Corporate Highlights

Harvey R. Fields Jr. Dr. Fields recently led a university-

Harvey R. Fields Jr., assistant director for academic programs and director of TRiO Student Support Services at Cornerstone, the Center for Advanced Learning at Washington University in St. Louis, oversees the creation of programs and resources which facilitate undergraduate student academic success.

wide socioeconomic advisory group, generating a report providing the university a roadmap to better serve its growing number of low-income and first-generation students.

Dr. Fields recently led a university-wide socioeconomic advisory group, generating a report providing the university a roadmap to better serve its growing number of low-income and first-generation students. Dr. Fields earned bachelor’s degrees in chemistry from Morehouse College and chemical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and master’s and doctoral degrees in chemistry from Washington University. As a graduate student, Dr. Fields was an academic tutor and served as post-doctoral lecturer in chemistry. Subsequently, Dr. Fields was hired as a Retention and Academic Advisor at Washington University. In that role he created the Academic Mentoring Program. Dr. Fields has been recognized by the University and St. Louis community for his contributions and expertise in teaching and mentoring students. He also serves as pastor of Union Baptist Church in Chesterfield, Missouri and is married to Mrs. Valerie Fields.

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Corporate Highlights

Sean Joe, PhD

Benjamin E. Youngdahl Professor of Social Development Associate Dean for Faculty and Research The Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis

His current applied research project,

HomeGrown STL, is a multi-systemic regional capacity building approach to better serve and support the wellbeing and health of

Black males ages 12-29 years in the St. Louis region.

Dr. Sean Joe, the Benjamin E. Youngdahl Professor of Social Development, began his new position as the Associate Dean for Faculty and Research at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, July 1, 2015. This appointment carries responsibilities for faculty mentoring and advising; oversight of the office of faculty affairs; faculty oversight of the School’s research program, including research administration and centers; and liaison with the University’s research organizations and leadership. Dr. Joe also co-chairs the Brown School’s Community-based Partnership Committee. He has held faculty positions at the University of Michigan and University of Pennsylvania. He is the Founder and Director of the Emerging Scholars Interdisciplinary Network and was the Associate Director for Research and Training at the Program for Research on Black Americans at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. Dr. Joe is a Fellow of the Society for Social Work and Research, New York Academy of Medicine, and the Roundtables on Science in Social Work (2012, 2013, 2014). He is the 2009 recipient of the Edwin Shneidman Award from the American Association of Suicidology for outstanding contributions in research to the field of suicide studies. His current applied research project, HomeGrown STL, is a multi-systemic regional capacity building approach to better serve and support the well-being and health of Black males ages 12-29 years in the St. Louis region (i.e. City and County).

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Corporate Highlights

Cynthia Rogers, MD

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and of Pediatrics Washington University School of Medicine

Rogers has also received the

Washington University Faculty Diversity Scholar Award and has been recognized by the


Academy of Child and


Psychiatry for

Cynthia Rogers, MD, is a child psychiatrist at Washington University School of Medicine. She directs the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Behavioral Health Clinic, where she assesses and treats young children for social and emotional challenges such as autism and ADHD. She created and directs the Perinatal Behavioral Health Service, which provides education, screening and treatment for perinatal mental health disorders such as postpartum depression. She also codirects the Washington University Neonatal Development Research lab, where she and her colleagues investigate how abnormal brain development in babies causes childhood developmental and psychiatric disorders. She also studies the effects of parental psychiatric disorders and child maltreatment on children’s social and emotional development.    Rogers graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and earned her medical degree from Washington University, graduating first in her class. She completed postgraduate training in child psychiatry at Washington University, where she was honored for distinguished clinical and research activities. Rogers has also received the Washington University Faculty Diversity Scholar Award and has been recognized by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry for outstanding mentorship.

outstanding mentorship.

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Many Faces; One Goal At Edward Jones, we continuously work to create an inclusive work environment. By welcoming different perspectives, we can better understand our clients’ needs and consistently deliver an ideal client experience.

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Corporate Highlights

Emily Pitts Emily Pitts heads the Edward Jones’ comprehensive inclusion and diversity initiative, which creates and sustains a work environment that attracts, welcomes, supports and develops a diverse team of outstanding associates and energizes members to achieve their full potential. Pitts serves on the boards of multiple community organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club of Greater St. Louis, Diversity Awareness Partnership, Urban League of Greater St. Louis, the advisory committee for the American Red Cross’ Charles Drew Blood Campaign and the Metropolitan Board of Directors for the YMCA of Greater St. Louis. Also, she is a member of the national Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association diversity committee and the Executive Leadership Council. Savoy Magazine named Pitts as one of the 2014 Top Influential Women in CorporateAmerica. Diversity Woman’s Magazine named Pitts one of 50 Diversity Championsin 2013, and the St. Louis Business Journal named her to its 25 Most Influential Business Women for 2012. She also received the St. Louis Community Empowerment Foundation’s 2009 Women’s Leadership Award for Corporate Excellence. Pitts holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Clark Atlanta University and an executive MBA from Washington University.


Larry Thomas After completing his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1977 from Washington University in St. Louis, Thomas joined the Corporate Bond Trading department at Edward Jones. Since becoming a partner in 1983, he has developed, led and coordinated many areas of the firm. Today, he leads the university channel for Financial Advisor Talent Acquisition. In addition to his undergraduate degree, he earned MBAs from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., and Northwestern University’s J.L. Kellogg School of Management. He also is a graduate of the Securities Industry Institute at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. Thomas serves on the Executive Committee of Washington University’s Board of Trustees and is a member of the Alumni Board of Governors. He sits on the National Advisory Council of the John M. Olin School of Business at Washington University and is a member of its Steering Committee. Thomas serves on the Executive Committees of the United Way of Greater St. Louis, the St. Louis Zoo and Forest Park Forever (St. Louis). He also sits on the boards of the BarnesJewish Hospital Foundation, Provident, Inc., and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) Foundation.


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Corporate Highlights

Christopher Lewis Chris Lewis is a principal and deputy general counsel in the Legal division at Edward Jones. As deputy general counsel he leads attorneys and associates in the Legal division responsible for the provision of legal support to all divisions of the firm. A graduate of Columbia University School of Law as a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, Lewis is a member of the Executive Committee of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) Compliance and Legal Society. Lewis serves as a member of the board of directors of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation, and is a member of the Board of Directors at Manhattanville College.


Willie Epps Willie J. Epps, Jr. is Associate General Counsel and Head of Litigation at Edward Jones. Prior to joining Edward Jones, Willie served as a trial lawyer representing corporations and individuals in white-collar criminal matters and complex civil cases. Willie is listed in The Best Lawyers in America® and has been selected annually to Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers since 2009. He has an AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating from Martindale Hubbell® which the highest is rating given. Willie is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and serves on the Teaching Faculty for Harvard Law School’s Trial Advocacy Workshop. Willie and his wife, Mischa Buford Epps, established The Epps Scholarship Fund which awards scholarships to college-bound high school seniors. Most recently, Missouri Lawyers Weekly (2014) recognized Willie and his wife for their outstanding mentoring efforts. Willie is also the author of How to Get into Harvard Law School (McGraw Hill). Willie is a graduate of St. Louis Country Day School, Amherst College, and Harvard Law School where he was elected Student Body President at all three schools. Willie speaks regularly at conferences on professional ethics and trial practice. 86 | WHO’S WHO DIVERSITY IN COLOR -

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Thompson Coburn LLP Proudly Supports

Who’s Who Diversity in Color

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Pamela Meanes Business Litigation

Booker Shaw Business Litigation

Felicia Williams Business Litigation

Nelson Williams Labor & Employment

Bob Wallace Corporate & Securities

Ginny Woodfork Business Litigation

Aaron Banks Business Litigation

Wil Holtz Intellectual Property

Shoko Naruo Intellectual Property

Scott Yoo Intellectual Property

Claire Schenk Business Litigation

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.


Let’s make the dream a reality. Ever since a small group of German nuns arrived in St. Louis in 1872 to “do God’s work,” diversity has played an important role in the history and leadership of SSM Health. And diversity is not only a big part of our past, it is also the key to our success in the future. We continue to provide and improve an inclusive work environment that retains the best people regardless of sex, race, religion or disability. This can only enhance our ability to meet the ever-changing needs of diverse patients and customers.


To learn more, visit

©2016 SSM Health. All rights reserved. HR-STL-15-147774 5/16

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Jackie Joyner-Kersee, 6-time Olympic medalist

HERE’S TO THOSE WHO SET THE BAR HIGH. Congratulations to all the leaders recognized in the Who’s Who Diversity in Color. Explore St. Louis |

Rhonda Carter Adams Executive Director, Central Illinois/ Eastern Missouri 317 North 11th Street, Suite 402 St. Louis, Missouri 63101




�{ Mid-States Minority Supplier Development Council

celebrating forty years


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Emed Medical Company

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Executive Profiles

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Executive Profile

Erica Blomgren Erica Blomgren started her career at Aerotek in January 2001 as a recruiter. She spent the majority of the first two years learning about the staffing industry while supporting the Automotive segment and taking on different leadership opportunities in her office. In August 2003, Erica was promoted to an account manager role where she was given the opportunity to work with a team of recruiters and sell Aerotek’s services to customers in the St. Louis area.

During her sales career with Aerotek, Erica spent a lot of time mentoring other men and women in the organization as well as her own team. In 2013, she was promoted Director of Business Operations in the Southwest Region. Shortly thereafter, Erica was nominated for a position on Aerotek’s Executive Diversity Board. During her tenure on the board her primary focus has been around the marketplace: building business opportunities thru our local markets, workforce: hiring top talent internally and externally, and workplace: retention and inclusion of our internal and external employees.

Aerotek would like to salute all of the 2016 Who’s Who in Diversity honorees!

About Aerotek Our people are everything. For more than 30 years, Aerotek® Inc. has distinguished itself as a leader in recruiting and staffing services by having a deep understanding of the intersection of talent and business. As a strategic partner to more than 17,000 clients and 300,000 contract employees every year, Aerotek’s people-focused approach yields competitive advantage for its clients and rewarding careers for its contract employees. Headquartered in Hanover, Md., Aerotek operates a network of over 230 non-franchised offices with more than 6,000 internal employees dedicated to serving our customers. Aerotek is an operating company of Allegis Group, a global talent solutions provider. To learn more, visit

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Executive Profile

Susan Jones Ms. Jones is a graduate of Gateway Institute of Technology High School where she excelled in soccer, softball, The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), the debate team, and the St. Louis Public Schools Advisory Council. Susan takes every experience in life as a lesson. Coming from a large family, with the aid of her mother, Susan learned valuable lessons and morals that taught her a true sense of understanding teamwork, faith, leadership, and devotion. As a young girl participating in girl scouts she learned honor, camaraderie, and educational influences she learned the values of working hard, confidence, discipline, and perseverance. Growing up in North St. Louis City, Susan was determined to beat the odds. Furthering her education and giving back to her community quickly became a top priority. Determined to uplift the community around her, Susan took the initiative to service her community heavily in the 27th ward. Ms. Jones has done it all from offering her leadership with community meetings and mentoring, to helping with clean up days, and getting residents registered to vote. While serving her community through

various acts of service she received her undergraduate education from the University Missouri- St. Louis (UMSL) in Political Science. During her years of studies at UMSL, Susan served as a lobbyist for the UM-System as an intern in Jefferson City, Legislative Intern for the Board of Alderman, a member of Helping Hands, Student Government Association, Political Science Academy, Intern for the Sue Shear Leadership Academy and President of the Associated Students of the University Missouri. Susan then went on to complete her Master’s Degree from Webster University in Management and Leadership. In her role at EMED Medical Company Susan is the manager of Supplier Diversity fulltime. In her position she is in charge of developing nationwide relationship across the minority business spectrum as well as creating new business opportunities for Emed Medical Company. Susan stands out because of her drive and innovative approach as Manager of Supplier Diversity. In her role to date she has redesigned and implemented more effective company procedures that will enable Emed to be more efficient for its customers. She has also met deadlines consistently while managing a diverse range of projects from conception through implementation. Furthermore she has effectively prioritized and organized workloads in a constantly changing environment to meet daily and weekly work schedules.


Emed Medical Company

EMED Medical Company would like to salute Susan Jones and all of the 2016 Who’s Who in Diversity honorees!

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Best, Boldest & Brightest

Photo by: Jason Cluts Who’s Who Diversity in Color | 123

Best, Boldest & Brightest

Alex J. Stallings Alex J. Stallings joined Deaconess Foundation as a Director of Communications and Advocacy in January 2015. Alex spent the last eight years engaged in community education at the Missouri History Museum where she cultivated underrepresented audiences, collaborating with individuals and organizations to provide relevant programming around critical issues. Partners ranged from community stakeholders to corporate sponsors, such as Wells Fargo.  Key collaborations extended to universities, including Washington University and UM-St. Louis, along with diversity organizations, such as the NCCJ-STL and the Anti-Defamation League.  The foundation of her work is the belief that intentional invitations to the planning table matter to outcomes. Successful community engagement resulted from the efforts as demonstrated through strong attendance and meaningful dialogues on challenging topics. Prior to providing community education, she taught various English courses at the secondary level. Mrs. Stallings retains a passion for the education of young people and continues to teach Communication courses as an adjunct faculty member at the St. Louis Community College – Florissant Valley.  Her personal interests revolve around the arts, particularly writing and films. Although she has a large and loving family today, Alex spent time as a young child in foster care. This life experience along with others informs her support of youth development programs today along with board service, such as her support of the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition. Alex is a lifelong learner and proud graduate of St. Louis Public Schools. Upon graduation, she completed a Bachelor of Arts in English and Bachelor of Science in Education through the UM-St. Louis Pierre Laclede Honors College. Later, she studied media literacy, ultimately writing a thesis on utilizing documentaries as teaching tools in community education.  She earned a Master of Arts in Communications from Webster University. She resides with her husband named MK, son named Coltrane and cat named T’Challa in St. Louis City.

Allie Chang Ray Allie Chang Ray joined Deaconess Foundation in February 2014 as Vice President, Programs. In this role, Ms. Ray leads the community investment strategy of the organization. She is responsible for implementing and evaluating the foundation’s organizational and community capacity building programs, specifically, the Deaconess Impact Partnership. Prior to joining the staff at Deaconess, Ms. Ray served as principal for Mutare Network, a consulting practice specializing in capacity building for nonprofit organizations. In this position, she advised and acted in roles that helped agencies create and manage change at the internal, external and systemic levels. Prior to Allie’s consultative career, she worked in the field of foster care for more than 13 years as Director of Development and Executive Director for CASA of St. Louis County, a Deaconess Impact Partner in Round 2. She first learned about fund development  at Children’s Miracle Network of Greater St. Louis, where she helped raise more than $2 million annually for Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital and St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Before stepping into fundraising, she was a children and families legislative aide for Governor Roger B. Wilson. As part of the Governor’s staff, she assisted in the founding of the Missouri Community Service Commission and introduced the AmeriCorps program to Missouri. Outside of her Deaconess work, Ms. Ray is serving as President of the Junior League of St. Louis. Allie also volunteers as a Boy Scout Adult Leader and Merit Badge Counselor. Beginning in the spring semester of 2016, Allie will become a member of the adjunct faculty at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis.  On the weekends, she can frequently be found at a youth soccer game as the team manager. Ms. Ray received her Bachelor’s degree in Child Life Therapy and Master’s degree in Human Services Administration from the University of Missouri – Columbia. She is an alumna of Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority and resides in West County with her husband, two sons and Havanese rescue dog. 124 |

Best, Boldest & Brightest

Amir Hotich Amir specializes in the sale and purchase of homes and estates in Saint Louis City and Saint Louis County. With a reputation for placing clients’ needs, goals and objectives at the forefront of every transaction, Amir Hotich provides communication, negotiation and management skills in combination with indepth knowledge of the Saint Louis area’s neighborhoods and real estate market. Amir is known for his patience, listening skills, caring and understanding. He is esteemed by his clients and colleagues alike for his attention to others’ needs in even the most challenging property purchase or sale . Amir is praised for client satisfaction and effectiveness as counselor, facilitator and liaison – from property search or listing, through market analysis, to negotiations, escrow and closing. Amir earned a bachelor of science in marketing from Maryville University -St. Louis Amir is a founding member of the Bosnian American Professional Network, BAPN ( In his spare time, Amir enjoys the time with his family, wife Melisa and twin daughters Aila and Selma. He loves to swim, read, play various sports, coaches girls soccer team, but most of all he loves his two boxer dogs, Pasha & Lela.

Angela Grady Angela Grady is Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Mercy, serving 45 hospitals and 40,000 co-workers. She is a dynamic leader with responsibilities including development and implementation of a system-wide strategy to educate, engage and stimulate a diverse and inclusive workforce. Angela is the organization’s pioneer, occupying her newly-created position for 18 months. As a result of her leadership, Mercy earned a prestigious $460,000 grant to expand disability and inclusion services.  Angela thrives in networking community partnerships, supporting co-worker engagement, inclusion and leadership development for minorities and women. Angela is a proud “Dance Mom” of a 14-year-old daughter. To her credit, she is an alumni of the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative, has progressive professional experience within Human Resources and a master’s degree in Human Resources from Webster University. She currently serves on the advisory board for the National Association of Health Service Executives (NAHSE) local chapter and is a Corporate Diversity Roundtable member for the Diversity Awareness Partnership (DAP). Angela is passionate about youth education, serving on a parent committee within the Ladue school district and is a member of Jack and Jill of America, Inc.

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Best, Boldest & Brightest

Angela M. Tate Angela M. Tate is the Vice President of Operations at Behavioral Health Response (BHR). BHR, the community’s behavioral health safety net, ensures compassionate and immediate barrier free access to behavioral health services. BHR does this by providing 24/7 crisis intervention services for the Eastern Region of Missouri. Angela has been with BHR since 2007. Angela is responsible for several departments including Clinical Operations, Client Services, Community Relations and Organizational Development. She conducts multiple trainings around the topics of mental health, suicide intervention and is a Master Trainer in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) through LivingWorks. Angela is a member of Paraquad’s Board of Directors as well as a member of Great Circle’s Regional Council. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Maryville University in St. Louis Missouri and a Master’s of Education in counseling from University of MissouriSt. Louis and is a licensed professional counselor. She is a past participant of St. Louis Business Diversity Fellows program as well as a current participant of Leadership St. Louis. She is happily married to Stephen Tate and they are the proud parents of 2 daughters, Ashley and Amber.

Danyal Davis-Hurd Danyal Davis-Hurd is a Sr. Project Manager in Supply Chain at Express Scripts, and manages large size strategic planning projects and corporate initiatives in over $5M gross margin. She has over 15 years of leadership, budgeting, financial analysis, strategic planning, and process improvement experience. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and Mathematics from Webster University. After graduation, Danyal worked as a Microbiologist, testing antibiotics for common illnesses, such as ear infections, flu, strep, and pink eye.  It was her time as a Cardiologist Analyst; conducting research on hearts, Danyal enrolled in graduate school and pursued a Master’s degree in Health Service Management at Webster University. Danyal has been engaged with medical economic analysis, strategic cost reductions, initiatives, mergers and acquisitions for large corporations, such as BJC, Whirlpool, Reynolds, Tenet, WellPoint, Centene, and Medco. Danyal is the Vice President of an Employee Resource Group at Express Scripts called Cultural Connection. Danyal currently holds a position on the Volunteer Committee for HBA (Healthcare Business Women’s Association) and Finance Committee for Almost Home, a St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative Alum, and volunteers for the Boys and Girls Club and Habitat for Humanity.

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Best, Boldest & Brightest

Dr. Brandon D. Haynes Dr. Brandon D. Haynes joined Deaconess Foundation as the new Director, Community Engagement in January 2014. Prior to moving to the St. Louis region, Dr. Haynes resided in New Orleans, LA where he completed his doctoral degree in urban studies at the University of New Orleans.  Dr. Haynes conducted his doctoral research by studying the role of collective identity and football played in New Orleans’ return from Hurricane Katrina. He has Master’s degrees in both public and business administration from the University of Missouri and Kennesaw State University respectively, a Bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Louisiana State University, and has served as a performance auditor for both the Cities of Kansas City, MO and Atlanta, GA. In his time in St. Louis, Dr. Haynes has joined several organizations including the St. Louis Sports Commission Associates, the Urban League Young Professionals, and is on the board of the St. Louis Metropolitan Research Exchange. Dr. Haynes believes in the value of service and is committed to the creation of an environment of collective action in the St. Louis region.

Lakesha Butler PharmD, BCPS

Dr. Lakesha Butler is an Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist. She earned a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Mercer University in Atlanta, GA and completed a postgraduate residency at the University of Illinois- Chicago. Dr. Butler is a strong advocate for increasing cultural competency among healthcare professionals and improving diversity and inclusion in and outside of the classroom. She serves as the Chair of the SIUE School of Pharmacy Diversity and Inclusion committee and the director of the SIUE Healthcare Diversity Summer Camp exposing minority students to careers in healthcare. Dr. Butler is the national chair of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Health Disparities and Cultural Competence Special Interest Group. She is also the creator of the first and only Health Literacy instructional DVD teaching tool for pharmacy students and pharmacists across the nation and co-author of the pharmacy textbook Patient Communication for Pharmacy. Dr. Butler has received numerous awards including SIUE’s Champion for Diversity Award, Teaching Distinction Award and Community Leadership Award, St. Louis Salute to Young Leaders Award and the Urban League Distinguished Young Professional Award.

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Best, Boldest & Brightest

Luis Rivero Luis Rivero is the co-founder and CEO of Huga Foods. A native of Venezuela, Luis moved to the US in 2003 to pursue a masters degree in business at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. After a 10 year career with DuPont in marketing and business development, Luis left the organization to start Huga Foods in 2015. Huga Foods is a new line of nutrition bars inspired by international recipes and flavors. A believer in the Lean Startup approach and developing brands that connect emotionally with consumers, Luis oversees all operations at Huga Foods, including innovation, operations and sales & marketing.  Luis is passionate about traveling, cooking, politics and golf. Luis is a supporter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation local chapter in St. Louis through the Great Strides Walk. Luis and his wife, and their five children have made St. Louis their home since 2009.

Nedim Ramic Nedim Ramic is a people person, a husband, a community activist, and on top of that a lawyer who cares about people. He is an avid soccer fan and (long time ago) a player himself. Born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he came to St. Louis after living as a child refugee in Germany for 7 years. He has called the St. Louis area his home since 1999. He is fluent in German, Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian. Professional: He received his law degree from St. Louis University-School of Law, after receiving his undergraduate degree at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He was a member of various student groups, most notably the President of the International Law Society at St. Louis University School of Law. Since obtaining his law degree, he has practiced in the areas of personal injury, workers compensation, and medical negligence. He has spent his career in the courtrooms of Missouri fighting for the injured. Nedim also helps individuals charged with serious traffic offenses as well as criminal charges in the St. Louis region. Since the start of his career, Nedim has recovered millions of dollars for the injured. Clients tend to refer to Nedim as a lawyer who is tireless and compassionate, who cares not just about the case, but about the clients and their individual needs.  He shows this compassion through numerous activities in the community as well as pro bono work for community organizations. He works for various Bosnian-American organizations in the St. Louis region. He was recently appointed by Mayor Slay to the St. Louis City Crime Commission.  

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Reverend Starsky D. Wilson Reverend Starsky D. Wilson is a pastor, philanthropist and activist pursuing God’s vision of community marked by justice, peace and love. He is president & CEO of Deaconess Foundation, pastor of  Saint John’s Church (The Beloved Community) and co-chair of the Ferguson Commission. Through Saint John’s, Wilson has led congregational activism on myriad issues, including youth violence prevention, Medicaid expansion, public school accreditation, voter mobilization, capping payday lending and raising the minimum wage. In 2014, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon appointed Rev. Wilson co-chair of the Ferguson Commission, a group of sixteen citizens empowered to study the underlying conditions and make public policy recommendations to help the region progress through issues exposed by the tragic death of Michael Brown, Jr.   On September 14, 2015 they released the ground-breaking ‘Forward Through Ferguson: A Path Toward Racial Equity” Report, calling for sweeping changes in policing, the courts, child well-being and economic mobility. 

Rolanda Robinson-Finch Rolanda Robinson-Finch is the founder of It’s Your Birthday, Inc. Their mission is to create fun and memorable birthday experiences for children ages 5-12 that reside in homeless and domestic violence shelters. Rolanda was featured as a character profile in the St. Louis Business Journal and received the Reaching Out Award from Town & Style Magazine; in addition to the back cover of St. Louis Jewish Parents Magazine and interviews on Fox2Now, ShowMe St. Louis, and KEZK Radio. In addition, she is currently employed as a Leadership Development Business Leader with Boeing, where she is responsible for the development of 300 Vice Presidents, globally. Prior to this role, she was a Global Manager, Leadership Development with Anheuser-Busch InBev where she developed various leadership programs for leaders in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Rolanda has a BS in Textiles and Clothing in Business from the University of Central Missouri and an MA in Marketing from Webster University. She is also an alumni of the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative Fellows and the Consortium for Leadership Development Programs. When she is not giving smiles to children and developing leaders, Rolanda enjoys traveling with her husband.

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Dr. Shawni Jackson-Triggs Dr. Jackson leads the Community Program Team for Faith Initiatives, Education & Support, and Early Initiatives programs and is leading the initiative for Diversity & Inclusion Outreach for the Association. She serves on the Washington University School of Medicine Knight Alzheimer Disease Research Center African American Advisory Board (ADRC). Shawni is a Diamond Life Member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and is currently a member of St. Louis Metropolitan Alumnae Chapter. She is also a member of the St. Louis Chapter of Kappa Silhouettes and the St. Louis Chapter of Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc. Dr. Jackson is a Parent Asthma Advocate serving on the Washington University School of Medicine Asthma Symptom Based Adjustment of Inhaled Steroid Therapy (ASIST) in African American Children Advisory Board and Asthma Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) out of Washington, DC as a parent and patient participant. Dr. Jackson received a BA in Sociology & Anthropology from Truman State University in 1996, a MBA from Webster University in 1999 and a PhD in Organizational Management from Capella University in 2007. Shawni is a native of St. Louis and is happily married to Kevin and have one son Charlton.

Shay L. Gillespie As Corporate Supplier Diversity Manager for World Wide Technology, Inc., a multibillion dollar corporation, Shay is responsible for their global supplier diversity program which includes managing millions of dollars in procurement activity and advocating and mentoring small and diverse businesses. In addition, Shay is vice chair of the St. Louis Minority Business Council’s board as well as on the board of directors for the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis. Shay has received the Phenomenal Woman Award presented by Old School 95.5 and First Bank and St. Louis American’s Salute to Young Leaders Award. She is also an active member of her sorority Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated serving as Delta GEMS co-chair. Shay received her Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Studies from Saint Louis University and her Master of Arts in Communications Management from Webster University. She is also a graduate of Eureka Senior High School, class of 1995. A native of St. Louis, Shay is an avid reader and loves to run. She lives in St. Louis County, with her husband James and two boys, Grant and Dylan (Diggy).

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Sumit Verma Sumit Verma is currently the Director of Nuclear Operations for Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals. He has overall responsibilities of 15 pharmaceutical drug product families produced in St. Louis. He has successfully led three FDA approved drug launches for Mallinckrodt and served as the project leader for the construction and qualification of a brand new pharmaceutical facility inaugurated in 2015 in Maryland Heights. Sumit, originally from Kenya, was named St. Louis Business Journal’s “2014 40 under 40 leaders”, has several engineering awards and holds a patent in pharmaceutical equipment. He serves as a Board of Advisor to an Arch-grant winning startup company, mentors post-graduate biomedical engineering students at Washington University and volunteers his time to support United Way Allocations fund. Sumit is a member of the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative Fellows Program Cohort 9. He received his Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Lafayette College and Masters in Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and is fluent in 4 languages. In his free time can be seen watching Cardinals baseball or hanging out at one of St. Louis parks with his wife Nisha and their two kids, Shiv and Jaanvi.

Daniela Velázquez Daniela Velázquez is the owner of Mavend Media, a St. Louis-based public relations and strategic communications firm. Her consultancy helps both corporations and nonprofits with media relations, audience strategy and content creation. Since returning to her hometown of St. Louis, she has worked for the Ferguson Commission, Mosaic Project and Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates. In 2015, she was also part of a team that evaluated the National Minority Consortia for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Daniela currently serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the Hispanic Leaders Group of Greater St. Louis, is a member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan St. Louis and was a nominee for the HCC’s 2016 Emerging Leader Award. Daniela is also a member of the Asian American Chamber of Commerce and is on the planning committee for House of Genius-St. Louis. She has a Bachelor of Journalism in News Editorial and a Bachelor of Arts in History, both from the University of Missouri-Columbia. When she’s not coming up with her latest big idea, you can find her indulging her love for health and fitness.

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Latosha Davis, MSW Latosha Davis, MSW, has joined Guardian Angel Settlement Association as the Director of Social Services and will oversee the operations of programs and resources for thousands of individuals and families living in the 63104 and 63118 zip codes. The Community Services Davis will oversee include self-sufficiency programs including skills training, financial literacy education and employment referrals and support; emergency support programs that provide short-term assistance ranging from a food pantry to financial assistance; and, oversight of Guardian Angel’s Angel Boutique, a social enterprise that offers gently used clothing and household goods and work experience for youth and adults. Last year, over 3,000 households were served by the food pantry; hundreds of households received assistance for rent, utilities and medications and participated in self-sufficiency workshops. Davis earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Illinois State University and has an extensive background in mental health, HIV, and housing. Davis often shares her expertise with several Universities in Illinois and Missouri as she serves as a preceptor for interns for the School of Social Work. Davis is also currently a member of the St Louis Business Diversity Initiative, class of 2016.

Khalia Collier A pioneer and trailblazer Khalia Collier, is the owner & general manager of St. Louis’ own women’s professional basketball team, the St. Louis Surge. Khalia has taken on the challenge of building the first sustainable women’s franchise in St. Louis. Her team is now in its fifth season; finishing as National Champions in 2014 and second in the nation this past season. Khalia Collier is a recent recipient of 30 under 30, Glamor Missouri Woman of the year awardee and as a prestigious Jack Buck Awardee for her community impact. Through this journey, she has maximized corporate and organizational relationships, developed supporter and donor programs, as well as positioned the organization for eminent growth. A St. Louis native with a deep commitment to the city, Collier is an entrepreneur dedicated to her new franchise. She is a strong believer that St. Louis can support a women’s franchise, and is working hard to see her vision through. She finished her basketball career at Missouri Baptist University. Collier obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from Missouri Baptist University and currently works for the St. Louis Surge full-time as the Surge Owner and General Manager as well leading the Saint Louis University Institute for Private Business.

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Debra Parran

MSN, RN, CPN, CPEN, TNS Debra Parran MSN, RN, CPN, CPEN, TNS has been a BJC Healthcare System employee for 21 years – 18 of those years were spent in the Saint Louis Children’s Hospital emergency room. She currently works as the Assistant Nurse Manager of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Outpatient Clinic and serves on the Professional Nurses Development Program and Trauma Nurses Specialist Committees. Her certifications include certified pediatric nurse, certified emergency room nurse, and trauma nurse specialist. Parran received her BSN from Saint Louis University in 1984 and her MSN from Webster University in 2016. She received the 2013 March of Dimes Pediatric Nurse of the Year Award and was inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Honors Society of Nursing in 2016. Parran has been featured in the SLCH documentary series “The Frontline for Hope” and, most recently, the new Guardians for Childhood campaign. She believes nursing is a science in its own right requiring critical thinking skills to analyze the global picture administering safe, effective, and efficient care while providing love and support not only for the patient, but the family unit as a whole. Nursing is not just a career – it’s a vocation.

Shonesia Wilson Shonesia Wilson has been employed at St. Louis Children’s Hospital for 18 years and has spent all of her time in the Patient Access Department. As a newly promoted Patient Access Supervisor, she oversees the registrars in Outpatient Lab, Pre-arrival, and the Financial Resource Coordinators.  Shoneisia has been in many roles in her department: Financial Resource Coordinator, Charge/Lead FRC, Quality Specialist, and Verification of Benefits Specialist.  The role she enjoyed the most was her time spent as an FRC. Wilson loved assisting the Neonatal families with their insurance and billing issues, so the families could concentrate on the care of their newborn and not worry about hospital bills. Wilson is currently a student at Lindenwood University in senior status completing a bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Management. She also completed her CHAA (Certified Healthcare Access Associate) through NAHAM and hopes soon to become a mentor with the Big Brothers and Sisters organizations to mentor teens here in St. Louis region. Wilson currently resides in south St. Louis with her beautiful 18-year-old daughter Tineasha, and a lovely Yorkie pup named Star.

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Dr. Dwaun Warmack Dr. Dwaun Warmack has been president of Harris-Stowe State University since July 2014. He is known for his student-centered approach to being a transformational leader. Prior to his current position, he was vice president for Student Affairs at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla. He has served in both public and private institutions and has a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership. Dr. Warmack is a positive role model for Harris-Stowe students. He is known to shoot hoops with students and annually conducts bow tie tying workshops. When Dr. Warmack surveys the student body at Harris-Stowe he sees himself. He believes that his position in education is more than a career, it’s a calling and considers it his ministry. “When God said it was my time, it was my time. It was divine order. I’m doing God’s work.” During his first two years, Dr. Warmack has led strategic transformation at the university that is both elevating academic and professional standards among faculty and staff as well as inspiring change in the students’ lives. Dr. Warmack is from Detroit and he and his wife have one daughter who has attended the Clay Early Childhood Center.

Dr. Fatemeh “Fara” Zackery Dr. Fatemeh “Fara” Zackery has held various positions with Harris-Stowe since 1996. She is currently the Dean of the Anheuser-Busch School of Business that offers several degree programs in Accounting, Business Administration, Professional Interdisciplinary Studies, Information Sciences and Computer Technology. Dr. Zakery has championed Harris-Stowe’s partnership with the China Education Association for International Exchange to afford students in the School of Business the opportunity to study abroad. Her instrumental leadership led to implementing this program, which happens to be the first at Harris-Stowe. In 2016, two students attended Ningbo University’s Business School in the spring and nine additional students are to follow during the summer and fall terms. Zakery holds a doctoral degree from the University of Missouri, Columbia. Her academic background is in Education, Health Care and Business Administration. She has taught several levels of courses, including online courses. The university is planning to add even more courses and entire programs online to make higher education more assessable for the busy professional. Dr. Zakery takes pride in relating to each of her students as unique professionals. She enjoys outdoor activities and crossword puzzles.

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Dr. Lelia Vickers Dr. Lelia Vickers is a native of Alabama and the Interim Dean of Education at HarrisStowe State University. She is very positive about her future stating that she “believes that Harris-Stowe will be a leader in education for all students” and she brings more than 40 years of educational experience to the university. Dr. Vickers previously held similar positions at North Carolina A&T working as the Dean in the College of Education and Livingstone College where she served as Vice President. Dr. Vickers is a firm and enthusiastic believer in the mission of HBCUs and champions bridge programs. During her brief tenure in St. Louis she has worked with administrators and superintendents to develop dynamic professional relationships. She plans to continue the growth and development of future educators as graduates from the College of Education at Harris-Stowe. The university’s College of Education is very proud of such as distinguished alumni as Dr. Sharonica Hardin, who serves as Superintendent of University City schools and Dr. Art McCoy, superintendent of Jennings School District. Dr. Vickers has outlined her plans of training teachers with a specialization in urban concerns to address the economy and the disparity among school districts.

Dr. Dwyane Smith Dr. Dwyane Smith is Provost at Harris-Stowe. He is a product of the St. Louis Public School system. He has a B.S. in Psychology and an MA in Education Administration from Truman State University. Dr. Smith received his doctorate from the University Missouri-Columbia. Since he arrived at Harris-Stowe in the 2006-2007 academic year, he has helped to develop academic programs along with the university’s exceptional faculty and staff. When asked about the Harris-Stowe administrative team, Dr. Smith called them “not only the best in the metropolitan area, but the entire state.” He takes pride in furthering the University’s mission to provide high-quality education and opportunity to students who are currently underrepresented in higher education institutions. Harris-Stowe realized record enrollment and exceeded its fundraising goals last year. The University has recently expanded degree offerings by 108 percent and is one step away from offering graduate degrees. Dr. Smith has conducted research across the United States on issues of race, diversity and multiculturalism. He cites this research as a “necessity for growth.” Dr. Smith is an avid listener of jazz and uses the music as a muse for his “Words of Wisdom,” which he uses to begin faculty and staff meetings.

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Segun Babalola Segun Babalola is a Project Manager & North Sector Specialist with the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership’s Real Estate & Community Investment team. Segun has been tasked with managing construction and non-construction projects in North Saint Louis County. He also works on community engagement and redevelopment efforts in the county. Prior to SLEDP Segun was employed with the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority as a Loan Consultant. Segun has spent several years in various managerial roles within the retail industry. He is an Immigrant, business owner and self-proclaimed “wantrepreneur” Segun’s academic credentials include a BS, Marketing, from Southeast Missouri State University as well as International/Global Studies, Ecole Superieure de Commerce de Rennes, France. Segun is currently working to complete his MBA through Webster University. He is involved in other organizations such as the Regional Business Council Young Professionals Network, Mosaic Project, BRAND St. Louis, and the National Black MBA Association. In addition, he serves on the St. Louis Clean Energy Development Board. For fun Segun loves soccer, chess, traveling and the Arts.

Larry H. Blue, Jr. Over the past 20 years Larry H. Blue Jr. has been a force in the sales industry both locally and nationally. Larry is perhaps most notably recognized as visionary for the St, Louis Chapter of National Sales Network (NSN). The St. Louis Chapter has twice been named national Chapter of the Year. NSN is a not-for-profit organization whose objective is to meet the professional and developmental needs of sales professionals. Larry has served on many boards including NSN, the Minority Professional Associations Collaborative, and the Back Pack to Briefcase Scholarship Board. Larry also volunteers for many organizations including the Kappa League Guide Right program. Larry has received various awards including the Johnson & Johnson President’s Circle, NSN’s National Award for Individual Commitment, Gateway Classic Sports Foundation’s Citizen of the Year, as well as being recognized as one of the 100 most influential St. Louisans’ by Delux magazine. Larry currently serves as a District Sales Manager for a pharmaceutical company and is responsible for delivering over 11 million dollars in annual sales. Larry is married to Becky Blue and has four children; Taylor, Caleb, Rebekah, and Christian.

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Theron Morgan Theron Morgan currently serves as the Director of Business Development at Ballpark Village in St. Louis. His role and responsibilities are spread among several areas that include: operations, community relations, sponsorships and sales. Theron has spent over 20 years as an account manager and director in sales and sponsorships in a variety of industries including dining and entertainment, sports and consumer goods. He understands how the relationship between sports and entertainment ties-in with the relationship to corporate branding and consumer goods. Among his previous positions, Theron served as Sr. Account Executive with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was a Retail Account Manager and Geographic Marketing Manager for Anheuser-Busch, and Director of Sales and Sponsorships at Saint Louis University. He is currently involved with several organizations including a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., and National Sales Network-St. Louis. He also serves as a board member for Connection to Success and on the Workforce Development board. Theron is a member of Victory Church-St. Louis, located in Cahokia, IL. He resides in O’Fallon, IL with his wife Sheila (formerly Billups) and three children, Theron Jr., Sydney and Myla. Theron holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree from Southeast Missouri State University and a Master of Business Admission degree from the University of Phoenix.

Eddie D. Holman IV Eddie D. Holman IV is best described as a leader, advocate, and friend. He is often called on when you need a project completed with a high level of execution. If he isn’t the person for the job – he knows exactly whom you need to talk to. Currently Eddie serves as the President of the St, Louis Chapter of National Sales Network (NSN). National Sales Network is a 501(c) (3); not-for-profit membership organization whose objective is to meet the professional and developmental needs of sales professionals who want to improve their professional skill set. Although he was born in Gary, Indiana he completed all of his schooling right here in St. Louis. He is a graduate of St. Louis University and member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated. Eddie currently works as a Portfolio Specialist for Glazer’s Distribution where he handles their key accounts and supplier sponsored programs. Some of his projects include Jack Daniels Honey Art Beats & Lyrics and the Nelly Black & White Ball. Eddie is happily married to his wife of seven years, Aliah. They have one son, Eddie D. Holman V affectionately known as “Quinn”.

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Dione A. Neal Dione A. Neal, MBA is a 12 year sales veteran who currently works for Astellas Pharmaceuticals. Dione is known for her attention to detail and passion for winning. She has a proven ability to provide innovative sales plans with complementary characteristics of initiative, persistence, and diligence. Dione has worked at a variety of companies including Coca-Cola; where she won and serviced notable accounts such as the St. Louis Science Center, Ball Park Village and Union Station. Dione received both her Bachelor and MBA degrees from Webster University School of Business, were she was a recipient of the Deans Leadership Award, Peer Initiative Award and 4 A’s Award. Dione is a six year member of National Sales Network. Dione previously served as the Membership Chair for two years. Currently she is the Vice President of Business Development where she works to support and expand corporate sponsor relationships. Dione is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated were she is on the Fundraising Committee. Dione graduated from the Missouri School of Wine where she received her Certificate as a pre- Sommelier. Dione also is a Big Brother, Big Sister mentor.

Elton “Trey” Dean, III Elton Dean, III is an Associate at Polsinelli, P.C. where he is a member of the Science and Technology Group. He received his J.D. in 2008 from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He received his Bachelor of Science degree the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to entering law school, Elton was a Platform Engineer for Harvard Medical School. As an attorney, Elton’s natural curiosity and desire to figure out how things work make him invaluable to clients who develop inventions. He enjoys the opportunity to work with a variety of clients ranging from garage inventors and technology startups to universities and Fortune 500 companies. He works on all aspects of the inventive process from patentability searches to prosecuting international patent applications. Elton helps clients assess the risks of patent infringement and provides invaluable technical insight to investigate and prepare legal opinions regarding a client’s freedom to operate in crowded technology areas. In addition, he and his colleagues develop effective solutions to address the risks, including responding to demand letters, designing around patents, assessing the validity of patents, and obtaining patent licenses. Besides patent prosecution, Elton works with to enforce and defend patent rights through re-examination and litigation.

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Terrence Rogers Terrence Rogers is a St. Louis born and based banking professional. Over the past eighteen years, he has worked in a wide variety of financial capacites with both consumers and businesses. He earned his degree in 1996 from the University of Missouri St. Louis. Terrence is a partner at Carrollton Bank, a $1 billion privately held, employee owned bank that has been led by the same family for five generations. His role is Vice President of Mortgage Lending which includes leading the origination of consumer home loan programs including Conventional, FHA, VA, and Jumbo Loans. Prior to joining Carrollton Bank in 2012 Terrence worked at Wells Fargo for thirteen years as a Sales Manager in St. Louis and Illinois, and District Manager in Colorado. In addtion, he worked at Regions bank in Chesterfield as Vice President and Samll Business Banker from 2010 to 2012. Terrence is a member of National Sales Network and along with their Backpacks to Breifcase Programs sponsors an annual internship program. He is also a board member for Little Urban Smiles, LLC as well as member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Terrence is a financial educator, teaching home buying class and finanical education classes in the St. Louis community. He believes that knowledge is power and is committed to paying if forward whenever he can.

Peter Liang Peter Liang is currently Vice President of software development at Aclara, an industry leader in providing smart infrastructure solutions (SIS) to water, gas, and electric utilities globally. As the company’s top software technology executive, Peter plays a vital role in the company’s strategic direction, development, and future growth. He is responsible for establishing the company’s software vision and leading all aspects of software development. Before joining Aclara, Peter was Director of software development at CenturyLink, where he led a global development organization of 120+ staff members in multiple locations of the US, UK and India. Earlier in his career, Peter worked at AT&T, MasterCard, Express Scripts and came up through ranks via progressively more challenging roles including: software engineer, technical architect, manager, senior manager. Peter has a diverse educational background in science and engineering, including a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, a M.S. in Computer Science, and a B.S. in Material Science and Engineering. He was a fellow of St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative (SLBDI) - Cohort 5. Peter and his wife Deedee have been living in St. Louis since 2000. They have two kids – Rachel, 13 and David, 11.

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Ruben Chuquimia Ruben Chuquimia practices law as a Shareholder at Polsinelli, P.C., in the Securities and Corporate Finance Group. He received his J.D. from Washington University, St. Louis School of Law in 1995 and his undergraduate degree from Duke University. Ruben has represented a variety of corporate clients, including large publicly traded corporations, privately held entities, private equity funds, start-up companies, and entrepreneurs. His practice includes a broad range of corporate, securities and transactional work, with extensive experience in counseling boards of directors and audit committees, technology licensing agreements, technology joint venture agreements, internet-related agreements, and general commercial agreements, mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, takeovers (negotiated and contested), and crossborder transactions, public and private equity and debt offerings, among other matters. His recent engagements have included representing an aerospace manufacturer with a $37 million IPO and listing on the NASDAQ; and representing a NYSE listed company in its $72 million follow on public offering. Ruben has been included in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, Corporate/M&A (St Louis & Surrounds) from 2011-2015 and named a “Client Service All-Star” by BTI Consulting Group in 2009. Additionally, Ruben was selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers In America® from 2012-2016.

Richard Juang Richard Juang is an intellectual property attorney at the law offices of Polsinelli, P.C. He received his J.D. from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law in 2012, and an intellectual property and technology law LL.M. in 2013. Utilizing his undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering, Richard has the technical experience necessary to guide his clients through the complex world of intellectual property. Richard’s practice focuses on a variety of issues including patents, trademarks, and copyright matters. He provides litigation support in all phases of discovery, assists with depositions, and drafts arguments for contested motions. Richard’s varied background allows him to engage in patent cases involving any matter – from life sciences to computer software and hardware. Richard currently serves as President of the Missouri Asian-American Bar Association, participates in the St. Louis Regional Business Council, including the Young Professionals Network Leadership 100, among other professional organizations.

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Peter Corsale Peter Corsale is a Shareholder at Polsinelli, P.C. in the Commercial Litigation Group. He received his J.D. from the University of Illinois College of law where he received cum laude honors. He earned his bachelor of arts degree, with cum laude honors, in History and Legal Studies from Washington University in St. Louis. Peter has successfully worked both sides of the courtroom, representing his clients in a broad range of complex disputes from commercial contracts to shareholder disputes. Recognizing that a courtroom win is not the only path to a best outcome, Peter enjoys partnering with his clients to develop a sound strategy that not only makes legal sense but business sense too. Peter endeavors to find business solutions that not only resolve a conflict, but also contribute to the client’s larger business goals. Peter has assisted clients in a variety of industries and in courtrooms across the country, with significant experience in defending officers and companies against claims of securities fraud, representing large manufacturers in the interpretation of requirements contracts, and representing minority shareholders in shareholder disputes and claims of malfeasance. Peter serves as a Board Member of the Hispanic Bar Association of St. Louis and also as a member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan St. Louis.

Lilian Doan Davis Lilian Doan Davis is an Associate at Polsinelli, P.C. As a labor and employment law attorney, she focuses on helping private and public corporations, individuals, and municipalities identify and address potential workplace liabilities. Lilian counsels clients on management, compliance, and regulatory issues and investigates and responds to charges of employment discrimination. Her practice includes litigation of whistleblower claims, wage and hour disputes, workplace discrimination, and wrongful termination. She is committed to aggressively representing clients’ needs from case inception through resolution and strategically approaches every step of the litigation process to ensure a cohesive defense. Lilian received her law degree in 2010 from the St. Louis University School of Law where she was a Dean’s Scholar from 2007-2010, She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame. Lilian was honored by the St. Louis Business Journal for its 2013 Class of “30 Under 30”. She currently serves as Vice President of the Missouri Asian-American Bar Association, in addition to serving as a Member on the Board of Directors of Girls on the Run, St. Louis.

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Donna Moody Donna is the Manager of Training and Organizational Development for AAIM Employer’s Association and has been an adjunct professor at St. Louis University since 2000. Her areas of instruction and training include HR, Team Dynamics, Communication, and Leadership.  She has also been a Diversity Consultant for over 20 years in higher education and civic communities. Donna is involved in her community and serves on various Boards: Diversity Awareness Partnership, Racial Harmony; SAFB African American Association, and the Tuskegee Airmen. Donna has received the Who’s Who In Black St. Louis Award, the MAPO (Metropolitan Area Professional Organization) Award, the Omega Psi Phi’s Citizen of the Year and the SAFB’s Outstanding African American in Government. Donna received a bachelor’s and master’s degrees from SLU and Webster University respectfully, in HR. Donna resides in Shiloh, Ill. and is the proud mother of Brandon. She is also a jazz vocalist who has performed in venues in St. Louis and Las Vegas with Ronnie Laws, the Dazz Band, and the Sugar Hill Gang.

Dan Cranshaw Dan Cranshaw is a Shareholder at Polsinelli, P.C. in the Commercial Litigation Practice Group. He has been involved in class actions in state and federal courts throughout the United States and has successfully dealt with all aspects of class action litigation, including pre-certification dismissals and summary judgments, class discovery, class certification and de-certification, and claims administration. Whether through litigation, alternative dispute resolution, strategic consultation, or a simple assessment of an insurance policy, Dan works collaboratively with corporate clients and/or their boards to ensure companies can successfully defend claims, secure coverage, and grow their businesses. Dan received his J.D. from the University of Kansas School of Law in 2003 and his undergraduate degree from Princeton University. Ranked in Benchmark Litigation and recognized by the American Board of Trial Advocates Award for Outstanding Performance in Trial Advocacy, Dan also places a high importance on giving back to his community. Additionally, Dan has recently been selected as a member of the 2016 Class of Fellows, participating in a landmark program created by the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD). Dan also plays a key leadership role at his law firm as Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

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Danielle Carr Danielle Carr is the director of diversity and inclusion for Polsinelli, P.C. which is one of the largest and most reputable law firms in the country. Danielle attended the University of Michigan Law School where she served as President of the law school student senate from 1988-89 and received her undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, from the University of Northern Iowa. Danielle’s professional and community affiliations include being a lifetime member of the Mound City Bar Association (Executive Board, 2014- present); National Bar Association; Bar Association of Metropolitan St Louis (Minorities in the Legal Profession section member); Black Women Lawyer’s Association of Chicago; St Louis Diversity Job Fair (Steering Committee, 2008 – present); Hearing Board member for the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission; Missouri Minority Counsel Program (Steering Committee 2012 - present); Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals; Jack & Jill of America (St Louis Chapter Treasurer); Association of Legal Administrators; as well as, multiple affinity group bar associations. For her efforts, Danielle has been honored with the St. Louis American Foundation, Excellence in Business Performance Award (2015) ; the St. Louis Business Journal, Diverse Business Leaders Award (2013); Mound City Bar Association, Legal Services Award (2013); Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, Community Awareness Award (2010); and, the Washington University Black Law Students Association, Professional Mentorship Award (2010).

Jowcol “Boogy D” Dolby Jowcol “Boogie D” Dolby has over 20 years of experience in the radio and music industry. Boogie D currently serves as Operations Manager for the St. Louis Radio One market which includes WHHL/HOT 104.1 and WFUN/Old School & Today’s R&B 95.5. Originally from Queens, NY, Boogie also serves as an on-air personality with HOT 104.1. During his many years of radio, Boogie has worked with some of the largest companies in media. He recently moved to St. Louis from Philadelphia where he served as program director with another Radio One market. During his years in radio, Boogie has also worked in Tuscan, AZ, Greensboro and Charlotte, NC, and Washington, DC. His work has been recognized by major trade publications and awarded within his company and in the music industry. Outside of radio, Boogie D served as National Rhythmic Crossover Director with Virgin/SoSo Def Records, where he worked with Jermaine Dupri , Janet Jackson and many more. Boogie D is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and active in the St. Louis Chapter, Kappa Sigma. Dolby is married and he and his wife Jami have one son, Cole.

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Carmen Jacob Carmen Jacob is the CEO and Owner of NextGen, Information Services, Inc., a national staffing, recruiting and consulting firm headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri with satellite offices throughout the US. NextGen is a Certified Minority-Owned Enterprise and Certified Woman-Owned Enterprise and has been awarded by DiversityInc. com and, the City of St. Louis and the St. Louis Minority Business Council. NextGen was named Hispanic Company of the Year 2013 and Carmen was named Hispanic Businessperson of the Year 2014 by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan St. Louis. Carmen was named one of Enterprising Women Magazine’s Women of the Year 2014, and an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist in 2014. Next-Gen was most recently awarded by Governor Nixon as the Minority Business of the Year. A community activist, Carmen is involved in numerous professional groups and organizations.

Mishelae 100. 3 Beat listeners can hear Mishelae Monday through Saturday 10am to 3pm. Mishelae began her radio career while studying Communications at the University of Missouri -St. Louis in 2006. Mishelae ended up becoming one of the first on-air talents of the newly reformed U which opened its broadcasting doors in Jan 2007. Mishelae made her start in 2007 at IHeartMedia’s KATZ FM Hip Hop station 100.3 The Beat as a weekend personality. In January 2008 she began to work weekends for sister station KMJM -FM, Majic 100.3. Mishelae has also worked for STL TV as a Video Production Specialist. Mishelae earned a B.A in Communication from the University of Missouri St. Louis and Master’s degree in Supply Chain Management from Fontbonne University. Mishelae is a married with two children, Byron, 13 and Milton, 4.

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Cecilia Nadal Cecilia Nadal has spent most of her life building cross-cultural bridges in St. Louis, Missouri. After 23 years as president of Productive Futures Inc., a successful human resources firm that specialized in training employers and low-income job seekers how to transcend class divisions, she founded Gitana Productions, Inc., the first arts organization (1996) with the central mission of cross-cultural engagement through drama, dance, and music performances. In 2007, she was asked to use her expertise in the area of Roma culture to speak to a group of Roma youth about a subject she studied for over 20 years – their culture. So moved by this experience, she started Global Education through the Arts, a program that brings African-American and immigrant youth together to nurture cultural acceptance. These youth conduct an annual nonviolence tour that has reached over 6,500 St. Louisans. Cecilia’s community work ranges from sponsoring Peace Festivals in North St. Louis to address violence to developing professional theatrical and music programming between the African-American and international communities of our region. Her latest project is BLACK AND BLUE, an original play inspired by Ferguson events. www.

Mary E. Nelson A St. Louis native and Missouri attorney, Mary E. Nelson received her B.A. from Princeton University and J.D. from University of Missouri School of Law. With extensive experience in real estate, construction, and business law, Nelson has enjoyed a number of private and public sector positions. Before joining St. Louis Community College in 2014 as its General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer, Nelson was the first African American woman to serve on the state’s Administrative Hearing Commission. She served two mayoral administrations, most recently as General Counsel for St. Louis Development Corporation; as General Counsel and Legislative Director to Speaker of the Missouri House Steve Gaw; as Governor Bob Holden’s appointee to the Missouri House Reapportionment Commission; and as Governor Jay Nixon’s Director of Boards and Commissions. A past president of the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners, Nelson has been recognized by Missouri Lawyer’s Weekly with a 2010 Women’s Justice Award, named an Honorary Initiate of the Order of the Coif by her law school, and was listed among St. Louis Business Journal’s Twenty-five Most Influential Business Women.

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Vin Ko Vin Ko, joined the St. Louis Mosaic Project, as the program manager at the beginning of 2015. Prior to this, Ko worked at Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School (MICDS) in their Alumni and Development office where he helped secure their $7 million dollar lead gift for renovations to the school’s pool. He also served as the Director of Operations for State Treasurer Clint Zweifel’s successful reelection campaign. Born in St. Louis, Ko took part in the desegregation program where he was bussed into the St. Louis Public Schools until his sophomore year, in which he transferred and graduated from Ladue High School. He then went on to college in California, graduating from the University of California Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. In his spare Ko has started and grown a local pick up soccer organization known as St. Louis Pick Up Soccer, growing the group from an email list of about 40 people to over 3,000 members playing all over the region. Ko also serves on the Ladue Education Foundation Board, TEDxGatewayArch Leadership Board, and the St. Louis Roadies Advisory Board.

Adewale Soluade Adewale Soluade is the Corporate Inclusion and Diversity Manager for Commerce Bank, currently the 32nd largest bank in the country and recently ranked ninth on Forbes’ 2015 Best Banks in America list. He attended the University of Central Missouri, where he earned a bachelor’s in Business Administration. He then obtained his M.B.A from Fontbonne University. Soluade is an alumnus of the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative Fellows and the FOCUS Emerging Leaders Program. He is a member of the Urban League Young Professionals of Metropolitan St. Louis and the Regional Business Council’s Young Professionals Network – Leadership 100 cohort, among numerous additional affiliations. Upon graduation, he worked briefly for Wells Fargo Financial before moving on to serve as Assistant Vice President - Branch Manager at PNC Bank. After spending five years with PNC Bank, he took on the role of Corporate Inclusion and Diversity Manager at Commerce Bank. His responsibilities include providing leadership, coordination and strategic planning for inclusion and diversity with an emphasis on alignment between employee engagement, business drivers and competitive position as well as managing strategic partnerships in the inclusion and diversity community

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Lt. Col (ret) Jaime Torres Lt. Col (Ret) Jaime Torres was born in Playa-Ponce, Puerto Rico and graduated from the College of Agriculture and Mechanics Arts, University of Puerto Rico with a Bachelor’s Degree in Science. After 26 years of active duty, he retired. A year later, was employed by Harris-Stowe State University to manage and implement a new US Department of Education program, Educational Talent Search. He also coordinated the REACH Program with Missouri’s Division of Youth Services and later was appointed Harris-Stowe’s first Director of International Programs. After eight years, he was appointed by St. Louis Community College, as Director of International Education. Col. Torres is active in the community and has led or served on many boards; Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Leaders Group, Hispanic Scholarship Alliance, World Affairs Council, Sister Cities, Association of the US Army, National Kidney Foundation and the Puerto Rican Society. Awards he has received from his civic endeavors; Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award, Anthony B. Ramirez Premio Esperanza from the Hispanic Leaders Group, Hispanic Chamber’s Civic Person of the Year and National Hispanic of the Year 2011 from the Rams Organization.

Kira Van Neil Kira Van Niel is a self-starting project engineer with a diverse technical background in engineering, infrastructure design, and construction. Kira currently works for The Boeing Company, and her current responsibilities include defining requirements and writing design specifications, working collaboratively with international customers, and managing the health and progress of each project. In addition, Kira serves as the Operations Leader to the Division Director. Kira attended Elon University and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, earning a dual degree in Engineering Physics and Civil Engineering. Kira served as President of the Urban League Young Professionals from 2010-2012. She is the recipient of the St Louis Business Journal’s 30 Under 30, National Urban League Young Professionals Young Professional’s Central Region Young Professional of the Year, St Louis American Foundations Salute to Young Leaders Award, and many more. Her board experience includes the National Urban League Young Professionals Executive Board, Urban League of Metropolitan St Louis Board of Directors, Regional Business Council Young Professional Network Steering Committee, Women’s Society of Washington University and The Sophia Project. Born and raised in the Washington DC area, Kira now lives in St Louis, Missouri. Kira enjoys music, travel and yoga.

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Ciléia Miranda-Yuen A Social Entrepreneur, Leadership Development Coach, Trainer and Presenter specialized in Emotional Intelligence. Ciléia has embraced multiple leadership roles in the workplace and in the artistic, cultural and educational segments with keen professionalism, visionary spirit, and charisma. Previously, she had a 20-plus-year domestic and international professional experience covering a wide range of business sectors. An accomplished finance and marketing executive recognized in the local and national levels for her leadership and business acumen. Ciléia is the recipient of the following accolades: US Congress Proclamation; STL County Proclamation; STL Business Journal’s 2006 Most Influential Minority Business Leader Award; YWCA Woman in Business Award; Nestle Best Spirit Award; Hispanic Chamber of Commerce STL 2006 New Business Award and 2012 Member of the Year Award; Sister Salute Award; and “Torch-Bearer Award” given to those who have inspired communities through their own lives and deeds. Referred by the White House and US Department of Justice, Ciléia hosted then Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Secretary Attorney General Thomas Perez. A FOCUS Leadership STL and CORO WIL graduate, Ciléia serves on various nonprofit boards and executive committees. She lives in Saint Louis with her husband Andrew.

Rebeccah Bennett Rebeccah Bennett is Founder and Principal of Emerging Wisdom LLC – an innovative social enterprise that helps individuals, groups and organizations manifest the best within themselves and create communities that sustain the best in us all. At Emerging Wisdom, Rebeccah designs and facilitates personal and professional growth programs, organizational improvement efforts and social transformation initiatives. Her principal offerings include consulting, training, facilitation and planning, coaching and professional speaking. Rebeccah’s competencies are born from nearly 20 years of research and practice discerning what it takes to help her clients advance large and small-scale systems change while achieving high levels of function and impact. She supports her clients in aligning their decision-making and resources with their purpose, vision and values. Among Rebeccah’s clients are Anheuser-Busch InBev, Wells Fargo Advisors, MasterCard Worldwide, the St. Louis Regional Chamber, the MO Department of Mental Health, the Deaconess Foundation, Focus St. Louis, the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, the Ferguson Commission, and Hazelwood School District. In addition to her professional activities, Rebeccah sits on the boards of the St. Louis Maternal Child & Family Health Coalition and Jamaa Learning Center.

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Angelia D. Bills Angelia D. Bills is Vice President of Communications of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, Inc. Since 2003, she has been responsible for all marketing, advertising and communications for the Urban League. She previously served as Senior Public Information Specialist at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. During her career, she has received the Phenomenal Woman Award from Center for Racial Harmony, St. Louis Sentinel’s Yes I Can Award, the St. Louis Mayor’s Certificate of Appreciation and an Excellence in Communications Award from the Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists. Mrs. Bills is a member of the IHeartMedia Community Advisory Board, St. Louis County Board of Zoning Adjustment, United Way Charmaine Chapman Society, Top Ladies of Distinction, Urban League Guild, and the St. Louis Press Club. She received a B.A. in Communications from Howard University and a Master of Social Work Degree from Washington University in St. Louis. She also earned a Leadership Certificate from the Consortium for Leadership Development at Harris-Stowe State University. Angelia is married to Rev. Bryan C. Bills, pastor of New Life Ministries, and is a proud mother of two daughters: Brittany and Kristyn

Joe Bommarito Joseph J. Bommarito (Joe) married his Puerto Rican sweetheart in 1960 and has two daughters. Joe retired in 2001 and around that time, he started Bommarito Videos and Photography, as a way to express his interest and passion for capturing life as it unfolds. He has had a long-time interest in photography. Since the mid ‘60’s Joe has documented events in the St. Louis Hispanic community in both video and photographs. He credits the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Leaders Group, as well as other St. Louis Hispanic organizations for allowing him to document their events thereby giving him the opportunity to contribute to the Hispanic community’s history. In addition to the Hispanic community he participated in the Knight of Columbus as a Grand Knight. Volunteer work in both communities continues to be very rewarding. He runs a client-friendly, service-oriented business dedicated to weddings, quinceañeras and other special events. Joe carries his cameras with humor and courtesy.

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Barbara Bowman Barbara Bowman currently serves as the Vice President of Development for the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis. In this role, Ms. Bowman is responsible for all aspects of fund raising including special events, individual giving, major gifts and foundation and corporate funding. Bowman serves as Vice Chairperson of the Board of CHIPS Health and Wellness Center and Chairs the Board of East Central Missouri Area Health Education Center. She also serves on the boards of Provident Inc, the Emerson YMCA Advisory Board, the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Community Advisory Board and the United Way Charmaine Chapman Leadership Society Cabinet. She is a member of the St. Louis Chapter (MO) Links, Inc. and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Bowman is a graduate of Saint Louis University and the Leadership St. Louis Class of 2001/2002. Ms. Bowman has presented at regional and national conferences on topics to include: Outcomes Based Funding, Creating a Legislative Strategy and Fundraising on a Shoe String Budget. She has received the Monsanto YMCA Community Zealot Award and the Unsung Heroine Award from the St. Louis Chapter of the Top Ladies of Distinction.

Rep. Michael Butler Rep. Michael Butler, a Democrat, represents part of St. Louis City (District 79) in the Missouri House of Representatives. He was elected to his first two-year term in November 2012. Prior to his legislative duties, Rep. Butler gained experience in the legislature while serving as the Legislative Aide in the office of State Senator Robin Wright-Jones, and as the Legislative Assistant to State Rep. Mary Wynne Still. During his 2012 campaign, he served as a permanent substitute teacher in the St. Louis Public School System. In addition, Rep. Butler has valuable private sector experience while employed as a manager at the home office of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. in Bentonville, Arkansas. Rep. Butler holds a bachelor’s degree in Business from Alabama A&M University, where he also served as Student Government President and as a Board of Trustee member. While working with the legislature, he also obtained a master’s degree in Public Affairs from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Since being elected to the Missouri House of Representatives he has started a Youth Work Corps that employs youth, began a Poverty initiative that informs low-income residents of needed services, and built youth sports teams in his legislative district.

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Rhonda Carter Adams Rhonda is the Executive Director for the Mid-States Minority Supplier Development Council (MSDC) serving the Central IL/Eastern MO area. She manages corporate member relationships and the recruitment of businesses to become certified Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs). Previously, she has led the supplier diversity initiatives at both Caterpillar Inc. and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. In 2014, she was appointed by Governor Jay Nixon to serve on the State of Missouri’s Disparity Study Oversight Review Committee. She is an active community volunteer and advocate for urban youth, women and minority businesses in the region, serving on the board of directors of several organizations that include: the Charles Drew Advisory Board, SouthSide Early Childhood Center, the Women’s Society at Washington University, the Center of Creative Arts (COCA) and United Way’s de Tocqueville Society. She is a member of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater St. Louis Women’s Leadership Circle and the Women’s Group on Race Relations. She is also a proud member of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. In 2011, Rhonda relocated to St. Louis with her husband, Carlton, and daughter, Riley.

Gloria Carter-Hicks Gloria Carter-Hicks is the founder, owner and CEO of Hicks-Carter-Hicks, LLC, an award-winning and full-service performance improvement company established in 1999. She is recognized as a driving force in the areas of Human Resources, Consulting, Coaching, Diversity & Inclusion, Training, and Organization Development. Carter-Hicks is active in her community and serves on several boards (United Way of Greater St. Louis, St. Louis County Workforce Investment Board and the St. Louis Minority Business Council). In 2010, Carter-Hicks was appointed to the St. Louis County Public Transportation Commission. From 2010 to 2014, Hicks-Carter-Hicks was recognized as one of the region’s Top 25 African-American businesses by the St. Louis American (Salute to Excellence in Business Award). The St. Louis Small Business Monthly recognized Carter-Hicks as one of the region’s 2012 Diversity Heroes. In 2012, the SBA recognized Hicks-Carter-Hicks as a Business Consultant Extraordinaire. In 2014, Carter-Hicks was recognized by the St. Louis Business Journal as one of the region’s Diverse Business Leaders. Carter-Hicks graduated from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where she served as a part-time instructor of diversity, leadership development and HR courses in the School of Continuing Education and Outreach.

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Marquita C. Chapman Marquita C. Chapman is first and foremost a loving wife of 8 years to Darius Chapman, “Tee-Tee” to a host of nieces and nephews, and loving daughter to Mr and Mrs. Clinton Jones. She is a recent 2014 honors graduate of Webster University with a M.A. in Management & Leadership. She’s also a proud honors graduate from Harris-Stowe State University where she earned her B.S. in Business Administration in 2005. Marquita began her career with the Department of Defense in 2004 as a Contracts intern and is now a Lead Program Manager over software. She has been responsible for a variety of projects totaling $50 million annually. Marquita is the CEO of Intended Images, which brings out the very best in people in regards to image and self-presentation. Marquita is also an Independent Distributer for a leading global health and wellness company, the social media manager for DeMay Furs, Ltd., and a freelance columnist for the Sparkman Magazine. Marquita is a worship leader and Education Coordinator at the Mind of Christ Church. Marquita aspires to be an author and return to her alma mater to teach entrepreneurship courses.

Akif Cogo Akif Cogo, founder and president of the St. Louis Bosnians, Inc., a St. Louis based non profit that fosters relationship between Bosnian and other communities in St. Louis. In addition, he is a community adviser to the Bosnia Memory Project at Fontbonne University, and works as an Assistant Director of Facility Services at Saint Louis University. A native of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Akif immigrated to the U.S. in 2001. He completed his high school, bachelor, and master studies in St. Louis. For over a decade, he has worked extensively with the Bosnian refugee populations in St. Louis and other parts of the U.S. In addition to founding St. Louis Bosnians Inc., he co-founded Sehara, a magazine for Muslim Bosnians living in the U.S. He has also served on the Citizen’s Advisory Committee to the St. Louis Treasurer’s Office, as a presiding officer of general assembly at the St. Louis Islamic Center, and as an ambassador for St. Louis Mosaic Project, which promotes increasing immigration to St. Louis.

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Ed Gallegos Ed Gallegos has worked in the healthcare industry for over 25 years, with 15 of those years leading and managing large scale claims and call center operations. He joined Centene Corporations in 2010 and currently serves as the Senior Vice President of Business Operations, leading the operational functions in Farmington, MO, Tyler, TX, Great Falls, MT and the new claims center in Ferguson, MO. Ed has held various key executive positions that include Vice President National Accounts, Vice President of Human Resources and Vice President of Diversity and Cultural Competence at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida (BCBSF). His efforts lead to BCBSF being ranked nationally among the top 50 companies leveraging diversity as a business strategy. His experience in leading national accounts such as General Motors, Ford, Federal Employee Program (FEP) and others resulted in strong rankings in operational performance. He successfully led BCBSF to national recognition in customer service as measured by J.D. Powers for three consecutive years and has made significant improvement in driving results at Centene. . Ed holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Florida.

Gary Gunter On March 17, 2014 Gary Gunter became Vice President and General Manager of Radio One St. Louis Properties Hot 104.1FM and Old School 95.5FM. In this role Mr. Gunter is responsible for developing and growing the stations’ brand, revenue and audience share by creating and implementing strategic and tactical direction. His responsibilities include overseeing all departments within the radio station including but not limited to Sales, Programming and Marketing/Promotions. Prior to Radio One St. Louis, Mr. Gunter held the position of General Sales Manager of Radio One Baltimore’s four media outlets WWIN-FM/AM, WERQ-FM and WOLB-AM. In this role Mr. Gunter was responsible for maintaining and growing the Company’s revenue and revenue share within the marketplace. These revenue goals were achieved across multiple platforms including Radio, Internet and Event marketing through the direction and leadership of a Sales staff comprised of 14 Account Executives generating over 16 million dollars annually. Gary is a 26 year veteran of Radio sales/marketing with successful stints in various markets including Chicago, Detroit, Orlando, Baltimore and Pittsburgh. He has received numerous awards and accolades for his accomplishments in the media industry.

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Tammy Holland Tammie Holland is a local media veteran. Her comedic banter can be heard weekdays on iHeartMedia on 100.3 The Beat, 6am-10am. Tammie brings solid experience to iHeartMedia . She’s worked for St. Louis television stations KSDK-TV and UPN-46. Tammie has also held successful positions in public relations and Community Affairs for radio stations, KATZ-AM and KSLZ-FM. Tammie has also produced and hosted her own public affairs television program and has served as a producer of the Emmy Award winning, nationally syndicated, Christian television show, “On Main Street.” Tammie has studied education and communications at Harris Stowe State University and Fontbonne University. She is an alumna of The Broadcast Center in St. Louis and the proud mother of one daughter, Meadow Grace.

Naretha Hopson Naretha Hopson is the Founder and Executive Director of Ever-Appropriate Etiquette Institute, which offers Leadership, Dining/Business Etiquette, and Impression Management programming for youth and professionals. Since 2011, Ms. Hopson has helped thousands with professional soft skills refinement. She is the author of, “Ever-Appropriate Etiquette: 5 Steps to the Professional Presence that Pays”. Ms. Hopson’s dynamic client track record includes K-12 schools, universities, non-profit organizations, and corporate executives. Ms. Hopson remains active in civic and business leadership development programs. Naretha is a proud 2010 graduate of the Focus St. Louis Leadership St. Louis program. In 2012, she was selected for the inaugural cohort of the Consortium for Leadership Development, led by former Fortune 500 CEO’s, high-profile corporate executives. Naretha’s board involvement includes the United Way, Urban League – St. Louis, the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, St. Louis Regional Business Council Young Professional Network, the St. Louis Crisis Nursery Young Professional Board, and Mayor Slay’s Vanguard Cabinet. Her most recent appointments are to the Board of Directors of Vernare Learning (schools incorporating STEM curriculum and sustainability, slated to open in 2016) Special Friends Mentoring, and the Missouri Ethics Commission.

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Adella D. Jones Adella D. Jones is the Director of Marketing and Community Outreach for Home State Health, the Missouri subsidiary of Centene Corporation based in Clayton, Missouri. Home State is a managed care provider serving Missouri families enrolled in MO HealthNet Managed Care. Jones is responsible for increasing brand awareness and knowledge of the health plan among medical providers, plan members and healthcare advocates throughout the state of Missouri. Since Home State began operations on July 1, 2012, Jones launched a number of successful community partnerships and initiatives. Prior to joining Home State, Jones served as the Vice President of Government & Community Affairs for Metro, the agency that operates public transit in the St. Louis region. She was responsible for oversight of the agency’s internal and external communications program, as well as directing the agency’s legislative agenda. Jones is a graduate of Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. She previously served as St. Louis press secretary for Missouri’s Third District Congressman Richard Gephardt. She has also served as director of communications and chief spokesperson for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

Mugo Odigwe Mugo Odigwe joined the KMOV News team in April 2015 as a General Assignment Reporter for News 4 This Morning. She also anchors the weekend edition of News 4 This Morning. Born and raised in Nigeria, Mugo moved to United States when she was 12. She studied at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, where she began her career in broadcast journalism. Mugo was a reporter and fill-in anchor at KGAN/KFXA in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and she also anchored and reported for Cronkite Newswatch, the school’s award-winning news program which aired statewide. She graduated top of her class. Mugo is the fourth of six siblings and the only one not exploring a career in the medical field. Her love for volunteering for local non-profits has her exploring the vast opportunities St. Louis has to offer. In the past, Mugo has been involved with Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Mugo is very excited to call St. Louis home and is looking forward to the new adventure.

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Michael P. McMillan Michael P. McMillan is the President and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, a nonprofit organization that has been providing social services to the metropolitan St. Louis community since 1918. Previously for almost seven years, McMillan served as the License Collector of the City of St. Louis. He was the youngest person elected as an Alderman and License Collector in the history of the City of St. Louis. McMillan served as Alderman of the 19th Ward supporting $1.25 billion in economic development and neighborhood revitalization. McMillan involves community leaders and family members as stakeholders outside of the school environment to reinforce the same expectations of the students. He formed a collaboration with the St. Louis Public Schools, attracting over 10,000 people annually to ensure early school registration. Families receive free health screenings, as well as benefiting from the job fair, career fair, financial literacy assistance, business support services and more from over 100 service providers in attendance. In response to the crisis in Ferguson, McMillan created the Save Our Sons program in St. Louis County to help 500 African American-American men find jobs and he implemented the Urban League’s largest job fair in history at St. Louis Community College - Florissant Valley. McMillan is a member of the following boards: Fontbonne University, The Sheldon, Grand Center, Heat Up St. Louis, Inc. (Cool Down St. Louis), Girls, Inc., The DESE Task Force, American Red Cross Greater St. Louis Region, The Muny, Ranken Technical College, Greater St. Louis Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, Workforce Investment Board of St. Louis County, Reliance Bank, Regions Bank Community Development Corporation and the St. Louis Regional Chamber. Michael P. McMillan is a graduate of Saint Louis University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in African American Studies and a minor in Political Science with an emphasis on Finance. Additionally, McMillan earned an Eisenhower International Fellowship to travel to Ireland and Paris to study their forms of government.

Jami Dolby Jami M. Dolby is a native of Saint Louis, MO and wears many hats in the city she is proud to call home. Dolby is a columnist with the award winning St. Louis American newspaper, where her article, The STL Suite features everything and everyone in St. Louis in the top social and professional circles. Dolby is owner of Suite Ballentine, a public relations firm whose clients have ranged from entertainers, athletes to small business owners. Suite Ballentine continues to provide a unique service to its clients, where each PR campaign or creative production is connected with giving back to the community in which they serve. She is currently a member of Urban League Young Professionals, and a lifetime member of Girl Scouts USA. Dolby also holds memberships with the NAACP and National Association of Black Journalists and is a dedicated volunteer to various other organizations. Jami Dolby also serves as Executive Director of Daddy.FM, an organization her husband Jowcol Dolby and she started to celebrate dads and provide the same resources to them that are available to moms everywhere. Jami Dolby resides in St. Louis County with her husband and son, Cole.

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Vickie M. Denson Vickie M. Denson, as president and CEO of St. Louis Black Pages Business Directory and The Transformational Agenda Magazine leads all aspects of its operations. This year she will unveil a new state-of-the-art interactive website and a new multi-platform mobile edition. She is president of the deaconess board of Washington Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Zion church, leads her church COPE ministry which aids ex-offenders returning to society, and is president of the Blackberry Hill Neighborhood Association. She has received the North American Council on Adoptable Children National Child Advocate Award, the Salute to Excellence in Education Stellar Performer award of the St. Louis American Foundation Award, and many others. Denson is a graduate of Herbert H. Lehman College in Bronx, New York. She and her husband are the proud parents of three Ivy League-educated daughters and six grandchildren.

Howard D. Denson Howard D. Denson is the publisher and editor of St. Louis Black Pages Business Directory and its “flip side publication” The Transformational Agenda Magazine. The Print Edition of 100,000 copies is available at over 500 distribution locations, the Internet Edition at, and there are both iPhone and Android App Editions. This honors graduate of Harvard Business School and Hampton University has devoted an estimated 40,000 hours to grasping the African American experience with intellectual honesty. Two articles which summarize his findings, Listen to the Ancestors: They Deserve to be Heard and The Transformational Agenda, can be found at His 8-hour Transformational Agenda Retreat provides a transformational perspective on the African American experience and presents a viable blueprint for the African American community healing itself in but 20 years. He also presents the continuing education workshop Understand Cultural Intergenerational Trauma: A Case Study of African Americans.

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Cecilia Velazquez Cecilia Velazquez is the definition of a strong working Hispanic woman. The media mogul was born in Mexico City, Mexico where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology  and received her Master’s degree in Mass Communications and Journalism. “I noticed the lack of informational paperwork in our language” Velazquez said and decided to launch Red Latina in July 2000. Latin Network has many informational articles, from local businesses as well as job opportunities for Hispanics in the region. Fresh Bilingual news daily online & The biweekly print newspaper; its distribution extends all the way from Jefferson City into Illinois. She has ventured into other media sources, as co-host of “Ahora St. Louis” and Radio Cucui (WEW-AM 770). In 2009, she received The Hispanic Business Person of the year by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Furthermore, Velazquez has been part of a music promotions team, which was recognized with a star on Las Vegas strip in 2010. In 2013, St. Louis Business Journal recognized Velazquez as a Diverse Business Leader. Her most recent project is in progress as Red Latina will be affiliated locally with Mundo Fox and Estrella TV.

Cedric Cobb Cedric Cobb is the President of EDGE Business Solutions and the inventor of the Best Pocket Square Holder. This innovative prod-uct HOLDS THE FOLD of a man’s pocket square securely in his suit jacket pocket. It solves a wardrobe epidemic that has plagued men for decades of pocket squares that don’t stay in place. It has gained national attention from media, celebrities & professional athletes. The Best Pocket Square Holder is currently in the pockets of Steve Harvey, Deion Sanders, Ray Lewis, Roland Williams, Creflo Dollar and Brian White to name a few. Cedric has publicly received awards from the St. Louis American newspaper during the Salute to Excellence in Young Leaders event. Cedric is most proud of graduating the Consortium for Leadership Development Program and being a member of the National Sales Network. Cedric attended Pittsburg State University on full athletic scholar-ship. Cobb earned his Bachelors of Arts Degree in Business Manage-ment from the Gladys A. Kelce School of Business. He is married to Salise and father of Avery, Celeste, Malanea and Cedric Jr.

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James Robinson James Robinson is the General Sales Manager for iHeartMedia St. Louis’ 100.3 The Beat/KMJM-FM and Hallelujah AM 1600/KATZ-AM. He is an accomplished sales and strategic marketing professional specializing in leadership, consistent high performance, solid track record of success in radio management from New Orleans, Atlanta, Memphis, Columbus OH and St. Louis. A solution-based sales manager specializing in creative ideas, firm client relationships and marketing programs designed to engage the customer and meet clients ROI goals. James is married with two daughters.

Senator Jamilah Nasheed Senator Jamilah Nasheed is a Democrat representing Missouri’s 5th Senatorial District in the City of St. Louis. Sen. Nasheed’s district includes some of Missouri’s most important economic and cultural treasures. She is widely recognized as a legislative leader on several issues including education, criminal justice, human rights, and urban economic development. In 2006 , after 10 years as a small business owner, Sen. Nasheed sold her bookstore and decided to run for office. That year, she was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives, where she quickly earned a reputation for working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to accomplish her agenda. After winning her primary in August 2012, Sen. Nasheed began serving in the Missouri State Senate in January 2013.  During her time in the upper chamber, Senator Nasheed has passed 10 pieces of legislation as a member of the Democratic super-minority.   In addition to her legislative responsibilities, Senator Nasheed is active in a number of community organizations including the “In it 2 Win” Coalition, the Fresh Start Program, and the Fraternal Order of the Eastern Star. Sen. Nasheed has also been active in the A+ Schools Program and Inspire STL.

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• • • •

Our Lasallian Mission

A quality Catholic education for all young men

ST.LOUIS COUNTY NAACP YOUNG PROFESSIONALS NETWORK “BUILDING A PIPELINE FOR LEADERSHIP” Get involved today and grow your personal network and help make substantive change in our region!

For information visit us on the web at or by calling our office at 314-389-1552

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“It is simple: join our team.“ Employment with KAI Design & Build and


The UP Companies offers you numerous opportunities to take your education and knowledge to the next level, where you can stretch your talents and skills in the AEC design and contracting service industries. Because we are a collaborative family of companies our services and markets are so varied, you can try just about anything that interests you! Collectively, KAI Design & Build and The UP Companies has 40+ years of history in increasingly successful project design, and we recognize that this ongoing success is due to the valuable contribution of our team members. Again, join our team: your future begins at KAI Design & Build and The UP Companies. Michael B. Kennedy President | KAI Design & Build and The UP Companies



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“I never thought I would buy a home. But Terrence made it easy for me.” Buying a home just seemed like it would be so complicated, but Terrence helped me all the way through, and found me a loan that didn’t take all my savings. I’m actually paying a little bit less now than I was paying in rent.” We’d like to help you get a low down payment home loan. Give Terrence a call at 314-678-0572 or visit

Terrence Rogers hands Keith Brooks the key to his new home. Subject to credit approval. Member FDIC NMLS# 610736 © 2016, Carrollton Bank

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Biographical Index Dr. Kelvin Adams...............................................55

LaTosha Davis..................................................132

Dr. Yemi Akande-Bartsch..................................47

Lilian Doan Davis............................................141

Villie M. Appoo.................................................69

Beth Davis..........................................................26

Segun Babalola................................................136

Adrienne D. Davis.............................................99

Elizabeth SiSi Beltran-Marti.............................61

Elton Dean......................................................138

Rebecca Bennett.............................................148

Howard Denson..............................................157

Angelia Bills.....................................................149

Vickie Denson.................................................157

Daniel Blash, PhD...........................................103

Astad Dhunjisha................................................77

Erica Blomgren...............................................120

Everett Dietle.....................................................26

Larry Blue, Jr...................................................136

Jami Dolby.......................................................156

Barbara Bowman.............................................150

Jowcol Dolby....................................................143

Angela L. Brown, MD.....................................101

Judy Draper.......................................................15

Edward Bryant...................................................49

Willie Epps.......................................................113

Lakesha Butler................................................127

Harvey R. Fields Jr...........................................105

Michael Butler.................................................150

Rolanda F. Finch.............................................129

Danielle Carr...................................................143

Ed Gallegos......................................................153

Rhonda Carter Adams....................................151

Shay Gillespie..................................................130

Gloria Carter Hicks.........................................151

Tony Gonzalez...................................................65

Allie Chang......................................................124

Angela Grady...................................................125

Marquita Chapman.........................................152

Gary Gunter....................................................153

Ruben Chuquimia..........................................140

Melissa Harper..................................................81

Cedric Cobb....................................................158

Jade Harrell.......................................................87

Akif Cogo.........................................................152

Dr. Brandon Haynes.......................................127

Betsy Cohen.......................................................25

Eric Henderson.................................................25

Khalia Collier..................................................132

Tammy Holland..............................................154

Peter Corsale...................................................141

Eddie D. Holman............................................137

Dan Crenshaw.................................................142

Naretha Hopson.............................................154

Lachrisa Cranshaw............................................93

Amir Hotich....................................................125

Anna Eriko Crosslin..........................................41

Carmen Jacob..................................................144

Sreenu Dandamudi...........................................26

Sean Joe, PhD..................................................107

Danyal Davis-Hurd..........................................126

Bethany A. Johnson-Javois................................45 Who’s Who Diversity in Color | 166

Biographical Index Adella Jones.....................................................155

Terrence Rogers..............................................139

Dr. Roderick Jones............................................59

Cynthia Rogers, MD........................................109

Susan Jones, MA..............................................121

Travis Sheridan..................................................67

Richard Juang.................................................140

Dr. Dwyane Smith............................................135

Helen Lee..........................................................24

Adewale Soluade.............................................146

Christopher Lewis...........................................113

Alex Stallings...................................................124

Peter Liang......................................................139

Angela M. Tate................................................126

Micheal McMillan...........................................156

Larry Thomas..................................................112

Mishelae ..........................................................144

Jaime Torres....................................................147

Donna Moody.................................................142

Dr. Shawni Jackson-Triggs...............................130

Theron Morgan..............................................137

Kira Van Neil...................................................147

Annette Morris..................................................43

Daniela Velasquez...........................................131

Cecilia Nadal...................................................145

Cecilia Velasquez.............................................158

Sen. Jamilla Nasheed.....................................159

Sumit Verma....................................................131

Dione A. Neal..................................................138

Dr. Lelia Vickers..............................................135

Mary E. Nelson................................................145

Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack....................................134

Carolyn Nichols.................................................89

Rev. Starsky D. Wilson.....................................129

Debbie Njai............................................................

Alyce Wilson......................................................85

Mugo Odigwe..................................................155

Eileen Wolfington............................................51

Big Sister Lydia Padilla.....................................57

Jason Yen...........................................................53

Debra Parran...................................................133

CilĂŠia Miranda-Yuen.......................................148

Valerie Patton....................................................24

Dr. Fatemeh Zachary..................................... 134`

Emily Pitts........................................................112 Daphanie Pointer..............................................79 Chin & Su Prapaisilp........................................63 Nedim Ramic..................................................128 Karlos Ramirez....................................................3 Carla Reid..........................................................86 Jorge Riopedre..................................................25 Luis Rivero......................................................128 James Robinson...............................................159 167 |

Advertisers’ Index Aerotek........................................................................... 120

Missouri History Museum................................................ 71

ALMAS Del Ritmo Dance Company............................... 19

Monsanto................................................... 75 / Back Cover

Anheuser Busch Companies........................................... 72

National Blues Museum.................................................. 37

Ballpark Village................................................................ 18

National Sales Network St Louis................................... 160

Black Pages....................................................................... 70

One Man and a Camera Photography............................ 38

Carrollton Bank............................................................. 163

Polsinelli......................................................................... 165

CBC Highschool............................................................ 161

Red Latina...................................................................... 122

Children’s Hospital.......................................................... 71

Saint Louis University.................................................... 162

Commerce Bank.............................................................. 20

SSM Health Care............................................................ 116

Compass Retirement Solutions....................................... 16

St Louis County NAACP................................................ 161

Deaconess Foundation.................................................... 30

St. Louis American........................................................... 22

Edward Jones.................................................................. 111

St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative................................ 4

EMED Medical Company.............................................. 121

St. Louis Cardinals........................................................... 29

Emerson........................................................................... 13

St. Louis Convention Center......................................... 117

Grace Hill Settlement House.................................. 14 / 63

St. Louis Surge .............................................................. 160

Greater St. Louis Labor Council AFL-CIO................... 164

STL TV............................................................................ 163

Harris Stowe State University.......................................... 36

Thompson Coburn........................................................ 115

Haywood Hoosman Realty.............................................. 21

UPS................................................................................... 28

IHeart Media.................................................................. 114

Urban League Metro St. Louis........................................ 19

KAI Design & Build........................................................ 162

Washington University............................Inside Cover / 97

Macy’s............................................................................. 165

Who’s Who Diversity in Color....................................... 164

Maryville University..........................................Inside Back Midstates MSDC............................................................. 117

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M A R Y V I L L E U N I V E R S I T Y C E L E B R AT E S DIVERSITY IN COLOR At Maryville University, diversity and inclusion are more than slogans they are action words. They inform who we are, help us build a welcoming campus, connect us to our community, and enhance every student’s ability to work, live and thrive in the world. Maryville University takes this occasion to celebrate these members of our faculty and staff, our own Who’s Who—Diversity in Color. Destiny Reddick, Assistant Professor of Teacher Education Mya Vaughn, Assistant Professor of Rehabilitation Counseling Chammie Austin, Associate Professor of Psychology LaDonna Whitten, Associate Professor of Nursing Tom Linares, Director of the Speech-Language Pathology Program Min Deng, Director of the Mathematics and Actuarial Science Program Guangwei Fan, Professor of Mathematics and Actuarial Science Felix Kwan, Professor of Economics and Finance Jason Williams, Assistant Dean for the Simon School of Business Anu Vummenthala, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Caitlin Ladd, Coordinator of Corporate Partnerships Marcus Manning, Director of Athletics Charles Yahng, Assistant Athletic Director-Communications Esra Uysal, Life Coach Shani Lenore-Jenkins, Associate Vice President of Enrollment 169 |




We are more than 20,000 employees dedicated to contributing to a smarter way to feed the world. At Monsanto, we know the best ideas come from collaboration. Bringing together diverse perspectives, experiences, ideas and opinions is the most effective way to develop creative solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges. Sound like a place for you?

Learn more @ Monsanto is an equal opportunity employer, we value a diverse combination of ideas, perspectives and cultures. EEO Employer Minorities/Females/Protected Veterans/Disabled. Monsanto & Vine Design® is a registered trademark of Monsanto Technology LLC. © 2016 Monsanto Company Who’s

Who Diversity in Color | 170

Who's Who Diversity in Color 2016  

Who’s Who Diversity in Color (WWDIC) is an annual publication with the mission of documenting and celebrating the achievements of all people...

Who's Who Diversity in Color 2016  

Who’s Who Diversity in Color (WWDIC) is an annual publication with the mission of documenting and celebrating the achievements of all people...