Enter the Catapult Competition

Kathy Button Bell
Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer

Kathy Button Bell is senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Emerson. In this role, she is responsible for the company’s global marketing and corporate branding strategies. She also oversees corporate communications, digital and social marketing strategies, market research programs, and professional development programs for the company’s marketing teams worldwide. In 2016, she was named to Emerson’s Office of the Chief Executive which helps develop and guide the company’s global business strategies.

Button Bell joined Emerson as chief marketing officer in 1999. The next year, she led the development and launch of Emerson’s corporate branding program, which introduced a new brand architecture and strategy across the company’s more than 60 businesses, as well as the first corporate logo change in more than 30 years. Soon after, she initiated the company's first global advertising campaign, which she expanded in 2006 to include the company’s first television commercials.

Before joining Emerson, Button Bell was president of her own marketing consulting firm specializing in market planning, brand building, and marketing training for Fortune 500 manufacturers. Prior to that, she was executive director of worldwide marketing communications for Converse Inc. and director of advertising and public relations for Wilson Sporting Goods. 

Button Bell served as chairman of the Business Marketing Association board in 2013-2014. She was named among PR News’ “Top Women in PR” in 2019, the “Top Marketer of 2013” by BtoB magazine, and recognized as one of the world’s top 10 marketers and strategists in the publication’s 2003 “Who’s Who Special Report.”

She serves on the board of directors of Johnson Outdoors Inc. (JOUT) and the Foundation Board of St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Button Bell holds a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University. 

Amelia Bond
President and Chief Executive Officer
St. Louis Community Foundation

The St. Louis Community Foundation is one of the largest community foundations (and second oldest) in the United States.  Amelia joined the region’s community foundation in January 2012 after spending nearly thirty years in the public finance securities industry.

Amelia, who is the Community Foundation’s third head in its 100-year history, has led a transformation in the organization’s engagement of key constituents, its efficient stewardship of donor assets, and its has expanded impact in our community by partnering and collaborating on groundbreaking community-based initiatives. Today, the St. Louis Community Foundation holds assets of $500 million and annually grants nearly $100 million, of which 85% remain in the St. Louis region.

Amelia received a Master of Business Administration from Washington University Olin School of Business and a Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio. 

Adrian Bracy
YWCA Metro St. Louis

Adrian E. Bracy, MBA, CPA has served since 2009 as the Chief Executive Officer of YWCA Metro St. Louis.  Bracy transitioned to the non-profit sector after 18 years in senior financial management with the National Football League to serve a calling “to inspire and make a difference in the lives of women and girls.”  Prior to YWCA, Bracy was Chief Financial Officer for the Arizona Cardinals.  Her time in Phoenix followed more than ten years with the St. Louis Rams.  Bracy began her NFL career with the Miami Dolphins/Joe Robbie Stadium in her home town Miami, Florida.  She has served on a number of non-profit boards including The Missouri Botanical Gardens Sub-District and Girls, Inc.   Bracy has received numerous awards throughout her career including: Black Enterprise 50 Most Powerful Blacks in Sports Award; STLBIZ Most Influential Diverse Award and the Small Business Monthly Top 100 St. Louisans to Know to Succeed in Business Award.  She graduated from Morgan State University with a degree in accounting and has a master’s degree in business administration from Nova Southeastern University.   

Cindy Brinkley
Retired CAO/COO
Cynthia Brinkley & Associates

Cynthia Brinkley is an active business and community leader in St. Louis. Her experience spans the globe. Currently, she is a director at Ameren, Schnucks Markets, Energizer Holdings, Ribera Salud and Kognition. She chairs the Saint Louis Zoo Commission, and is also vice chair of the Nine Network and on the executive committee of Forest Park Forever.

Recognized as a change agent, she has over 30 years of executive leadership experience at large, global blue-chip companies. At Centene Corporation, she served in several roles, most recently as Chief Administrative and Markets officer where she oversaw the markets (P&L for the company), international operations, business integration activities, government relations and was responsible for the transformation efforts for Centene. Prior to Centene, she served as Vice President of Global Human Resources for General Motors. There, as chief human resources officer, she led the GM post-bankruptcy team in transforming the corporation's human capital model, developing its talent strategy, and in recruiting critical new talent to lead GM into the future. She began her career at AT&T, where she held various senior roles including Senior Vice President of Talent Development & Chief Diversity Officer. In that role, she lead the creation of AT&T University and as its first CDO, rapidly advanced AT&T's recognition as a leader in diversity. AT&T brought her to St. Louis as President of AT&T Missouri. She also served as President of AT&T Arkansas, and Area Vice President for the Los Angeles region.

Cynthia holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and a bachelor's degree in political science from Truman State University. She enthusiastically resides in St. Louis, Missouri.

Helen Ciesielski
Lewis & Clark Ventures

Helen Ciesielski is a Principal at Lewis & Clark Ventures focused on the healthcare sector. She currently serves on the boards of Kaizen Health and MedAvail Technologies. Previously, Helen served as Principal at Ascension Ventures, a strategic healthcare venture fund focused on investing in healthcare companies in the IT, services, and medical technology sectors that deliver value to healthcare providers. Prior to that, Helen was an analyst at The Fortune Group, a middle-market investment bank. 

Betsy Cohen
Executive Director
St. Louis Mosaic Project

Betsy Cohen is the Executive Director of the St. Louis Mosaic Project, a program of the World Trade Center-St. Louis within the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. The St. Louis Mosaic Project has two goals- to have the St. Louis region become the fastest growing major metropolitan region for foreign born by 2025 and to add 25,000 foreign born to the region by 2025 (over the 2016 base year). This attraction and retention is done through collaborations with hundreds of local organizations, universities, corporations, cultural groups,  faith organizations, K-12 schools, immigration agencies, and government entities. Betsy's full-time job creates economic opportunity for the region towards inclusive growth. 

Betsy had an extensive corporate career in Marketing at an international food company. She led business units and she was the leader of a regional pet welfare coalition.  She is a graduate of Wellesley College and the Harvard Business School. She is on the advisory board for the SLU Chaifetz School of Business and on the Cortex Innovation Community committee for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She has been recognized as a top business leader by many local organizations. 

Jami Dolby
Director of Development
Maryville University

Jami Dolby has a passion for the St. Louis community and highlighting all the good things it has to offer. Throughout her professional career, Dolby has worked in the non-profit sector with a focus on sports and entertainment. Through her sports and entertainment work, Jami worked in radio as a producer and host for over ten years. Over the years, Dolby has had the opportunity to interview political leaders, super bowl champions, and Grammy award winning artists. There have been some exciting interviews over the years but the most memorable  conversations Dolby has are with those that have a story to tell about St. Louis.

Dolby has volunteered its several organizations in St. Louis including The Girl Scout Council where she holds a lifetime membership and serves as board chair for Delux Cares where she serves as the chairperson for Delux Power 100. She also is a member of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, The Association of Fundraising Professionals and Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce. Jami is also a part of the current cohort of Focus Impact Fellows focused on workforce development in the region. Dolby made history in 2018 after becoming the first African American on the ballot for City Council in Chesterfield. Dolby is a past recipient of the Young Leaders Award from the St. Louis American. She also serves as an Ambassador for the Lupus Foundation of America - Heartland chapter and an active PTO member of Parkway School District. Dolby, a small business owner was appointed for the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Board for St. Louis County. 

Jami serves as Director of Development for Maryville University and is responsible for FORCE, a women and leadership imitative with the university Jami resides in Saint Louis with her partner and son where she remains passionate about all things great Saint Louis has to offer.

Kathy Ferrara
K. Ferrara Color

Kathy Ferrara has 25 years of experience as a model, actor, stylist and producer in the commercial, video and fashion photography industry. she is also the founder and president of the brand K.Ferrara Color, a company whose first product was a line of personally curated beautiful non-toxic nail polishes.

After her battle with colon cancer Kathy knew the importance of having her products be non-toxic. K. Ferrara Color was launched with her commitment to provide healthy, high quality longer lasting nail polish products free of the 10 most harmful ingredients that are in most brands.

Since her business began in 2017, Kathy has expanded her line of colors and developed a specialty brand of products, K. Ferrara color kids, offering healthier options for children.

Molly Fletcher
CEO, Keynote Speaker & Author
The Molly Fletcher Company

Molly Fletcher is a trailblazer in every sense of the word-- a rare talent of business wisdom, relationship brilliance and unwavering optimism. A popular keynote speaker, she shares the unconventional techniques that helped her thrive as one of the first female sports agents in the high stakes, big ego world of professional sports and now a successful entrepreneur.

Formerly, as president of client representation for sports and entertainment agency CSE, Molly spent two decades as one of the world’s only female sports agents. She was hailed as the “female Jerry Maguire” by CNN as she recruited and represented hundreds of sport’s biggest names, including Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz, PGA TOUR golfer Matt Kuchar, broadcaster Erin Andrews, and basketball championship coaches Tom Izzo and Doc Rivers.

As she successfully negotiated over $500 million in contracts and built lasting relationships, she also observed and adopted the traits of those at the top of their game. Molly shares her proven approach to negotiating in her company’s Game Changer Negotiation Training workshops, teaching people how to close more deals faster, while strengthening the relationship.

Molly has been featured in ESPN, Fast Company, Forbes and Sports Illustrated. A sought after motivational speaker, she delivers game changing messages to top companies, trade associations, and teams worldwide.

Molly is the author of four books: Fearless At Work; A Winner’s Guide to Negotiating; The Business of Being the Best; and The 5 Best Tools to Find Your Dream Career.

Molly currently serves as a National Trustee member for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and on the board of directors for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) and the national advisory board for the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA).

Molly earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Michigan State University while captaining the women’s tennis team. Molly’s energy and passion for life shines through everything she does. She finds her greatest joy at home in Atlanta with her husband Fred and their three daughters.

Ellen Harshman, PhD., J.D.
Dean Emerita
Chaifetz School of Business, Saint Louis University

After positions in elementary and higher education in Ohio, Ellen Harshman joined Saint Louis University in 1972.  A recognized leader in the university, she held a number of positions in the academic and student development divisions at Saint Louis University.  She was appointed Dean of the John Cook School of Business in 2003, following her role as Senior Vice Provost and Interim CIO.  She served as dean for a decade. In January, 2013, she was appointed Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs at Saint Louis University and served in that capacity until her retirement from full-time roles SLU in July, 2015.  She continued her service to the university from July, 2015 to February, 2019 by leading the planning for Saint Louis University’s 2018 bicentennial celebration, after which she fully retired from SLU.
An Ohio native, Dr. Harshman earned her undergraduate degree (summa cum laude) at Miami University, her master’s degree at Wright State University, and her doctorate and law (cum laude) degrees at Saint Louis University.  She was admitted to the Missouri Bar in 1992.

Over her career, Dr. Harshman has been the recipient of anumber of awards recognizing her teaching and service as a faculty member and academic leader. As a member of the management faculty, she taught legal environment of business, business law, and business ethics.  Among the areas in which she has written and presented papers and programs are leadership development, legal and ethical issues in business and employment, and higher education leadership and administration. 

Active in the St. Louis region, Dr. Harshman was recognized by the St. Louis Business Journal as one of the area’s “Most Influential Business Women.”  In addition, she was selected by the Business Journal six times over a decade as one of St. Louis’ “Most Influential Leaders.” Dr. Harshman is also a recipient of the CORO Leadership Award and was inducted into the YWCA Academy of Leaders.

Among her current community and professional activities, Dr. Harshman is a member of the boards of directors of the following:  Post Holdings, Inc. (Audit Committee), SSM St. Mary’s Hospital Community Advisors, Civic Pride Foundation, St. Louis Archdiocesan Chapter of the St. Vincent DePaul Society (Governance Committee), Boeing Institute of International Business at Saint Louis University, and the School of Business Industry Advisory Board of Dublin City University, Ireland. She is a member of the St. Louis Forum and Women Corporate Directors, St. Louis Chapter. Actively involved in the advancement of management education, she has served in a variety of leadership roles with the business school accrediting organization, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB). She continues her service as a mentor to domestic and international business schools seeking accreditation.

Michelle Harris
City of Clayton

Michelle Harris is currently the Mayor of Clayton, MO, after serving as an alderwoman and a number of city commissions for 11 years.  She won her first city election as a write in candidate in 2006, one of 4 successful write-in campaigns in the history of the state. She also serves as a board member on the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District (ZMD), the St. Louis Metro Muni-League, and has served on several not for profit boards. Michelle was a founding board member of the Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, and the Clayton Community Foundation, and is an honorary docent at the St. Louis Art Museum.  The first 20 years of her career were spent at Nestle and DuPont companies, and as a business consultant. She has an MBA from Missouri University and is married with 2 grown children.

Nancy A. Hong, Ph.D.
Managing Director

Nancy joined RiverVest in 2016 and focuses on both biopharmaceutical and medical device opportunities, contributing to the formation, development and strategic direction of RiverVest portfolio companies. Currently, Nancy is a member of the Board of Directors at Scout Bio, Inc. and Xilio Therapeutics, Inc.

Previously, Nancy was a principal with BioMed Ventures, where she originated and managed successful investments in therapeutics, diagnostics and medical devices. Prior to BioMed, she was an investment professional at Forward Ventures and served as an advisor to biotech and pharmaceutical companies entering new areas of research. Nancy started her career as a scientist at Phenomix, a venture-backed discovery biotech company in San Diego.

Trained in the areas of immunology and oncology, Nancy earned a B.S. with honors in Biology from the California Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley. She conducted postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Francisco, as a fellow of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Molly Hyland
Senior Vice President
Commerce Bank

Molly Hyland is director of Community Relations and Government Relations for Commerce Bank. In her government relations role, Molly develops and manages government relations strategy, relationship building and communications between Commerce executives and local, state, and federal elected officials.  In her Community Relations role, Molly directs a team of grant manager who administer four different foundations for the benefit of a large variety of non-profits in the St. Louis region.

Molly joined Commerce Bank in 2007 and has more than 30 years of experience in media, government, and community relations. Molly received her Bachelor of Arts degree in communications and marketing at Marymount University, Arlington, Virginia. Prior to joining Commerce, Molly provided strategic support for local business, civic and non-profit organizations, and public institutions as an account executive at FleishmanHillard and was a news producer at KMOX Radio.

Molly represents Commerce Bank on the Mosaic Project Steering Committee, on Civic Progress Community and Government Relations Committees; on the St. Louis Regional Chamber’s Policy Committee and she is a founding steering committee member of the Center for Civic Research and Innovation, an initiative of the St. Louis Community Foundation.  She serves on the boards of FOCUS St. Louis, the Missouri Partnership, and the Missouri Bankers Association where she chairs the PAC Committee.  She has leadership roles on the boards of The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, where she is co-chair of the Governance and Nominating and the Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Committees and she chairs the Symphony’s Advisory Council; and St. Louis Zoo Association Board of Directors where, as a member of the Executive Committee and she chairs of the Government Relations Committee.
A 2003 Leadership St. Louis alum, Molly has been honored for her work to make St. Louis a more welcoming place for an increasingly diverse population with the Urban League’s 2019 Salute to Women in Leadership award and she is a member of the 2019 class of the St. Louis Business Journal’s Most Influential Business Women.

Molly lives in St. Louis County with her husband, Curt Ittner, two cats and a dog.  She has two grown sons and two grown stepdaughters.

Bethany Johnson-Javois MSW
Saint Louis Integrated Health Network
Formerly the Managing Director for the Ferguson Commission

As CEO of the St. Louis Integrated Health Network (IHN), Ms. Johnson-Javois leads a $2.5 million non-profit that serves the region’s safety net health care providers and the local community to promote the mission of providing quality, affordable, accessible care to all residents of Metropolitan St. Louis, with an emphasis on the medically underserved. Her leadership in the healthcare sector has garnered notable recognition including being selected by Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri as a 2016 Silver Bell Award recipient for her outstanding community service, leadership, vision and values, and being selected as St. Louis Children’s Hospital 2015 Community Advocate of the Year.  She was also selected by the St. Louis Business Journal 2015 Class Diverse Business Leaders and received the Access to Equal Justice Award from the Washington University School of Law’s Clinical Education Program.  Under her leadership, the IHN was chosen as the St. Louis American’s Advocacy Organization of the Year.  She was recognized as a Distinguished Alumni from the Brown School of Social Work – Washington University in St. Louis. 

She possesses over 15 years of experience working and volunteering in the non-profit sector for organizations that positively impact the quality of life for disadvantaged populations.  Her expertise lies in developing strategies to transform systems to be more responsive and equitable for the people for whom our public systems are accountable to serve. She currently serves on the board for Missouri Foundation for Health, chairs the board of Alive and Well Communities, LLC, and is former Trustee for the Deaconess Foundation and former member of the Executive Advisory Council for Missouri State University College of Business.   As a licensed Evangelist Missionary in the Church of God in Christ, she is a noted motivational speaker, trainer, and facilitator around spiritual development and leadership.

Notably, Ms. Johnson-Javois was named the Managing Director for the Ferguson Commission. The Ferguson Commission, an independent, volunteer group appointed by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, was charged with addressing the underlying root causes that led to the unrest in the wake of Michael Brown’s death. After a comprehensive study that included extensive community engagement, the Commission published an unflinching report of its findings and 189 calls to action that chart a new path toward healing and positive change for the residents of the St. Louis region.

Cheryl Lynn Jones
President & CEO
Girls Incorporated of St. Louis

Cheryl Jones is the President & CEO of Girls Incorporated of St. Louis.  The mission Girls Inc. is to inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold by providing educational, recreational, and cultural programs to girls in a safe environment to enable them to raise their aspirations and realize their potential.  In 2015, Girls Incorporated became the number one affiliate.   Girls Incorporated of St. Louis serves girls ages 5 to 18.  The organization currently serves over 8000+ girls annually.

Cheryl Jones has served on a corporate board for Reliance Bank 2013-2019.   Cheryl served on Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), Compliance and Audit Committees.  Reliance was acquired by Simmons Bank in 2019.  She currently serves on the Simmons Bank Advisory Committee.

Mrs. Jones served on the board of Directors for The Wilson School (Vice President), Citizens for Missouri Children, YMCA, COCA (Vice President and Strategic Planning Chair), National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) and YWCA.   Served on a variety of advisory committees with Focus St. Louis, The Women’s Foundation and MICDS. 

Mrs. Jones for 17 years was the President of Jones & Associates, Inc.  Jones & Associates, Inc. focused on providing individuals and organizations with strategies and solutions to bring out their best performance and effect positive change. Cheryl created this company to inspire others to become leaders who can transform corporate and business environment where employees of all diverse backgrounds can experience extraordinary success. Cheryl’s areas of expertise:  Leadership; culture; complex systems; change management; recruitment; diversity and inclusion. 

Cheryl has customized many services to clients such as Frito-Lay, Ralston Purina, Citigroup, Sara Lee, Edward Jones, Nestle Purina, Pepsi Americas, Tyco Healthcare, Barnes Jewish Hospital, AT&T, Anheuser-Busch and NASA.

Mrs. Jones received a Bachelor of Science from Howard University, in Washington, D.C. She participated in the Executive Development Program at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire.  She was selected as an American Express Aspen Institute Fellow (2017) and a participant for the Washington University Business Management for Non-Profit Leaders Program. 

Mrs. Jones is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, The Links Inc. (served on the Executive Council 2014-2018; currently serving on the National Strategic Partnership Committee), and Carrousel, Inc.

Mrs. Jones is married to her husband, John for 30+ years.  She has one daughter, Brittany.    She enjoys reading and traveling. 

Susan Jones
Board Member
St. Louis Board of Education

Susan Jones is an award-winning passionate, driven and results-oriented professional that cares deeply for her community. Her experience as a social justice activist, elected official, entrepreneur, and mother are what drives her passion to make the world a better place.

Susan is the Founder of the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, The Belle Effect. This organization focuses on fighting the issues of homelessness, poverty and illness in the community by providing individuals with  professional headshots, makeup, products, life skills workshops and employment opportunities.

While serving her community through various acts of service, she received her undergraduate education from the University of Missouri – St. Louis (UMSL) in Political Science. During her years of study at UMSL, Susan served as a lobbyist for the UM-System as an intern in Jefferson City, member of Helping Hands, Student Government Association, Political Science Academy, Intern for the Sue Shear Leadership Academy, President of the Associated Students of the University of Missouri and Legislative Intern for the St. Louis Board of Alderman.

Susan has also completed a Master’s degree in Leadership and Management and a Masters in Business Administration from Webster University. Susan was originally elected to the St.Louis Board of Education in 2013. To date, Susan has served as Board Secretary from 2013-2015 and Board President from 2015-2018. Susan currently serves as the Vice President of the Board of Education and Board of Directors for the Consortium Partnership Network for St. Louis Public Schools.

Karen Jordan
Managing Partner, St. Louis
Partner, Corporate Practice

Karen Jordan is a partner in Dentons’ Corporate practice and also managing partner of the Firm’s St. Louis office.  She concentrates on advising corporate, municipal and financial institution clients in a wide range of corporate, finance and commercial transactions. Karen has been recognized as a Best Lawyer for Banking and Finance Law for 2020 and 2021 and has completed transactions totaling in excess of US$5 billion.  Karen serves on the Board of Governors for the National Bar Association and is an active member of the Leadership Counsel for Legal Diversity, the Association for Corporate Growth, the National Association of Bond Lawyers and the National Association of Securities Professionals. 

Karen serves on the Board of Directors for the St. Louis Arc and the St. Louis County Library Foundation and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

Linda Locke
Reputare Consulting
Standing Partnership

Linda Locke served in senior roles in communications, marketing and reputation for over 35 years. She worked on both the corporate and consulting sides of those fields. She recently retired as a partner and an owner of Standing Partnership. Previously she served and Senior Vice President and Group Head of Reputation and Issues Management for Mastercard Worldwide. She is retired and active in non-profit and political organizations. Her favorite clients are her two grandchildren. When pressed (with wine) she can sing (badly) “Stop in the name of love.” in Arabic.

Ann Marr
Executive Vice President, Global Human Resources
World Wide Technology

Ann Marr is Executive Vice President, Global Human Resources and a member of the Executive Team for World Wide Technology. WWT is a $12B systems integrations, value added reseller and software development company.  WWT is on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For (9 years in a row) and Best Places to Work for Glassdoor.  In her role, Ann oversees all global human resources functions which include talent acquisition, strategic staffing, policy development, benefits and compensation, government compliance, training, leadership development, immigration, communications and employee relations.  WWT’s global expansion has included offices in Brazil, Mexico, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, England, India, Poland, Germany and the Netherlands.  As a strategic partner, Ann also manages the company’s Corporate Development Program which includes Diversity and Inclusion, Supplier Diversity and Small Business Enterprise and manages the company’s communication efforts.  Ann has successfully spearheaded the company’s submission for the 100 Best Companies to Work For and founded the WWT Women’s Leadership Forum.  Ann is President of the WWT Charitable Foundation and is very active in the St. Louis community.  Ann has managed tremendous growth at WWT continues to focus on making WWT a great place to work.  Ann has over 35 years of human resources experience and has held HR positions with Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Anheuser-Busch Companies. 

Mitch Meyers
BeLeaf Company

Backed by an impressive resume of achievements in the marketing field, Mitch Meyers brings a fresh perspective to the cannabis and hemp industry. After spending several years in the accounting and audit field, Mitch realized that marketing and product development was her true calling. She was hired to introduce Bud Light for Anheuser-Busch, which is now one of the the largest selling beers in the world. AB subsequently put her in charge of leading their new products group for 6 years. She was named AdWeek’s Advertising Woman of the Year in 1996.

After leaving there, she and her partners formed a marketing and brand development agency, The Zipatoni Company, that worked with many Fortune 100 companies delivering strategic insights and business development programs. She and her partners built the agency to 350 employees, offices in 5 states and $42 MM in revenue annually. They were acquired by IPG, the Interpublic Group in 2003.

Since that time she has entered the cannabis industry receiving a dispensary license in the highly competitive Illinois medical market in 2014.

The following year, she received a cultivation, production and dispensing license in Missouri for CBD to treat Epilepsy. In 2019 she and her partners received 10 licenses in Missouri in the medical cannabis market. She continues to consult with companies around the country on cannabis business.

Mitch’s seasoned marketing expertise, coupled with her passion for the plant, products and the ultimate patients, makes her one of the leading faces of the cannabis industry.

Caroline Morgan, MD
West County Women's Healthcare/St. Luke's

Caroline Morgan, MD is a board-certified OB/GYN at West County Women’s Healthcare with St. Luke’s and a busy working mother of two young daughters. She provides comprehensive care for all stages of life from the first gynecology exam, through pregnancy, to menopause and beyond. She enjoys working with young patients and is involved in the local organization, Girls In The Know. Dr. Morgan earned her medical degree from Medical College of Ohio and completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine.

Jamilah Nasheed
Former Missouri State Senator 

Former Senator Jamilah Nasheed is a Democrat who served Missouri’s 5th Senatorial District in the City of St. Louis. Sen. Nasheed’s district included some of Missouri’s most iconic treasures: The Gateway Arch, St. Louis University, Busch Stadium, The Missouri Botanical Gardens, The Fox Theatre, Soulard Market, and Downtown St. Louis.

She was widely recognized as a legislative leader on several issues, including education, criminal justice, human rights, and urban economic development.

At the age of 19, Sen. Nasheed opened Sankofa Books and Gifts, an inner-citybookstore, with the mission of promoting reading and meaningful discussion.

After ten years as a small business owner, She sold her bookstore and decided to run for office. In 2006, 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. During her first term in 2008, Sen. Nasheed passed House Bill 2191, a pioneering piece of legislation that ensured the benefits of the A+ Scholarship Program for high school students in Missouri’s unaccredited school districts. As a result of HB 2191, thousands of St. Louis students became eligible for free tuition to two-year colleges and technical schools.

During her time in the Missouri House, Sen. Nasheed was the only minority party committee chairperson serving as Chairwoman of the House Urban Affairs Committee.

After winning her primary in August 2012, Sen. Nasheed began serving in the Missouri State Senate in January 2013. During her first session in the Missouri Senate, Sen. Nasheed passed SB 125, which ensured that all Missouri students have the right to high-quality teachers.

In 2014, Sen. Nasheed worked successfully to pass two landmark pieces of legislation. SB 532 allows a relative-caregiver the right to make medical and educational decisions for a minor in their custody. Senate Bill 731 helps preserve St. Louis neighborhoods by expanding the definition of “nuisance” to include absentee landlords who allow vacant properties to harm the value of neighboring properties.

During the First Regular Session of Missouri’s 98th General Assembly, Sen. Nasheed furthered her reputation as an influential lawmaker by passing five bills, more than any other Democrat in the statehouse. Among them, SB 334 (2015) gave Harris-Stowe State University, one of Missouri’s two Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the authority to offer graduate degrees for the first time in its 150 year history.

Sen. Nasheed joined forces with colleagues from both sides of the aisle, and in both chambers, as a co-sponsor of SB 5 (2015). Widely touted as the most comprehensive municipal court reform bill in decades, SB 5 bars many of the systematically oppressive practices that had targeted Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens for generations.

Also, during the 2015 session, Sen. Nasheed passed legislation that established January as Sex Trafficking Awareness Month in the State of Missouri.

In addition to her legislative responsibilities, Sen. Nasheed also serves as President of the Junior Class Parents’ Association at Cardinal Ritter High School. Sen. Nasheed is a founder of the “In it 2 Win” Coalition, which identifies students who have dropped out of school or were pushed out, and assists in returning them to the classroom. She is also active in the Fresh Start Program, which assists youth between the ages of 17 and 21 to return to the classroom to earn their high school diplomas. Sen. Nasheed has also been active in the A+ Schools Program and Inspire STL. She is a member of the Order of the Eastern Star fraternal organization. In 2009, Sen. Nasheed studied human rights and international law in India as a member of the American Council of Young Political Leaders, a prestigious international exchange program.

Sen. Nasheed’s awards and recognitions include The YMCA-Social Responsibility Award (2013); MOKAN’s Public Sector Executive of the Year (2014); The Missouri Workforce Housing Association-Senator of the Year (2014); St. Louis Bar Association-Spirit of Justice Award (2014); Missouri Bar Foundation- Legislative Award (2015); Missouri Community College Association- Distinguished Legislator Award (2015); and the St. Louis Regional Chamber-Champion Award (2015).

Penny Pennington
Managing Partner
Edward Jones

Penny Pennington is the managing partner of Edward Jones, a Fortune 500 financial services firm. As sixth managing partner in the firm's 99-year history, Penny is responsible for the firm's strategic direction, working together with more than 49,000 associates across North America to make a positive impact in the lives of Edward Jones' clients, colleagues and communities. She was recently named No. 33 in her second appearance on the Fortune Most Powerful Women in Business list.

Penny began her Edward Jones career in 2000 as a financial advisor in Livonia, Mich. In 2006, she was named a principal and relocated to the firm’s St. Louis headquarters where she held leadership roles in New Financial Advisor Training, Branch Office Administrator Development and Branch and Region Development before leading the Client Strategies Group in 2015. Penny is a senior executive sponsor of the firm’s LGBT+ & Allies Business Resource Group.

Penny earned a bachelor's degree in commerce with a concentration in finance from the University of Virginia and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She is a graduate of Wharton’s Securities Industry Institute and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst® designation.

A native of Nashville, Tenn., Penny now calls St. Louis home after relocating from Michigan 14 years ago with her husband, Mike Fidler, and two children. She is an active member of the St. Louis community, serving on the boards of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, United Way of Greater St. Louis, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Washington University in St. Louis Board of Trustees and the Whitaker Foundation. She also actively champions Edward Jones' national presenting sponsorship with the Alzheimer's Association and is chairing the Business & Community DEI Task Force organized by Civic Progress member companies.

Shelley Seifert
Chairman & CEO
First Bank

Shelley Seifert was named Chairman and CEO of First Bank in May of 2019. She joined First Bank in the fall of 2014 as the Chief Administrative Officer and was promoted to Chief Operating Officer in 2015. First Bank, one of the largest family-owned banks in the country, is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri.  With locations in the greater St. Louis region and throughout California, First Bank focuses on serving family and other privately held businesses holistically, including the owners and their families through our wealth management group, their employees with a full array of products and education and their business with superior lending and treasury capabilities.

Shelley and her family relocated to St. Louis from Pittsburgh, PA.  Prior to joining First Bank, she held senior leadership roles with PNC Financial Services and its predecessor company, National City. Notably, she served as co-leader of the National City/PNC integration, one of the largest and most successful in banking history. She also led the integration of RBC USA effectively positioning PNC for growth in the Southeast.

Shelley holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Consumer Economics from the University of Missouri and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Louisville.

Board activities:
FB Corporation Board of Directors
• First Bank Board of Directors
• Blair Corporation – Former Board of Directors
• Women Corporate Directors – Member
• St. Louis Community Foundation – Board of Directors
• Webster University School of Business - Advisory Board
• Venture for America – St. Louis - Advisory Board
• St. Louis Forum – Member
• American Heart Association, Go Red for Women – Exec. Leadership Team

Ellen Sherberg
Special Advisor to the CEO
American City Business Journals

Following a long tenure as publisher of the St. Louis Business Journal, Ellen Sherberg moved to the corporate team at American City Business Journals, the country’s largest publisher of local business journals. She’s responsible for identifying new opportunities on a national platform. In this role, Ellen created The Confidence Code for Girls Conference in Baltimore; Mentoring Monday where 10,000 women across the country are mentored the same day; Women who Lead programs and numerous other events. She oversees Bizwomen, the daily national web site focused on providing news today’s businesswomen need to know.

Ellen joined the St. Louis Business Journal in 1980 and has served as reporter, managing editor and editor. Ellen has also been a group publisher for American City Business Journals, with responsibility for the business journals in Birmingham, Memphis, Orlando and Dallas.

Ellen’s community involvement includes serving on the boards of Planned Parenthood, Forest Park Forever, Saint Louis Community Foundation and the Fashion Fund. She is the founder of the Women’s Leadership Initiative for United Way that has raised more than $110 million dollars for the St. Louis community.

Ellen was elected to the Academy of Leaders of the YWCA of Greater St. Louis and served as civic chair of the 2001 NCAA Women’s Final Four in St. Louis. The St. Louis Women’s Forum presented her its prestigious Trailblazer Award and the Women’s Foundation of Greater St. Louis recognize Ellen for her philanthropic leadership.

Before joining the St. Louis Business Journal, Ellen worked as a reporter for KMOX (CBS) Radio and for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. As a freelance writer, she has had articles published in Time, Newsweek, the National Observer, Parents Magazine, Seventeen and Working Woman Magazine.

Pat Smith-Thurman
Co-Founder & President
10th Street Gallery

After retiring from MasterCard Technologies 2010, Pat cofounded   10th Street Gallery, a downtown St. Louis art gallery, located at 419 North 10th Street.  While her background is in technology, Pat focuses on the link between “arts and science’.   Pat does the exhibition planning, marketing, and installation for 10th Street. Now in her 10th year, she has curated and exhibited more than 13 “solo art exhibitions”, several group shows, and onsite corporate diversity display exhibitions. From modern abstract to the African diaspora, Pat embraces diversity in her exhibition choices.  She uses her corporate instincts and husband, professional artist, Solomon Thurman to make final selections.   Her gallery is often used as a meeting place for leadership training, strategic discussions and celebrations.  She has juried multiple exhibitions since opening 10th Street Gallery.   

Prior to opening 10th Street Gallery, Smith Thurman held numerous key management and senior level positions at multiple financial institutions; Financial Data Systems, Citicorp Information Resources, Centerre Bank, First Financial Bank (Illini), Venture, and MasterCard.  As a former Information Technology Executive Vice President, at MasterCard Worldwide, Pat was responsible for leading a global staff in emerging technology, data information/warehouse, and software development of fraud, risk, security, marketing, and infrastructure products.  She was a member of the MasterCard Technologies Executive Committee and Management Council.  Pat co-founded and served as executive sponsor for MasterCard Technology’s first African American affinity group “LEAD", (Lifting Employees of African Descent). Pat’s prior MasterCard positions included Vice President of the Toronto Development Center (Ontario, Canada).   

Pat strives to stay involved in the community.   She is an active member of the St. Louis Art Museum Collector’s Circle. Pat continues to mentor corporate managers, and emerging leaders. She currently serves on several boards; St. Louis Children’s Hospital; the African Heritage Association; Women of the Kemper (at Washington University), Classical 107.3 Radio, and Today and Tomorrow Foundation.  She is former board member for the National Conference for Communication and Justice (NCCJSTL); YWCA and United Way of Greater Metropolitan St. Louis, and The Carver House.  She is also a former Executive Advisory Board member for St. Louis University, School of Professional Studies.

Pat was recognized by US Black Engineers as one of 100 Women Who Make a Difference in Technologyfor her contribution to MasterCard’s System Enhancement Strategy (SES).   The SES initiative was a “$160 million dollar” global multi-year effort to upgrade MasterCard’s core processing systems.  

Other awards, recognition and key milestones;  

2006; she was inducted into the YWCA Academy of Leaders.    

2007; St. Louis American Newspaper’s “2007 Corporate Executive of the Year “award  

2007; Professional Organization of Women’s (POW) Navigation Award  

2008; FIRST Robotics 2008 Volunteer (team) of the year award;  

2009; Received St. Louis Business Journal (one of 25) Most Influential Business Women in 2010;  2010; Focus Leadership St. Louis class of 2010/2011.    

2011; She co-chaired United Way’s 2010 & 2011 Charmaine Chapman “de Tocqueville donors”campaign focusing on African American Leadership donors in the St. Louis region.   

2013: Co-Chaired Lambert Airport Art of Travel with husband Solomon Thurman

2013: Founding Member Alliance of Black Art Galleries in St. Louis, MO  

2014: Co-Organized and implemented the historic “Hands Up: Don’t Shoot” Artists Response Exhibition in 14 venues  

2015: Inducted into St. Louis University Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame  

2018/19 Co-Chair St. Louis Art Awards 2019

A graduate of St. Louis University, she lives in St. Louis County, MO with husband, Solomon Thurman Jr, co-founder, and chief artist in resident at 10th Street Gallery. 

Mary Stillman
Executive Director
Hawthorn Leadership School Foundation

Mary is the Founder of Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls, a charter public school in St. Louis for girls in 6th – 12th grades. Ms. Stillman served as the school’s Executive Director during its first three years and is currently the Executive Director of the Hawthorn Leadership School Foundation which raises funds to support the school.  Mary graduated from Princeton University and Yale Law School. After practicing law for several years in Washington, D.C, she moved back to Missouri where she had spent her childhood. Mary worked at Washington University, first as an Assistant Dean focusing on freshman programming and later teaching a freshman seminar on the Bill of Rights. She chairs the board of the Hawthorn Leadership School Foundation and serves on the boards of Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls, Washington University, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, the St. Louis Community Foundation, december literary magazine, and the Yale Law School Fund. Mary and her husband Tom have three children, John, Isabelle and Anna.

Stillman is the Founder of Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls, a charter public school in St. Louis for girls in 6th – 12th grades. Ms. Stillman served as the school’s Executive Director during its first three years and is currently the Executive Director of the Hawthorn Leadership School Foundation which raises funds to support the school.  Mary graduated from Princeton University and Yale Law School. After practicing law for several years in Washington, D.C, she moved back to Missouri where she had spent her childhood. Mary worked at Washington University, first as an Assistant Dean focusing on freshman programming and later teaching a freshman seminar on the Bill of Rights. She chairs the board of the Hawthorn Leadership School Foundation and serves on the boards of Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls, Washington University, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, the St. Louis Community Foundation, december literary magazine, and the Yale Law School Fund.

Michelle Tucker
President & CEO
United Way of Greater St. Louis

Michelle leads one of the top annual fundraising campaigns across the country. She joined United Way from Epworth Children and Family Services after serving as their first female and African American CEO in its 154-year history. Prior to Epworth, Michelle was a senior vice president at Bank of America for 20 years providing strategic leadership and oversight to key divisions.

Michelle has received numerous awards and recognition for her leadership and impact in the community, including the St. Louis Business Journal’s Diverse Business Leader Award, YWCA Leader of Distinction Award,Professional Organization of Women’s Leader of Distinction Award, St. Louis American’s Excellence in Business Award, Webster University’s School of Business Alumnus of the Year Award, and Urban League ofMetropolitan St. Louis’ Women in Leadership Award.

Michelle is currently a Governance Board Member at BJC Healthcare, a member of the Civic Progress Steering Committee for Regional Inclusive Economic Growth, an Advisory Committee Member of the Civic Progress Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Task Force, and a member of the Greater St. Louis, Inc Integration Advisory Team. She serves on the Nine Network Community Advisory Board and Brown School’s Dean’s Professional AdvisoryCommittee at Washington University. Michelle is a graduate of the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative Fellows Program and the FOCUS Leadership St. Louis Program. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and a master’s in business from Webster University.

Karen Vangyia

Karen serves in KPMG’s National Healthcare Practice focusing on risk advisory solutions and leveraging her experience with providers, payors, and pharmacy benefit managers for the development of new solutions bringing value to our clients. She believes that when a relationship is based on an understanding of cultures and expectations, we can more quickly meet a client’s business needs and bring greater value.

With over 25 years of experience in professional services, Karen has served in numerous roles across both audit and consulting practices. She joined the St. Louis office of KPMG in 1996 and was elected to the partnership in 2005. Karen served as the St. Louis Office Managing Partner, the leader of the St. Louis Advisory Practice, and led the Internal Audit, Risk and Compliance Services practice for the Gateway West and Northern Heartland business units. Most recently, Karen serves as the lead account partner for some of the firm’s premier accounts, building both domestic and global teams to support the needs of the clients.

Karen has led several development initiatives for KPMG, including serving as a national instructor, leading the local KPMG diversity and employer of choice programs, serving on KPMG’s Advisory Lead Partner Council, and Women’s Leadership Summit.

Community involvement is very important to Karen which is illustrated by her past and current involvement in the St. Louis area.

• Co-Chair, Women Corporate Directors - St. Louis Chapter
• Board Member, Executive Committee, Boy Scout Association of Greater St. Louis
• Former Board Member, Executive Committee, Regional Business Council
• Former Board Member, Executive and Audit Committees, St. Louis Regional Chamber
• Former Board Member and Audit Committee of United Way of Greater St. Louis
• Divisional campaign chair raising $14 million for 2018 United Way Campaign
• Former Board Member, CEOs Against Cancer
• Karen earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Missouri State University and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Tina Vonderhaar
President & CEO
Brighton Agency

As president and owner of St. Louis’ Brighton Agency, Tina VonderHaar is a “hands on” manager responsible for leading Brighton’s 60+ employees in all aspects of process and operating functions, personnel management and strategic and tactical leadership. She is also the primary account manager for key clients like Eukanuba, Royal Canin, and Pictsweet.

A graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and Mathematics, Tina spent more than a decade working as a systems/business consultant with Accenture for clients including Boeing and Eveready. She then founded her own small-business consulting firm, and Brighton became one of her first clients. Impressed with her vision and management style, Brighton’s owner and founder hired Tina in 2005 as the company’s Chief Operating Officer. In 2009, she purchased the company. Since then, she has more than doubled the agency in size and has received a number of local and national recognitions, including:

  • Top Women Business Owner, St. Louis Small Business Monthly
  • Female Executive of the Year (Advertising, Marketing and PR category) – gold
  • “Stevie” Award for Women in Business
  • Most Influential Business Women Award, 2010, St. Louis Business Journal
  • Business Person of the Year, 2018, Clayton Chamber of Commerce

In addition, Tina is an active member of ICOM, a global network of independent advertising and marketing agencies.

Tina is a wife and mother of two. She’s an avid reader who enjoys traveling, working in the yard and slow jogging.

Abby Wambach
Soccer Legend

Abby is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and FIFA World Cup Champion. She was the United States’ leading scorer in the 2007 and 2011 Women’s World Cup tournaments and the 2004 and 2012 Olympics. An activist for equality and inclusion, Abby is the author of the New York Times bestseller Forward: A Memoir and the forthcoming WOLFPACK. She is co-founder of Wolfpack Endeavor, which is revolutionizing leadership development for women in the workplace and beyond through her champion mindset, individualized coaching, and team-bound focus.

Marquita Wiley
Trenier Enterprises

Marquita Trenier Wiley is a business executive with over 30 years’ experience in the Information Technology and Financial Services industries.  She is President of Trenier Enterprises, LLC.

Born in Mobile, Alabama, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Marygrove College in Detroit, Michigan.  She attended Wayne State University in the master’s in computer science program.  Ms. Wiley also earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Ms. Wiley started her career in Information Technology at General Motors Corporation in Detroit.   After moving to St. Louis, Ms. Wiley joined IBM as a marketing representative.  In 1979, Marquita joined Citicorp Mortgage where she held management positions of progressive responsibility in systems analysis, development and design.  She assumed responsibility as head of Systems Application Development and then was promotes to head of New Technology Development including Technology R&D and Database Management teams.  After a successful period owning her own Information Technology consulting firm, Ms. Wiley joined Boatmen’s Trust Company in St. Louis in 1993 as a Senior Vice President, Product Development for the Institutional Trust Division.  In April 1998 Marquita was appointed to a NationsBank senior management position in Retail Loan Services in St. Louis.  In July 1999 Ms. Wiley was named Premier Banking Executive for the Midwest region of Bank of America, with responsibility for the affluent/premier line of business in the Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Illinois and Kansas markets…  and in August 2000, she assumed additional responsibilities to include the Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas market.  As Premier Banking Executive, Marquita was responsible for P&L management of a $150 MM business.  In 2005, Ms. Wiley established Trenier Enterprises, LLC and has grown the business through both acquisition and de-novo start-up.  Trenier Enterprises, LLC is a holding Company comprised of:  Trenier Consulting; and Trenier Business Brokerage.

Ms. Wiley is active in the community, serving on the Executive Advisory Board for the John Cook School of Business at St. Louis University.  She previously served on the boards Southern Illinois University where she was Chairman of the Audit Committee, and the Finance Committee. She served on the Board of Trustees of Memorial Hospital, Belleville, IL; The St Louis Symphony; and the Missouri History Museum.

Ms. Wiley holds the following professional designations:
• CBI (Certified Business Intermediary)
• Real Estate Broker, Licensed in the State of Illinois
• CEPA (Certified Exit Planning Advisor)