The Top 50 Women in St. Louis in Media, The Arts, Business, Education and More…
In recognition of March as Women’s History Month, our editorial team has curated a diverse list of extraordinary women who show tremendous courage in their daily lives to overcome adversity and make their mark. Women’s History Month is an annual declared month that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.
All 50 women featured below are in Gazelle STL’s March edition. We distribute to more than 40 Schnucks, Dierbergs and Straubs stores in the St. Louis region. Scroll down to find a location near you. Click here for the digital edition.
President/Treasurer, Hispanic Arts Council of St. Louis
In addition to her duties at the Hispanic Arts Council, Virginia Braxs is
a senior lecturer in Spanish at Washington University. The Argentine
native is also in charge of the school’s Department of Romance
Languages and Literatures’ Outreach programs, overseeing tutoring
and mentoring services for underprivileged Hispanic youth in south
St. Louis. Through the UniversidadYA!/CollegeNOW! initiative, Braxs
advocates for higher-education access for underserved students. Her
campaign for advancing the arts through the years includes hosting a
bilingual radio program; sponsoring exhibits, concerts and festivals; and
co-founding Upstream Theater, a local theater company that promotes
Pastor, Kingdom Embassy International Church
An ever-present activist, St. Louis native Cori Bush is a registered nurse
who has supervised health services for mental health facilities that
serve the city’s homeless, uninsured and underinsured. Her fight for
justice and advocacy for the youth of her community thrust her onto
the front line during the 2014 Ferguson protests, where she participated
as demonstrator, clergy and medic. She is an organizer with Ferguson
Frontline, the co-director of the Truth Telling Project, and is a recipient
of the 2015 Woman of Courage Award from the Emmett Till Legacy
Founder, Build-A-Bear Workshop
Until her retirement in 2013, Maxine Clark was the appropriately titled
“Chief Executive Bear” of the multi-million-dollar, publicly-traded
company she founded in 1997, a success story that established her as
a role model for female entrepreneurs far and wide. Under her watch,
Build-A-Bear expanded across the country and around the world, and
currently has more than 400 workshops worldwide. After handing over
the reins of the company, Clark took on another one of her passions
– improving public education. Her wide-ranging advocacy includes
serving as a member of Teach for America national and regional boards,
as well as the board of trustees for Washington University. She and
her husband, Bob Fox, are founding donors of KIPP Inspire Academy,
where she also is chair of the charter school’s advisory board.
Professor, Saint Louis University Department of Neurology
Pakistani-born neurologist Dr. Ghazala Hayat has been on the faculty
of Saint Louis University School of Medicine since 1986. In recent
years, she has taken on a more visible role, speaking on behalf of the
Muslim community – most notably after 9/11 and recently, in protest
of the immigration and refugee ban – as spokesperson for the Islamic
Foundation of Greater St. Louis. Her social justice involvement also
includes serving as president and board member of the Interfaith
Partnership of Metropolitan St. Louis, an organization that encourages
dialogue and understanding among people of different faiths. Hayat is the
first woman to lead a major U.S. mosque, the Islamic Center in west St.
Louis County, which serves many of the area’s 100,000-plus Muslims.
Vice-President, National Community Alliances for Teach for America
The daughter of educators, Brittany Packnett gained local prominence
as executive director for Teach for America St. Louis, but it was her
fervent activism in recent years that propelled her into the national
spotlight. In 2015, “Time” magazine named her among its “12 New Faces
of Black Leadership” for her role in the Black Lives Matter movement
in the wake of the 2014 Ferguson unrest. She was appointed to the
President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing by President Barack
Obama, and is one of the founders of Campaign Zero, a mobilization
effort aimed at ending police violence in America.
President/CEO, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
Marie-Hélène Bernard came to St. Louis in 2015 to take the helm at
the country’s second-oldest professional orchestra. Born in Quebec,
she grew up in a musical family, learning to play the violin and viola da
gamba as a child. Bernard, a graduate of the University of Montreal’s
law school, worked as an attorney for several years before turning her
attention to arts management. She most recently served as executive
director for the prestigious Handel and Haydn Society in Boston.
Chairman of the Board, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
As a young girl, Noémi Neidorff and her parents fled from the Hungarian
Revolution of 1956, making their way to America penniless with only
two knapsacks to their name. Once here, the family settled in New
York, where Neidorff later attended the Manhattan School of Music.
An accomplished musician who began playing piano by ear at age 4,
Neidorff believes in nurturing and supporting young talent. She and
her husband, Michael, have become among the area’s top arts patrons,
supporting national and local institutions such as the Kennedy Center,
Manhattan School of Music, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Saint Louis
Art Museum and Radio Arts Foundation through the years.
Executive Director, Regional Arts Commission
St. Louis native Felicia Shaw spent almost four decades in San Diego,
where she developed a career as a respected arts administrator. In
part, she made the decision to return to her hometown after seeing the
devastation of Ferguson. As the head of the largest funder of the arts in
St. Louis, she is focused on taking the organization to the next level by
using the arts to unite and help the city heal.
President, K Period Media
Recently named as one of “Variety” magazine’s “10 Producers to
Watch,” Kimberly Steward is only the second African-American woman
(after Oprah Winfrey) to receive an Academy Award nomination as a
producer. With $8 million, she financed her first movie, “Manchester by
the Sea,” which has been widely acclaimed since its debut at Sundance.
A 2003 broadcast journalism graduate of Webster University, Steward
moved to New York and worked for several national magazines like
“Women’s Wear Daily” until establishing her production company, K
Period Media in 2013.
Hailed by a top jazz aficionado as “like Ella and Sarah born all over
again,” Denise Thimes has established herself as St. Louis’ jazz
songstress, gracing the stage of intimate venues like Jazz at the Bistro, as
well as benefit concerts and top-dollar galas. But Thimes’ appeal goes
beyond her hometown. She’s as at ease with singing for Queen of Soul
Aretha Franklin, as she is performing before Queen Elizabeth II at a
White House state dinner. Ten years ago, she established the Mildred
Thimes Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer to honor her late mother,
raise awareness and support research.
Kathleen Mazzarella is a trailblazer as the only female CEO of Graybar
in its nearly 150-year history. Mazzarella overseas the operations of the
company’s 250 distribution facilities located in North America, with more
than 8,000 employees. She is also one of only 24 female CEOs of a Fortune
500 company. To put it into perspective, the heads of the other 476 Fortune
500 are men. In addition, Mazzarella serves on several boards, including the
St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, NAW Institute for
Distribution Excellence and Saint Louis Club.
CEO, Spire (Formerly Laclede Gas Company)
Suzanne Sitherwood shies away from the media, but her work speaks
volumes. She oversees all aspects of Spire, including two natural gas
utilities in Missouri and Alabama, a natural gas marketing company
and an emerging technologies group. Sitherwood believes that being
involved in the community is a responsibility and a privilege, which is
why she is immediate past board chair and serves on the board of the
St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association. She recently co-
Chaired the 2015 United Way campaign and sits on the boards of the
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Civic Progress St. Louis, and United
Way St. Louis’ executive committee and board.
CEO/President and Chairman of the Board, Caleres
It has not been easy getting used to the new name in the fashion world,
but under Diane Sullivan’s leadership, the Caleres (formerly Brown Shoe
Company) multi-billion-dollar brand is forging forward. This is accomplished
by strategically pulling back from brands like Dr. Scholl’s and investing in
new acquisitions, like the recently purchased high-end men’s shoemaker,
Allen Edmonds Shoe Corp. Prior to Caleres, Sullivan was vice chairman
of the Footwear Group at Phillips-Van Heusen, and president and COO at
Stride Rite Corporation. She sits on the boards of Enterprise Holdings, BJC
HealthCare, and the board of trustees of Washington University.
Executive Vice President/COO, Enterprise Holdings
Chrissy Taylor-Broughton, a third generation member of the Taylor
family (auto industry royalty), has spent more than 30 years getting
to know every aspect of the family business. The car rental giant,
which owns Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo
Rent a Car brands, generates revenues of more than $15 billion. With
tremendous work ethic and a passion for business, Taylor-Broughton
holds her own as one of the highest-ranking female executives in the
global car rental, automotive and travel industries. In addition to an
MBA, she holds an undergraduate degree in sociology with a minor
in business from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where she was a
member of the Women’s Division I field hockey team, serving as co-
captain and earning All-American honors.
Market President, Bank of America
Jackie Yoon’s impact in the St. Louis community extends beyond her role
as president of St. Louis’ Bank of America where she oversees about 1,800
employees at 53 branches. She works with public and private organizations
to improve the lives of people in St. Louis. Among her various efforts, she
recently launched the first St. Louis Bank of America Innovation Center,
focusing on the area’s growing biotech, fintech, and agtech businesses.
Yoon is also raising awareness of the importance of financial education for
young adults and veterans who are re-engaging to civilian life. She serves on
boards of Youth in Need, the Contemporary Art Museum, Civic Progress
and Concordance Academy of Leadership, and has held leadership roles in
other organizations, including the United Way of Greater St. Louis.
MARY ELIZABETH GRIMES
President, Marian Middle School
Born into a family of educators, Mary Elizabeth Grimes is particularly
honored to lead St. Louis City’s only all-girls, Catholic middle school.
She believes “an educated girl will change the world,” and has applied that
mantra in guiding the school’s approximately 70 young women to realize
their dreams. Prior to joining Marian Middle School, Grimes was state
director for the Greater Missouri Chapter of March of Dimes. She also
worked as a host and associate producer for an Atlanta television station.
Superintendent of Schools, School District of University City
North St. Louis native Sharonica Hardin-Bartley is an alumnus of local
schools, graduating from Lafayette High School, and earning degrees
from Harris-Stowe University, Saint Louis University and University of
Missouri-St. Louis. Following a 15-year career in St. Louis Public Schools
and most recently serving as assistant superintendent in the Ritenour
School District, Hardin-Bartley has been superintendent of University City
schools since 2016. Tasked with the management of a district with 3,200
students, Hardin-Bartley implements a culture of social justice awareness,
encouraging dialogue and inspiring students to have a voice.
Founder/President, OASIS Institute
Marylen Mann has long championed the concept of healthy aging. In
1982, with the help of a group of educators and volunteers, she founded
OASIS, a trailblazing approach that uses educational, wellness and
volunteer programs to help older adults stay healthy and engaged in their
communities. Since then, OASIS has established itself as a nationally-
acclaimed organization, with nine partner cities, including St. Louis,
Baltimore, Los Angeles and Cleveland. Through the years, OASIS has been
recognized by the AARP, the U.S. Administration on Aging, and the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services, among other distinctions.
President, Webster University
Even with decades of experience in higher education, lifelong learning is
of the greatest importance to Beth Stroble, who has promoted a culture
of diversity and inclusion at Webster University. Under her leadership,
Webster positioned itself as a true global institution, expanding to
Africa and Greece, and building other partnerships around the world.
She is also growing the home campus in Webster Groves with a new
Interdisciplinary Science Building set to open this year. A record of
financial stability is another distinction of her tenure, with the university
more than doubling its endowment, as well as increasing its scholarship
funding and net assets by $100 million, among other achievements.
Professor Emeritus/Chancellor Emeritus, University of Missouri-St. Louis
Born and raised in St. Louis, Blanche Touhill always wanted to teach. She
attended Saint Louis University and received her master’s in geography,
and undergraduate and doctorate degrees in history before moving to
New York City. There she taught history at Queens College, the first-
Ever woman tenured in the department. Returning to St. Louis to teach
at the newly founded University of Missouri, she became the first woman
to successfully go through the tenure process, as well as the first to chair
the University Senate, UMSL’s governance body. The university grew
significantly under her leadership as chancellor, adding to the faculty,
expanding academic programs and adding 138 acres of land to the
campus. She was successful in raising tens of millions of dollars in private
gifts, grants and contracts. Touhill, who served as chancellor from 1990
to 2002, was the first woman to be named St. Louis’ Citizen of the Year
President and CEO, Baue Funeral Homes, Crematory, Cemetery
Lisa Baue stepped up as a third-generation owner of Baue Funeral
Homes, Crematory, Cemetery when her father died unexpectedly in
- Under her leadership, Baue has grown from one funeral home to
three locations, offering a wide range of unique services for families,
while ushering in a new era of life-honoring tradition and compassionate
support. Baue is passionate about giving back to her community. Over
the years, she has served on numerous community boards, and has been
involved in organizations as diverse as the St. Charles Crime Stoppers
Program, the St. Charles County Salvation Army Council and the
Economic Development Council of St. Charles County.
CEO, Prosper Institute/Managing Partner, PWE Startup Accelerator/
Founder, Prosper Women Entrepreneurs
Jennifer Ehlen has received various recognitions for her work in
mergers and acquisitions, and the entrepreneurship community. As
head of Prosper Institute and Prosper Women Entrepreneurs Startup
Accelerator, she spearheads the nonprofit’s efforts to help growth-
Seeking women entrepreneurs advance their businesses to create
economic prosperity. Before making the entrepreneurial leap to focus
on Prosper full-time, Ehlen was a director at Thompson Street Capital
Partners, where she worked with senior management to help source
and evaluate investment opportunities for the St. Louis-based, $1.5
billion private equity firm. Ehlen also serves as a coach, mentor, and
advisory board member to several early stage entrepreneurs and CEOs.
Author/Healthy Lifestyle Expert
Emily Frisella is a healthy-living chef, entrepreneur, co-host of the
“Food in Session” podcast, co-creator of Savage and Frisella Apparel,
wife, bulldog momma, and a health and fitness enthusiast. She is proud
to have been born and raised in rural Missouri on a cattle and row crop
farm, which she says instilled in her the ethics of hard work and the
appreciation of food. Frisella’s passion for health and fitness, combined
with her culinary knowledge and love of farmhouse recipes, sparked the
inspiration for her new clean-eating comfort food cookbook, “Fresh
Farmhouse Kitchen.” She shares her passion for healthy living with her
husband, Andy, owner of Supplement Superstores.
ROBBIE MONTGOMERY (MISS ROBBIE)
Owner, Sweetie Pies Restaurant/OWN Network TV Star
Miss Robbie’s made-from-scratch soul food is so good that it has made
her brand a global sensation. Sweetie Pie’s restaurants have become St.
Louis landmarks and must-visit destinations for people from around the
world. Her hit show on Opera Winfrey’s OWN Network, “Welcome
to Sweetie Pie’s” is in its seventh season, proving that Miss Robbie has
star power that extends beyond her time as a backup singer for Ike and
Tina Turner back in the 1960s. She shares some of her best recipes in
her cookbook, “Sweetie Pie’s Cookbook: Soulful Southern Recipes, from
My Family to Yours,” that she hopes helps keep soul food cooking in
mainstream American culture for decades to come.
KATHRYN DEMAS SANSONE
Author/Fitness Expert/Creator of GreekGirl Beauty Protein
Kathryn Demas Sansone is a fit, active mother of 10, established author
and a positively motivating force for women to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Best known for being celebrated by Oprah Winfrey as an “unforgettable
mom,” Sansone has changed women’s lives by helping them create
healthier, balanced lifestyles. Her latest endeavor is GreekGirl Beauty
Protein, a post-workout all-natural Greek yogurt and protein powder.
HEALTH/HUMANITARIAN CAUS E S
President of Healthcare Operations/COO, Ascension Healthcare
Patricia Maryland will take on her new role as executive vice president
and CEO of Ascension Healthcare in July. She will be responsible for
the strategic and operational aspects of the healthcare system, which
has more than 141 hospitals and 2,500 sites of care in 24 states. She has
served as president of healthcare operations and chief operating officer
of Ascension Healthcare since 2013, and has held roles as a healthcare
executive for more than 20 years. Maryland holds a doctorate degree in
public health from the University of Pittsburgh.
Senior Vice President/Chief Administrative Officer, Mercy Health
Cynthia Mercer joined Mercy, one of the nation’s largest Catholic health
systems, in 2011 as senior vice president of human resources. In the past
six years, she elevated the human resources function by collaboratively
developing Mercy’s “People Promise,” as well as introducing science
and rigor to sourcing, selecting and succession planning talent. Her
responsibilities have expanded to include government relations,
philanthropy and co-worker wellness, to name a few. As a breast cancer
survivor and mother of two, Mercer’s passion to bring hospitality to
health care is a very personal mission.
DIANNE L. MUELLER
CEO, St. Louis Crisis Nursery
Armed with a compassionate heart, DiAnne Mueller has been committed
to saving babies’ lives for more than 20 years. When you look around
in any one of the restaurants participating in Crisis Nursery’s annual
Celebrity Waiter Night, you can see the influence that Mueller has on
the St. Louis community. She has shared and brought to life a vision to
help children that inspires news anchors, reporters, politicians, business
and community leaders and professional athletes to don an apron and
help raise money for children. Under her guidance, the organization’s
nine outreach centers provide top-notch crisis care, 24 hours a day, seven
days a week, serving more than 7,500 children in crisis. The newest center
opened in Ferguson in February.
Surgeon, Mercy Hospital/Co-Founder, Gateway to Hope
Dr. Marlys Schuh is revered in her field as a surgeon specializing in breast
cancer. As co-founder of the non-profit Gateway to Hope, she is saving
lives, fighting every step of the way to help individuals struggling to
afford breast cancer treatment. She created the nonprofit in 2005 after
witnessing needless suffering – and in some cases, death – of patients who
delayed treatment because of lack of insurance. Every day, Schuh carries
out Gateway to Hope’s mission through her actions and advocacy for
women in need.
Founder/Executive Director, Meds & Food for Kids
Dr. Patricia Wolff currently splits her time between St. Louis and Haiti.
Her passion and advocacy for children’s health led her to Haiti, where she
founded Meds & Food for Kids, an organization focused on prevention
and treatment of malnutrition. After a residency at Washington
University Medical School, she worked as a pediatrician for 35 years in
St. Louis and was president of Forest Park Pediatrics until 2011, when she
resigned to devote herself full-time to Meds & Food for Kids.
Radio Personality, KMOX Radio
Carol Daniel remains an influential on-air personality who understands
the real issues in our neighborhoods. She began her career at the “Voice
of St. Louis” in 1995 as an anchor, reporter and talk show host. Daniel was
hired when the program director was driving to Memphis with his family
and heard her on the air at a radio station in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
Two weeks later, Daniel moved to St. Louis and was working at KMOX
Radio. Later, she was the co-host of KMOV’s Emmy Award-winning
“Great Day St. Louis.” She is an author, motivational speaker and award-
winning columnist, who believes in the biblical verse, “To whom much is
given, much is required.”
News Anchor, KMOV-TV
Emily Rau is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, on the air weekdays
on “News 4 This Morning.” In 2016, she was nominated for two regional
Emmys, winning one for a story on St. Louis-area artist, Ray Harvey.
In 2015, Rau received her first Emmy win, and was awarded Best News
Anchor by the Missouri Broadcasters Association. A Washington,
Missouri native and graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, Rau
started at KMOV in 2012, after working at WVEC in Norfolk, Virginia.
She serves on the Saint Louis Crisis Nursery’s Young Professionals
Board, and is a board member for Girls In The Know.
General Manager, KSDK NewsChannel 5
Alicia Elsner’s commitment to KSDK led her to the role of general
manager in 2016 after 19 years at the NBC affiliate station. Elsner started
as a marketing consultant in 1997, and was named director of business
development in 2000. She then served as the station’s local sales manager
for nearly six years before being promoted to director of sales. She began
her career at KMOX/CBS Radio in St. Louis as an account executive.
Elsner serves on the board of trustees at Visitation Academy, where she is
also president of the Alumnae Association.
Journalist, The St. Louis American
Whether it is a piece about a minority who is making a difference in
the business world, or a story about social justice, Kenya Vaughn’s gift
for capturing the essence of the subject has earned her recognition as
a journalist with a voice that can inspire change. Her work for The St.
Louis American has been republished numerous times nationwide, and
her expertise on race and cultural issues has been sought by national and
international media. She has served as a social justice expert on national
panels where she reiterates the importance of media being mindful to tell
the whole story when sharing news events that vastly impact America’s
racial and cultural landscape.
President, U.S. Central Region, Fleishman Hillard
Fleishman Hillard is ranked third among the top 250 public relations
agencies in the world. Susan Veidt oversees its St. Louis headquarters
and serves on the firm’s senior management committee, counseling
multinational companies from a wide array of industries. Among her
previous roles, she was director of public relations for St. Louis-based
Christian Health Services, and communications coordinator for a local
school district. In addition, she has served as a board member of Forest
Park Forever, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and the United Way of
Greater St. Louis.
President/CEO Greater St. Louis Community Foundation
Following a 30-year career in the securities industry, Amelia Bond uses her
finely honed skills to lead the Greater St. Louis Community Foundation,
which manages 550 charitable funds worth $350 million. Founded in 1915,
the foundation’s goal is to increase the impact of charitable giving, and
Bond’s ability to develop partnerships with donors, wealth advisors and
nonprofits has helped to fulfill that mission.
Co-founder, Dennis M. Jones Family Foundation
Together with her late husband, Dennis, Judith Jones established the
Dennis M. Jones Family Foundation in 2000 with one million shares
converted into cash when they sold their company, Jones Pharma, to
King Pharmaceuticals. The Joneses, neither of whom had the benefit
of a college education, wanted to focus on fostering the growth and
education of children in need by providing scholarships. Other notable
contributions include donations to Connections to Success, Junior
Achievement of Greater St. Louis and the Saint Louis Zoo.
Board President, Five Acres Animal Shelter
Ruth Anne Scheidegger and her husband, Jerry, are active community
supporters and have given millions to educational institutions and
community organizations over the years. Together, they were honored
with the Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Inspiration Award for philanthropy
from The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation – Gateway Chapter. The couple is
involved in a number of benevolent organizations, including The Child
Center, which helps children of abuse. Scheidegger became involved with
Five Acres Animal Shelter a decade ago to help the “no-kill” shelter expand
and offer more local dogs and cats a second chance at life. After becoming
president, Scheidegger and the board worked together, increasing 60
annual adoptions to more than 900 a year. The organization has since
built state-of-the-art canine and feline shelters and made executive
building improvements. One of Five Acres’ major events, “Uncorked – A
Cause for the Paws,” raises tens of thousands of dollars each year.
Vice President, Board of Directors, Variety the Children’s Charity
Thelma Steward, a former Sunday school teacher and trained registered
nurse, credits her mother for lessons in the art of giving, humility and
faith. Along with her husband, World Wide Technology’s David Steward,
she has enriched the community with her volunteerism and philanthropy.
Among her top causes are advocating for children and families, and the
arts. Next on her agenda: Chairing the Variety Runway Lights Fashion
Show on April 22 at Union Station to benefit local children with physical
and developmental disabilities.
Add another accolade for Carol Voss, whose tireless efforts recently
earned her the title of Variety’s 2017 Woman of the Year for her support
of children with special needs. The St. Louis native – a retired English and
religion teacher – has been lauded through the years for her work with
organizations such as the Arts and Education Council, STL 250, South
Side Early Childhood Center, Dance St. Louis and the NAACP of St.
Louis, to name a few. Together with her husband, Tom, Voss has set the
standard for charitable giving and volunteerism throughout St. Louis.
PUBLIC SERVI CE
Secretary, Washington University Board of Trustees
Through the years, Ida Early has established an impressive resume of
volunteerism, earning her a Woman of Achievement recognition in 2014. She
was the first African-American to be elected president of the Junior League of
St. Louis, a position that provided a path for her to pursue other means of public
service, and eventually led to her appointment to the Missouri Community
Service Commission by Gov. Mel Carnahan in 1998. Early’s volunteer work
throughout the community has focused mainly on organizations that help
children, families and education. She is a longtime advocate of Washington
University, serving as secretary to the board of trustees and coordinating the
school’s Women’s Society, among other responsibilities.
Mayor, City of St. Charles
Sally Faith’s name is synonymous with St. Charles. The two-term mayor
has overseen the city’s most prominent development projects, including
the mixed-used Streets of St. Charles community, beautification of the Fifth
Street Gateway and building of University Commons at Lindenwood. Prior
to City Hall, Faith served as state representative for St. Charles County, and
as chair and vice chair of the St. Charles County Council.
FRANKIE MUSE FREEMAN
Civil Rights Pioneer/Attorney
Groundbreaking civil rights attorney Frankie Muse Freeman made her
mark in American history as counsel to the NAACP, when she successfully
challenged school segregation and race discrimination in public housing. In
the 1960s, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed her as the first woman
on the United States Commission on Civil Rights, a position she held for
16 years. She served as inspector general for the Community Services
Administration under President Jimmy Carter, and on the Commission on
Presidential Scholars under President Barack Obama. Freeman turned 100
years old in 2016, and the celebration continues this spring as the NAACP
unveils a life-size statue in downtown St. Louis in her honor.
Claire McCaskill paid her way through law school at the University
of Missouri by working as a waitress, and said the lessons she learned
by waiting tables – keep calm, don’t raise your voice, be a good listener –
prepared her for a life in politics. Prior to rising to the ranks of the U.S.
Senate as the first woman elected from the state of Missouri, McCaskill
established herself as a dynamic prosecutor, state legislator and state
auditor. As a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee,
her efforts led to sweeping changes in the way the military handles sexual
assaults, making it a priority to protect and empower survivors, and hold
offenders and commanders accountable.
Congresswoman, 2nd Congressional District of Missouri
Ann Wagner worked her way through the ranks of the Missouri
Republican Party to serve as its chair in the late 1990s, the first woman
to hold the position. She set her sights on Washington, assuming the role
of Republican National Committee co-chair under President George W.
Bush, who later appointed her U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg. Following
her win in the 2012 general election, Wagner headed to the Capitol as a
member of Congress, only the third Republican woman to serve from
Missouri. She has made combating sex trafficking and online exploitation
of minors among her legislative priorities, recently introducing the bipartisan
Trafficking Survivors Relief Act.
News Anchor, KSDK NewsChannel 5
Anne Allred is an inspiration to all as she recovers from a life-threatening
health scare. Allred’s medical journey began when she delivered her baby
at 28 weeks, due to severe pre-eclampsia. She went into renal failure and
underwent dialysis. At one point, her kidneys were functioning at only 3
percent. Allred has shared her journey on social media, inspiring thousands
of people. She received a lifesaving kidney transplant in February after a
friend donated one of his kidneys. Though her road to recovery is a long
one, Allred is facing it all with bravery, while enjoying special moments with
her newborn baby, Nora, and her husband, Drew.
Colon cancer advocate and world-class athlete Teri Griege remains an
inspiration to millions. Despite being diagnosed with Stage IV colon
cancer, Griege continued to pursue her life’s dream to compete in the
Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. Throughout the months
of chemotherapy, radiation treatments and surgeries, she continued to
train, overcoming exhaustion, nausea and naysayers, determined to show
the world that cancer wasn’t going to stop her. Griege is in her sixth year
battling cancer and continues to spread a message of hope. Among her
passions is the nonprofit Pedal the Cause, which helps raise funds for
DAWN HARPER NELSON
Two-Time Olympic Gold Medalist
Olympic gold medalist and East St. Louis native Dawn Harper Nelson is
the epitome of perseverance. Even after a few setbacks due to injury, she
is not slowing down. She continues to compete at a world-class level and
is working on her doctorate in psychology, while also studying French.
Locally, she is a community ambassador for United Way of Greater St.
Louis and supports the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation.
Owner/CEO, The Kelly Hager Group Real Estate Services
Kelly Hager’s story from coma to CEO of Kelly Hager Group Real Estate
Services and Kelly Hager International, and manager of the U.S. operations
of The Go Set, began when she was faced with an illness and near-death
experience in 2010. She awoke from a coma with organs shutting down, on
a ventilator; she could not walk, could barely speak, could not see, and had
very limited memory. Her husband left her and their 3-year-old son the first
day Hager came out of the ICU. But she worked hard to regain her health,
and became the architect of her own economy.
Morning Personality, Y98 FM
Radio personality Jen Myers went public with her breast cancer diagnosis
last year, when she told her listeners and social media followers that she was
scheduled to undergo a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.
There were many setbacks during her treatment, including word from
her doctor that her cancer, which was originally diagnosed as Stage I, was
Stage III and had spread to her skin. She underwent her last chemotherapy
treatment in early December, seven months after her diagnosis. To keep up
with her journey, visit y98.com.