The Importance of Women’s Leadership Giving

We recently talked to Charlene Johnson, Director of Business Development at Affordable Equity Partners, regarding the importance of female business leaders giving back to the community. She says, “When giving is imbedded in the culture of your organization, you attract and retain amazing talent.”


1. Why is it important for businesses leaders, and in particular, women leaders in business to give back to the community?

Women business leaders are redefining power and as a result are broadening their involvement, which includes changing long-held cultural perceptions about women and wealth. In the United States, women control or influence more than 80 percent of purchasing decisions. Companies are recognizing that when they support women – as customers, as employees, leaders, future investors, and partners – both the businesses and communities win.

2. Have you found that by giving back you can actually grow your business? If so, how?

The key to success for any business is the ability to connect with your customers and the employees that serve them. If you incorporate giving to your business, your customers become your markets. When giving is imbedded in the culture of your organization, you attract and retain amazing talent.

3. What should young professionals be doing who want to give back, but might not have the means to give at a leadership level?

Philanthropy is a personal journey in leadership at the highest level. Young professionals can cultivate their leadership skills by investing their time, talent and energy to improve their community. This provides opportunities not always available in the workplace to work alongside and learn from business and civic leaders.

4. Can you share anything else about your experience giving back to the community?

As the daughter of a career Army sergeant and government civil servant, my comfort has always come from a sense of purpose and clearly defined mission. I have been provided amazing opportunities through my service in the community and look forward to playing an active role in the region’s efforts to change the face of St. Louis.

The RBC Supports the Asian Heritage Festival

The St. Louis RBC supports diverse businesses and fosters growth and development among diverse young professionals through the Young Professionals Network. We are proud to support a variety of multicultural chambers, including St. Louis’ Asian American Chamber of Commerce (AACC).

The AACC is dedicated to being the “umbrella organization” for all Asian American businesses and organizations in the St. Louis Region.

On Saturday, October 5th, the AACC will host their second annual Asian Heritage Festival at Seafood City on Olive Boulevard in Olivette (8020 Olive Blvd, St. Louis, Missouri 63130). The festival will feature food, merchandise, and information from a variety of the Asian ethnic businesses, non-Asian businesses, groups, and nonprofit organizations along with entertainment in a family-friendly environment. The goal is to have representation from ALL of the Asian ethnic groups here in St. Louis to make this a true taste of Asian and Asian American culture.

St. Louis is fortunate to have a vast array of Asian American ethnicities including Chinese, Indian, Korean, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Filipino, Pakistani, Indonesian, and more. While the AACC celebrates the uniqueness of each culture, it believes that Asian Americans, like all Americans, share common values and aspirations, and the AACC seeks to bring those together for the good of the community.

We hope to see you on October 5th

The RBC Congratulates Charlie Brennan on 25 Years


Today marks KMOX radio host, Charlie Brennan’s, 25-year anniversary. Charlie is a trusted news anchor and a consummate professional. He shines a spotlight on our city and highlights the great people and businesses in St. Louis. Charlie is a friend of the St. Louis RBC and we appreciate all he does to promote our mission.


In the ever-changing media industry, reaching the silver anniversary is quite a feat. Congratulations, Charlie, and keep up the good work! 

Recap of Insight St. Louis Event

Last weekend, dozens of our Young Professional Network Members had the opportunity to network with student participants in the InSight St. Louis Emersion Trip. The non-profit organization InSight St. Louis is dedicated to recruiting the best graduates from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) to the St. Louis region to live and work.


InSight brought 30 young adults to town from schools including Howard and Moorehouse to interview with local companies. The RBC’s YPN met InSight members for dinner and did their best to encourage them to start their career in St. Louis. The RBC is focused on recruiting young minority talent to St. Louis. We hope this class of future graduates strongly considers starting their career in the Gateway to the West!


To learn more about our partner organization visit


Five Questions with Joshua Randall of Kwame Building Group

1.       What drew you to this region?  

I was born and raised in St. Louis.  I left when I was 17 years old to attend Purdue University and from there spent a short time working in Atlanta followed by nearly 10 years in Silicon Valley.  I was drawn back to St. Louis by the professional opportunity that presented itself with Kwame Building Group and the opportunity to raise my family near their extended family.
2.       What is the best piece of sales advice you’ve received? 

Sales is 80% listening and 20% talking.  Often sales people are so passionate about their product/service/solution that they reverse the ratio and never truly understand the needs of their client.
3.       Can you offer any sales tips for young professionals?  

Listen more…talk less!
4.       What is your greatest accomplishment at KWAME?  

I don’t know that I, individually, have had any accomplishments at KWAME.  We recently won a significant project with a new client in a new geographic market.  It would be disingenuous for me to take full credit for this accomplishment and would unfairly minimize the contributions of our extremely talented team.  Everything that we do is around collaboration and diversity of ideas in order to ensure that we are in position to bring the greatest value to our clients.  I am extremely proud of all that we have accomplished over the past 23 years and truly excited about the many things we will accomplish in the future.
5.       What is one way St. Louis can attract and maintain new young professionals?  

Young professionals are looking for opportunities – opportunities for professional growth, personal development, financial reward.  Young professionals what to be part of something that is bigger than themselves and certainly bigger than a paycheck.  I am excited by the energy that is beginning to gather in St. Louis around the start-up community, CORTEX, etc.  As a business community, we have to continue to make these opportunities available within our organizations, support entrepreneurs within our community, and engage these young professionals as an integral part of improving our community.

RBC Congratulates Two St. Louis Diverse Business Leaders

We are proud to salute two YPN members as St. Louis Diverse Business Leaders.

Joshua Randall, President of KWAME Building Group, and Chris Chung, President and Chief Executive Officer of Missouri Partnership, will be recognized as part of the St. Louis Business Journal’s 2013 class of Diverse Business Leaders. The awards luncheon will be held on Friday, September 13 at Palladium Saint Louis.

Joshua Randall joined KWAME as a sales engineer in 2004 and quickly climbed up the ranks to President in 2012. Randall is responsible for securing numerous major multi-million dollar contracts including: Lambert-Saint Louis International Airport “Airport Experience,” Ameren Landfill Gas-to-Electricity, SSM HealthCare’s St. Clare Hospital, and more.

Chris Chung joined the Missouri Partnership in 2007 as the corporation’s first Chief Executive Officer, and first employee. Chung directs the Missouri Partnership’s efforts to globally market Missouri for new business investment. Chung says that St. Louis is most widely known and naturally features prominently in all discussions because of the city’s economic assets, both corporate and educational.

Diversity and inclusion play an important role in maintaining businesses’ competitive advantage, and St. Louis is honored to have a number of diverse leaders, from high-ranking executives to fast-moving entrepreneurs, who are making their mark. Congratulations Joshua and Chris!

To learn more about our two honorees, check us out on LinkedIn.

Recap of the Young Professionals Networking Event



We had a great night at our annual Young Professionals Networking event. Fabulous people, fabulous food, and a fabulous venue! It’s only fitting that the top young professionals in St. Louis meet and greet in the city’s hottest new location.

The St. Louis Art Museum was electric, but even more electric were our attendees. The air was buzzing with energy… people meeting new friends, making new contacts, and growing their business/career one step at a time.

We have a great support system of young professionals in the area. The more we invest in each other, and the more new business we can secure, the more we will shine a spotlight on our young professionals and the entire St. Louis region. By attracting and maintaining bright new Millennials, we will continue to grow St. Louis and our surrounding metropolitan area.

The RBC Welcomes InSight


The CEOs who comprise the Regional Business Council focus much of their energy on improving our local talent development and inclusive business practices.  They believe both are crucial to our region’s business growth.  We coordinate programs like the Young Professionals Network, and we partner with organizations with missions that support our goal of attracting and retaining an ethnically diverse and talented workforce.

One such organization that helps college graduates and young professionals find their perfect match is InSight St. Louis. InSight is a non-profit organization dedicated to recruiting the best graduates from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) to the St. Louis region to live and work.

On Friday, RBC Young Professionals will meet InSight’s rising stars, 30 young adults brought to town from schools including Howard and Moorehouse to interview with local companies. Our Young Professionals will have the opportunity to network with these soon-to-be graduates and help guide them to their perfect job—in St. Louis, of course.

Please join me in welcoming InSight participants to St. Louis. We hope this class of future graduates strongly considers starting their career in the Gateway to the West.

Five Questions with Kate Gleason, Membership Manager, St. Louis Art Museum

In preparation for our YPN annual networking reception next Tuesday, Sept. 10 at the St. Louis Art Museum, we had a chance to talk to Kate Gleason on the importance of joining a young friends committee. Thanks, Kate, for your time. 

  1. Why is it important for young professionals to be involved with a “young friends” committee? 

At the Museum, our Young Friends is a great way for younger people to get involved with the Museum in a variety of ways—from the social and educational aspects to philanthropic and leadership building ones. Our Young Friends Steering Committee has really been a training ground for many future leaders within the museum. Past Young Friends now serve on our Board of Trustees, Corporate Committee, and Friends Board. They also give to the Museum at a variety of levels.

When someone begins with an organization on their Young Friends board or as part of their Young Friends membership group, they gain valuable insight into how a nonprofit is run and how a nonprofit relies on volunteers to help raise funds, advocate, plan events, grow audience, and most importantly, fulfill mission. It’s a great way to get to know key leaders not only at the nonprofit itself, but also throughout the community.

And, of course, it’s a great way to meet young people with similar interests and passions!

2.      What are some benefits for SLAM Young Friends?

To be a SLAM Young Friends Member, you must first join the Museum with a membership donation of at least $150. This membership alone provides a number of benefits—free exhibition admission, discounts, reciprocal privileges at more than 600 museums around the country. When you add the Young Friends option onto that membership, you get even more—namely, invitations to a variety of events at the Museum and at other cultural institutions in town. Young Friends Members are instantly connected to what’s happening not only at the Museum, but also around the community. Young Friends Members also have the benefit of meeting the Museum’s curators and, often times, visiting artists we bring to St. Louis from throughout the country.

 3.      How many young friends do you currently have and what is your goal for next year?

In 2013, the Museum changed the minimum membership requirement to be a Young Friends Member. Prior to this year, the Young Friends had been available for entry-level Members. This year, we asked our Young Friends to increase their commitment and made the minimum requirement a $150 donation.

With that increase, our membership numbers have, as expected, decreased a little bit. We currently have about 400 Members. Our goal for next year is to grow that number, but it is also to continue to offer very exclusive opportunities for our Young Friends Members as a way to say “thank you” for their support.

4.      Have you seen an increase in Young Friends membership due to the recent expansion?

We have certainly seen an increase in all levels of membership. Again, because of our recent changes, the increase for Young Friends is not as dramatic as some other levels of membership. That said, the new East Building has really breathed new life into this entire institution and our audience.

5.      If a young professional just moved to St. Louis, looking to start a career here, what advice would you give?

I would say that getting involved with organizations and institutions that interest you is a great first step to meeting people, exploring what the cultural landscape of St. Louis has to offer, and just seeing new places around town. Committing to a cause, getting on a board, volunteering in any sort of capacity is a great way to grow professionally and personally.  

Young Professional Members Visited Kingdom House

Recently, 20 members of our Young Professionals Network visited the Kingdom House in downtown St. Louis. They spent a morning reading to three, four and five year olds to support Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Project. This project, which the RBC’s Young Professional Members have adopted for its’ 2013 service project, encourages young children to start reading.

Raegan Johnson, a Project Manager at Monsanto Company, was one of our volunteers. She said, “The children were excited to hear me read the book, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Without hesitation, they joined me every time I read the phrase ‘Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!’ Their enthusiasm energized me.”

Early-childhood reading stimulates the imagination, encourages cultural exploration and contributes to better grades. “As a child, I loved to read book series like Ramona, Sweet Valley High, and The Babysitters Club. What I thought was just a recreational pastime was really helping to build reading, vocabulary, creative thinking and comprehension skills,” continued Johnson.

Literacy is a basic need, and it’s one everyone should be encouraged to be able to meet.  By exposing children to reading very early on, and making it fun, we are setting children up to be successful.  That’s what this initiative is about – realizing illiteracy is not a “their” problem, it’s an “our” problem, and we can all be a part of the solution.

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