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.

kingdom house_1 kingdom house_2 Kingdom house_3 Kingdom house_4

Good News Tuesday

good news tuesday

What’s your good news?
By richkidsunite, via Creative Commons

In our Good News Tuesday blog post each month, we highlight some of the accomplishments that members of our Young Professionals Network share with us.

This month, we’d like to offer congratulations to these members of the RBC/YPN community:

New jobs:

  • Adewale Soluade, Commerce Bank

Achievements and Recognition:


  • Ramon T. Stewart married MJ Smyzer-Stewart.

We’d love for you to be part of Good News Tuesday, too. Tell us when you’ve been promoted, if you’ve landed a brand new position or if you’ve launched another company. You can even announce your new baby, your volunteer efforts or your speaking engagements. Simply email the news to by the last Tuesday of the month, and we’ll consider it for publication. Here’s a tentative schedule:

  • News received by June 25 is published July 2.
  • News received by July 30 is published August 6.

Be sure to include full information, including pertinent names, titles, companies/organizations and contact information.

We’re proud of how hard our YPN members work to make St. Louis a better place to thrive, and we’re excited to sound the trumpets in congratulations. Join me in offering best wishes to this month’s YPN members, and don’t forget to share your own good news by emailing!


Meet the YPN Leadership 100: Roberto Garcia

Robert Garcia, RBC YPN

Robert Garcia can tell you the story behind Budweiser’s new “bow tie” can.

Some of the St. Louis region’s most creative minds are part of the RBC’s Young Professionals Network Leadership 100. But who are they and how are they helping to shape a stronger St. Louis?

That’s what we’re addressing in our blog series, “Meet the YPN Leadership 100,” where we introduce you to members of our YPN community who are providing exceptional leadership, service, culture and innovation to our area.

Today’s featured YPN Leadership 100 member is Roberto Garcia, associate brand manager for Budweiser at Anheuser-Busch InBev. Roberto earned his undergraduate degree in economics from University of Notre Dame du Lac and his MBA in global business strategy from University of North Carolina-Charlotte. He has been involved with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan St. Louis, the Latino Leadership Institute, the Michelob Ultra running team and other organizations.

Learn more about Roberto in our Q&A below! Continue reading

Fellows Program with Lethia Owens Helps Participants Boost Their Brands

RBC YPN Fellows session with Lethia Owens

Participants apply Lethia Owens’ branding tips during a leadership development session.

Stepping into a short work week can be difficult, but we’ve got a few tips for boosting your brand’s creativity that just may kick-start your Tuesday!

The Young Professionals Network recently continued its popular “Fellows-lite” leadership training series with the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative. On May 10, personal branding strategist and professional speaker Lethia Owens led “Executive Presence: Strategies for Building an Influential Leadership Brand” and shared many tips for enhancing personal and professional brands.

Some nuggets from Lethia’s address: Continue reading

10 Pieces of Advice for Graduates — and for Everybody

Tony Thompson, RBC

Tony Thompson receives honors after addressing Maryville University’s graduating class.

Regional Business Council leaders find wisdom in so many of their experiences. RBC member Tony Thompson, president and CEO of Kwame Building Group, recently shared some things he’s learned over the years with the graduates of Maryville University at their commencement exercises.

Tony tailored his remarks to the grads, but we think his advice applies to plenty of other life situations, too. Below, read Tony’s top ten pieces of advice. Continue reading

Meet the YPN Leadership 100: Nate Johnson

Nate Johnson

Nate Johnson will lead you to your perfect home in St. Louis.

Some of the St. Louis region’s most creative minds are part of the RBC’s Young Professionals Network Leadership 100. But who are they and how are they helping to shape a stronger St. Louis?

That’s what we’re addressing in our blog series, “Meet the YPN Leadership 100,” where we introduce you to members of our YPN community who are providing exceptional leadership, service, culture and innovation to our area.

Today’s featured YPN Leadership 100 member is Nate Johnson, president and broker of Real Estate Solutions, a full service residential real estate brokerage with a commitment to helping clients achieve their real estate goals. Nate earned his Missouri real estate license from the American School of Real Estate and has been a member of St. Louis Association of REALTORS since 1999, serving as president in 2011. He is involved with 100 Black Men of St. Louis, the St. Louis Crisis Nursery, Boys Hope/Girls Hope and other organizations.

Learn more about Nate in our Q&A below! Continue reading

YPN Members Enthusiastic About Imagination Library

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

Just one week after the project’s kick-off event, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library already is receiving enthusiastic support from members of the Young Professionals Network.

The first 25 donations to the project totaled more than $1,700 — enough to provide 64 children with a year’s worth of books, or to provide nearly 13 kids with five years of monthly books. We’re on our way to reaching YPN’s goal of providing 100 kids with five years’ worth of reading materials (and you can still help)! Continue reading