stl250’s Burnin’ Love Festival


Looking for a unique way to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year? Skip the romantic dinner and flowers and celebrate with thousands of your closest friends and neighbors at the stl250’s Burnin’ Love Festival from 4:30-10:30 on Art Hill in Forest Park.

Love comes in many forms. There’s love for one’s hometown, love of great food and music, and love for a special someone. At the Burnin’ Love Festival, stl250 wants to honor all these different types of devotions with a fiery night staged on Valentine’s Day and St. Louis’ 250th anniversary.  We’re expecting tens of thousands of people to come out and transform Art Hill into “Heart Hill” on Valentine’s evening. Come join us and share what you love about St. Louis!

The family friendly event will feature live music performances, light shows, fire dancers and fireworks all centered around an amazing 25-foot flaming heart. Savory and sweet snacks will be available for purchase.

If you’re interested in volunteering, please let us know. Email Katie at

For more information about the Festival, please visit

We’ll see you on Valentine’s Day! 


Welcoming the South Asian Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis

The recently launched South Asian Bar Association will host a kick-off reception on Thursday, February 6. We spoke to Sreenu Dandamudi about the new group. 

  • Why did you decide to start the South Asian Bar Association?

There is a core group of a little over a dozen attorneys that worked to form this organization and this is very much a team effort.  As a native St. Louisan growing up in the 1980s, there was a sense that people in the South Asian community did not fit in with the overall St. Louis community.  We created this organization to work with other legal and community organizations so that South Asian Americans are a solid part of the St. Louis community.  

  • What are the qualifications for joining the SABA?  

Every licensed attorney, retired attorney, and law student in the metropolitan St. Louis region (both sides of the Mississippi river) is eligible for membership. 

  • What events do you have planned?

We have a Kick-Off Event planned for February 6.  We are working on events with local law firms and other local bar associations in April and June.  We are still in the planning stages of an annual dinner at the end of the summer and an event to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi’s 145th Birthday on October 2. 

  • How will the SABA benefit young professionals? 

This first year is to get the organization off the ground.  Once we’ve established the organization, we’d like to provide a network of job opportunities for young attorneys, networking opportunities for all attorneys, and legal assistance to those in need. 




Good News Continued

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 have so much good news to announce that we are posting our second blog.  

 We’d like to offer congratulations to these members of the RBC/YPN community:

  1. Vyas Suresh was elected partner at Bryan Cave where he has been practicing construction and real estate law for 8 years.
  2. Amber Simpson submitted her application to open Venare Learning charter school in 2016.
  3. Tiffany Hamilton, Owner of Hamilton Group, has received the “2013 Five Star: Best in Client Satisfaction Real Estate Agent Award!”
  4. Valerie Greer and Jason Dale Pierce of HOK were selected as an Engineering News Reports Midwest’s Top 20 under 40 design and construction professionals.
  5. Arindam Kar of Bryan Cave was appointed to the Board of the International Institute.
  6. Sameer Andi was promoted to Vice President of Software Engineering at MasterCard.
  7. Nate Johnson of Real Estate Solutions was appointed to the 2014 Smart Growth Advisory Board by the National Association of Realtors.
  8. Alex McCuien of AT&T joined the Young Ambassadors of YWCA of Metro St. Louis.
  9. Sarajeni Hammond recently joined the FOCUS St. Louis Board of Directors and co-chaired the Move & Shake! Event that raised $50,000+ for the organization.
  10. Jeffrey Bickley was recently hired by McDonald’s USA, LLC as the Human Resources Consultant for the St. Louis Region.
  11. Jessica Mendez of Armstrong Teasdale was named General Council for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro St. Louis.
  12. Tara Gause of Barnes-Jewish Hospital was elected to the Board of Health Literacy.
  13. Pradeep Rajendran was recently hired as a Senior Project Manager at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  14. George Kim was promoted to Director of Corporate Services for the Keefe Group-a Centric Group Company.

Be sure to congratulate our YPN members! Leave a comment below or share on social media. 

The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Welcomes Mayor Julián Castro to the 5th Annual Speaker Series


San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro presents at the 5th Annual Hispanic Chamber Speaker Series

St. Louis’ Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will host their 5th Annual Speaker Series this Friday, January 17 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Mayor Castro will discuss “How Cities Thrive in the 21st Century Global Economy.” We spoke to Hispanic Chamber’s Vianey Beltran about the event.

Why did the chamber decide to start the Speaker Series events?
The purpose of this event is to highlight people of Hispanic descent who are making a significant impact on our region and country.

What other major speakers have you highlighted in the past?
Past speakers include: Martin A. Sandoval (Illinois State Senator), George Paz (CEO of Express Scripts) and Consuelo Madere (Vice President Global Vegetable & Asia Commercial for Monsanto).

What are some of Mayor Castro’s accomplishments that make him attractive to the St. Louis market and this Speaker Series?
The great change and growth that Mayor Castro has achieved in San Antonio is very inspiring. This growth, as well as the engagement of the Hispanic community, is something that we are currently striving to achieve in the St. Louis region. A 39-year-old San Antonio native, Mayor Julián Castro is the youngest mayor of a Top 50 American city. First elected on May 9, 2009, Mayor Castro handily won re-election in 2011 with nearly 82 percent of the vote, making him the fifth Hispanic mayor of that city. He became a household name after being selected by President Barack Obama to deliver the Keynote Address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. Many consider him as having the potential to become the first Hispanic president of the United States.

Throughout his tenure, Mayor Castro has focused on attracting well-paying jobs in 21st century industries, positioning San Antonio to be a leader in the New Energy Economy and raising educational attainment across the spectrum. The overall leadership and vision that he has given San Antonio through innovative ideas such as SA2020, a community-wide visioning effort turned nonprofit that has galvanized thousands of San Antonians around a simple, but powerful vision for San Antonio — to create a brainpower community that is the liveliest city in the nation, has seen spillover effects in Texas as well as inspired those across the nation. This impact is seen through his involvement with various organizations such as the 2013 National Development Council.

Overall, community and economic development is a central focal point here at the Hispanic Chamber and we wanted to have the opportunity to share his ideas and strategic plans with our community.

For more information, or to purchase tickets to the 5th Annual Speaker Series visit

Good News Tuesday, Part 1

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 have so much good news to announce that we’ll have to save some for next week!

We’d like to offer congratulations to these members of the RBC/YPN community:

Linda Jing was promoted to Director of Global Strategy and Operations – Breeding at Monsanto. She also received the Monsanto Global Vegetable Business Outstanding Award, the highest recognition for individuals within Monsanto’s Vegetable Business.

Darryl Tyler was recently hired as Vice President, Client Manager at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Raegan Johnson, Environmental Safety & Health Project Manager at Monsanto begins her PhD research with a focus on increasing access and assessing the consumption of fruits and vegetables.

• Steve Ponciroli, Principal at North Highland Worldwide Consulting, joined the Logos School Board of Directors.

Joe Mark of Enterprise Bank and Trust was elected Chair of the St. Louis Sports Commission Associates for 2014.

Charlene Johnson, Director of Business Development at Affordable Equity Partners, will be the 2014 Co-Chair of the United Way of Greater St. Louis’ Young de Toqueville Society.

Yao Shi joined the team at Regions Bank as Vice President and Relationship Manager, Local Real Estate Division.

Roberto Garcia was promoted to Brand Manager with the Imports, Craft and Specialty team at Anheuser-Busch. He was elected president of the Anheuser-Busch Hispanic/Latino Employee Resource Group.

Renita Duncan was recently promoted to Manager in RubinBrown’s Assurance Group.

Zundra Bryant of MasterCard recently served as a motivational speaker during the Washington University TRiO Program welcome session and is being sponsored by her company in the Washington University’s Women’s Leadership Forum Certificate program.

Keisha Mabry was promoted to Retail Business Development Manager – New Suppliers at Dot Foods, Inc. She also joined the Magic House’s Young Professionals Board.

April Cole was promoted to Senior Channel Enablement Manager at Savvis, A CenturyLink company.

Be sure to congratulate our YPN members! Leave a comment below or share on social media.

New Year’s Resolutions

ImageWe talked to YPN member, Naretha Hopson, about her New Year’s resolutions and how she plans to keep them. Naretha offers some great tips for those looking to fulfill 2014 resolutions.

• Briefly describe your company and your role.
Founder and Executive Director, Ever-Appropriate Etiquette Institute. A Character and Leadership Development Company that empowers individuals through etiquette and soft skills development.

• What are your top three resolutions for 2014? These can be personal or professional.
o Business- Sustainable growth and reach within my business. This includes careful cultivation and maintenance of my network.
o Financial- Become more astute financially. Practice wealth building principles.
o Personal- Keep the main thing, the main thing. Balance time and mastery of communication, particularly with my son and significant other.

• What steps do you take to keep your resolutions?
o Business- Stay on course with my strategic plan, which includes writing a book and online courses. Joined a speaker’s bureau. In regard to my network, FOLLOW UP and regularly check in.
o Financial- Currently going through the Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.
o Personal- Schedule quality time with those who are dear and unplug from technology during those times.

• In your opinion, what’s the difference between a resolution and a goal?
A resolution is a desire. A goal is written, with a plan that includes easily achievable steps to attain the desired result. It is a certainly possible to turn a resolution into an achieved goal.

• Do you have any tips for young professionals setting New Year’s resolutions?
Begin with a written plan. Look at it at least daily. Visualize your success and study those who have mastered your goal, daily. Have an accountability partner(s). Take note that each action, every day brings us closer to, or further from the goal. Find a way to make the journey enjoyable.