YPN Member Spotlight – February

YPN Member Spotlight

In our YPN Member Spotlight blog post, 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:

Achievements and Recognitions:

  • Congratulations to this year’s class of 2015 Young Leaders as honored by the St. Louis American Foundation! This year’s winners include the following YPN Leadership 100 Members: Sarajeni Hammond, Director of Talent Management at Monsanto, Matt Nelson, IT Security Analyst at Express Scripts, LaTanya Reeves, Community Development Officer at Enterprise Bank & Trust, Wale Soluade, Corporate Inclusion & Diversity Manager at Commerce Bank, Kimberly Burke-Thomas, Project Manager at US Bank and Founder of QKE 4 Growth, Kristin Thompson, Financial Advisor at Renaissance Financial Corporation and Nicole Woodie, Community Outreach and Player Involvement Manager at the St. Louis Rams.
  • Both Santiago Beltran, Logistics Planner / Business Analyst at Build-A-Bear Workshop and Arindam Kar, Partner at Bryan Cave, LLP were named as recipients of the St. Louis Business Journal’s esteemed 40 Under 40 recognition. Congratulations! Read more here
  • Sheena Hamilton, Litigation Associate at Armstrong Teasdale, will be recognized by the St. Louis County Bar Association as the Association’s Roy F. Essen Outstanding Young Lawyer, an honor awarded to an attorney licensed less than ten years who has shown excellence and distinguished unselfish service to the community. Congratulations! Read more here
  • Shertina Gillespie, Director of Systems Analysis – Data Quality & Analysis at MasterCard Worldwide, was recently appointed to the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri Board of Directors. Congratulations! Read more here

We’d love for you to be part of the YPN Member Spotlight, too. Tell us about your new promotion, if you landed a brand new position or if you launched another company. You can even announce your new baby, your volunteer efforts or your speaking engagements. Simply email the news to asinger@stlrbc.org by the last day of the month, and we’ll consider it for publication.

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 asinger@stlrbc.org!



Listen to the Members of the St. Louis Symphony and Raise Funds for Tuition at University City Childcare Center

deanna carrollJoin young professionals, civic leaders and members of the University City Childcare Center on Friday, August 22 at 6:30pm for the 9th Annual  Fairy Tales Concert to benefit the UCCC’s Tuition Assistance program. Deanna Carroll, Agent at State Farm and member of the YPN Leadership 100 and YPN Steering Committee, volunteers her time to help support and advance the mission and vision of the UCCC. Check out what she had to say about the UCCC, including a special offer for Friday’s concert, and how you can get involved.


Tell us a little about the mission of the University City Children’s Center. What sets UCCC apart from other childcare centers?

University City Children’s Center is committed to providing innovative, quality care and education to a racially, culturally, developmentally & socio-economically diverse population of children between the ages of 6 weeks and 6 years old.  We believe that Trust is the foundation of any value; Empathy & Compassion are found naturally in children; and that Joy is an essential element to creating and maintaining an emotionally healthy life.  As a result these core values are the basis for the learning environment created through the UCCC curriculum.  We focus on the whole child during these early years because we believe what happens early in life lasts a lifetime.

Two for One - YPNWhat can attendees expect from the 9th Annual Fairy Tales Can Come True Concert?

We are excited to hold our 9th Annual Concert for the benefit of UCCC’s Tuition Assistance program.  It will be held Friday, August 22nd, 2014 starting at 6:30pm. Because of our wonderful partnership with the Regional Business Council Young Professional Network in the past, we’d like to offer special pricing for YPN members. YPN members are eligible to purchase two tickets for $150 (Buy one, get one free). The evening will begin with a cocktail and passed Hors d’oeuvres reception followed by a concert by members of the St Louis Sympathy and will conclude with a dessert reception and more networking.  Attendees will be able to hear details and information about the UCCC program and mission. The artists performing include Melissa Brooks, Ruth Price and the Arianna String Quartet.

Can you talk about what the Lume Institute is, and how this approach is different from a traditional childcare center?

Lume Institute evolved from the values & methodologies developed by University City Children’s Center.  LUME Institute offers systemic & comprehensive approaches to early Childhood education.  Lume is dedicated to promoting innovative thinking, exploration, and knowledge sharing, while continuing to develop strategies that deepen the understanding of how children learn and grow.  The mission of LUME is to replicate the UCCC model by introducing teachers, administrators, families and other stakeholders to the integrative UCCC program that is transforming early childhood education and obtaining dynamic results.

How can YPN members get involved with and make a difference in childcare in St. Louis? Are there any volunteer opportunities or other ways to become engaged with UCCC?

UCCC is always looking for professionals interested in serving as volunteers at the center.  There are opportunities to volunteer with the children in the classrooms, in an administrative capacity as well as in several beautification projects held throughout the year on the campus.  We are also always interested in speaking to individuals interested in Board Service.  We periodically have openings for Board Members and seek qualified and interested candidates.


For more information about the UCCC and the Lume Institute or to purchase tickets for the concert, visit www.uccc.org. If you are interested in volunteering or serving on the Board, please contact Kris Schwetye at kschwetye@uccc.org or Deanna Carroll at deanna.corroll.icj7@statefarm.com.

The YPN works to provide its members with access to unique social experiences, volunteer opportunities and networking with other young professionals in the region. If you would like to feature your organization or an event on the YPN blog, please email rbccoordinator@stlrbc.org.

What Can Leadership 100 Do For You and Your Career?

In 2008, a small group of motivated and talented St. Louis college graduates of the RBC’s Mentor Network program were looking for a way to get involved with the city’s diverse network of business and community leaders. While making connections and exchanging business cards was one important piece to this idea of deliberate involvement, to attract and retain young talent in the region would demand more than building strictly professional relationships. The Young Professionals Network was hence established to provide a forum for young leaders in the St. Louis community to engage with each other socially, as well as having a shared passion for making the community they work in a better  place to live. These leaders believed that providing young professionals in St. Louis with unique opportunities for networking, professional development and community involvement would only enhance the business and social climate in the region.

Today, members have the opportunity to attend social, philanthropic, cultural and professional development opportunities throughout the year. Some of St. Louis’ most creative minds are part of the RBC’s Young Professionals Network Leadership 100, a group of 100 upper-echelon leaders that not only commit to being positive representatives of their companies, but of the St. Louis region and the YPN brand. Leadership 100 members receive numerous benefits of membership, including targeted leadership development opportunities, special invitations to events with major business and civic leaders and elected officials, as well as connections to non-profit boards of local organizations doing good for the community.

We asked a few of our Leadership 100 members to share their thoughts on what the program has done for them, not only from a professional standpoint, but from a personal one as well. Here’s what they had to say:

Sarajeni Hammond is the Talent Management Leader of Global Supply Chain for Monsanto. As active member of the YPN Leadership 100, she has taken full advantage of the leadership group’s networking possibilities.

“Because of the Young Professionals Network, I have participated in unique professional development opportunities throughout the year, like a conversation with the President at Webster University that encouraged me to step up and go for the next challenge in my professional life by leaving a very good job and joining Monsanto.  In addition, I was named to the FOCUS St. Louis board where I am proud to support the development of others.”

Jason Pierce, an architect for HOK, echoes Hammond’s thoughts on getting involved outside of your own personal network.

“The YPN Leadership 100 will give you the necessary push to get your head out of your computer monitor and your smartphone and get out there in the community and learn all you can about other industries and help you build your network.  Most, if not all of us, are really in the people business, and the only way to grow is become better at interacting and connecting with others.  YPN has the resources and opportunities to make this help you kick start your professional connectivity.”

SiSi Beltrán Martí works at Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. as the Senior Manager of International Bear Marketing. For SiSi, the variety of programming and exposure to different cultural and professional institutions are what drives her to stay committed to this wonderful program. She encourages young leaders:

“Don’t wait!  YPN Leadership 100 is an incredible gateway and can only help you – both in your professional development as well as your civic involvement. I’ve formed strong relationship with other members that have allowed us to collaborate on different projects to help our community.”

To apply for this year’s cohort of the YPN Leadership 100, click here.

For more information about the Young Professionals Network, click here.

Managing in the Middle—A YPN Professional Development Opportunity with Alesia Latson

As part of a collaborated effort between the Regional Business Council’s Young Professionals Network and the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative to provide unique professional development opportunities to its members, a group of over 50  YPN members, Leadership 100 members and SLBDI Fellows Alumni sat down for an engaging meeting on the topic of managing up to superiors and managing down to those you are in charge of. The event was hosted by RubinBrown, LLC in Clayton on Friday, June 27, 2014.

alesia_photoAlesia Latson, Senior Consultant and Facilitator of The Personal Brand Company, was the guest speaker for the event. Latson has held management and organizational development positions in financial services, healthcare and government industries and has been studying the application of leadership skills for over 17 years. She is also an adjunct faculty member at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA and is a return guest speaker of the YPN and SLBDI.

She facilitated the discussion by delivering insight on the topics of the art of active listening and how it can truly enhance both professional and personal relationships, how to deal with confrontation and disagreement from superiors, and an in-depth approach providing a step-by-step method of communicating both positive and constructive feedback to managers and coworkers.
Managing in the Middle

Latson used specific and direct examples for how to utilize these concepts within a professional workplace. She noted that although it’s encouraging to hear from your manager that “You’re doing a great job,” not sharing the impact of the behavior on the organization being commended or citing concrete observations about why the job being done is great can ultimately be a detriment to the work level and productivity of a worker. Participants were broken up into small groups after covering each subject to exercise improved listening techniques and practice administering feedback to a supervisor or coworker. The session concluded after participants shared with the group what they had learned and how some of the challenges they might see in putting these skills into practice.

Be sure to look for more professional development opportunities like this, as well as community service connections, civic/cultural events and more in the YPN monthly newsletter and on our Facebook events page. For a brief overview of the topics covered in the session, click here. For more information on Alesia Latson and her studies of the science of leadership and development, click here.


Meet the YPN Leadership 100: Matthew Nelson

Matthew Nelson with County Executive Dooley, former RBC Member Mark Burkhart and RBC Member Tony Thompson.

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 shape a stronger St. Louis?

Today’s featured YPN Leadership 100 member is Matthew Nelson, IT security analyst at Express Scripts Inc.

 Learn more about Matthew in our Q&A below!

  1. You wear many hats. How would you introduce yourself to a new YPN member?

I like to keep introductions pretty simple. To a new YPN member, after I welcome them, I would say that I’m in IT and I’m involved with a few community organizations. I am more interested in getting to know a new fellow member than talking about myself.

  1. What do you enjoy about belonging to the YPN? 

Kathy Osborn, Steven Harris, and the YPN steering committee have done a fantastic job providing not only premier networking opportunities at unique venues, but also development opportunities that are critical for career growth.

  1. Describe a favorite project that you’re currently working on. 

I have recently taken on a new role in Digital Forensics and Incident Response at Express Scripts.  I am really enjoying learning the methodologies for incident response as well as techniques that hackers use to harm organizations and steal data.  It’s extremely technical and I’m spending a lot of my time getting up to speed.

  1. Why should someone base their business in St. Louis? 

While I’m not a business owner, I do recognize that St. Louis is a great town to live in.  I’ve visited bigger cities and prefer the wide-open feel of St. Louis, as opposed to the congested nature of other cities. St. Louis has great food and many options for entertainment.

  1. What are your first three stops when an out-of-town friend visits? 

The Saint Louis Zoo and Grant’s Farm are fabulous to visit during the day. The Delmar loop is my all-time favorite for people watching and hanging out at night.

  1. What’s one St. Louis tradition that everyone must experience? 

Everyone should take a trip to the top of the Arch at least once.

Good News Tuesday

GoodIn 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 congratulate these members of the RBC/YPN community:

New Jobs

  • Todd Stadnik, Compliance Consultant, Wells Fargo Advisors
  • Eydi Cavalieri Arriojas, Human Resources Coordinator, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals
  • Tasha Turner, Senior Analytical Chemist, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals

We’re proud of how hard our YPN members work to make St. Louis a better place to thrive. Join us in offering best wishes to this month’s YPN members.

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 ypn@stlrbc.org by the last Tuesday of the month, and we’ll consider it for publication. Be sure to include full information, including pertinent names, titles, companies/organizations and contact information.

Congratulations, Johnny Wang!

Johnny Wang_Stinson Leonard Street LLPYPN Leadership 100 member, Johnny Wang, recently joined Stinson Leonard Street LLP’s St. Louis office as partner. Stinson Leonard Street LLP provides sophisticated transactional and litigation legal services to clients ranging from individuals and privately held enterprises to national and international public companies. 

                                                                                                                                   Wang is a member of the firm’s Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Division . He represents companies, nonprofit organizations, and public entities across all employment areas. He advises employers on day-to-day workplace matters, helping clients avoid employment controversies. Drawing from his litigation experience, he helps clients manage legal entanglements.He has first chair jury and bench trial experience, and has handled appellate matters before the Missouri Supreme Court including ERISA litigation and union issues.

Wang presents frequently on employment law and workplace-related subjects, including diversity and inclusion efforts. He is involved in diversity programming locally and nationally. He also helps employers build productive, sustainable diversity and inclusion programs. .

He was recently named a 2013 Up & Coming Lawyer by Missouri Lawyers Weekly and he received the Diverse Business Leader Award from the St. Louis Business Journal. Wang is active as founder and chair of the Missouri Minority Counsel Program. He is president of the Asian-American Chamber of Commerce of St. Louis, which he co-founded in 2012. He also served as president of the Missouri Asian-American Bar Association in 2012.

Wang earned a law degree from Washington University School of Law in 2005 and a bachelor’s degree, cum laude, from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2002.