The Power List: 100 People Who Are Shaping St. Louis

The Power List
A look at how the landscape is changing
We’ve all been slumped in our seats for years, muttering that St. Louis is run by the same old names, that we’re sick of power dynasties, that we’re a racist city/county that got sliced in half and then chopped into tiny pieces…

Sit up. Real change is beginning.

Granted, its soundtrack starts with a giant whooshing sound from City Hall, where there’s a temporary but obvious power vacuum. Francis Slay has been mayor since…when, Prohibition? Like him or not, his lame-duckness puts the city’s future up for grabs.

Meanwhile, keep your eye on the new wave of aldermen—young, idealistic, feisty. The number of wards is set to shrink, so the remaining alders’ fiefdoms will grow—but these folks want to smash medieval customs altogether. They communicate—express outrage, gather support, raise red flags—by way of social media, and that, one former power broker tells us, “has changed everything. The influencers no longer have to wear Sam Cavato suits. They can stay up all night drinking craft beer and influence in their pajamas from bed the next day.” (Or they show up at a meeting at City Hall, and their constituents can watch it in their pajamas on YouTube.)

The old power brokers were moneyed and connected (to people who’d actually met them in person), and they backslapped a barter of favors. But many of those familiar names are slipping away—dying, retiring, getting bought out, or moving someplace sunnier. “The days of unfettered power are over,” another insider remarks. “There’s too much scrutiny in the world.”

Yes and no. The old, established forms of scrutiny—investigative reporting at a daily newspaper, for example—are underfunded and underpracticed. St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Tony Messenger earned his place on this list the day that he wrote about “ward politics in the city of St. Louis and the oversized power of the political families that run certain wards, be they the Hubbards or the Slays, the Villas or the Carters.” We’re in the era of pushback, and its first demand is transparency.

Remember when the biggest criticism of St. Louis was how provincial we were? It’s not even possible to be provincial anymore. We’re not a city and a county; we’re a region. Money pours in from donors in other states to influence our politics. One of our biggest companies went to the Belgians, and now Bayer, headquartered in Germany, has made the largest cash bid on record to acquire Monsanto.

The dinosaurs might be in trouble, but the startups are thriving—we’ve been dubbed the “fastest-growing startup scene in America,” and a tenth of the businesses in the metro area are shiny new companies.

With all the selloffs and pop-ups, our economic power is now as fragmented as our geography, with its varied neighborhoods and subcultures and tiny municipalities. But we’re starting to question that patchwork, looking at ways to share, merge, partner, and let public transport tie us together. Ferguson lit up the injustices of the status quo, and when Washington University’s “For the Sake of All” report mapped health, wealth, education, and life span by ZIP code, the data was so clear, no one could ignore it. That new awareness is filtering into practice.

St. Louis still has its old guard, inspired by noblesse oblige and accustomed to old divisions. You’ll find many of those names on this list. But they’re rubbing shoulders with people they’ve never socialized with, people new to the corridors of power.

Nothing’s automatic anymore. And that’s making room for change.
Left to right: The Rev. Traci Blackmon, Dr. Ghazala Hayat, Mike Wolff (Photography by John Fedele, SLU School of Law, Matt Marcinkowski)

The Rev. Starsky Wilson
President and CEO, Deaconess Foundation
It’s rare to find someone who can both take to the streets as part of the Ferguson protests and co-chair a commission with a Republican businessman. Wilson heads the Deaconess Foundation, which aims to help vulnerable children, and he co-chairs the Ferguson Commission. And the pastor hasn’t given up the protests: He and community leaders occupied Mayor Slay’s office to ask why he had not attended a meeting to discuss the commission’s recommendations.
Dr. Ghazala Hayat
Neurologist, SLUCare
Hayat is a neurologist, so she understands the quirks of the human brain. Patiently, she translates across cultures—leading the Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis familiarized her with the many local faith traditions—and smashes preconceptions as she goes. She’s established discussion groups for Jews and Muslims, and in her Faith Perspectives blog posts for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, she offers sorely needed background about Islam. If the collective will is strong enough, she says, “we can reject prejudice toward any group.”
Anna Crosslin
President and CEO, International Institute
Immigrants and refugees might be a source of anxiety for some, but Crosslin welcomes them with open arms. A Japanese-American born in Tokyo, Crosslin has headed the International Institute since 1978. She understands the value added to the local economy and society through an ongoing infusion of new residents. Since recently moving into the former home of St. Elizabeth’s Academy, with four times the space of the old location, the institute has more room for English and citizenship classes, as well as a range of assistance in counseling, financial literacy, business development, legal services, and refugee resettlement.
Cecilia Nadal
Founder, Gitana Productions
Art’s power is self-expression, and Nadal hands that power to people nobody’s hearing. After watching the Black and Blue play that she produced, police and protesters discussed Ferguson together. In this year’s New World, refugees tell their stories. Kids who were traumatized in other countries are transformed by Nadal’s classes, which teach healing through the arts. She has a gift for softening bias and hatred with understanding.
Rabbi Susan Talve
Founder, Central Reform Congregation
Her moral center’s put her ahead of the curve for decades—she’s been performing same-sex marriages since 1981. She also kept Central Reform in the city as a way to take a stand against white flight and racial inequality. Talve was on the front lines of Ferguson; last year, as a guest at a White House Hanukkah celebration, she lit a candle for forefathers and foremothers and spoke up for Black Lives Matter and Palestine, urging us to “stand firm until all members of the community would see God in the face of the other.” Cultural progress is finally catching up with Talve—and now she’s using her influence to make sure those changes endure.
Becky James-Hatter
President and CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters
Becky James-Hatter agreed to serve on the Ferguson Commission because it mattered so much. But she doesn’t have a mile-long board list—she’s kept her focus on Big Brothers Big Sisters for more than two decades. “She does mentoring better than almost anyone in the country,” a source tells us, pointing out the White House recognition that she received for her tireless efforts.
Nancy Rice
Executive director, Better Together
Before joining Better Together, Rice helped found Forest Park Forever and campaigned for local control of the police department. Though Better Together has drawn criticism for its ties to Rex Sinquefield, it has produced quality research on the potential benefits of collaboration and coordination among government services. And though reuniting the city and county remains a bridge too far (for now), many of the group’s findings could still be implemented.
Mike Wolff
Dean, Saint Louis University School of Law
He’s served as chief justice of the Missouri Supreme Court and dean of the SLU School of Law, but these days Wolff derives his authority from an archetype.When people have a conflict, a dilemma, a social injustice, or a sticky ethical situation, they bring it to Wolff. His boyish, self-deprecating humor banishes any sense of Solomon, but he swiftly extricates the real issue from the confused mess of bias, politicking, and misperception. When Wolff offers an opinion, his words carry weight.
John Ammann
Supervisor, SLU Law Litigation Clinic
Whether it’s the debate over football stadium financing or fallout from the Ferguson protests, Ammann seems to be at the forefront of nearly every important legal battle in St. Louis, challenging the establishment. At the head of an army of third-year law students, he keeps governments accountable and protects people who couldn’t otherwise afford his help. When the powerful people on this list get out of line, Ammann is the conscience who keeps them in check.
Kim Norwood
Professor, Washington University School of Law
Just as Arch City Defenders fights systemic racism in St. Louis’ municipal courtrooms, Norwood is fighting it in the classroom, shaping syllabi around Ferguson and the intersection of race, class, and education. A new anthology she edited, Ferguson’s Fault Lines: The Race Quake That Rocked a Nation, examines the systemic failures that contributed to Michael Brown’s death—and the social media–fueled protests in its wake. Her scholarly research on Ferguson resulted in a position on the committee that is monitoring implementation of the Department of Justice consent decree, as well as invitations to participate in conferences organized by the White House.
The Rev. Traci Blackmon
Pastor, Christ the King United Church of Christ
The “Ferguson effect” has been argued as a factor, or nonfactor, in any number of developments, including whether it plays a role in crime, police work, or racial interactions. The events following the killing of Michael Brown definitely had an effect on Blackmon. The first female pastor of her church, she became a member of the Ferguson Commission and was named to Ebony magazine’s Power 100. Last October, Blackmon’s church hosted a panel discussion on race that included presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Blackmon also took a position as the executive of the UCC Justice and Witness Ministries, based in Cleveland, where she spends two weeks per month.
The Mayoral Race:
Names Being Floated as Candidates

St. Louis is about to exit its Francis G. Slay era, which lasted a record 16 years. The final four months might resemble the recent Republican presidential primary, numerically if not politically. There will be a slew of candidates, possibly approaching double digits (and possibly including Bill Haas’ fifth run). Political junkies will get their fixes. The filing deadline is January 6, the primary March 7. Will there be a Trumpian option? An Independent for the general election? It’s too soon to tell. There’s a good chance that the city will see its first female mayor, yet no guarantee. The old math was black-and-white; the new math is race, gender, and the Young and the Restless (i.e. Bernie-crats, those who long for change). Who will move into Room 200? –D.J. Wilson
Tishaura Jones
Twice elected as a state representative and twice elected as city treasurer, Jones has achieved name recognition and citywide electability. She’s improved the image of the city treasurer’s office, designated $2 million to further study MetroLink, and opposed the stadium. Even though she supported Hillary Clinton, the 12 city wards that went for Bernie in March will probably lean her way, in part because of her anti-stadium stance.
Lyda Krewson
The CWE alderwoman is seen to be the mainstream, predictable, safe candidate. A CPA, she holds a day job as a chief financial officer for a downtown design and planning firm. She’s been an alderman for 19 years. After losing a run at citywide office in 2002 in the aldermanic president’s race, name recognition might be an obstacle. She backed the proposed NFL stadium and was among the earliest supporters of Clinton. She might be seen as too mainstream for the Young and the Restless.
Lewis Reed
The current aldermanic president ran for mayor in 2013, losing to Slay. His other work background is in information technology. A bike enthusiast and collegiate wrestler, he’s originally from Joliet, Illinois. He backed the stadium. A dustup with Alderwoman Megan Green following a visit to an AM radio station didn’t score him points. He has been elected to citywide office, and voters know who he is.
Gregg F.X. Daly
Currently the collector of revenue for the city, Daly is a City Hall lifer who at one point was the right-hand man for Slay. He’s politically connected, but might be too old-school for the Young and the Restless. A sharp-dressed man, Daly has an overall experience and élan that might make him a comfortable choice for some.
Antonio French
The 21st Ward alderman made a name for himself during the turmoil in Ferguson, gaining a high profile on mainstream media and a ubiquitous online presence. He has 133,000 followers on Twitter. He started the North Campus initiative in his ward to provide mentoring and tutoring to local youth. In years past, he worked with Reed and pushed Slay for more action against crime. He’s thought to be progressive, even though he voted for the stadium.
Sam Dotson
The city police chief has a résumé constructed for a mayoral run, having spent time on the police force and in City Hall. He’s media savvy; the trouble is, the TV-news preoccupation with crime links him to a public perception of high crime, no matter how many stats show otherwise. He’s stayed out of the stadium spat. In the right mix of candidates, he could have a shot, particularly with Republicans who vote as Democrats in the March primary.
Jamilah Nasheed
An energetic state senator, Nasheed would bring energy and unpredictability to a mayoral race. Though she has no compunctions about doing what she feels is the right thing to do, some might question her progressive credentials: She supports gun control but was arrested in Ferguson while legally carrying a gun; she supported funding for the stadium; and she refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance during the September veto session in Jefferson City.
What Drove Jack Taylor

Just how does a guy who left college to fly a Hellcat in World War II take a company from seven cars to more than 1.7 million? How does a guy whose personal financial goal is “a reasonably nice house,” new cars every few years, and maybe a condo in Florida someday become one of the world’s 250 wealthiest billionaires?

Jack Taylor came home saying, with a shrug, that he’d had “an easy war,” because when he did manage to land that tin can on that bobbing boat, he had a warm, dry bed to sleep in, and many guys didn’t. For the sake of those who didn’t make it, he vowed that he’d be happy every day, take nothing for granted. Employees remember his stock question: “Are you having fun?” Never mean-spirited, he was impossible to anger. And because he’d been tested, quite literally, by fire, he freely took risks—what was the worst that could happen? As the company grew, he promoted from within, surrounding himself with people he trusted—for instance, current CEO Pam Nicholson—and teaching them to trust their gut. Another secret was his family’s consistency at the helm: He raised the sort of son and daughter he could trust to carry on, and he watched over his granddaughters like a benevolent hawk, lest the family’s wealth endanger their safety or character.

When he began to give away money, he chose what had brought him joy, such as Forest Park, or what would put St. Louis on the map, like a world-class symphony. But in recent years, he was growing more keenly aware of poverty’s raw need. “If I had my way,” he said, “I would love to have every kid that’s born in St. Louis have a good home, a good family, and be able to get up and go to school in clean clothes and have a good breakfast every morning.” Jack Taylor died July 2. He was 94. His son, Andy Taylor, is executive chairman of Enterprise, and Andy’s daughter Chrissy Taylor is executive vice president and chief operating officer. Jack’s daughter, Jo Ann Taylor Kindle, heads the Enterprise Holdings foundation and manages the Crawford Taylor Foundation, and her daughter Carolyn Kindle Betz is vice president and executive director of Enterprise Holdings. Jack had no need to worry about his legacy.
Left to right: Kelvin Adams,Travis Sheridan, Sam Fiorello (Photography by Kevin A. Roberts and Wesley Law)

Jerry Schlichter
Board president, Arch Grants
The New York Times dubbed him the “Lone Ranger of the 401(k)’s” for fighting to keep retirement accounts from being gobbled up by excessive fees. Here in St. Louis, Schlichter is better known as the co-founder of Arch Grants. And Mentor St. Louis, a nonprofit that he co-founded with his wife, has grown into the region’s largest school-based mentoring program. You might call him the “Lone Ranger of St. Louis’ brain drain.”
James Carrington
President, Donald Danforth plant Science Center
Five years ago, when Carrington became president of the center, the Danforth Foundation gave its last $70 million to the endeavor. Today, after a recent campus expansion, Carrington leads a large team of scientists who are pioneering in a diverse array of fields, including plant phenotyping and proteomics (the study of proteins in plants). With a Ph.D. from Berkeley, Carrington speaks the language fluently: His recent lecture “RNA-Silencing Mechanisms in Plants” demonstrated some of the complex ideas being researched at the center.
Jim McKelvey
Co-founder, Third Degree Glass Factory; Co-founder, Square
When we named McKelvey to this list four years ago, we predicted that he would “transform St. Louis into a global tech hub—just like he turned your phone into a bank.” Sure enough, tech leaders rejoiced when McKelvey announced a new office for Square in Cortex last year. And the glassblower’s nonprofit LaunchCode is building the city’s tech talent one apprenticeship at a time.
Elizabeth Stroble
President, Webster University
A palm tree fire in Bangkok wouldn’t seem to be of much concern to the president of a university in St. Louis, yet the incident at Webster’s Thailand campus exemplifies Stroble’s challenge in operating the numerous campuses around the world. As the university addressed the problems in Bangkok, Webster’s downtown campus moved from the Old Post Office’s basement to the Arcade Building. Over time, she’s helped double the university’s endowment and increased the institution’s net assets to $100 million.
Fred Pestello
President, Saint Louis University
After Ferguson, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the leadership of Saint Louis University’s new president “nothing short of exemplary.” He continues to speak out on issues of social justice, and he’s effective because he neither shies away from conflict nor engages in battle. Pestello listens calmly.
Dr. Mary Jo Gorman
Lead managing partner, Prosper Women Entrepreneurs startup accelerator
After founding four companies, including the nation’s largest tele-ICU company, Gorman turned her attention to helping other female entrepreneurs by launching Prosper, an accelerator devoted to growing woman-led businesses.
Gabe Lozano
CEO, Lockerdome; Co-founder, Globalhack
Like a coach motivating his team, Lozano’s become something of a spokesman for the startup scene, encouraging St. Louis to invest in people, not just projects.
Sam Fiorello
COO and senior vice president, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Over nearly two decades, Fiorello has worked tirelessly to make the Danforth Plant Science Center one of the globe’s foremost leaders—an even more impressive feat, considering that his background is in business, not science. Fiorello has overseen a significant expansion over the years, with a second building opening in 2008 and the William H. Danforth Wing opening this April, providing space for 100 more scientists.
Kelvin Adams
Superintendent, St. Louis Public Schools
That Adams has remained superintendent of SLPS for eight years—after a string of six superintendents in five years—is an achievement. But consider that he’s guided the district from unaccredited status to provisional accreditation and now has it on the brink of full accreditation. The district’s graduation rate has increased, test scores and attendance are up, and voters have passed a tax increase to fund much-needed improvements. Adams continues to face big-city school challenges, but his presence lends a sense of stability and progress to the district.
Travis Sheridan
Executive director, Venture Café; Co-founder, GlobalHack
Sheridan is a tireless networker, bringing together St. Louisans from a range of backgrounds at Venture Café, where he links innovators with capital. (In fact, he’s been so successful here, he’ll soon be leaving his post to take the concept to other cities as part of the Venture Café Global Institute.) At GlobalHack, which he co-founded with LockerDome CEO Gabe Lozano and Juristat CEO Drew Winship, the prize money offered for software innovation officially cracked the $1 million mark this year. And at home, where he’s president of the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group’s board, he leads “boozestorming” sessions, in which concerned citizens brainstorm solutions for the region’s woes—over drinks, of course.
Mark Wrighton
Chancellor, Washington University
Being chancellor of one of the world’s most prestigious universities is a position in which it’s impossible to please everyone. When the board of trustees awarded the late Phyllis Schlafly an honorary degree, Wrighton spoke out against the conservative icon’s views. More recently, he negotiated a deal with the newly created adjunct professors’ union. During his two decades at the helm, Wash. U.’s footprint and reputation have only grown.
Dennis Lower
President and CEO, Cortex
With Lower at the helm, the Cortex innovation district has become an internationally recognized biotech hub. But its appeal extends beyond the tech scene: Lower recently teamed up with LouFest founder Brian Cohen to launch Murmuration, and one of the most anticipated restaurants in some time, Vicia, has planted roots in the burgeoning district.
The New Guard: Newcomers in Key Positions

Marie-Hélène Bernard
St. Louis Symphony
Spanish audiences will have a chance to hear our local symphony next February, thanks to Bernard. It will be just the third time that the orchestra has toured in the past two decades.
Jack Feivou
Fox Associates
Since being named Fox Associates’ president and CEO late last year, Feivou has announced plans for a five-level, $9.1 million parking garage across from the Fox.
Mike Ward
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
A longtime head of national parks and historic sites, Ward took the job as superintendent of the memorial in February. He did so at an interesting time, as the Arch grounds undergo a $380 million renovation.
Tim Wentworth
Express Scripts
Wentworth’s predecessor, George Paz, led the company from $15 billion in annual revenue a decade ago to $102 billion in 2015—the St. Louis region’s largest public company. Wentworth has a big order to fill.
James Wild
East-West Gateway Council of Governments
Wild will play a significant role in shaping the future of public transportation. Among the proposals under consideration is the much-discussed north-south MetroLink expansion.
Left to right: Bob O’Loughlin, Otis Williams (Photography by Kevin A. Roberts and Matt Marcinkowski)

Bob O’Loughlin
Chairman and CEO, Lodging Hospitality Management
One source hesitated to call O’Loughlin powerful: “He just seems too honorable for that”—which goes to show you how differently people define power. His is the most constructive kind, restoring grandeur and adding fun to the city. (Train rides! A light show! An aquarium!) And yes, he’s reserved, devoid of schmooze, and squeaky clean. He stays well above the fray, right at the top of that Ferris wheel.
Bob Clark
Chairman and CEO, Clayco
After his wife’s death, in 2010, Clark moved to Chicago, “looking for a major shift.” Yet the philanthropist and his construction company are still major players in the St. Louis community. That new high-rise apartment on the East Loop? Clayco. The much-ballyhooed Centene expansion in Clayton? Clayco. World Wide Technology’s new headquarters? Clayco. And when it was discovered that amateur farmers were working vacant lots in NorthPark’s proposed path, Clayco offered them 8 acres in Berkeley, along with an irrigation system and building, to build something anew.
Barbara Geisman
Counsel, Thompson Coburn
A decade ago, we ranked Geisman No. 13 on this list. At the time, she was the top development official for the city. Today, armed with a law degree, she works at Thompson Coburn, exploiting her understanding of the region’s quirks and proven record of navigating tricky public-private projects.
Joe Edwards
Developer, Pegasus Inc.
Just when you think the Duke of Delmar is finished revitalizing the Loop, he rolls out another ambitious project. This fall, he opened the $2.5 million Delmar Hall concert venue, and he has a 14-story apartment building under construction next door. Of course, his most ambitious (and hotly debated) project is the 2.2-mile Loop Trolley. Time will tell whether St. Louisans embrace Edwards’ vision, as they have so many times before.
Steve Smith
CEO, The Lawrence Group
Smith is big on motorcycles. He’s pointed to the ’70s classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance—and its mantra “Live your dreams, act on opportunities, and have a purpose”—as a guide to his career as an architect, planner, and developer. Smith is acting forcefully and imaginatively, saving the iconic Southside National Bank building and making ambitious plans to transform the long-abandoned Federal-Mogul Century Foundry site into a food market, office, and retail space just east of Cortex. Nearby, he’s also channeled his motorcycle mania into a museum, dealership, and grill.
Mary Campbell
Assistant vice chancellor for real estate, Washington University
In her former life, she was a veep for Bank of America. Then, in 2009, she took over management of Wash. U.’s off-campus real estate. Since then, she’s lent a hand to some pretty heavy projects, including the $80 million mixed-use development on The Loop anchored by United Provisions; launching a for-profit real-estate arm, Parallel Properties, which rents at market rate; and working on the plan to renovate the former Shriners Hospital into student housing. Oh, and there’s a little ol’ district that Wash. U. is anchoring called Cortex.
Paul McKee
Chairman and CEO, McEagle Properties
If potential can be interpreted as power, then McKee is a power broker in waiting. Thus far, the man who brought WingHaven to St. Charles County has promised much more than he’s delivered for North City. That could change with NGA’s move north, next to the 1,500-acre footprint of McKee’s NorthSide Regeneration. He’s announced plans for a residential development, grocery store, and gas station. Because NorthSide received $40 million in tax credits and has the potential to amass up to $390 million in tax increment financing, people are expecting a lot.
Amos Harris
Developer, EMB Development
Harris has a vision all his own, and it’s helped revitalize more than 1 million square feet of downtown real estate, including the The Laurel (the former Dillard’s Building), home to the newly opened National Blues Museum, and the vibrant Mercantile Exchange complex on Washington Avenue.
Otis Williams
Executive director, St. Louis Development Corporation
you may not have heard much about Williams. Consider that an omission: He was the city’s point man in doing what had to be done to make way for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s new $1.75 billion headquarters. Couple that with the work that SLDC has done to facilitate development in Cortex, the redesign of the Arch grounds, and downtown redevelopment, and you can see why Williams recently received the Governor’s Career Service in Economic Development Award.
Left to right: Tim Eby, Dr. Donald Suggs, Alex Ihnen (Photography by Kevin A. Roberts and Matt Marcinkowski)

Alex Ihnen
Owner and editor,
Part of a second wave of urban/built environment bloggers, Ihnen has built NextSTL into a powerhouse that’s been mentioned by national media outlets. He commands a crew of nearly 50 writers who regularly scoop local media on development stories. The posts include stats and maps, as well as the commentary to put that info into context. Ihnen’s incredibly deft with social media and podcasting—one of the reasons that NextSTL is eclipsing traditional media outlets.
Tony Messenger
Columnist, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
In a media landscape choked with opinions, the voice of the aptly named Messenger is a clarion call, speaking the concerns of the afflicted and pointing out the missteps of the powerful. He was a 2015 Pulitzer finalist for the paper’s editorials on unrest in Ferguson before stepping into his current role, publishing four columns a week on such issues as policing for profit and transit funding. But he also shares personal stories—like that of a community firefighter who was illegally fired and left waiting for compensation—that have a lasting impact.
Tim Eby
General manager, St. Louis Public Radio
In the past six years, Eby’s been at the helm of what’s come to be known as St. Louis Public Radio. KWMU (90.7 FM) has swallowed the St. Louis Beacon, expanded its online news presence, launched innumerable podcasts, and made a concerted effort to interact with the community. Its news and talk programming helps fill the void of shrinking or disappearing local news outlets, and the station airs St. Louis Symphony concerts on Saturday nights and Dennis Owsley’s jazz offerings on Sunday nights. Eby has given St. Louis listeners a consistent, commercial-free (if you don’t count pledge drives) window on the world and the local community.
Jack Galmiche
President and CEO, Nine Network of Public Media
Galmiche has helmed our free public station for a decade. During that time, he’s overseen the move into a new home at the Public Media Commons at Grand Center, where the station is working hard to engage the community in a thoughtful dialogue. The station’s also thrown its weight behind such life-changing initiatives as the American Graduate program, which aims to help high school students earn diplomas.
Charlie Brennan
Radio host, KMOX; Provocateur, Donnybrook
Brennan might be the hardest-working man in local broadcast media. After more than 25 years at KMOX (1120 AM), he remains on the air, in addition to volunteering for causes in the community and waging civic campaigns. When Martin Duggan died, Brennan became the provocateur on Donnybrook. Bob Hyland, Bob Hardy, and Jack Carney might be gone, but Brennan carries on.
Dr. Donald Suggs
Owner, St. Louis American
More than 30 years ago, Suggs transformed a faltering community newspaper into the state’s largest weekly. But The St. Louis American isn’t just widely distributed: This year, the National Newspaper Publishers Association named it the nation’s No. 1 African-American newspaper for the 12th time and the Missouri Press Association bestowed its coveted Gold Cup award. That combination of excellence, reputation, and wide distribution means that it has the power to sway voter opinion and to advocate for racial justice, economic equity, and political change.
New Wave: Politicos to Watch

Patrick Brown
Along with Mary Ellen Ponder, who became Slay’s chief of staff at age 34, Brown is part of the generational shift in the mayor’s office. Slay named him St. Louis’ inaugural chief resilience officer and tasked him with preparing the city for catastrophes, including natural disasters and civil unrest.
Shane Cohn
St. Louis’ first openly gay elected official helped Mayor Slay orchestrate the secret, technically illegal weddings of four gay couples at City Hall in 2014. It kickstarted a lawsuit to determine the rights of LGBT couples in the Show-Me State.
Megan Ellyia Green
One day after voters elected Green, a fatal police shooting brought the unrest of the Ferguson protests to her ward. Green co-sponsored legislation to create the Civilian Oversight Board.
Scott Ogilvie
The former bike mechanic was 30 years old when he became the 24th Ward Alderman. He’s since worked to make St. Louis streets safer for cyclists and to halt limitless campaign contributions.
Cara Spencer
Elected in a ward with high vacancy and crime rates, Spencer, with fellow Alderman Chris Carter, launched the mow-to-own program, which lets residents take over vacant properties by maintaining the land, including mowing and debris removal.
Left to right: David and John Kemper, David Steward (Photography by Matt Marcinkowski and Kevin A. Roberts)

Michael Neidorff
Chairman, president, and CEO, Centene Corporation
Running state Medicaid programs gives Centene control over many people’s health and wellbeing—and under Neidorff’s leadership, the company’s made quite a profit at it. When Centene considered moving downtown, city boosters did handsprings. Now there are more gymnastics, with Clayton bending over backward, even offering up retail near The Ritz, so Centene can build its $1 billion campus there. The project tips the scales to make Clayton our other downtown.
Anthony Tersigni
President and CEO, Ascension
This St. Louis–based company has quietly grown into the nation’s largest nonprofit Catholic healthcare system. Tersigni slashes through red tape, pushing the traditional boundaries of a tax-exempt healthcare ministry. Ascension’s subsidiaries include for-profit companies that offer medical services and equipment, as well as investment firms and a venture fund. A self-described behaviorist, Tersigni understands the nuances of business, serving as chairman of the Regional Business Council.
Suzanne Sitherwood
President and CEO, Spire
People say it straight-faced, so impressed that they miss the pun: Sitherwood has great energy. She fully engages with whomever she’s talking to—labor leaders, CEOs, workers on the line—and throws herself into the details of the natural gas industry (she majored in industrial engineering) and civic affairs (she was board chair of the St. Louis Regional Chamber and rumored to be the next head of Civic Progress). One colleague says, “She gets her authority from her skills rather than her position.”
Zack Boyers
Chairman and CEO, U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation
As chairman of Downtown STL Inc.’s board, Boyers has made the heart of the city a priority. His company helped startup incubator T-REX secure its home in the Lammert Building and assisted Union Station’s owners in financing its ambitious renovation. But Boyers’ influence stretches beyond downtown: In September, he was named a board member of Forward Through Ferguson.
David Farr
Chairman and CEO, Emerson
Farr once told analysts who described the company as a one-trick pony, “I’ve been training real hard the last couple of years to kick your a—,” according to the The Wall Street Journal. (An Emerson spokesperson later said the comments “were lighthearted” and taken out of context.) Either way, Farr has taught Emerson more tricks of late, acquiring an array of parts and manufacturing companies. And Emerson built goodwill locally with a $5 million gift to the Missouri Historical Society, among other charitable acts.
Kathy Osborn
Executive director, Regional Business Council
More than 15 years ago, Osborn helped start the Regional Business Council as a place for “mid-cap” corporations, those with a market valuation between $2 billion and $10 billion. In 2014, following the unrest in Ferguson, the RBC organized the Reinvest North County Fund, raising funds for the businesses and schools in the area.
David and John Kemper
Chairman/CEO; President/COO, Commerce Bancshares
“Kemper” and “banking” are often used in the same sentence these days. In addition to the father-son pairing, a cousin is UMB Financial Corporation’s CEO. They’re in the business because David’s great-grandfather invested in several banks. That legacy has translated into success at Commerce Bank, which Forbes consistently ranked among the 10 best banks. And it’s not just banking where the family’s had success: Ellie and Carrie Kemper have made names for themselves in the entertainment biz.
Warner Baxter
Chairman, CEO, and president, Ameren
Nothing says power like, er, power. And at the head of the state’s largest power company is Baxter, a onetime accountant who worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers before joining Ameren in 1995. Many Missourians have a love-hate relationship with the company: They depend on Ameren to keep the lights on but lament its rising rates and environmental impact. Outside the office, Baxter is chair of the St. Louis Regional Chamber and sits on numerous other boards, including those of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, The Muny, and the Missouri 100. Having lost his father to cancer and watched his brother fight the disease, he’s also heavily involved in the American Cancer Society; he started the local chapter of the CEOs Against Cancer program five years ago.
Steven Lipstein
President and CEO, BJC HealthCare
How expansive is BJC’s reach? For starters, it’s the area’s largest employer, spanning 15 hospitals, employing more than 25,000 employees, and netting $4.3 billion annually. Its ambitious campus renewal project, created in collaboration with Wash. U., will dramatically change the face of the CWE. But even beyond healthcare, Lipstein serves on numerous boards and doesn’t shy away from voicing his opinion about hot-button topics such as the Affordable Care Act, energy, and the economy.
Nancy Cross
Vice president, Service Employees International Union Local 1
SEIU is one of the few unions that are growing, and that’s because it organizes low-wage workers: janitors, security guards, nursing home aides, home health attendants, and fast food workers. Cross is at the forefront of its legislative and ballot initiative fights for a living wage, access to public transit, and controls on payday loans. She’s also working for better pay and benefits for adjunct instructors.
Jim Kavanaugh
Co-founder and CEO, World Wide Technology
His name is synonymous with sports, as well as technology. Besides co-owning the Blues, the former soccer star is the CEO of the Saint Louis FC (which plays at World Wide Technology Soccer Park) and president of the board for St. Louis Scott Gallagher Soccer Club. He’s also part of MLS2STL, the group of local leaders who are working to bring a Major League Soccer team here. Oh, and at his day job? WWT is planning to open its new 210,000-square-foot headquarters at Westport Plaza next year.
Pat White
President, St. Louis Labor Council
White comes from a union family. In high school, he joined a union as a grocery worker, and he’s been a member of Gas Workers Local 11-6 for a quarter-century. These days, he’s fighting to block “right to work” legislation. He sees healthcare, biotech, research, and defense as growth areas for local unions.
Jim Weddle
Managing partner, Edward Jones Investments
Does Weddle have more friends among the over-70 crowd or among those under 30? A Fortune survey ranked Edwards Jones the 10th-best place to work for millennals. Meanwhile, the company’s been responding to retirement savers (and new laws) by overhauling its offerings. Weddle’s advice at a Webster University commencement: “Attitude, folks, matters. Pessimists fail. Optimists create success.”
David Steward
Co-founder and chairman, World Wide Technology
After growing up in segregated Clinton, Missouri, during the ’60s, Steward co-founded WWT in 1990 with seven employees. Today the company boasts more than $7 billion in annual revenue and more than 3,000 employees. But Steward’s influence stretches far beyond the tech world. He supports The Muny, the Boy Scouts of America, and United Way Worldwide. In Grand Center, his parents are honored by the slick Harold & Dorothy Steward Center for Jazz. In February, after last year’s unrest at Mizzou, the Republican business leader resigned from the University of Missouri System Board of Curators, the third member to do so in three months.
Diane Sullivan
President, chairman, and CEO, Caleres
Sullivan is not only helping women’s feet look stylish in such brands as Fergie Footwear but also helping them kick through the glass ceiling. She earned $8.1 million in 2015, making her the highest-paid female CEO in St. Louis, and led the company to rebrand after 137 years. “Our name has to be more than a name,” she told the St. Louis Post Dispatch. “It must be managed as a brand. It’s hard to be emotional about a brown shoe.”
Bill Thompson
President and CEO, SSM Health
The Catholic health system’s first lay president is retiring next year—but he’s been busy. After acquiring SLU Hospital, SSM announced plans for a $550 million academic medical center beside the current facility. Farther west, it’s upgraded and expanded facilities. And with Dr. Alexander Garza, an internationally renowned epidemiologist, now named chief medical officer for the region, the health system stands to strengthen its reach.
Tom Minogue
Chairman, Thompson Coburn
Minogue chairs St. Louis’ largest law firm, in part because he helped navigate the mega-merger between Thompson & Mitchell and Coburn & Croft years ago. Today the Harvard grad advises some of St. Louis’ biggest companies. He also serves on myriad committees, and he’s a cogent, influential voice behind the scenes. As one insider puts it: “Unflappable. Low-profile. The new Walter Metcalfe: He advises everybody.”
Left to right: Gene Dobbs Bradford, Gerard Craft, David Robertson (Photography by Kevin A. Roberts)

Susan Sherman
Chair, Saint Louis Fashion Fund
High energy and great taste—if you don’t think that’s a powerful combination, check out the Fashion Fund, which Sherman co-founded, and the Fashion Incubator, which she’s tending. Not only has she helped revive the old Garment District spirit—she’s also upped its aspirations with her Paris and New York savvy. With bubbly enthusiasm and clarity (a rare mix) and not an ounce of pretension, she’s raised huge sums for the arts—and reminded us that fashion’s one of them.
David Robertson
Music director, St. Louis Symphony
The least stuffy conductor imaginable, Robertson has enough wit and ease to jolly first-time symphony-goers through Wagner, and he’s catholic enough in his musical tastes to conduct Nelly’s music in Powell Hall’s neoclassical surround. Robertson regularly leaves that splendor: You’ll find him wiping sweat from his brow on Art Hill, one of the traditions he’s created to grant free access to all. Season ticket holders might grumble at the lowbrow incursions, but they can’t begrudge their beloved symphony its growing reach.
Brian Cohen
Co-founder, Murmuration and LouFest
The first LouFest had people rubbing their eyes in disbelief: a municipal music fest—with those bands? It was revelatory. So was putting St. Louis bands on stage with A-list national acts. Though it’s now back in local hands, LouFest’s success attracted the attention of national promoters C3 Presents (think: Lollapalooza). Now Cohen’s crossing new frontiers at Cortex with Murmuration, which is LouFest’s edgier boutique cousin—10 bands over two days who make unprecedented connections between music and technology.
Gene Dobbs Bradford
President and CEO, Jazz St. Louis
Midway through Dobbs Bradford’s nearly two decades at Jazz St. Louis, Wynton Marsalis proclaimed Jazz at the Bistro one of the 10 best jazz clubs in the country. Marsalis came back seven years later to kick off the bistro’s reopening after a $10 million makeover. Dobbs Bradford now oversees an education center as well as the sleek new bistro, booking local and national talent. He’s never far from music: You can also catch him performing all over town.
Tom Schlafly
Co-founder, Schlafly Beer; Partner, Thompson Coburn
Schlafly started the explosion of craft beer in St. Louis. He’s also a fine lawyer—he won a trademark battle with his late aunt, the formidable Phyllis Schlafly. And he’s on the board of the library, a backer of the Blues, and a steward of Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park in East St. Louis, pushing hard to make it part of the National Park Service as Eero Saarinen intended all along.
Rocio Romero
Architect, Rocio Romero LLC
She calls the CWE home, but her LV Homes (named for Laguna Verde in Chile, where she built the first one for her parents) are all over the world. Her designs are revolutionary enough to earn a profile in The New Yorker, as well as a callout from Dwell, whose writer acknowledged her as a pioneer who “took on the problem of prefabricating a simple, low-cost, modern house, and solved it.” That makes her a Frank Lloyd Wright of the 21st century.
Chris Sommers
Owner, Pi Pizzeria
Sommers has been praised by the president—first for his pizza, then for raising the minimum wage (for non-tipped employees). An ardent Uber supporter who’s held a seat on the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission, the 40-year old might just have further political aspirations.
Susan Barrett
Co-owner, projects+gallery
She’s the art equivalent of what perfumers call a “nose,” with a supernatural ability to sniff out the relevant and remarkable. She was Rex Sinquefield’s art consultant and, as director of the Chess Hall of Fame, attracted international attention. But her real power is mapping the intersection between avant-garde fashion and contemporary art—the focus of her CWE art collective projects+gallery.
Gerard Craft
Chef, Niche Food Group
Twelve years ago, never having set foot in Missouri, a 25-year-old chef responded to a Craigslist ad for a building in Benton Park. It eventually became the boundary-pushing Niche, earning Craft multiple James Beard Foundation nominations and ultimately the Best Chef: Midwest award—the first for a local chef. Eager to intern at his five acclaimed restaurants, young chefs quickly learn why he’s become an outspoken advocate for our city and state.
Left to right: Rick Erwin, Robert Endicott (Photography by Kevin A Roberts and Matt Marcinkowski)

Rick Erwin
Director, City Museum
When Bob Cassilly died suddenly while working on his next dream project, the gargantuan task of continuing the visionary’s artistic legacy fell to the earnest, unassuming Erwin. He democratized the creative process, giving the crew of talented artists handpicked by Cassilly more control over the world-famous attraction’s imaginative exhibits, while building an immersive social-media presence that keeps St. Louisans connected to the museum’s trademark whimsy.
Peter Wyse Jackson
President, Missouri Botanical Garden
The Irish botanist is far more reserved than his predecessor. But behind the scenes, he’s quietly—yet assertively—forging international relationships. This year he brought the Global Partnership for Plant Conservation Conference to St. Louis. Locally, Wyse Jackson is a key figure in our growing biotech sector and sits on myriad boards. He’s the rare guy who can rattle off the Latinate names of wild fungi but also navigates his way around the highest-powered boardrooms.
Kristen Sorth
Director St. Louis County Library
Sorth oversees a network of 20 branches, the busiest library system in Missouri. Since becoming director three years ago, she’s coordinated the renovation of aging libraries and the construction of new branches. The demolition of the old Lewis & Clark Branch ruffled the feathers of some preservationists, but Sorth adeptly navigated the controversy, saving the famed Emil Frei stained-glass windows and reinstalling them in the newly finished library.
Mike Isaacson
Artistic director and executive producer, The Muny
He operates by instinct, spotting talent, pushing limits, picking new shows that will win Tony Awards. Even with the eternal favorites, he takes risks, chipping away at prejudices while we’re laughing or crying too hard to notice. Isaacson gets, at a visceral level, the emotions that glue people together. People go home from a Muny show feeling like they’re part of a glorious St. Louis tradition.
Waller McGuire
Executive director, St. Louis Public Library
For more than a decade, McGuire has presided over what the Riverfront Times called “one shining jewel in [St. Louis’s] tarnished crown.” He masterminded the award-winning centennial renovation of the Central Library, though he did generate some controversy recently when he spoke out against the ubiquity of the homeless at the flagship branch, raising the question of the role of public libraries in modern America.
Jeffrey Bonner
President, Saint Louis Zoo
Wily as one of the coyotes that refuse to be caged there, the zoo’s director is a smart, single-minded expansionist. Bonner is determined to make his wild kingdom bigger and better, and he’s not going to rest until he’s explored every avenue. His degree is in anthropology, not zoology—which is fitting, because even though he sees the animals as “ambassadors for their kind,” it’s humans he must persuade.
Robert Endicott
Chair, National Blues Museum; Partner, Bryan Cave
Being a partner at one of St. Louis’ high-powered law firms is nothing to sneeze at, but perhaps Endicott’s most notable influence is tied to the Blues Museum. Even before it even opened its doors, the $14 million institution was mentioned by CNN, Smithsonian, and The New York Times on annual travel lists, which all ranked St. Louis above such destinations as Sydney, Belgium, and China, largely because of the Blues Museum. Though it includes St. Louis music in its narrative, the museum has aspired to be a national attraction—and along the way, become an international one.
Bill DeWitt III
President, St. Louis Cardinals
He helped oversee the construction of a new stadium that’s never failed to pack in more than 3 million fans a year. That’s not to mention, of course, the addition of Ballpark Village next door. Fifteen playoff appearances, four pennants, and two world championships: In this baseball-crazy town, that’s power.
Lesley Hoffarth
President and executive director, Forest Park Forever
“Forest Park is the way all of St. Louis should be,” one source remarked, “welcoming to everyone and accessible to everyone, and people can pursue separate interests but in the same place.” Hoffarth is calm, savvy, and soft-spoken, managing the inevitable politics with a matter-of-fact absence of drama. Under her watch, the park continues to bring us all together—and show tourists how it’s done.
Left to right: Steve Ehlmann, Kim Gardner (Photography by Kevin A. Roberts and Matt Marcinkowski)

Steve Stenger
County Executive, St. Louis County
Since his election to the County Council in 2008, Stenger, a CPA and attorney by trade, has been a watchdog over county government finances. Recently, this has included the Democrat’s wanting to look at other options before supporting the proposed north-south MetroLink expansion while supporting an increase of police presence on MetroLink trains and at stations in the wake of recent crime. He says the budget is always a top concern. “Even as we work to improve the efficiency of county government,” he says, “it is getting more expensive to govern and to provide taxpayers with the services they expect.”
Kim Gardner
Circuit Attorney–elect, City of St. Louis
Gardner bested three other candidates to become the city’s next top prosecutor. She was an attorney in Jennifer Joyce’s office from 2005 to 2010 before going on to serve as a two-term state representative for the 77th District. After garnering 47 percent of the Democratic Primary vote, Gardner pushes a platform of more stringent gun laws, ethics reform, and a more diverse prosecutor’s office that will bolster public trust in the justice system.
John Nations
President and CEO Bi-State Development
The SLU Law grad and former Chesterfield mayor is finishing his sixth year at the head of the regional authority and its $404 million budget. This includes helping oversee the growth of Illinois’ St. Louis Downtown Airport, overhauling the Arch grounds, and pushing to expand MetroLink with a north-south line.
Steve Ehlmann
County Executive, St. Charles County
At the moment, this guy might be the closest we come, locally, to real political power—simply because he actually bothers to try to do things, understands policy-making, and thinks big picture. You wondered who was behind the TIF reform bill the governor signed this past session? Having served as a state senator and as a judge, Ehlmann knows how to work both the system and the media. Agree with him or not, you’ve got to respect his consistency.
Jon Belmar
Chief of Police, St. Louis County Police
The county’s top cop was appointed just in time to catch flak over his department’s handling of the tumult in Ferguson. Since then, Belmar has replenished his ranks, with the force now approaching 1,100 members and a budget of more than $113 million. Last January, the Board of Police Commissioners reprimanded Belmar for writing a letter to a judge in support of a drug dealer.
Mark Kern
Board Chairman, St. Clair County
An old-fashioned politician with a warm heart, Kern’s a member of the Missouri Bar Association, as well as the Shriners, Elks, Moose, Optimist, and Scottish Rite lodges. He knows the power of a handshake, a parade, a working relationship that bring results. Like his great-grandfather, he served as mayor of Belleville, but for the past dozen years he’s chaired the St. Clair County Board. He focuses on neighborhood cleanup, children’s health, and the welfare of older adults.
Sen. Claire McCaskill
Senator, U.S. Senate
McCaskill is a player in the national Democratic Party and a voice of moderation, and that has an impact back home. But she also has her own dogged causes—the rights of veterans, children, the elderly, and victims of all kinds—and Missouri’s future is always top of mind. After her breast cancer diagnosis, President Barack Obama called to ask whether there was anything he could do. Help the NGA stay in St. Louis, she replied.
Vince Schoemehl
Civic Booster
Schoemehl left office, but he never went away. The three-term mayor and former head of Grand Center recently pitched his “vision for revitalizing the St. Louis region” at an event at UMSL, where he is a fellow in public policy. He has more ideas than hairs on this head—and he’s far from bald.
Hail to the Chiefs:
Top City and County Officials Weigh in About Pressing Issues

Jeff Wagener
Chief of Policy for St. Louis County Executive
On race relations: “From our three new job training centers to the designation as a federal Promise Zone, we are working with our Office of Community Empowerment to connect the residents of those areas to resources.”

On achievements: “Working with [County Executive Steve] Stenger on transformative policies like minimum standards for police and a county-wide prescription drug monitoring program.”

On challenges: “County tax rates have declined over several decades due to the Hancock Amendment, and that means less money coming in, while non-discretionary expenses like retirement accounts, road improvements, and health services continue to rise. The result is a very tight budget.”

Mary Ellen Ponder
Chief of Staff for Mayor Francis Slay
On Metrolink’s proposed expansion: “[NGA’s move] really inspired us to give it a go with the north-south MetroLink and not let the price tag [an estimated $60 to $80 million] scare us off.”

On crime: “Identifying funding for more police officers and better-paid and better-trained officers is a major priority.”

On a proposed soccer stadium: “We have talked to potential owners who are interested in the St. Louis area, and we look forward to working them and the [MLS], but it’s still in the preliminary stages.”

Left to right: Tom Stillman, Mary Danforth Stillman, Amelia Bond (Photography Kevin A. Roberts and Matt Marcinkowski)

Amelia Bond
President and CEO, St. Louis Community Foundation
When Bond left investment banking for the nonprofit world, she brought her hardnosed business sense with her. Her goal, she said, was to grow the 101-year-old organization’s coffers to $1 billion. Today, she advises some of the city’s wealthiest residents on how to maximize the impact of charitable donations, whether it’s a scholarship or an endowment to an arts organization, as well as how to maximize tax benefits.
Mary Strauss
Partner Fox Associates
Without Mary and Leon Strauss, Grand Center’s revival might never have happened. It wasn’t just about money—yes, they had the resources to revive the Fox Theatre, but St. Louis abounds with examples of how money can still result in failure without vision. Vision imparts patience: For years, Grand Center was Portfolio Gallery, Powell Hall, and the Fox; today, it’s a whole arts ecosystem. Vision means the bravery to take risks, backing such groundbreaking shows as Fun Home. And vision means aiming for the best. In that regard, Mary’s work speaks for itself.
Emily Rauh Pulitzer
Founder and Chairwoman, Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts
Eyebrows shot up some years back when Emmy wrapped up 31 works of art and gave the Harvard Art Museum one of the most significant gifts in its history. But she never wanted her St. Louis masterpiece, the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, to be weighted by a collection; it was to “remain a place of possibilities.” Now, with programming that fuses art with social change and a lively surrounding cultural district, she’s realizing her goal.
Michael Staenberg
President, The Staenberg Group
Though many people know him as Stan Kroenke’s former business partner, Staenberg is ubiquitous, in the Jewish community and elsewhere, for philanthropy. His foundation has given to such local organizations as Jewish Family & Children’s Service and the Center of Creative Arts.
Sue McCollum
Sue McCollum, Chairman and CEO Major Brands
McCollum knows what it’s like to grow up without money’s cushion, and she fights tirelessly for access of all kinds: to cultural resources, to good education, to playgrounds. Philanthropic in a thoughtful way, she gives to invisible, nuts-and-bolts necessities like financial-aid endowments. She’s also a huge booster for the city, helping govern its cultural institutions, doing community-building with every breath, and hosting out-of-towners to prove how cool we are.
Power Couples

Bob Fox and Maxine Clark
Owner/CEO, NewSpace; Founder, Build-a-Bear
The fancy teddy bears generated much of the wealth, but the real story is what the bears made possible. Casa de Salud (literally “home health”) provides services for under- or uninsured Hispanic immigrants, and MOSAIC aims to attract immigrants to St. Louis.
Thomas and Sally Cohn
Founder, Thomas Cohn Associates; Philanthropist
She’s a Schlafly. His firm works with St. Louis’ well-heeled set, maxing out estate plans to ensure that the highest possible amount gets passed down to the next generation. Beyond Thomas’ ensuring that family money stays in the family, though, the couple looks out for St. Louisans’ future in other ways, supporting such organizations at the St. Louis Public Library and Arch Grants.
Alison and John Ferring
Chairman, Plaze and PLZ Aeroscience; Philanthropist
The Ferrings are best known for their cultural philanthropy, including a staggering $5 million gift to COCA, which will help support Kirven and Antonio Douthit-Boyd’s new dance program. John chairs a $130 million campaign for Forest Park Forever, to which they have donated generously, and they co-chair a campaign for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.
Nancy and Ken Kranzberg
Arts philanthropist; Founder, TricorBraun
It’s hard to find an arts organization in town—not to mention individual artists—who haven’t benefited from the largesse of the Kranzberg Foundation. That includes such august institutions as the Saint Louis Art Museum, as well as tiny arts orgs with a social mission like the Northside Workshop. Now, with the .ZACK arts incubator in Grand Center, the pair is not just supporting existing organizations but also helping foster an ecosystem that will generate more.
Tom Stillman and Mary Danforth Stillman
Owner, St. Louis Blues; Founder, Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls
The Minneapolis-born sports fanatic made his fortune as an attorney and beer distributor before buying the Blues, who are now consistent playoff contenders. His wife, John Danforth’s daughter, recently founded the city’s first all-girl charter school. Together they’re moving the city forward in multiple arenas.
Marilyn and Sam Fox
Chairman and founder, Harbour Group; Philanthropist
Wash. U.’s art and architecture school bears Sam’s name, and he’s on the Saint Louis Art Museum’s board. The couple founded the Fox Family Foundation to support myriad cultural causes. His other arena of power? Politics. George W. Bush appointed Sam ambassador to Belgium, and he’s given millions to PACs with such names as West Main Street Values and Kentuckians for Strong Leadership. Most of the folks he champions are Republicans, though he has regularly backed Mayor Francis Slay. In Missouri’s gubernatorial race, he backed John Brunner. But this year’s presidential election had him confounded: small donations to Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Richard Santorum, nothing to the party’s nominee.
Left to right: Jeff Rainford, Rex Sinquefield (Photography by Matt Marcinkowski and Dilip Vishwanat)

Roy Pfautch
Owner and Founder, Civic Service Incorporated
Pfautch is an ordained Presbyterian minister who wields influence both at and away from the pulpit. A graduate of Wash. U. and Princeton Theological Seminary, he’s also a lobbyist and international public affairs expert—as well as a prominent political donor. Though his contributions have been bipartisan and made at different levels of government, the vast majority are for nationwide GOP candidates and causes.
Joyce Aboussie
CEO, Aboussie & Associates
You’d think her power source would’ve been cut off when Dick Gephardt dropped out of the public arena, but sparks still fly: She’s a major Clinton donor and fundraiser. (She shows up in Hillary’s emails asking for an audience with Peabody’s top execs). Aboussie moves below the radar; she’s an old-school political strategist, capable of connecting people with jobs, money, and influence.
Julie Murphy Finn
Director of State Governance Affairs, KBS
Kit Bond Strategies wasn’t on the long list of thank-yous the mayor rattled off at the start of his press conference about the NGA’s staying in the city, but insiders say the former senator’s team helped yank the deal back from the ashes. That is Murphy Finn’s specialty. She understands the minutiae of federal, state, and local agencies and legislation, and she’s a fixer. “She does the stuff other people give up on, their last straws,” says one local power broker. “Before you decide something’s just not feasible, you call Julie.”
Richard Callow
President, Public Eye Incorporated
Callow is our Cromwell: Even those who court his favor are wary of his influence. A master communicator with a gift for political intrigue, he turns up wherever the energy’s moving. Anyone can pull strings; he pulls filaments, without breaking them. He gave Mayor Francis Slay a strong, witty presence, and these days, he’s talking up Tishaura Jones as his successor. It was he who introduced another strong candidate, Lyda Krewson, to her husband, former news anchor Mike Owens.
Rex Sinquefield
Co-founder and President, Show-Me Institute
A retired investor, Sinquefield puts a premium on strategic, calculated moves. He’s almost singlehandedly put St. Louis’ chess scene on the map, bringing top players to town and opening a world-class center. Then there are his moves in the political arena: Over the past eight years, he’s donated more than $45 million to Missouri campaigns—nearly outspending the next nine biggest donors combined. (Nonetheless, his candidates largely struck out during this summer’s primary.)
Rodney Boyd
Partner, Dentons
Boyd left a career as a city prosecutor after being handpicked by Slay as a lobbyist—a post he took on the provision that he could be an independent contractor. In Jeff City, he had a reputation for working across the aisle and for not giving in to a provincial mindset, even while fighting to, say, help secure state tax credits for the $72 million renovation of the Old Post Office. Now he’s a partner at global law firm Dentons, specializing in public policy; he works as a lobbyist around issues of government contracts, tax credits, and law enforcement. It all sounds very wonky, but those sectors have a profound impact on daily life, perhaps one reason that Ingram’s named him one of its “50 Missourians You Should Know.”
Jeff Rainford
Consultant, Rainford & Associates
A decade ago, we ranked Mayor Slay’s longtime chief of staff even higher than his boss, noting, “He’s the gatekeeper, the bodyguard, and the go-to guy when you want something done.” Though the onetime TV reporter returned to the private sector last year, Rainford remains involved in civic affairs. He worked alongside Dave Peacock in the $17 million–plus failed effort to keep the Rams in town, and he serves as a consultant to the Saint Louis Zoo. Rainford is no less powerful than he was in City Hall—he’s just calling his own shots now.
Where Are They Now?: A Look at Past Power List Players

Rev. Lawrence Biondi
Despite hopes of staying in St. Louis, the former SLU president was reassigned to his home province in Chicago earlier this year.
Tim Fitch
After retiring from the St. Louis County Police Department, the former police chief became manager of global security at Emerson.
Fred Bronstein
The former symphony president/CEO is now dean of Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Institute, the oldest music conservatory in the U.S.
Thad Simons
After 25 years with Novus International, the former CEO left his corporate post and became managing partner at the Yield Lab, an ag-tech accelerator.
Rev. James T. Morris
The onetime state rep and pastor of Lane Tabernacle CME Church temporarily left the pulpit after urging the church to rethink its stance toward homosexuality. He’s now in Orlando, where he’s pastor of Carter Tabernacle CME Church and working on a book.
Stan Kroenke
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