Awards Reception

Congratulations to our 2019 Community Building Awards Honorees!

We’re thrilled to be honoring six incredible organizations and individuals at our 2019 Community Building Awards on April 11!

We’re also excited to announce that we’re working with the amazing Humans of St. Louis team this year to put together stories about the important community building work that each of these honorees is doing. Watch our website later this month for a special post about each awardee!

 

2019 Community Building Awards Honorees

 

U.S. Bank Community Development Corporation
Excellence in Banking

Messiah Community Center / Messiah Lutheran Church
Excellence in the Community Building Nonprofit Sector

Loretta Hiner, Senior Housing Analyst, St. Louis City Affordable Housing Commission
Excellence in the Public Sector

Megan Betts, Founder of Northside Neighbors United and Volunteer in the St. Louis Place and Old North neighborhoods
Excellence in Resident Leadership

Aaron Williams, Project Manager, Penn Services; Co-Founder of 4theVille and Young Friends of the Ville; and volunteer in the Ville and Greater Ville neighborhoods
Rising Star in Community Building

Joe Cavato, Principal and Owner, JAC Consulting
Outstanding Achievement in Community Building

 

Come help us celebrate these incredible folks on April 11!

Outstanding Achievement in Community Building: Stephen Acree

Congratulations to Stephen Acree, Executive Director of Rise Community Development, winner of our 2018 Award for Outstanding Achievement in Community Building!

The Outstanding Achievement in Community Building Award recognizes an individual who:

  • Demonstrates a long-standing commitment to the community building sector.

  • Exhibits leadership, vision, and a commitment to action and results.

  • Has achieved an outstanding impact in community building policy, investment, or community change.

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Stephen Acree has over 30 years of experience in community development, with a career that spans both the public and private sector. Born and raised in St. Louis, he received his undergraduate degree from The George Washington University and is a member of the Missouri Bar Association with a law degree from Washington University. Stephen has a long history of experience in facilitating complex community development financial transactions, particularly with the structured development financing needed in areas that are more difficult to develop.

Stephen joined Rise Community Development in 1999 and has been Executive Director and President since 2002. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Missouri Workforce Housing Association, of which he was the founding president. His other past roles have included being a member of the Board of Directors of the Landmarks Association of St. Louis, where he also served as the organization’s President; member of the Advisory Committee of the Public Policy Research Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Fannie Mae’s Southwestern Regional Housing and Community Development Advisory Council, and Enterprise Community Partners’ Network Advisory Board; as well as Chairman of the Greater St. Louis Regional Empowerment Zone. Stephen has also spent time working in city government, serving as the Director of the City of St. Louis Community Development Agency.

Ribbon cutting for Lemay Homes, 2016

Ribbon cutting for Lemay Homes, 2016

In his time at Rise, Stephen has broadened their work beyond that of CDC funder and capacity builder, financial intermediary, and neighborhood developer. Rise is helping neighborhoods undertake neighborhood planning using extensive community engagement and racial equity best practices and plays a prominent role in publicizing the importance of community development. Rise is a designated local partner of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP) and has a robust data shop that has aided many local and regional initiatives. This includes CivTech St. Louis, a new civic tech and data collaborative established to carry on the civic tech work that Rise partnered in with other organizations to provide a tool that gives residents access to traffic ticket information and informs them of their rights through the YourSTLCourts.com platform.

Stephen has served on the Board of CBN from its beginning, ably filling the thankless job of Treasurer for many years. Throughout his long and storied career in community development in St. Louis, he has continually used his skills, knowledge, and experience to promote diversity, inclusion, and growth.

 

We hope you can join us to celebrate Stephen’s achievements and those of other community partners at our 6th Annual Awards Reception on April 26th!

Rising Star in Community Building: Amanda Colón-Smith

Congratulations to Amanda Colón-Smith, Executive Director of Dutchtown South Community Corporation, winner of our 2018 Rising Star in Community Building Award!

The Rising Star in Community Building Award recognizes an individual who:

  • Demonstrates dedication to and passion for the community building sector.

  • Exhibits leadership, vision, and a commitment to action and results.

  • Shows promising potential to achieve outstanding impact in community building policy, investment, or community change.

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Amanda Colón-Smith currently serves as the Executive Director of Dutchtown South Community Corporation (DSCC), a nonprofit dedicated to serving four neighborhoods in South St. Louis: Dutchtown, Gravois Park, Marine Villa, and Mt. Pleasant. She is a graduate of the Regional Arts Commission’s Community Arts Training program and holds a certificate from NeighborWorks America as a Certified Housing Asset Manager. She received a B.A. in Africana Studies from Cornell University and an M.S. in Special Education from City College, CUNY.

Beginning as a Program Coordinator at DSCC, Amanda managed two years of Community Development Block Grant programs in community engagement and planning, beautification, and public art. In her time at DSCC, she has built the capacity of the organization and secured its first federal grant outside of local Community Development Administration (CDA) funding. Even before taking a leadership role, Amanda secured over $310,000 in funding for housing stabilization and community facilitation activities. She has also increased office support staff by developing partnerships with the Americorps VISTA program, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the AARP Senior Community Service Employment Program.

Amanda led the design of community engagement efforts for the Gravois-Jefferson Historic Neighborhoods planning process.

Amanda led the design of community engagement efforts for the Gravois-Jefferson Historic Neighborhoods planning process.

In 2017, Amanda took over leadership of DSCC in a seamless and strong manner. With her steady management, she has strengthened the organization’s internal capacity in fund development, human resources, and partnerships. She led the Community Engagement strategy for the Gravois-Jefferson Historic Neighborhoods Planning process, which was just awarded funding for implementation through the St. Louis Community Foundation’s InvestSTL inaugural funding round. Amanda has also redefined what it means to be a community development corporation in St. Louis with the launch of a variety of unique, innovative initiatives, such as the EPA-funded “So Fresh, So Clean, So Creative” program. She is an unapologetic advocate for her neighborhoods and their residents and will be a powerful force in the continued growth of the community development sector in St. Louis.

 

We hope you can join us to celebrate Amanda’s achievements and those of other community partners at our 6th Annual Awards Reception on April 26th!

Excellence in Banking: Great Southern Bank

Congratulations to Great Southern Bank, winner of our 2018 Award for Excellence in Banking!

The Award for Excellence in Banking recognizes a bank or lending institution that:

  • Gets involved beyond traditional lending in community building activities.

  • Is creative in how it supports community building.

  • Provides direct support to community building organizations.

  • Has a strong community presence.

  • Demonstrates a deep understanding of the sector and a willingness to accept more risk.

Great Southern Bank branch in Ferguson, Missouri

Great Southern Bank branch in Ferguson, Missouri

Great Southern Bank has been heavily invested in the redevelopment of St. Louis and offers 19 convenient locations throughout the St. Louis area, including St. Louis City, County, and St. Charles. Great Southern and its team of more than 100 associates are committed to fostering growth and long-term success because it means more success for everyone: customers, employees, shareholders, and their broader communities.

Great Southern Bank team partnering with Operation Food Search

Great Southern Bank team partnering with Operation Food Search

Great Southern’s desire for a strong, thriving economy has supported numerous CBN members as they invest and prioritize their resources to positively impact local people and their communities. They have embraced the promise of a better future with robust loan portfolios in neighborhoods that have seen significant periods of disinvestment, including Penrose, O’Fallon, the Greater Ville, Dogtown, and Peabody Darst-Webbe. To be leaders in community development, Great Southern has focused on being actively involved in economic growth, neighborhood stabilization programs, revitalization programs, small business lending, affordable housing, and community service. This has included strong support and partnership with Invest STL. By joining forces with other local businesses, Great Southern has created a pathway for St. Louis to become stronger and increase its prospects for economic and population growth, providing the opportunity for residents to live in safe places with good housing and the services they need to succeed.

 

We hope you can join us to celebrate the achievements of Great Southern Bank and those of other community partners at our 6th Annual Awards Reception on April 26th!

Excellence in Small Business: Taft Street Restaurant & Bar

Congratulations to Taft Street Restaurant & Bar, winner of our 2018 Award for Excellence in Small Business!

The Award for Excellence in Small Business recognizes a business that:

  • Acts as an anchor institution for communities through investment, by providing employment, or by remaining committed to staying in communities that need economic activity.

  • Involves employees in community service with community partners.

  • Provides economic growth to the region and locates in neighborhoods with revitalization plans, offering employment and drawing capital into communities.

  • Provides monetary or in-kind support for community-building nonprofits.

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In a review by The Riverfront Times, Taft Street Restaurant & Bar’s Bosnian cuisine is described as reflective of Bosnia’s “many diverse influences from Europe’s east, west and south. No restaurant better expresses this diversity than Taft Street Restaurant & Bar.” This cuisine includes such dishes as goat cheese fritters; kulazy, triangular beef-filled pastries; tomato-and-feta salad; spicy fish soup; and entrees featuring chicken, veal, seafood, and pasta with cream sauces. A signature off-menu dish available on request serves cevapi, a sweet beef sausage, between two big slices of lepana, Bosnian bread.

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Taft Street Restaurant & Bar draws a diverse group of visitors and provides a sense of home for Bosnian friends and family. It serves as a gateway for others to learn more about Bosnian culture, a presence that is strong in the St. Louis community.

Sadik Kukic, owner of Taft Street Restaurant & Bar, is also a pillar in St. Louis’ Bosnian immigrant community. He has helped to stabilize and strengthen the Bevo Mill neighborhood since he arrived in St. Louis from Bosnia in 1993. Sadik has served as President of the Bosnian Chamber of Commerce and currently serves as Chairman of the newly formed Bevo Community Improvement District. He is an accomplished business owner and chef and can be found most days cooking at Taft Street Restaurant or preparing for catering events at his newly opened space in Bistro Banquet & Events Center (formerly Meli’s Banquet Center & Restaurant) on Gravois Avenue.

Bevo CID swag at a recent happy hour held at Taft Street Restaurant & Bar

Bevo CID swag at a recent happy hour held at Taft Street Restaurant & Bar

Sadik’s hard work, combined with Taft Street Restaurant & Bar’s welcoming presence and commitment to the community, embodies CBN’s vision for St. Louis: a region where all people live in safe, economically strong, and vibrant neighborhoods and all community-based organizations are sustainable, supported, and valued.

 

We hope you can join us to celebrate the achievements of Taft Street Restaurant & Bar and other community partners at our 6th Annual Awards Reception on April 26th!

Excellence in the Community Building Nonprofit Sector: Mt. Sinai Development Corporation

Congratulations to Mt. Sinai Development Corporation, winner of our 2018 Award for Excellence in the Community Building Nonprofit Sector!

The Award for Excellence in the Community Building Nonprofit Sector recognizes a community-building nonprofit that:

  • Demonstrates excellence in multi-year, place-based, collaborative, comprehensive community building based on strong community engagement.

  • Uses data and evaluation to achieve maximum impact in their efforts.

Dennis Jackson, Executive Director of Sinai Family Life Center

Dennis Jackson, Executive Director of Sinai Family Life Center

Mt. Sinai Development Corporation, part of the Mt. Sinai Baptist Church in East St. Louis, has been working for decades to leverage partnerships and community strengths to increase development and opportunities for residents within their footprint. After spearheading the development of a senior residential facility right across the street from the church, Mt. Sinai added two low-income housing developments in the blocks around the church. They have worked to keep as many existing residents in their homes as possible—before, during and after construction—to help keep the community intact. They also have plans to provide support for current homeowners through a home repair and upgrade program.

Sinai Family Life Center Summer Day Camp for youth

Sinai Family Life Center Summer Day Camp for youth

In addition to housing developments, Mt. Sinai believes it is important to provide some of the services that residents need to thrive, such as after-school and summer programs for youth in the community. Mt. Sinai’s leaders understand that new housing doesn’t build a community or serve all of the needs of its residents, and they place a great deal of importance on meeting those needs and nurturing that community. Seeing that Mt. Sinai cannot meet all of the needs of the community alone, they partner with groups like East Side Aligned, a collaborative effort to improve the lives of children in East St. Louis, to maximize their impact. Mt. Sinai is also working with a number of banks, non-profits, and other funders to seek ways to increase investment in the area.

The community Mt. Sinai serves has come a long way in the past couple of decades. While many challenges remain, Mt. Sinai Development Corporation is ready to tackle them while improving the well-being of their residents.

 

We hope you can join us to celebrate the achievements of Mt. Sinai and those of other community partners at our 6th Annual Awards Reception on April 26th!

Excellence in Philanthropy: Gail Olson

Congratulations to Gail Olson, winner of our 2018 Award for Excellence in Philanthropy!

The Award for Excellence in Philanthropy recognizes an individual or organization that:

  • Supports community building by bringing investment and resources to the human or physical dimensions of places.

  • Supports long-term commitments to neighborhoods.

  • Demonstrates creative thinking in how to support communities.

  • Gets involved beyond traditional grant giving.

  • Provides operational funding to community building nonprofits.

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Over the past ten years, Gail Olson has focused on restoring the College Hill neighborhood in North St. Louis City. She has regularly called on her friends and colleagues to join her in supporting the community. Gail is a co-founder of the Women on Mission St. Louis giving circle, where she serves as Director of Board Recruitment. Together with friends and neighbors, Women on Mission has helped provide grants totaling $685,000 to nonprofits working in College Hill, which in turn provide programs that have touched more than 400 area families. Women on Mission recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary.

Gail has been integral to the creation of six community gardens, the provision of Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners to residents, the donation of more than 12,000 backpacks to local school children, the founding of a reading program at Bryan Hill Elementary, the purchase and installation of air conditioners and furnaces for elderly residents in College Hill, and the provision of care baskets to those in need. She has also led a grassroots effort to start a restoration nonprofit College Hill foundation that serves as a community development corporation for the community, and she serves as president of the organization.

Gail approaches her work with great care and humility. She sees a need and responds without expectation of recognition, often referring to herself as “just a volunteer.”

 

We hope you can join us to celebrate Gail’s achievements and those of other community partners at our 6th Annual Awards Reception on April 26th!

Excellence in the Public Sector: Cheryl Lovell

Congratulations to Cheryl Lovell, Executive Director of the St. Louis Housing Authority, winner of our 2018 Award for Excellence in the Public Sector!

The Award for Excellence in the Public Sector recognizes an individual, government, quasi-government agency, or tax-supported entity that:

  • Develops or protects policy that supports investment in communities.

  • Demonstrates innovative use of resources for community improvement.

  • Is proactive, persistent, professional, and efficient in finding ways to support community building initiatives.

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Cahill House Apartments

Cahill House Apartments

Cheryl Lovell has served as the Executive Director of the St. Louis Housing Authority for 20 years. In her tenure at the Authority, the agency has transformed from a deeply troubled housing authority to a high performer. Cheryl’s leadership transformed the agency’s operations and brought the Authority’s HUD rating score from 14 to 92. During her tenure, the Authority implemented four major HOPE VI Initiatives, including the Near Southside, Cambridge Heights, Renaissance Place at Grand, and North Sarah projects. These transformative developments led to the demolition of decaying high-rise projects, which were replaced by attractive, mixed-income garden and townhouse style rental units. Under Cheryl’s direction, the Authority has developed over 2,200 new rental units, of which over 1,000 units are public housing, using public and private partnerships, leveraging $225 million in public money with $325 million of private funds for a total development cost of $550 million.

Arlington Grove Apartments (formerly Arlington School)

Arlington Grove Apartments (formerly Arlington School)

Cheryl has always been a strong proponent of safe, sanitary, and attractive housing and has been involved in public housing for over 25 years, previously serving as the Executive Director of the East St. Louis Housing Authority. Prior to her career in public housing, Cheryl practiced construction law and worked as a construction engineer. She has a Bachelor of Engineering in Civil Engineering, from Vanderbilt University and a Juris Doctorate from St. Louis University.

 

We hope you can join us to celebrate Cheryl’s achievements and those of other community partners at our 6th Annual Awards Reception on April 26th!

Excellence in Resident Leadership: Antwan Pope

Congratulations to Antwan Pope, winner of our 2018 Award for Excellence in Resident Leadership!

The Award for Excellence in Resident Leadership recognizes an individual who:

  • Has shown incredible volunteerism and involvement in their community and/or community initiatives.

  • Goes above and beyond normal resident action to sit on boards, head committees, or encourage the engagement of other residents.

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Antwan Pope of Wellston Loop CDC has lived and volunteered his time in the Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood for over 30 years. On any given Tuesday morning, you can find Antwan working to open his doors at 1514 Hodiamont Avenue to offer free breakfast and health services to community members. He is a passionate community development professional who works tirelessly to serve his community.

As a native of the 22nd Ward, Antwan understands the unique needs of the community and networks with individuals and other professional community developers to increase his neighborhood’s access to resources. Both on his own and through networking with valued partners like St. Louis City Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards, Anthony Shahid and Sultan Muhammad of Tauheed Youth Group, Dr. Edward McFarland and Dr. Jerry Marks of the Catholic Family Services Fatherhood Initiative, the Salvation Army, and Job Corps, Antwan has addressed substance abuse issues, food and nutrition, housing, and mentorship, and assists people re-entering society from prison. He sees his work as being in the spirit of Joanne Wayne, former Alderwoman of 22nd Ward; his grandfather, Mack Hibler; his friends and family from the Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood; and his aunt, Linda Rogers.

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Antwan has been a leader in programs like Operation Ground Zero, which aims to reduce rates of crime and drug use across neighborhoods, and Community Reconnect, which brings community members together for block clean-ups. On an individual level, Antwan has sponsored, encouraged and transported people with substance abuse to attend treatment and change their lives for the better. He has also brought a breakfast and lunch program for children to the area around Hodiamont and Martin Luther King Boulevard, arranges outings and activities like eagle watching for neighborhood residents, and runs classes for community organizations that support fathers and strengthen families.

Antwan has an endless amount of energy, love and commitment to an area that is in desperate need and he inspires those around him to participate. His outlook towards community betterment is just like his smile—open and inviting.

Antwan gives special thanks and credit to his grandmother, mom and aunt for their support over the years.

 

We hope you can join us to celebrate Antwan’s achievements and those of other community partners at our 6th Annual Awards Reception on April 26th!