Awards Reception

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!

Excellence in the Public Sector: Alana Green

Congratulations to Alana Green, Executive Director of the City of St. Louis Community Development Administration, winner of our 2017 Award for Excellence in the Public Sector!

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CBN’s Award for Excellence in the Public Sector recognizes an individual, government or quasi-government department/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.

Alana Green has a demanding job as the Executive Director of the City of St. Louis Community Development Administration (CDA). She manages a staff of 30 professionals who are responsible for the implementation and evaluation of approximately $20 million in federally funded programs. While working full-time, Alana earned a Juris Doctor degree from the St. Louis University School of Law, with a concentration in Urban Development, Land Use and Environmental Law. She is a graduate of the CORO Women in Leadership program and a recipient of an award from the Clinical Legal Education Association for her outstanding work in the SLU Law Legal Clinic. Alana’s persistent and professional work at CDA has increased the level of trust between community-based organizations and city government. Alana has always been open to collaborating with community-based organizations and soliciting their input, while also striving toward the highest level of professionalism for CDA.

While the process of receiving block grant funding continues to be difficult, Alana has been updating, streamlining, and improving the process since day one, endeavoring to make the grants based on community need, not political pressure. She was a key player in the successful $29.5 million Choice Neighborhoods grant and has also worked to identify Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Areas that will bring a new level of strategic investment in low-income communities from the City and the agencies it funds.

Excellence in the Business Sector: Michele Duffe

Congratulations to Michele Duffe, Partner at ND Consulting Group, winner of our 2017 Award for Excellence in the Business Sector!

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CBN’s Award for Excellence in the Business Sector recognizes an individual or 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, providing employment and drawing capital into communities.

  • Provides funding for community building nonprofits.

Michele Duffe, Partner at ND Consulting Group and Principal of ND&S Management, is a community business leader and anchor for North St. Louis’ Hyde Park neighborhood through her work in mixed-income real estate development, quality housing management, and social service provision. Michele has extensive expertise with housing creation and redevelopment, including a former role as Executive Director for the City of St. Louis’ Land Reutilization Authority, the nation’s first city-run land bank. In 2001, Michele helped form the ND&S Management company and partnered with Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Hyde Park to develop new housing for the first time in decades under the federal HOME Investment Partnerships Program. Thanks to her dedication, low-income tenants have the opportunity to purchase their own homes. Additionally, Michele commits to employing residents from within the local community to manage the development and build a stronger sense of community.

After seeing a need to connect tenants with social services to ensure success for their families, Michele supported the creation of LinkStL (pronounced ‘links’). LinkStL, a community-based nonprofit representing the entire Hyde Park community, has achieved great successes as a community organizing model and has given hope and pride to the long-struggling neighborhood. Thanks to Michele’s leadership and vision in the business realm, sustainable and varied economic and social opportunities now exist in Hyde Park.

Excellence in Resident Leadership: Rosie Willis

Congratulations to Rosie Willis of the JeffVanderLou neighborhood, winner of our 2017 Award for Excellence in Resident Leadership!

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CBN’s Award for Excellence in the Resident Leadership recognizes a resident 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.

  • Lives in a CBN member footprint.

Rosie Willis is the leader of the JeffVanderLou neighborhood’s Fresh Starts Community Garden in North St. Louis City. In 2009, Ms. Willis led the charge to transform a vacant weed- and trash-covered city lot into a source of beauty and fresh, organic produce for the neighborhood. She rallied fellow residents to help build the garden on a shoestring as they struggled to find sources for funding, gardening tools, seeds, lumber for raised beds, and water to irrigate plants. Eventually, Ms. Willis applied for and received a small grant from Operation Bright Side, which allowed her to buy gardening tools, flower bulbs, and discounted cut lumber from a local company. As the group gained momentum, local Alderwoman Marlene Davis approved funding to expand the garden across another six lots.

Today, space that was once covered with trash, weeds, tall grass, and drug needles is the Fresh Starts Community Garden, where Ms. Willis continues to work tirelessly to bring fresh vegetables to fellow neighbors. The JeffVanderLou neighborhood is a recognized food desert, and the garden provides access to healthy food for many area low-income families. Fresh Starts has also helped to build relationships among residents and other stakeholders as they spend time gardening together, and was recently named Best Community Hang-Out Garden by Gateway Greening. Since there is always work to be done in the garden, it has also been a source of youth employment opportunities for the past several years. An annual Fresh Starts Candlelight Dinner event each summer brings together neighbors and guests to share special dishes, live music, and conversation.

Excellence in the Faith-Based Community: Revitalization 2000

Congratulations to Revitalization 2000, winner of our 2017 Award for Excellence in the Faith-Based Community!

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CBN’s Award for Excellence in the Faith-Based Community recognizes an individual or institution that:

  • Is community oriented.

  • Deploys both human and financial resources to bear on neighborhood issues, policy change, or social justice issues.

  • Demonstrates a willingness to collaborate with community partners.

Revitalization 2000 (R2K) is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to the residents and revitalization of the Ville neighborhood in North St. Louis City. It operates programs and leads projects that build relationships between residents and non-resident volunteers. It also serves as the backbone for the Ville Collaborative, an association of organizations in the community that work together on education, beautification, neighborhood safety, and other collective initiatives. R2K emerged from St. Matthew the Apostle Catholic Parish in the Ville when it was founded in 1998 and collaborates extensively with other churches and faith-based organizations in the neighborhood.

R2K has joined with community partners to make a positive impact on the Ville through a variety of programs. It has been a leader behind several community gardens that help to beautify the neighborhood, provide residents with nutritious food, create visible change, and fortify community ties. The Claver Works youth jobs and savings program provides participants with earned income opportunities and experience in lawn and garden landscaping. R2K helps to organize the neighborhood’s annual back-to-school block party and also runs Claver House, a service-based residence community for young people making an extended volunteer commitment in the Ville. Most recently, in collaboration with a number of community partners, R2K is working to launch a new initiative that will provide hands-on educational opportunities to children living in the neighborhood. R2K is dedicated to “connecting the dots” across organizations by creating a culture of collaboration that is also grounded in their faith-based tradition.

Outstanding Achievement in Community Building: Kathy Sorkin

Congratulations to Kathy Sorkin, Vice President and Business Development Director of Rosemann & Associates, winner of our 2017 Award for Outstanding Achievement in Community Building!

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CBN’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Community Building 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 on community building policy, investment, or community change.

Kathy Sorkin is the Vice President and Business Development Director of Rosemann & Associates. Her role includes business development, client relations, and civic and government affairs. A native of St. Louis, Kathy began her career in New York City, where she served as Coordinator of the Mayor’s Urban Action Task Force and Director of Operations for the Association of Neighborhood Housing Developers. Kathy returned to St. Louis to work on housing development initiatives with non-profit community based developers and served on the St. Louis Community Development Agency’s Board of Commissioners. After being appointed Vice President of the St. Louis Equity Fund, she worked extensively with corporate investors, non-profit and for-profit developers, architects, attorneys, and general contractors throughout the region on complex community development projects, utilizing an array of tax credit and public financing programs. Later, as Chief Operating Officer of E.M. Harris Construction Company and Chief Executive Officer of Capital Consultants, Kathy worked on some of the region’s most challenging projects and built successful collaborations between financial partners and elected officials in these public/private partnerships. She continues to be engaged with the community on a personal and professional level, advocating tirelessly for affordable housing and community development policy.

Kathy’s current role at Rosemann & Associates only frames her long-standing commitment to and engagement in the community building sector. For over fifteen years, she served as President and Board member for Habitat for Humanity, St. Louis. She is also an Executive Committee and Board Member with the Missouri Growth Association and has played a formative role in the current formation and ongoing expansion of the Missouri Workforce Housing Association. Kathy’s willingness to build relationships across sectors and her passion for community development establish her as a leader and agent of change within the field.