Raven Whitener and Ono Oghre-Ikanone.

Raven Whitener, director of The St. Louis Foundation and Special Evens with 2022 Young Leader recipient Ono Oghre-Ikanone.

A diverse group of amazing African-American professionals under age 40 has been selected as the 2023 class of Salute to Young Leader award recipients.

More than 300 nominations came in for this class. Due to the record number of nominations and high caliber of these honorees, 30 awardees were selected this year. They have been chosen by their peers and will be profiled in the September 7 edition of The St. Louis American as well as on stlamerican.com. They will be honored at the St. Louis American Foundation’s twelfth annual Salute to Young Leaders Networking Awards Reception, presented by Midwest BankCentre, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, September 7 at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis.

This year’s cohort of Young Leaders includes two local television personalities, a senior marketing manager of an $11 billion company, a digital experience director for one of the largest Black-owned companies in the nation, a senior manager at a multinational digital communications and manufacturing company, a senior manager at a Black-owned construction firm, and the treasurer of the City of St. Louis.

While their career paths are diverse, they have one thing in common. They are all high-performing, young African-American professionals who have received significant success in their respective fields, as well as working in service to the community.

“A critical element of sustainable progress and success is an inclusive community that values, respects and supports the next generation of young leaders who are essential to the future  success of the St. Louis region,” said Donald M. Suggs, president of the St. Louis American Foundation. “We are proud of these young people, in particular, because they best represent our hope for a better future for all in our community.”

“We are excited that we will be able to honor these individuals this year. It is our plan to make this a unique and enjoyable opportunity for young people to meet and greet some other accomplished young people as well as some current and future mentors,” said Raven Whitener, director of The St. Louis American Foundation.

The 2023 Class of Young Leaders, in alphabetical order, are:

Tia Bolden

CEO, Founder, Mentor

Aspire to Fire Investing, LLC

DeAna Carter

Senior Project Manager

Kwame Building Group

Renita Clayton

Accelerated Leadership Assoc.

Edward Jones

Felix Cooley

Director of Operations 


Kirven Douthit-Boyd

Assoc. Director of Dance


Bennie Gilliam-Williams

Special Asst. to President/Special Events & Projects

Harris-Stowe State Univ.

Reggie Grant

Bus. Dev. Specialist, Asst. VP BankCentre Leader

Midwest BankCentre

Taylor Harris

Co-host & Producer

KTVI Fox 2 News

Joy Johnson                                                                                         Senior Financial                                                                                 Analyst The Boeing Company

Melanie Johnson

News Anchor/Reporter


Anthony Lawrence, Jr.

Sr. Manager, US Retirement Programs

Olin Corporation

Adam Layne

Treasurer of the City of St. Louis

City of St. Louis

Lissa Lewis

Sr. Marketing Manager

Nestle Purina

Tysha Long

Digital Experience Designer

World Wide Technology

Annie Mbale

Project Manager

World Trade Center and Mosaic Project

Brandon Murray

Dir. of DEI & Accessibility

The College School

Ebbi Nicole

Founder & Chief FLUFFtivist

Fluffy GRL Movement

Angela Pearson

Special Projects Manager, Mayor’s Office

City of St. Louis

Lauren Preston

Dir. of Communications & Marketing

KIPP St. Louis

Stacey Pugh

Conference Service Manager

Four Seasons St. Louis

Farrakhan Shegog

Young Voices with Action, President

Urban League of Metro. St. Louis

Andrico Spates

Sr. Manager, Global Partner Sales


Renelle Spinks

Dir. of Diversity & Inclusion, Student Life

Maryville University

Darrell Stewart

Deputy Program Manager

The Boeing Company

Princess Stormm

APD/On-Air Personality


Quinton Ward

Sr. Manager of MetroMarket

Operation Food Search

Maria Wells

Sr. Asst. Director of Finance

Ritz Carlton

Terron White

Dir. of Physical Facilities & Stationary Engineering

CareSTL Health

Anthony “Redd” Williams

Owner/Artistic Director

Kode Redd

Morgan D. Williams

Program Manager, DE&I

Ameren Corporation

Tickets to the 12th annual Salute to Young Leaders Networking Awards Reception are $50 each, which includes beverages and heavy hors d’oevres, can be purchased by visiting stlamerican.com.  It is strongly recommended to buy tickets early as a sellout is anticipated.

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