In 2015, we were thrilled to launch the annual ‘Gazelle Influence List’ to honor the many men and women who make our region great. Thank you to all our honorees who have incredibly busy schedules, but made time to share their lives with us and our readers. Our hope is that what they accomplished and continue to accomplish inspires you to reach new heights and to make a difference in our community.
We are currently accepting recommendations for 2016 honorees who will appear in our Anniversary Issue. Please send recommendations to Gazelle STL Publisher Cillah Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org. The final list will be selected at the discretion of our management team.
Co-Owner and General Manager
Jim Butler Auto Group
Brad Sowers entered automotive retailing in 2003 with the Jim Butler Auto Group, which recently added high-performance luxury Maseratis to its roster of retail automobile offerings that include Chevrolet and Kia dealerships and service centers, luxury and used car sales and several related businesses.
A native of Indianapolis, Indiana, Brad spent the first decade of his career in the technology sector, holding a variety of executive positions including vice president of global sales at Interphase, an information and communications technology company. He met his wife, Michele, Jim Butler’s daughter, while attending Butler University in Indianapolis, then later moved to St. Louis to carry on in the Butler business as co-owner of the Jim Butler Auto Group Family.
Brad is co-chair of the Chevrolet Dealer Council. He represents the approximately 3,000 Chevrolet dealers in the U.S., along with 12 other Chevrolet dealers who comprise the dealer council. Brad also represents Chevrolet on the General Motors Dealer Executive Board.
Brad’s other interests include staying abreast of the latest computer technology, reading and self-improvement. He loves to stay involved in his children’s lives and enjoys coaching their sporting activities.
Joseph Imbs III
Regional Chairman and St. Louis Market President
Joseph Imbs III retires this summer as U.S. Bank’s market president, but will continue to serve on the financial institution’s advisory board. Joe joined Mercantile Bank (later bought by Firstar Bank, now U.S. Bank) in 1976 in the management training program. He has held several executive level positions with the bank. Joe is a St. Louis native and holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and a master’s in business administration from Saint Louis University. His role on many civic boards has helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for St. Louis organizations. Joe is a proud husband, father and grandfather. After his photo session, he shared his future plans with Publisher Cillah Hall.
You’re getting ready to retire. What’s next?
I was just married on February 14 to Nancy Shnoebelen, and I look forward to spending time in my new life with my blended family.
What are you passionate about right now?
I love hunting turkey, dove, duck and quail, and I love golf. I’ve been on the Muny board for years, and I’m a former chairman. I am also one of many producers of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, which is running on Broadway and in London right now. Its national tour will start very shortly. Tom Hanks and Sony Pictures just bought the movie rights, so in 2018, it will be a movie.
You have a lot of interests outside the corporate world. How did you get involved in the Beautiful production?
I got involved through my friend, Terry Schnuck, who is lead producer of the show, and Paul Blake, who is the show’s executive producer, and former executive producer of the Muny. I am a small investor. There are a lot of St. Louis investors. I guess you could kind of say it’s a great St. Louis production (laughter). It’s really a New York production, but a lot of St. Louisans are involved with it.
Anthony Sansone Jr.
Businessman and Philanthropist
Sangita Capital Partners
Anthony “Tony” F. Sansone, Jr. is the chairman and CEO of Sangita, a real estate private equity firm focused on middle market, quality investment grade opportunities in the Midwest.
Tony graduated with a bachelor’s of arts in business administration from St. Louis University, and a master’s of advanced study with a concentration in management from Webster University. Tony helped grow the Sansone Group, a family business, into a major force in the real estate industry. During his career, he has developed over seven million square feet of commercial real estate, facilitated transactions in excess of $1 billion dollars, and managed more than 20 million square feet of commercial real estate.
Tony and his wife, Peggy, had seven children together. Peggy struggled with depression for a numbers of years and took her life in 2001, leaving him a single father. Despite the difficult circumstances he faced, he continued to dedicate himself to his family and his career. He forged ahead with a new passion to help fight the stigma associated with mental illness. A few months after Peggy’s death, Tony extended help to other families afflicted with misdiagnosed mental illness through the creation of the Peggy Sansone Special Angel Foundation and the Sansone Family Center for Well-Being at Washington University.
His fidelity to hard work, integrity and community service continues to fuel his life’s work and passions to this day.
Mercy St. Louis
As president of Mercy’s east region, Donn Sorensen has overall responsibility for strategy setting, growth and operations. He works closely with the presidents of four Mercy hospitals and Mercy Clinic to guide planning, decision-making and achievement of regional and Mercy-wide goals.
He previously served as vice president of Mercy Clinic, an 1,800-physician medical group throughout the four-state area of Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Donn has been with Mercy since 2000 and has more than 25 years of health care experience, including service with Premier Practice Management, a national practice operations company; several specialty and multi-specialty group practices in Nashville, Tennessee and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the Mayo Clinic, where he started his career.
Donn is chairman of the American Medical Group Association board of directors and previously served as chair of its CAO/COO council. He is a fellow of the American College of Medical Practice Executives. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa; a master’s in health administration from St. Mary’s College in Rochester, Minnesota; and a master’s in business administration from Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri. He is a national speaker and has been published numerous times. He also serves his community on multiple boards of directors, including Make-A-Wish Missouri (chairman), Care to Learn St. Louis (chairman) and the Saint Louis Zoo.
Donn has two children, Alec and Jenna, and enjoys travel, wine, and sporting events.
Tom & Carol Voss
Power Couple and Philanthropists
Former Ameren CEO Thomas R. Voss is excited about the next phase of his life.
Tom began his career at Union Electric (now Ameren), right after graduating with an engineering degree from University Missouri – Rolla. He worked his way to the top before retiring last July after 45 years with the company. Tom is still involved in the utility industry as the new chairman of the board and consultant for Oakland, California-based, Smart Wires. He continues his civic work and serves on the board of the Muny and Dance St. Louis, and will soon be chairman of the board of Grand Center, Inc.
Both Tom and Carol enjoy their philanthropic work to help make St. Louis a better place for everyone. “We do things together. If you see either one of us, you will almost always see the other one. We’ve been married for 45 years, and have three children and four grandchildren, but we were best friends before we got married, and I think that’s what it takes. We’ve just enjoyed being with each other,” said Tom. “Carol flies free with me whenever I travel because I have earned ‘companion pass status’ with one of the airlines. She is always there with me.”
Tom and Carol live next door to their daughter and enjoy seeing their grandchildren every day. They also love to spend time in Florida where they have a home by the beach.
Katherine Button Bell
Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer
Katherine Button Bell is responsible for global marketing and corporate brand strategy for Emerson (NYSE: EMR), a $25 billion diversified technology and engineering leader.
Kathy joined Emerson in 1999, and led the development and launch of Emerson’s corporate brand program in 2000, which established a new architecture and brand strategy and the first corporate logo change in more than 30 years. She initiated the company’s first-ever global ad campaign, its first TV commercials, and in 2009, its award-winning integrated “It’s Never Been Done Before” campaign that was translated into multiple languages and expanded into a digital and social marketing strategy.
Kathy is widely recognized among the best business marketers, frequently speaking to national and international audiences on marketing and innovation.
She served as chair of the Business Marketing Association (BMA) board in 2013 to 2014, and serves on the board of directors of Johnson Outdoors, Inc. and Sally Beauty Holdings, Inc. Kathy is active in the community, serving on the Foundation Board of St. Louis Children’s Hospital and on the board of trustees of the St. Louis Art Museum. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University.
Kathy loves outdoor activities, and is an avid skier, biker, tennis/platform tennis player and golfer. Her son, Michael, heads to the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill next year.
Teach for America
A graduate of John Burroughs School and Washington University, Brittany Packnett is an emerging national leader in social justice. She is committed to empowering young people to lead the modern movement toward justice by building strong learners and leaders in classrooms and beyond.
Brittany grew up in North St. Louis County and moved to Washington D.C. after college. There, she taught third grade, then worked in federal education policy and advocacy for low-income students around the nation as a Capitol Hill staffer and a director of government affairs for Teach for America.
In 2014, Brittany was appointed to the Ferguson Commission and to President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. She was named by Time magazine as one of 12 New Faces of Black Leadership in January 2015, for her work involving Ferguson, Missouri, where she continues to operate as a vital link between the community and politicians in an effort to translate a tragic event into long-term change.
The daughter of educators, Brittany affirms that education equality is a fight for justice. She fits right in at Teach for America where the mission is to enlist, develop and mobilize our nation’s most promising future leaders to grow and strengthen the movement for educational equity.
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Ronald “Ron” J. Kruszewski is undoubtedly one of the most intriguing people in St. Louis, and one of the most accomplished in the global financial sector. He is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Stifel Financial Corp. and Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Inc. He joined the company in 1997. Ron is known as a man who makes acquisitions that can only be described as legendary. Under his leadership, Stifel has grown from an organization that today employees over 1,200 people, more than double the number of 10 years ago.
Even with his busy working life, Ron finds time to make a difference. He serves on many business and philanthropic boards, and is on the Board of Trustees for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Foundation and serves as Chairman of Downtown Now! He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association and Barnes-Jewish Hospital, as well as the Board of Trustees of Webster University, past Chairman of the Board of Directors of Downtown St. Louis Partnership, Inc. and past non-executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of Angelica Corporation. Ron is a member of the Regional Business Council in St. Louis and the St. Louis Chapter of World Presidents’ Organization.
Top Financial Analyst, Managing Director
As Avondale’s Chief Market Strategist, Donald Broughton dissects the U.S. economy and financial markets. He has earned acclaim for his equity research coverage of the industrial and transportation sectors. Donald is a frequent guest on CNBC, CNN, Fox and other financial news outlets, and is regularly quoted in the national financial press.
His keen ability to predict the financial markets have been evidenced in published reports dating back to 2006, where he warned of an impending economic slowdown and later explained why a recession was coming. More recently, in 2010 and 2011, his reports explained why fears of a double dip were severely overblown and why the market would have a significant rally by year’s end.
Prior to joining Avondale Partners in 2008, Donald spent 12 years as a Senior Transportation Analyst at A.G. Edwards, and eight years in various distribution and operations management roles in the beverage industry, including Corporate Manager of Distribution for Dr. Pepper and Seven-Up companies.
Donald received his bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in accounting from Southeast Missouri State University. In his spare time, he enjoys bike riding, hiking and gardening – his urban garden at his Ladue home boosts quite a harvest.
If you tune in to the early morning Channel 4 news show, you’ve seen a new anchor this year. Never in her wildest dreams, did Emily Rau think she would get up at 1:00 A.M. to go to work. But her days have started that way since January when she was moved to the anchor seat next to Andre Hepkins, leading the News 4 This Morning team from 4:30 to 7:00 every morning.
A Washington, Missouri native, Emily worked as a reporter in Norfolk, Virginia before returning to Missouri to work at KMOV-TV in 2012. She started in the St. Charles County bureau, lugging a camera from Wentzville to Augusta as a “one-man-band” reporter. A year in, Emily moved to the morning show, covering breaking news around the viewing area, including extensive reporting during last year’s events in Ferguson, Missouri.
Emily graduated from Washington High School and attended the University of Missouri in Columbia. A fourth-generation Mizzou alum and Tiger fan, Emily is a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism. She is a National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Mid-America Chapter Emmy winner, and a Missouri Broadcaster Award recipient. She serves on the board of Girls In The Know, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering young girls.
President and CEO
Compass Retirement Solutions
To say that 30-year-old business owner Marvin Mitchell beat the odds would be an understatement. Marvin grew up in the Walnut Park area of north St. Louis. He graduated from high school at 17; college at 21. Marvin shared his story with Gazelle.
“I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. My mom became pregnant with me at the age of 15. By the time she was 21, she was raising three kids alone. We became homeless for a short while when I was 8. Through her, I learned strength and determination. Somehow she worked three jobs and always managed to keep food in our mouths.”
Marvin became the first person in his family to graduate college. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and moved to Dallas to attend law school.
“Then my grandmother became ill. She was diagnosed with cancer, and I had a choice to either stay in law school or come back and enjoy time with an important woman in my life. I moved back to St. Louis. My grandmother’s savings was wiped out. I said, ‘What can I do to break the generational curse and make a difference?’ I prayed and soul searched, and realized I hated law. An Edward Jones commercial came on TV, and that’s where I decided to begin my journey as a financial advisor. I studied finance diligently – read every book, attended educational seminars, talked to millionaires, and learned a lot about financial empowerment. I started my own business to help people in ways I could not while with Edward Jones. y company, Compass Retirement Solutions, seeks to help baby boomers and retirees simplify their retirement plans. The memory of my grandmother drives me every day; being a generational curse breaker and helping people to protect and secure their assets.”
In addition to being president and CEO of Compass Retirement Solutions, Marvin is a speaker, coach and trainer certified by the John Maxwell Company. He has served on the board of United 4 Children, and is vice president of leadership development for Urban League Young Professionals of St. Louis. He enjoys traveling, softball and involvement in his church.
Tri-County Region Vice President
United Way of Greater St. Louis
Becky Herschbach serves as the new vice president of the Tri-County Region of United Way of Greater St. Louis, helping more than 80,000 people in St. Charles, Lincoln and Warren counties each year. Growing up in a small town east of St. Louis and currently residing in St. Charles has given Becky an appreciation and understanding for the diverse thoughts and values that make up our region. She is thrilled to take on this new role to work with volunteers in her own community to help people live their best possible lives.
As vice president of United Way of Greater St. Louis’ Community Investment Division for the past eight years, Becky managed United Way’s allocations process, which invests more than $1 million each week in the greater St. Louis area. From teaching individuals with disabilities to succeed at work, to linking struggling families with resources, to advising nonprofit agencies on how to provide quality programs, she has connected people with independence and success.
Becky has a master’s in business administration from Webster University. In her free time, she enjoys exploring new bike trails, and visiting national parks while traveling and sampling new recipes with her family and friends.
Dr. Michael D. Shonrock
Dr. Michael D. Shonrock recently took office as the 22nd president of the 188-year-old Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri.
Michael has been president and professor at Emporia State University in Kansas for the past three-and-a-half years. Prior to that, he spent over 20 years at Texas Tech University, where he served as senior vice president and associate professor. While at Texas Tech, Michael also served as vice president, dean, and assistant professor. He holds a doctorate degree from the University of Kansas, an education specialist degree from Pittsburg State University, and a master’s of science and bachelor’s of science from Western Illinois University. Michael received the Institute of Educational Management certificate from Harvard University.
Michael is known as an optimist and futurist, always asking the question, “What is possible?” He frequently discusses his philosophy of education in newspaper editorials and radio shows. Jim J. Shoemake, chairman of Lindenwood’s Board of Directors, referred to Michael as “a friendly, engaging, students-first leader … committed to connecting with our alumni and other university constituencies.”
Michael and his wife, Karen, enjoy cultural and athletic events, involvement in nonprofit organizations, regional development, church, reading and travel.
Michael P. McMillan
President and Chief Executive Officer
Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis
Michael P. McMillan takes great pride in creating programs that offer positive role models and mentors, as the president and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, a nonprofit organization that has provided social services to the St. Louis community since 1918.
Michael created endowed scholarships at four institutions of higher education with accompanying internships for high-achieving disadvantaged students. In response to the crisis in Ferguson, he formed the Save Our Sons program in St. Louis County to help 500 African-American men find jobs, among many other programs. Save Our Sons will move to the new Urban League Community Empowerment Center of Ferguson when construction is completed in 2016.
He was selected as one of eight leaders in America for an Eisenhower International Fellowship, and will travel to Ireland and France to study their forms of government. He is the recipient of over 150 awards. Michael co-founded St. Louis Community Empowerment Foundation with the Danforth Foundation 17 years ago as an effort to assist low income communities.
Michael is a graduate of Saint Louis University with a bachelor’s degree in African American studies, and a minor in political science, with an emphasis in finance. Michael enjoys travelling, restaurants, Egyptian-era décor, movies and African-American history.
Automotive Industry Pioneer
As plant manager for General Motors in Wentzville, Missouri, Nancy Laubenthal continues to be at the forefront of revolutionizing the automotive industry.
Under Nancy’s leadership, the Wentzville plant has experienced a rate of growth and expansion that has led to the gradual hiring of 750 employees, a major turnaround, following the recession. She led the launch of GM’s new, next-generation midsize pickup trucks, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon.
Nancy’s career at GM started 30 years ago. After graduating from Cornell University with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in chemical engineering, she interned within GM’s paint and polymers engineering department. Since then, she has held various positions within the company.
She lived and worked in Europe and Mexico before moving to the Wentzville location as plant manager. She also holds an MBA from the University of Michigan.
When she’s not at the automotive plant, you’ll probably find Nancy somewhere halfway across the world. Once a year, she and her friends choose a destination to discover. They have hiked glaciers, para-glided in the Alps, and ran a 16K run near the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Nancy said she is always looking for an adrenaline rush.
Dr. Christian Prada
St. Louis Cosmetic Surgery
There are a number of women walking around with natural-looking breast enhancements that they refer to as their “Pradas.” As in Dr. Christian Prada, one of the top cosmetic surgeons in the region, and one of four doctors at St. Louis Cosmetic Surgery, where his primary interests are cosmetic surgery and fast recovery breast augmentation. Board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and a member of many notable organizations, he recently served as president of the St. Louis Area Society of Plastic Surgeons. Dr. Prada operates at Progress West Hospital, Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, and Manchester Surgery Center.
After his residency at Loma Linda University Medical Center in California, Dr. Prada completed a two-year fellowship at St. Louis University. He received additional training at Georgetown University Hospital before returning to St. Louis in 2004 for a position as assistant professor at SLU Hospital, where he maintains a clinical faculty position, and is involved in residency education.
Dr. Prada is the consummate family man who loves to travel to exotic places with his wife, Amy, and spend time with their two sons. When he’s not working or traveling, he enjoys reading, working out, attending local sporting events or just relaxing poolside with his family at their Town and Country home.
President and CEO
Drunken Fish Sushi Restaurant and Lounge
Traveling to the United States with his family when he was just 6 years old, Munsok So considers this country to be home. More specifically, St. Louis. Born in Seoul, Korea, his parents came to the states seeking better medical care for his sister, later deciding to stay.
Munsok made his first venture into business ownership just out of college when he and a friend opened a bar. Thirteen years ago, he ventured in a new direction after visiting sushi lounges on the West Coast. “I thought, ‘Why can’t we take that concept to the Midwest?'” he said.
He opened the first Drunken Fish in Westport Plaza in 2003. His first goals were to feel like the business was succeeding, and to feel happy with his employees. Six months later, it was extremely popular and an opportunity arose for a prime corner location in the Central West End. He opened his second restaurant within a year of the first one. Now, with six locations in the Kansas City and St. Louis markets, including the newest one in Ballpark Village, Munsok said he attributes a lot of his success to luck.
“I made smart choices, but a lot of it was that I happened to be in the right place at the right time,” he said. “I was young and naive when I first started in business, but sometimes that drives you to learn and do more.”
Munsok graduated from St. Louis University with a clinical laboratory science degree, but basically had no business background. “I’m learning as I go,” he said. “You listen to what people want, you offer fresh product.” So far, so good. He’s working toward owning 50 Drunken Fish someday.
“And I love living here and seeing the evolution of St. Louis and its culinary scene,” Munsok said. “More people are willing to try new things, and they are expecting more quality in their experiences. I’m excited to be a part of that.”
Director, Franchise Management
A U.S. President’s Volunteer Service Award winner for the past 10 years, Catherine French is the Director of Franchise Management at Citi, a multinational banking and financial services corporation and third largest bank holding company in the U.S. with $1.832 trillion in assets.
Catherine leads a consolidated effort across Citi’s Mortgage and U.S. Consumer and Commercial Bank businesses, building common Best Practices in technology project prioritization and governance, and non-branch real estate. She is also responsible for key enterprise-wide initiatives.
For five years, she served as the Site President for Citi’s O’Fallon, Missouri Progress Point facility, home to 4,000 employees and contractors working in multiple businesses and functions. Under her leadership, the site was consistently the largest in the world for Citi in terms of volunteer community service hours, with 49,000 hours donated by Citi employees, and $1.2 million total funding going into the community in 2014. Catherine joined Citi in 1987, and has held numerous previous positions.
She currently serves on boards for the United Way of Greater St. Louis, the St. Louis Forum (board president), the Olin Alumni Board at the John M. Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis (subcommittee chair), and the Magic House Children’s Museum President’s Executive Advisory Council. She is a Leadership St. Louis graduate. Catherine holds a bachelor’s of science degree from Northwestern University and an MBA from Washington University.
Freida L. Wheaton
St. Louis Community
Freida L. Wheaton has had two distinct careers, as a professor at her alma mater, Tougaloo College, and as in-house counsel for two major corporations over a 30-year legal career.
She now dedicates herself fully to St. Louis’ nonprofit arts and culture arena. Freida established Salon 53, a private residential art gallery in 2006, providing numerous artists with exhibition opportunities. Focusing on curatorial work over the years has led to collaborations with other art institutions. In 2008, she curated Texture in Art, a group show at the Gallery of Contemporary Art at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park; and co-curated the 2007 Black Fine Arts Show of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis.
Recently, she curated a 14-venue exhibition, Hands Up, Don’t Shoot: Artists Respond that included over 100 artists from across the U.S. presented by the Alliance of Black Art Galleries, which she founded in 2013. In November 2014, she accepted the invitation to curate on behalf of Philip Slein Gallery and presented Now! Vibrant Traditions with an Unexpected Twist.
Freida is director and curator of the Vaughn Cultural Center, a program of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis; a member of the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport Art Advisory Committee; and has been a member of the Board of Commissioners of the Saint Louis Art Museum for over 14 years. She also supports the Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts. Freida is an avid art collector with an interest in Cuban and Latin American art, a global traveler, and an excellent host of many gatherings held at her residence and gallery. Notably, she hosts an annual Martin Luther King Day brunch for up to 80 guests, a tradition she began in 1985, a year before the MLK national holiday was observed.
Executive Vice President – Group Executive, Human Resources
MasterCard Operations and Technology
Based in the company’s technology headquarters in St. Louis, Luis Campedelli is executive vice president and group executive of Human Resources for MasterCard Operations & Technology. Luis is the senior HR executive for MasterCard’s largest office, managing critical functions that effect employees in the St. Louis office, as well as employees in more than 25 countries.
He is integral in MasterCard’s efforts to recruit, retain and grow the talented professionals needed to support the company’s world-class technology work.
Luis is a native of Brazil and is fluent in four languages. He holds a degree in civil engineering from the University of Sao Paulo and a Certificate in Advanced HR Executive Leadership from the University of Michigan. Prior to joining MasterCard, Luis spent eight years with Monsanto. He has also held international positions in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa for companies including Accenture, Procter & Gamble, Kraft Foods and Compaq.
As the senior St. Louis HR executive, Luis is involved in most of the company’s local philanthropic efforts. For the past eight years, MasterCard has achieved United Way million dollar campaign status, and Luis and his team play a critical role in the annual campaign. Luis serves on the University of Missouri – St. Louis’ International Business School Advisory Board.