About The Chamber
Managing Executive Message . . .
Economic empowerment will prevent another Ferguson
By Veta Jeffery
August 2019 marked five years post Ferguson; a time when we were forced to face the extreme differences and lack of collaborative efforts to bridge the gaps within our city, as it was displayed for the entire world to see. Ferguson forever changed the face of our city as many realized that we could no longer put off having the uncomfortable conversations and putting positive ideas into action for the betterment of all. This year brings with it a new opportunity for Saint Louisans to exhibit what we have learned in the aftermath of Ferguson.
So, what have we learned? How are we putting that knowledge into action? As the eyes of the world turn toward us, what will they see? It is important for us to not look the same. What have we done? What are we doing? How are we setting the tone for the next five years and beyond?
In 2018, I stated that we must be intentional in the message we deliver, embracing and taking pride in our differences instead of allowing those differences to erect walls between us. The whole of Saint Louis needs black Saint Louis to be economically prosperous.
Organizations like the Saint Louis Chapter of the Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce (HSBCC) will continue to help to empower our community by facilitating entrepreneurship and business growth that will promote a diverse and sustainable economy. Our moves must be precise, straightforward and inclusive.
HSBCC goals include: 1) Organizing the African-American business community, 2) Growing the pipeline of African-American entrepreneurs, 3) Connecting African-American businesses with the black community, and 5) Advancing racial equity in local and regional markets.
We can achieve these goals and more by working together—city, county, state and nation. 2019 is our chance to be great. Let’s Rise Together to be Great Together!
St. Louisans have a chance to answer the call to be intentional and purposeful in the message they deliver. We must all embrace our differences and realize that to take pride in oneself does not mean that we have to despise, dislike or disapprove of one another.
Ultimately, it comes down to economic empowerment and upward mobility for all of our citizens. With organizations like the Heartland St. Louis Black Chamber of Commerce, our community can be empowered. Working together, we can facilitate entrepreneurship and business growth that promote a vibrant, diverse and sustainable local, regional and national economy.
Our efforts must be systemic, forthright and inclusive, if we are to succeed. The HSBCC has created a set of tenets that can be used as a springboard. The HSBCC is looking to: 1.) Organize the African-American business community, 2.) Grow the pipeline of African-American entrepreneurs, 3.) Connect African-American businesses with black consumers and other markets, 4.) Promote economic development within the black community, and lastly and certainly not least, 5.) Advance racial equity in local and regional markets.
Through collaboration between the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County and the State of Missouri, we can begin to sow the seeds of tolerance, and reap the respect, forgiveness and economic bounty we all deserve. Let’s travel the path once walked by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other great leaders, who envisioned a better tomorrow for our children, their children and the United States of America.
Board of Directors . . .
Meet the proud Board of Directors for the Heartland St. Louis Black Chamber of Commerce. We are all professionals committed to the progression of Black owned enterprises.
Veta Lynn Thurman Jeffery has spent her life fighting for the rights of others. After graduating from the University of Missouri – St. Louis, Mrs. Jeffery began her professional career advocating for the rights of individuals with disabilities. Mrs. Jeffery went on to spend 18 years working in the financial services industry as a licensed professional and the Manager of Financial Services, where she ran agencies gaining national recognition.
Marvin Steele is the founder and manager of Urban Testing Labs, a clinical diagnostic laboratory. His corporate experience began in the early 1970s working with Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA). He began as sales engineer and quickly progressed to managing accounts totaling over $40 million in sales.
Ron Norwood is a litigation partner at Lewis Rice, a major, St. Louis based law firm. Ron represents various large and small businesses and governmental entities in litigation matters that include general commercial litigation, banking and insurance litigation, health care and products liability litigation, school and municipal litigation, and labor litigation. Ron serves as Chairman of Lewis Rice’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and as Chairman of the HSSU Board of Regents.
Anthony (Tony) Thompson
Anthony (Tony) Thompson is the Chairman/CEO of Kwame Building Group, Inc. (KWAME), the first African American ESOP corporation in the state of Missouri, which he founded in 1991. Headquartered in St. Louis, MO, KWAME is a construction management/program management firm that serves as an independent agent to the owner. KWAME provides, along with other services, exceptional project management, scheduling, estimating, contract/claims administration and document controls.
Damion Jones is the Global Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Monsanto Company within their Talent Acquisition / Diversity and Inclusion / Compliance / Contingent Workforce Department. In his current role, Damion is responsible for outlining the inclusion strategy & recommending actions in support of the executive I&D councils functional & regional oversight of our company culture and operations. This includes consulting with various functions and regions and providing periodic updates.
Alex Fennoy possesses nearly 25 years of commercial banking experience. He joined Midwest BankCentre in 2010, focusing his efforts on helping local unbanked and underbanked citizens. He has co-chaired the St. Louis Unbanked Tax Force and its Bank On Save Up initiatives since 2013. Fennoy serves on the boards of Better Family Life, Northside Community Housing, the Metro St. Louis Coalition for Inclusion & Equity, the Center for the Acceleration of African American Business and the Jackie Joyner- Kerse center.
Dellena Jones has worked at 911 Hair Salon, at 9193 West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, for thirteen years and has owned the business since 2012.
Apollo Carey practices in the areas of corporate law, real estate development/construction law, and tax law. His corporate practice focuses on mergers & acquisitions, stock and asset purchases, and business operation and organization. In his tax practice, Apollo represents clients in a variety of tax planning and tax controversy matters. Furthermore, he provides legal advice and practical guidance to for profit, government, municipal, educational, and nonprofit entities and associations.
Charlotte VM Ottley
Charlotte VM Ottley was unanimously elected as a board member of the St. Louis Black Chamber of Commerce. Her entrepreneurial background matched by her media experience, training skills history of representing financial institutions and civic involvement makes her an excellent addition to the board. Her combined experience, qualifications and access to community leaders, government officials and businesses offer a valued addition to our board.