The Chamber

Managing Executive Message . . .

Economic empowerment will prevent another Ferguson
By Veta Jeffery

As we embark upon 2019, we have an opportunity to start anew. When the world turned its attention to St. Louis, following the forewarning events that unfolded in Ferguson, our veil was stripped away. Most of us long-time St. Louisans are familiar with the polarizing reputation that St. Louis holds. However, if we embrace 2017 as a beacon of hope, we might find that we can create a different perspective that we all can share.

The world is still watching us and is looking to see if in 2019 and 2024 (five and 10 years after Ferguson), we learned and grew from our experience. With the election of Eric Greitens as our new governor, we have a chance to build on the progress of our former governor and trek a new course. With our support, of the community, Mr. Greitens has the opportunity to help bridge the gap of uncertainty and foster an environment of collaboration in our state. We can no longer continue “business as usual.”

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 Jeffery

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

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.

Ronald Norwood

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

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

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.

Kevin Bryant

Kevin Bryant is Founder and CEO of Conversions Global Marketing, LLC. Mr. Bryant has 20+ years’ experience managing successful marketing projects, and is one of the foremost branding, advertising and marketing experts in the United States.

Dellana Jones

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

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.

A. T. Holt

A. T. Holt, CEO of KESHANDE Technology, is a dedicated Creative Director, Website Designer and Web Application Developer in the field of digital branding with extensive experience in the coordination, planning, project management, production and support of operational, technical and administrative functions for web application design, programming, development and search optimization. With over 20 years of experience in media production and brand development, A. T. brings substance to creativity, and this substance is now shared with Heartland St, Louis Black Chamber of Commerce.