President Obama traveled to Pittsburgh on Oct. 13 to host the first-ever White House Frontiers Conference, a national meeting of the minds to explore the future of innovation.
“We have a tremendous group here from all sciences, industries and academia,” Obama said in his opening remarks. “All of you in your own fields are transformers. We have an amazing panel, and I’m excited to learn from the people here today.”
Urban Strategies President Sandra Moore was among the speakers Obama invited. During her panel, she was introduced as a person who had “dedicated her life to solving problems of social and economic mobility.”
At one point, Moore said, Obama shook her hand and thanked her for her work. “It was an amazing professional day for me,” Moore said.
On Friday, November 18, Moore will receive the 2016 Non-Profit Executive of the Year award at the St. Louis American Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Business Networking & Awards Luncheon.
For 16 years, Moore has led Urban Strategies’ team of professionals who work in mixed-income housing developments and help residents and community stakeholders transform distressed urban core communities into vibrant, safe residential neighborhoods. Pittsburgh was among the communities she helped transform.
“Nationally there’s been far more that Sandra has done,” said Richard D. Baron, co-founder and chairman of McCormack Baron Salazar. “It’s not just the outstanding work she’s done in St. Louis.”
McCormack Baron Salazar is an urban real-estate development company focused on revitalizing neighborhoods throughout the country, and about 75 percent of the projects Urban Strategies works on are connected to the developer.
Moore has become a national expert on bringing federal funding streams down to the household level. She said in St. Louis, Urban Strategies and McCormack Baron have been doing mixed-income projects, but not “leading transformation” on a grand scale – like they have done in other cities.
“Urban Strategies has developed quite a reputation for that kind of work around the country,” Moore said. “We hadn’t been able to reach that level of improvements in our hometown.”
However, Moore feels that this year could bring change. Years ago, Urban Strategies led the application process and was the grantee for a federal Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant. Now this year, they are leading the massive collaboration to apply for the Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant for North City. In September, the City of St. Louis – the applicant – was declared a finalist for the grant by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
“It was very important for me,” Moore said. “You never want to do more with someone else’s home than you do with your own home.”
HUD will announce the winners in December. If St. Louis is chosen, the grant would mean $30 million – or $90 million after contributions from city partners – to “put products on the ground” in North City, she said. That includes revitalized housing, single-family homes, a recreation facility, and resources to strengthen the Flance Early Learning Center, Moore said.
The application process included convening more than 100 meetings with local leaders, residents and stakeholders, such as universities and community colleges, the St. Louis Public School District, charter schools, business owners, hospitals and non-profits, as well as the St. Louis Housing Authority.
The city's Near North Side Choice Neighborhood Initiative (http://www.nearnorthsidestl.com/) encompasses Carr and Columbus Square neighborhoods, along with portions of Old North, St. Louis Place and the new home of the Next National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) West intelligence campus.
“St. Louis hasn’t focused on the North Side in decades,” Baron said. “That’s been a challenge for all of us who are working in these neighborhoods. I hope that begins to change now with Sandra’s important work.”
Baron said Moore’s leadership at Urban Strategies has been so successful because of her unique skillset.
“She comes with a very interesting background, being both a lawyer and former administrative judge for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Council,” said Baron.
A graduate of Washington University, Moore received her J.D. degree from the School of Law in 1979 and a bachelor’s degree in urban studies in 1976.
Baron also marveled that she was the former director of the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, where she served as a member of Governor Mel Carnahan’s cabinet.
Moore formerly served as the CEO of the Missouri Family Investment Trust, a public-private partnership entity leading Missouri’s multi-system reform efforts.
Prior to joining the Family Investment Trust, she was vice president of St. Louis 2004, Inc., a citizen-based effort to make the St. Louis region a recognized leader in the 21st century by accomplishing major projects.
She is also proud that she helped to get parts of North St. Louis and north St. Louis County the federal Promise Zone designation.
“That’s important because it created a working connection for the city and county,” she said. “It encompasses about 200,000 people, and it gives us a platform for collaboration.”
Urban Strategies is also leading the Promised Neighborhood Grant application process that would bring $30 million over five years to support Normandy Collaborative, St. Louis Public and KIPP schools.
Overall, Moore said, “I’m very proud to being able to add my voice to discussion about how to make St. Louis better.”
The 17th Annual Salute to Excellence in Business Awards & Networking Luncheon will be held Thursday, November 17 at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis, with a networking reception at 11 a.m. and luncheon program at noon. Tickets are $100 for VIP/Preferred seating, $75 for general admission. Call 314-533-8000 or visitwww.stlamerican.com for more information or to purchase tickets.