Women of Achievement recently honored the 2021 Women of Achievement – a selection of 10 extraordinary volunteers from the St. Louis metropolitan region. The St. Louis Women of Achievement Award, which was founded in 1955, is the oldest, ongoing program in the area whose sole mission is to honor and recognize the volunteer service and volunteer leadership of women.
The 10 honorees were recognized at the 66th Women of Achievement Awards Celebration—an hourlong awards broadcast on Nine PBS on Monday, September 13. A recording of the program is also online on Women of Achievement’s website (woastl.org).
Three of this year’s honorees are noted African American women in the St. Louis community:
Rebeccah L. Bennett — Equitable Leadership
Lannis E. Hall, MD —Health Advocacy
Cheryl D.S. Walker — Impactful Leadership
“Once again, we recognize and honor phenomenal women committed to causes they believe in. Their extraordinary volunteer service and volunteer leadership remind us we are fortunate to have such strong, committed, passionate, and courageous women in the St. Louis region,” said Women of Achievement President Marian Nunn. “The 2021 honorees provide volunteer services that impact individuals and families, transform businesses, organizations, and communities, advance awareness on many of issues of our day, and inspire people to recognize their possibilities and purpose in life.” Women of Achievement honorees are selected from nominations from the St. Louis metropolitan area, including Metro East Illinois, who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to the betterment of the St. Louis region through voluntary contributions, volunteer leadership and a significant breadth of a volunteer career. Women of Achievement considers nominees with significant volunteer impact in areas such as, but not limited to, education, arts, health and human services, youth and family, philanthropy, social justice and advocacy.
The organizations where have served and led as volunteers include Prostate Cancer Coalition, St. Louis Regional Health Commission, and Forward Through Ferguson to St. Louis Chapter of the Links, Missouri Ethics Commission, and Professional Organization of Women. Their contributions are extensive, and even in the case of Cheryl Walker her mother, Paula Smith, was a 2008 Woman of Achievement.
Rebeccah Bennett is Founder of Emerging Wisdom LLC and its subsidiary, InPower Institute, social enterprises that help individuals live empowered lives; leaders build impactful organizations, and communities advance brighter futures. Bennett’s background in community engagement and public policy have enabled her to work on many of St. Louis’ most significant transformation efforts focused on addressing structural inequities. In her civic leadership, Bennett has chaired and co-chaired organizations that promote racial and social justice, infant and maternal well-being, foster care and adoption, educational opportunity and women’s professional development. Among the organizations that Rebeccah has led civically are Forward Through Ferguson, Generate Health, Jamaa Learning Center, and the Professional Organization of Women.
Dr. Hall received incredible guidance from her grandparents during her childhood, and she often recounts how devastated she was at the time of their passing. As she grew older, Dr. Hall learned that three out of her four grandparents were lost to preventable cancers. When she ultimately chose the field of Radiation Oncology, Dr. Hall promised to dedicate herself to educating the community about early detection and the prevention of similar tragedies. For the last 20 years, Dr. Hall has honored that promise by dedicating herself to reducing cancer disparities and promoting health and wellness in the St. Louis region. Some of the many ways Dr. Hall has exemplified this dedication include: partnering with church leaders to provide health, wellness, and cancer education for congregations across St. Louis; co-founding the Prostate Cancer Coalition, an organization that educates the community and healthcare providers about the tragic disparities of prostate cancer survival as well as the importance of early detection and screening; co-developing an 11-episode podcast series called Our Healthy Men: The Prostate Cancer Question and Answer Show; partnering with the Hazelwood School District to present breast health education to nearly 3,000 young ladies; and co-creating a 17-minute breast health education video called Pink Table Talk: A Sisterly Discussion on Breast Health with The St. Louis Chapter of the Links.
Cheryl D. S. Walker is motivated by the spirit of kuumba “to do always as much as [she] can, in the way [she] can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than [she] inherited it,” which she demonstrates through law, community, poetry and her love for family and friends. Whether serving in leadership roles in arts, education, ethics, or health and well-being, Cheryl does so cherishing the fact that she stands on the shoulders of all those who came before her, and those who struggled so that she can be, always lifting her parents, Lloyd and Paula Smith.