2019 Young Leaders class

A diverse group of 20 accomplished African-American professionals under age 40 has been selected as the St. Louis American Foundation’s 2020 class of Salute to Young Leader award recipients.

Nominated by colleagues, friends and family, they will be profiled in the February 20 edition of The St. Louis American and will be honored at the St. Louis American Foundation’s 10th annual Salute to Young Leaders Networking Awards Reception at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 20 at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis, 999 N. 2nd St.

This year’s cohort of Young Leaders includes a senior vice president of a local bank, a senior project manager of a $16 billion company, a technical sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, an assistant circuit attorney, and the executive director of the Ferguson Youth Initiative.

While their career paths are diverse, they have one thing in common. They are all high-performing, young African-American professionals who have already received significant success in their respective professional fields, while also working in service to the community.

“A critical element of sustainable progress and success in any community is able, committed leadership,” said Donald M. Suggs, president of the St. Louis American Foundation. “These young people represent an essential component necessary to achieve a more inclusive and equitable future for our community.”

The 2020 Class of Young Leaders, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Doneisha Bohannon, MPH, senior strategist, Missouri Foundation for Health
  • Johnnica Bolden, chief operating officer, iJustOrder; CEO, J Star Construction
  • Portia J. Britt, assistant prosecuting attorney, St. Louis County Prosecutor's Office
  • Brittae Gray-Ross, application developer, Washington University School of Medicine
  • Aaron M. Harris, executive director, Ferguson Youth Initiative
  • Candace Harris, human resources generalist, Spire
  • Dasha Kennedy, owner and creator, The Broke Black Girl & The Girlpreneur Expo
  • George Ladd, financial consultant, Hussmann Corporation
  • Andrea Lewis, manager of Housing & Client Services, Employment Connection
  • Stephanie McCloud, flight attendant, Delta Air Lines; technical sergeant, Aviation Resource manager, USAF; founder, Take Flight Girls
  • Aunyã McElroy, M.Ed., school counselor, Jury Elementary School, Hazelwood School District
  • Ashley O’Neal, senior vice president – retail market manager, Midwest BankCentre
  • Nicola Charlottie Phillips, senior project manager, Bayer Crop Science
  • Neal Richardson, vice president, director of Business Impact, U.S. Bank Community Development Corporation
  • Marcel Scaife, manager of Safe and Thriving Communities, Ready By 21 St. Louis
  • Christan E. Shelton, Esq., instructional coach, Riverview Gardens School District
  • Danielle Smith, Esq., assistant circuit attorney, St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office
  • Blake A. Strode, executive director, ArchCity Defenders
  • Deanna Taylor, Compliance lead, Edward Jones
  • Mikel D. Whittier, MHA, strategist – Justice and Health Equity, St. Louis Integrated Health Network.

Tickets for the Salute to Young Leaders Networking Awards Reception, to be held at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, February 20, are $35 and can be purchased online at stlamerican.com or by emailing rbritt@stlamerican.com or calling 314-533-8000.

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