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Urban League Hosts 16th Annual Salute to Women Gala Honoring Jenifer Lewis, Regina Belle, BernNadette Stanis and 13 Phenomenal Leaders

On June 15, the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis honored 16 distinguished women in leadership before an audience of over 1,000 at a black-tie reception, dinner and concert at the Salute to Women in Leadership Gala at the Marriott St. Louis Grand Hotel. World Wide Technology, Wells Fargo and Centene Corporation served as the title sponsors at the event which showered the honorees with several amazing awards, gifts and accolades.

The program was emceed by Fox 2 News’ Shirley Washington, with Urban League President & CEO Dr. Michael P. McMillan bringing remarks and special presentations from Lion’s Choice and Maryville University and Richard Gant, of the Oprah Winfrey Network’s “Greenleaf” show, serving as the official announcer of the awardees. At the event, Dr. McMillan announced that the Urban League has received a donation of a restaurant facility from Lion’s Choice which will be converted into a community culinary school for residents. In addition, Margaret Onken, vice president for development of Maryville University announced they will donate $30,000 to support the Urban League for the Intel Academy and Save Our Sisters programs.

This year’s honored guests included Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Jenifer Lewis, a local legend and one of Hollywood’s most familiar faces, with more than 300 appearances in film and television including memorable roles in “Blackish”, “What’s Love Got to Do with It” and “The Preacher’s Wife.” At the event, Lewis gave an inspirational acceptance speech where she reminisced about growing up in Kinloch, encouraged millennials to get out to vote and advocated for physical fitness.   

BernNadette Stanis, star of the groundbreaking, first African American sitcom, “Good Times” was also honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award as well as Academy Award winner and Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and actress Regina Belle, who is best known for her performance of “A Whole New World” with Peabo Bryson, rounds off the all-star cast of Salute Lifetime Achievement Award winners. Following her recognition, Belle entertained the audience with a live concert performance of her greatest hits which were well-received.

The other phenomenal women who were honored at this year’s festivities include: Yaphett El-Amin, Executive Director of MOKAN Construction, Robin Boyce, Communications Specialist of the Comptroller’s Office at St. Louis Lambert International Airport, Molly Hyland, Director of Community Relations for Commerce Bank, Miranda Jones, Vice President of Youth, Family and Clinical Services for Better Family Life, Connie Wilson, Executive Assistant to the CEO of Better Family Life, Betty Thompson, Executive Director of Kwame Foundation and the Tyrone Thompson Institute for Nonviolence, Marsha Mockabee, CEO of the Urban League of Greater Cleveland,  Rose Mary Johnson, a retired educator from St. Louis Public Schools and retired Master Sergeant from the United States Army Reserves, Suzy Stone, Division Vice President of Stores for Macy’s, Paula E.W. Carey-Moore, Urban League Director of Housing, Nancy Kranzberg, Arts Philanthropist, Dr. Frances Levine, President & CEO of the Missouri History Museum,  and Maureen Brinkley, District Director for the Small Business Administration-St. Louis office.

“The Urban League is truly thankful for the community’s continued support of the Salute to Women in Leadership Gala. We are also very proud of this year’s honorees for their service,” said Dr. McMillan. 

For more information about the Urban League, please contact (314) 615-3668 or

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