Ladue News Feature Stories

Women of Achievement 2015

Next month at The Ritz-Carlton, Women of Achievement will host its 60th annual luncheon, honoring the Class of 2015, a group of 10 exceptional community volunteers who have significantly made a difference in the lives of St. Louis-area citizens.

Carol Bartle – Community Betterment

After retiring early from a career as a company executive, Carol Bartle began a new type of work: volunteering. She’s been a volunteer for more than 20 years, and has contributed time and money to the American Cancer Society, Art on the Square, American Heart Association, Masterworks Chorale, Zonta Club, Bethany Place, Women’s Crisis Center, Wine Dine and Jazz, Lancer Improvement Association, SWIC Foundation, and the Belleville Bicentennial Celebration Committee. Prior to retiring, she was the co-founder and president of Barcom Inc., a multi-million dollar electronic security business.

The Metro East resident says she’s honored by the recognition from Women of Achievement, but she doesn’t do volunteer work to receive an award.

“All of us need to give back,” she says. “I was able to retire at a young age, so I try to do something to make the world better every day.”

Her philosophy is that if you do a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life, and that is why volunteering has come easy to her. Bartle has worked tirelessly in the Belleville area, matching needs with resources. Her years of filling in details of business projects taught her how to value resources and how to shop for them.

She considers asking for something as providing someone the opportunity to give, which is why she believes her volunteer efforts have been so successful.

Bartle’s passion also stems from seeing the need in the region and beyond.

“I see needs in this world and try to fill them if I can.”

Lise Bernstein – Social Justice

Watching her maternal grandmother when she was younger, Lise Bernstein saw how much joy could come from volunteering. Years later, Bernstein has been able to incorporate helping others into many aspects of her, earning her this year’s Woman of Achievement award for volunteer leadership in social justice.

Bernstein has been a community volunteer in St. Louis for 25 years and currently is the president of Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice. She is extremely passionate about the subject of gun violence and how it affects youth.

“I don’t look at (gun violence) from a political standpoint; I look at it from a health standpoint,” she says. “It seems like basic common sense that guns should be locked up, yet there are all kinds of statistics about children who live in homes with unsecured guns.”

Bernstein was the primary organizer of an April 2014 forum about gun violence attended by 300 health care, law enforcement, education and social-service professionals. She also was instrumental in developing the National Council of Jewish Women’s annual Back to School Store and has focused on women, children and families in her volunteer work. She was a volunteer mentor with Mentor St. Louis in the St. Louis Public Schools, and also was a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for children in the foster care system.

“The most important thing that I take away from my volunteer work is that no matter what the issue or area, one person really can make a difference,” she says. “People underestimate their ability to have an impact.”

Sara Burke – Cultural Enrichment

Sara Burke grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, in what she calls a “white-privilege setting.”

She diversified her environment, however, by learning dance in East St. Louis from the legendary Katherine Dunham, considered by many as the ‘matriarch and queen mother of black dance.’

Burke attributes much of her success and her passion for diversity to Dunham. Burke is the owner of The City Studio Dance Center in St. Louis, and also is a commissioner for the Regional Arts Commission.

She also serves on the Board of Dance St. Louis and is a part of the Diversity Awareness Partnership and Engagement and Task Force Committee for the Opera Theatre of St. Louis.

In addition, she serves as chairwoman of RAC’s Diversity Initiative and Grants committees and was instrumental in the development the commission’s Diversity and Access Policy. In 2014, Burke led the commission’s efforts to establish a new grant category: the Community Social Impact Grant, which was created in response to Ferguson and is a way to address social inequities in arts.

“If I walk into a board room that’s not diversified, it’s hard for me to care,” she says. “We need all voices at the table.”

Burke says the most important thing she takes away from her volunteer work is seeing younger people and people of color sharing in the opportunities.

“Being a dancer, I see everything in terms of movement,” she says. “We’re trying to move people in directions that include everyone.”

Each day, Burke asks herself if her efforts are including people who don’t look like her. She always is working toward diversifying the arts through her roles as a choreographer, dancer, mentor, arts diversity consultant, as well as through her volunteer work.

“Volunteering makes the community sparkle,” she says.

Maxine Clark – Educational Leadership

Maxine Clark may be most known in the St. Louis area for founding Build-A-Bear Workshop in 1997; but next month, she will be honored for her volunteer work in the region. As one of this year’s Women of Achievement, Clark will be recognized for her advocacy for educational equality in St. Louis. The most important thing Clark takes away from her volunteer experiences is how much making connections matters.

“Volunteering matters because just one person can make a difference,” she says. “But one-plus-one can make an even bigger difference.”

She stresses the importance of bringing together agencies that can support each other.

“There are so many great opportunities in our community,” she says. “I like working together and connecting peoples’ strong points.”

She has worked at all levels of education, and serves on a wide range of boards that oversee schooling in St. Louis, including the board of trustees for Washington University. She also has served on national councils for the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, the Olin Business School, the Skandarlaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and the Public Relations National Council. Clark was raised in Miami, Florida, and attributes much of her success to her schooling there.

“My teachers growing up are the reason I’m able to do the work I’m doing today,” she says. “I wouldn’t have been as qualified (to do this work) if it weren’t for them. It makes perfect sense that I want other kids to have the quality education I did.”

Betsy Douglass – Educational Empowerment

Betsy Douglass has been a dedicated volunteer in St. Louis since she was a teenage candy striper at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Volunteer work runs in her blood; her mother, Laura Gray Jones, was a Woman of Achievement in 1971.

“My goal when I was in college was to find a way to make a difference in the world,” she says. “Both my parents were very active in the community, so it was natural that I would follow in their footsteps.”

Douglass currently is completing her third year as president of the board of directors of The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis. She also has worked with Care and Counseling, and Washington University and a number of other regional schools.

Douglass says she’s learned two main things from her volunteer work over the years:

“First, there’s always more to be done because the need is so great. Second, I’ve learned different things from every volunteer job I’ve had. (Volunteering) truly helps develop you as an individual,” she says.

Douglass has served on a variety of boards and committees, and has found the work to be extremely rewarding.

“It’s tremendous to work with a number of people toward a cause we all believe in,” she says. “I’ve been so fortunate to work with so many great staffs over the years. Without a great staff, nothing can get done.”

She says she is honored to be included in this year’s Women of Achievement class.

“We certainly don’t do this for the recognition, but it is very nice.”

Dr. Ghazala Hayat – Multicultural Leadership

Dr. Ghazala Hayat has spent her life trying to bridge the gap between religions. She has served the Interfaith Community for the last 13 years, and has been on the board of Interfaith Partnership/Faith Beyond Walls for seven.

As the first Muslim to serve as chair of the organization, she has been working to enhance relationships between Muslims and other faiths by organizing discussions and seminars in churches, synagogues and schools. Hayat also took a trip to the Middle East in 2007 with more than 20 interfaith friends to enhance understanding of other faiths through dialogue and interaction in the Middle East.

“The most important thing I take away from my volunteer work is the connections I’ve made with other faiths and different cultures,” she says. “I’ve also learned much more about my own faith and culture. I’ve made some very good friends.”

After Sept. 11, 2001, Hayat worked tirelessly to dispel misconceptions about Islam and the Muslim community, giving talks to different organizations. She also has a blog at The St. Louis Post-Dispatch regularly addressing issues facing Muslims and faith communities. Her volunteer career, she says, has been successful because of the teams she’s worked with.

Hayat says her passion for volunteer work stems from the family values her mother instilled in her at a young age.

“She always used to tell us we are the creators of our own lives,” she says. “And I believe there’s so much more to life than your own.”

Lee Etta Hoskins – Youth Enrichment

Lee Etta Hoskins wanted to use the abilities and opportunities she has had in her life to give back to the community, and she’s done just that. Hoskins worked for the United States Postal Service for more than 40 years as a dispute resolution specialist. Though she’s an Arkansas native, she has served the St. Louis community for the past four decades. She’s spent much of her life working with youth, including serving for more than eight years with the Top Teens of America, Inc.

“I always try to give back,” she says. “You have to recognize you didn’t do anything by yourself.”

Hoskins says she’s so grateful that she’s in a position to be able to help others.

“I want to inspire young people to do great and know that there are great opportunities out there for them,” she says.

Hoskins currently serves as the councilwoman of Ward III in Berkeley, where her husband, Theodore, is the mayor. She also has been a member of Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc. St. Louis Chapter for more than 25 years.

She previously has been recognized as one of the USPS Women of the Year and received the USPS National Diversity Award.

“For many years, we didn’t have women in supervision roles (at the USPS),” she says. “It was mostly a man’s world, but we were able to break that barrier.”

In addition, Hoskins has reactivated the Berkeley Youth Commission, and has organized and coordinated several food drives, health fair and festivals.

Her motto is: “Not for ourselves, but for others.”

Carol Loeb – Educational Philanthropy

Carol Loeb’s driving force in her life has been her passion for math and sciences. That, along with being surrounded by a variety of philanthropic role models at a young age, ignited her passion for volunteerism.

“(Volunteering) is something I believe very strongly in,” she says. “I have been doing it from the time I was a candy striper at the hospital.”

Carol has been a math teacher for more than 50 years, and enjoys working to make a different in the quality of education in science, technology, engineering and math.

“I want girls to get involved in STEM because I think there should not be a division there,” she says. “The world is too sophisticated now.”

Loeb has established the Loeb Teaching Fellows Program at Washington University Medical School and has endowed two professorships at the Medical School. She also sits on the board of trustees at the Saint Louis Science Center, where she established the Loeb prize in 1995. It has since been given to more than 100 teachers.

“They told us at our college commencement to take our liberal education and go make a difference in the world,” she says. “It has stuck with me for more than 50 years.”

Loeb always is seeking to make a difference in the accessibility of math and science to schools that may not have a strong curriculum.

“I am so excited when I have former students come back with a PhD in math or they have a degree in science,” she says. “I just want people to give math a chance, as well as give back to the people who have been mentors for me.”

Sheri Sherman – Humanitarian Concerns

Sheri Sherman’s interests are widespread and diverse and, in turn, so are her volunteer efforts. She has been involved in everything from the Burns Recovered Support Group to the New Jewish Theater and Edison Theatre.

“I have many interests, so I volunteer on many levels,” she says. “With volunteering, there’s a freedom to pick and choose the kinds of things you want to do, which is wonderful.”

Four years ago, she visited the Missouri Children’s Burn Camp at Lake of the Ozarks and was inspired to create the ‘Let’s Give Burns the Boot’ event at Saks Fifth Avenue. She also joined the board of Burns Recovered Support Group and currently serves as vice-president. She also has had a major role in the Jewish Light newspaper, and is a founding 16-year board member of the New Jewish Theater, serving as its president for the past six years. In addition, she’s been a board member of the Jewish Community Center, been in major roles for the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, and received the Women of Worth Award in 2010.

“I’m extremely humbled to be in the presence of such wonderful Women (of Achievement) and great community volunteers,” she says.

Sherman always says she gets more out of volunteering than she gives because it’s so rewarding.

“I meet remarkable people and meet lifelong friends,” she says.

And in terms of what she is involved in, Sherman lets her heart decide.

“Whatever touches my heart, I connect to,” she says.

Pamela Talley – Community Advocacy

Pamela Talley’s passion for people has led her to be a recognizable volunteer in North St. Louis. Though she is a self-employed nurse practitioner, she finds time to dedicate hours of service to helping the residents of the region in positive ways. She lives in the historic Lewis Place neighborhood, and has worked to stabilize and rebuild the community as president of the Lewis Place Historical Preservation. Talley has worked closely with the McMillan Housing Development Office, tutoring 25 neighborhood kids and eventually starting a summer camp program for 40 children.

“I’m one of those people who just doesn’t wait to get things done,” she says. “If something needs to be done, we do it. Oftentimes, it takes a team or group, but we get it done.”

She received a community health leader award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2007, and organized the Grandparents As Parents Support Project for grandparents raising grandchildren.

Talley started a community garden on a vacant lot in 2009, and worked with Gateway Greening and Triscuit and Urban Farming to expand the garden and provide fresh food to the area.

When the Lewis Place neighborhood was struck by a tornado in 2010, she assisted by contacting representatives at the state and federal level, along with emergency management agencies and local churches. Through her diligent efforts, Talley was able to secure $1 million to assist families who didn’t have insurance.

“My passion is for people, how they live, and where they live,” she says. “This recognition is an honor, without a doubt.”

This story was originally published at laduenews.com. Read it on LN’s website here.

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