Inside the Saigh Symposium

Inside the Saigh Symposium

This event has closed, but we encourage you to learn more. Wyman will host the next annual event in October 2016. Join our mailing list (at the bottom of the page) to stay updated on youth development news and Wyman events. 

A young person today in St. Louis City is more likely to die by violence, and at least twice as likely to live in poverty, drop out of high school and become pregnant than his or her peers in surrounding St. Charles County, St. Louis County and Jefferson County, according to the 2015 Kids Count report.

In fact, the annual report on the state of the state’s children by Annie E. Casey Foundation shows St. Louis City continues to rank dead last among the state’s 115 counties in the composite rankings of trends in child well-being. The more affluent St. Charles County finishes No. 1; St. Louis County comes in at 13; and Jefferson County

This is not due to lack of resources or effort. The St. Louis region often ranks among the highest in the nation for philanthropic investments. It is the result of our region’s inability thus far to effectively marshal these collective assets, resources and political capital to close the widening gap between the opportunities that children of color have to succeed in learning, work and life.

Our kids deserve better – and the current sense of urgency in our community has never been more evident. To that end, Wyman, the Saigh Foundation and Nine Network co-host the Saigh Symposium to discuss a big picture, collective approach to improving the health, education and economic well-being of all youth in the St. Louis region. As a part of this event, local community leaders participate in a panel discussion about how we, as a community, can come together and effectively mobilize to create the opportunities for success that our region’s young people deserve.

Covering this important topic at the Saigh Symposium are:

Vanessa Foster-Cooksey, Wells Fargo Advisors’ Senior Vice President of Community Affairs:

Vanessa Foster Cooksey heads Community Affairs at Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC. In this role, she plans, directs and executes the firm’s nationwide strategy for charitable giving, volunteerism, and community and civic involvement. She leads a team that focuses primarily on opportunities in the areas of financial education, healthy aging, workforce development and arts and culture. She also serves on the company’s Senior Leadership Board and Management Committee.

Vanessa joined Wells Fargo Advisors in 2013 after previously serving as the senior director of Community Affairs at Anheuser-Busch. There, she managed more than 300 grants and partnerships and led the ompany to receiving its highest corporate reputation score in its history. Prior to Anheuser-Busch, Vanessa was the director of Community and Government Relations for Supervalu. Her career has spanned across corporate, public and non-profit sectors, and she has served in leadership roles for the Cartoon Network, CNN, the Atlanta Public Schools and the City of Atlanta.

Vanessa earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas-Austin. She has an extensive history of non- profit board experience and volunteer service, where she has focused on organizations and programs that promote literacy and education, diversity, youth leadership and health and wellness.

Kendra Copanas, Executive Director, Maternal & Child Health Coalition:

Kendra Copanas serves as the Executive Director of the Maternal, Child and Family Health Coalition. Kendra has overseen health related nonprofit organizations focused on improving the health of vulnerable women and children for the last seventeen years. Before joining the Coalition in 2004, she was executive director of SIDS Resources for seven years, an organization dedicated to reducing sudden infant deaths and supporting families who experience the tragedy. She is proud of her role at the Coalition in securing over $8 million to support home visiting and maternal mental health services for expectant and new families and establishing the first Fetal and Infant Mortality Review program in Missouri.

Kendra serves on the board of directors of the St. Louis Behavioral Health Network. She is a member of the St. Louis Regional Health Commission Provider Services Advisory Board, St. Louis Children’s Hospital Child Health Advocacy and Outreach Advisory Board and the St. Louis Mayor’s Commission on Children and Youth.

Alan Byrd, Dean of Enrollment Services, University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Co-Chair of St. Louis Graduates:

Alan is responsible for providing leadership, direction, and planning for all undergraduate recruitment initiatives at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He began his career in college admissions as an Admission Counselor at Southeast Missouri State University. For eight years, he served in the recruitment program at SEMO in a variety of positions including the Director of Minority Recruitment and the Associate Director of Enrollment Management.

As a native of St. Louis, Alan was born and raised in North City. He attended Lafayette High School as a participant in the VICC Desegregation Program before attending SEMO where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration. He is currently working on his Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Leadership at UMSL.

Kathy Osborn, Executive Director, Regional Business Council:

Kathleen T. Osborn is Executive Director of the Regional Business Council, which unites and civically engages executives from large and middle-market businesses. Formerly, Osborn was Vice Chancellor of University Relations at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Osborn spearheaded the establishment of the Regional Business Council in 1999 while serving as a senior vice president at the RCGA.A frequent speaker, Osborn has received a host of distinguished awards, including: Recipient of the Links Excellence in Service Award for Outstanding Women Leaders in 2009; recipient of the Hellenic Spirit Athena Award in 2009; recipient of the St. Louis Business Journal’s Most Influential Business Women in 2004 and 2007; and recipient of the UM-St. Louis Distinguished Alumni Award in 2000. Additionally, Osborn serves on a variety of business and civic boards.

Osborn earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. In addition, she earned a postgraduate certificate from the Institute for Education Management at Harvard University.

The wealth of knowledge will be displayed on this panel is sure to impact you on this topic of, “Why St. Louis Needs Better Performing Partnerships.” Each panelist will provide a different perspective on what we as a community can be doing better, to create a stronger future for our region’s youth.

We need community members and leaders from all sectors to join in this conversation. Please consider attending the Saigh Symposium, to lend your voice to this important movement.

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