On March 25, 2017, Rise held its 20th Anniversary Gala and Lifting Our Communities Awards. The event was held at The Caramel Room at Bissinger’s Historic Chocolate Factory. Over 300 of our closest friends and collaborators were in attendance, all there to witness the inaugural 2017 Lifting Our Communities Awards. The event started with a cocktail hour featuring a jewelry pull hosted by Kendra Scott, giving everyone the opportunity to hob-nob and enjoy some libations. Dinner was held at 7 PM followed by the awards ceremony, the unveiling of the brand new video depicting the work Rise has done in the community over the last 20 years, a testimony by Jerri Winters (resident at Village at Delmar Place), and finally an afterparty featuring the music of the band Fat Pocket. The official chairman of the event was Peter Benoist, Chief Executive Officer of Enterprise Financial Services Corporation and the emcee was Pat McGonigle from KSDK.

The awardees are as follows:

Joseph A. Shepard, Co-founder of Sugar Creek Capital for Affordable Housing Advocacy

Seth M. Leadbeater, Retired Vice Chairman of Commerce Bancshares for Community Development Banking

John P. Dubinsky, President and Chief Executive Officer of Westmoreland Associates, LLC and Co-founder of Cortex for Economic Development & Leadership

The awards ceremony featured video presentations on each of the awardees lifetime achievements followed by the presentation of the awards and acceptance speeches.  The presenters for each of the awards were Peter Benoist presenting to Mr. Shepard, Loura Gilbert, Vice President of Community Development at Commerce Bank presenting to Mr. Leadbeater, and Stephen Acree, President of Rise and Hank Webber, Executive Vice Chancellor for Administration at Washington University presenting to Mr. Dubinsky.

The ceremony was full of heartfelt emotions and true convictions for St. Louis neighborhoods and the people that reside in them. Look for the next celebration in 2022!


We would like to send out sincere thanks to everyone involved and special thanks to all of our sponsors.