Thought Leaders Forum for Culture

The Thought Leaders Forum for Culture (The Forum) is a group of community leaders who have expertise, backgrounds and affiliations in specific sectors of civic life – business, economic and community development, education, government, health and human services - that intersect or have the potential to intersect more deeply with arts and culture. They have a broad knowledge of St Louis and its history and have demonstrated through service to their fields or to the community, an interest and commitment to making St. Louis thrive.

The Forum will meet throughout the cultural planning process to provide advice to the initiative and serve as a link to the broader community in the development of the plan. A robust, community engagement process informed by online and phone surveys, town hall meetings, and neighborhood convenings will inform the focus, direction and work of The Forum, strategically directed by RAC staff, Commissioners and consultants hired to oversee the planning process.

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Yemi Akande Bartsch

President & CEO
FOCUS St. Louis

Dr. Akande-Bartsch is President & CEO of FOCUS St. Louis, the region’s leading civic leadership organization. She has over 15 years of experience in designing and facilitating leadership training, development, and coaching programs.
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Richard Baron

McCormack Baron Salazar

Richard D. Baron is co-founder and chairman of McCormack Baron Salazar, a leading urban real-estate development company focusing on revitalizing neighborhoods throughout the United States.
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Amelia Bond

President and CEO
St. Louis Community Foundation

Amelia Bond currently serves as the President and CEO of the St. Louis Community Foundation. The Foundation is a public charity that invests and administers charitable funds on behalf of 600 donor funds totaling over $350 million in assets.
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Edward L. Bryant

Vice President, Stakeholder Engagement
United Way of Greater St. Louis

Ed Bryant brings over fifteen years of expertise developing and executing effective strategic and integrated stakeholder engagement, communications and public affairs, and minority economic inclusion solutions for a variety of for-profit and nonprofit organizations.
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Robert J. Ciapciak

Partner, Managing Partner Office
Edward Jones

Robert J. (Bob) Ciapciak's career at Edward Jones began in 1982, when he started working part time in Branch Administration. After earning his MBA later that year, he began working full-time in Academic Training.
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Thomas P. Curran

Senior Policy Advisor
St. Louis County Executive Office

Tom Curran is the Senior Policy Advisor for the St. Louis County Executive and has served in County government for twenty-four years. 
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Michael Donovan

Executive Director
Missouri Arts Council

Michael Donovan, Executive Director of the Missouri Arts Council, leads the state agency responsible for supporting the arts. His focus includes expanded presence statewide, proportional and equitable grant funding, and building partnerships and creative communities.
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Adam Flores

Assistant Professor of Theatre
Fontbonne University

Adam Flores is Assistant Professor of theatre at Fontbonne University. Since joining the faculty of his alma mater in 2015, his work has primarily been to develop curriculum with a more applied approach to theatre.
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Renee Franklin

Director of Audience Development
Saint Louis Art Museum

Renee Brummell Franklin, Director of Audience Development at the Saint Louis Art Museum, has led the Museum’s efforts to initiate and cultivate sustainable relationships with diverse audiences to encourage participation in the Museum and beyond its walls.
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Nicole Hudson

Deputy Mayor for Racial Equity and Priority Initiatives
Office of the Mayor

Nicole Hudson has spent her career applying digital media to products in industries ranging from Broadway to finance to journalism to social justice.