On November 13, 2021, Rise held 2021 Transforming the Landscape Gala and also presented the Lifting Our Communities Awards. The event was held at The Marriott Grand located on Washington Avenue in St. Louis, MO.

Over 275 people attended the event amid the pandemic and were able to physically come together to support and love, and show their appreciation for Rise and its mission. Some of the people in attendance included close friends, partners, and collaborators. The one and only Michael McMillan, CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Saint Louis, Inc. eloquently served as Gala Chair, and Rene Knott, the beloved morning anchor for KDSK, was the emcee for the Gala.

It was a marvelous night that started with a fabulous cocktail hour, then welcoming and touching moments honoring the first round of awardee’s in the category of Legacy Awards, an exquisite dinner for a break, then onto presenting the second category of Lifting Our Communities Awards, and finally ending with a great turn out for the Rise fund-a-need.

The awardees are as follows:

Legacy Awards:

Mike Harris, founder of E.M. Harris Construction Company, received by Mary Harris

Greg Vatterott, Chairman of CF. Vatterott Construction, received by Greg Vatterott, Jr.

Peter Benoist, President, and CEO of Enterprise Financial Services Corp., received by Carol Benoist

Lifting our Communities Awards:

Stephen Acree, former Executive Director and President of Rise

Loura Gilbert, former Vice President Community Development and Community Reinvestment Officer at Commerce Bank

Aaron Williams, a former member of the Rise Young Professionals Board

The awards ceremony featured video presentations on each of the awardee’s achievements followed by the presentation of the awards and acceptance speeches. The award presenters included Rise board member Phil Krull, Rise board co-chair Mary Campbell, Rise board vice-chair Tom Reeves, Rise Young Professional secretary Elizabeth Johnson, Rise board member Reginald Scott, and Rise board member John Dubinsky.

The event was bitter-sweet during the Legacy Awards and joyous for the Lifting Our Communities awards.  The vibe was very positive and loving. We are extremely grateful to our guests and our sponsors. Thank you to all of our staff, volunteers, and our board of directors.