Panelists

President and CEO
Saint Louis Symphony
St. Louis, MO

  • Born in Canada to Belgian and Canadian parents, raised in a musical family that was deeply involved in reviving the early music movement in North America in the last 60 years.
  • Practiced tax law in Canada for six years and moved to the United States in 1996 to pursue a career in orchestra management.
  • The SLSO is the second oldest (founded in 1880) orchestra in the United States after the New York Philharmonic. Considered one of the top six in the country, it operates on a $30M budget, relies on philanthropic support for 2/3 of its budget and doesn’t receive funding through ZMD.
  • Its 90-member Orchestra, Chorus and In Unison Chorus serve well over 250,000 people in the St. Louis region and the State of Missouri with over 110 live performances at Powell Hall, 100+ education concerts and activities and 75 community programs each year. The In Unison chorus and programs touch on the lives of members of 47 African American churches in the region.
  • During her tenure, Marie-Helene Bernard put in place a strategic plan, settled a five-year contract with the American Federation of Musicians for its orchestra and IATSE for its stagehands; raised the Annual Fund by over 6% annually; balanced the organization’s budget two years in a row and enabled the SLSO to reach and maintain one of the largest endowments ($218M) of any orchestras in the country.
  • Through her leadership, Marie-Helene Bernard is establishing the SLSO as one of the most accessible orchestras and cultural organizations in the country and region, elevating St. Louis as a cultural destination.

Regulatory Affairs Manager
Bayer Crop Science

St. Louis, MO

    • Received her PhD in Molecular Biology and Immunology from Karolinska Institute Stockholm, Sweden in 2004, continued as a post-doc at Washington University.
    • Earned an MS in Biology from Karolinska Institute, and a BS in Biomedical Laboratory Science from Stockholm University College of Health Science in Stockholm, Sweden.
    • Serves on African and African American Leadership Team in Monsanto Business Resource Network since 2017.
    • Board member for Cross Cultural Champions across Technology at Monsanto since 2018.
    • Helped raise more than $450K for the United Way of Greater St. Louis at Monsanto.
    • Enjoys traveling, reading, spending time with family and friends, and outdoor activities.
    • Born and raised in Ethiopia and lived in Stockholm, Sweden and currently lives in St. Louis.

Assistant Professor of Sociology
Washington University in St. Louis

St. Louis, MO

  • Studies gender inequality, work-family issues, and social policy.
  • Wants to change the national conversation about employment and motherhood.
  • Her first book about the experiences of working mothers in Sweden, Germany, Italy, and the United States will be published in February 2019 by Princeton University Press.
  • Has written for The Atlantic and Slate.
  • Grew up in Portland, Oregon. (Yes, it really does rain there most of the year.)
  • Received her BA in Sociology from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington and her MA and PhD from the University of Texas at Austin.
  • Moved to St. Louis in 2016 with her partner Bennett and dog Flapjack. They love it here.

Vice President and Assistant General Counsel
U.S. Bank

St. Louis, MO

  • Married to college sweetheart for 15 years, and lives within the smelling distance of Donut Drive-In.
  • Has a 9-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son, either of whom could talk any person on the planet under the table.
  • Has lived in St. Louis for 19 years.
  • Her favorite place in St. Louis is Forest Park.
  • When not doing family stuff or work stuff, she likes to exercise, get pedicures, and watch shows and movies on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries where busybodies solve murders.

President and Chief Executive Officer
Paraquad, Inc.

St. Louis, MO

  • Expanded Paraquad’s impact through innovative programs including Bloom Café, a social enterprise restaurant and training kitchen, and a fully accessible health and wellness center.
  • Passionate about social justice, advocacy and increasing opportunities for people with disabilities.
  • Governor’s Council on Disability Inclusion Awardee in 2010, St. Louis Business Journal Diverse Business Leaders honoree in 2015 and 2018 Class of Most Influential Business Women.
  • Serves on the Missouri State Rehabilitation Council, Missouri Foundation for Health Community Advisory Council, Regional Chamber of Commerce Board, Diversity Awareness Partnership Board, Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Board, Fontbonne University Advisory Board, Washington University Advisory Board, MO Better Foundation Advisory Board, Missouri Botanical Garden Advisory Group, and the President’s Council.
  • Earned a Bachelor of Educational Studies from the University of Missouri and a Master of Business Administration from William Woods University.
  • Enjoys worship, good food, good music, sunshine, being in the water, holidays, and spending time with family and friends.
  • Resides in a small petting zoo in Webster Groves with her husband Phil, four dogs and two cats. They have two adult children, Alex and Nick.