UMSL honors six alumni at annual Salute to Business Achievement Awards
It was logic that first led Dale Oberkfell to the University of Missouri–St. Louis.
He was good with numbers, so accounting seemed like the obvious career option. He had to maintain a 30-hour-a-week workload, so a flexible class schedule was a necessity. From there, he says UMSL was the clear college choice.
Now 40 years after graduating from UMSL’s College of Business Administration, Oberkfell was once again in the middle of a simple selection. But this time, it was UMSL choosing him.
The now president and chief financial officer of Midwest BankCentre was selected as one of the six honorees for the 2018 Salute to Business Achievement Awards. The annual event, which took place Thursday, honors the career and personal achievements of accomplished business alumni. The 2018 honorees include Oberkfell, Isaac Butler, James Lally, Laurie Phillips and Brian Salmo. Stanley Freerks additionally received the UMSL Business Dean’s Medal.
“These worthy individuals have shown great leadership not only within their industry but as philanthropists throughout the community,” said Jim Brennan, a previous Salute to Business honoree and presenting sponsor from McKelvey Homes. “This year’s recipients are very diverse. They are quite dynamic and all successful.”
Freerks, MBA 1992, is the second person to have received the Dean’s Medal after it was first awarded to Kirk Richter, BSBA 1968, in 2017. The former insurance broker and underwriter was selected for the prestigious award for his career achievements, community leadership and philanthropic efforts at UMSL. In 2016, Freerks and his wife, Terry, became the first alumni couple to surpass the $5 million giving milestone at their alma mater. Their giving extends to scholarships, capital campaigns, athletics, the arts, St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU and initiatives in the colleges of Arts and Sciences and Business Administration.
“As you can probably tell, Terry and I are UMSL proud,” Freerks said during Thursday’s ceremony. “We chose UMSL for our professional preparedness, for our philanthropic involvement because we know that UMSL is spot on in preparing responsible and involved citizens.”
During his career, Freerks specialized in high-risk and difficult-to-place commercial accounts on behalf of independent insurance brokers. He sold his wholesale insurance brokerage to Arthur J. Gallagher in 2011 and became area president for their subsidiary, Risk Placement Service of St. Louis. He has since retired.
Butler, MBA 2009, is vice president for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at St. Louis College of Pharmacy, where he also serves as an adjunct assistant professor. He additionally owns Think-Dream-Lead, a leadership consulting company. Prior to starting the firm, Butler spent most of his career at Express Scripts, leading teams in sales, account management, audit and product development. In addition to an MBA, Butler earned a degree in chemistry at the University of Missouri–Columbia and Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Missouri–Kansas City.
Lally, MBA 1993, is president and CEO of Enterprise Financial Services Corp. Before taking the top leadership role in May 2017, he served as president of EFSC, director of Fee Businesses and director of Commercial Banking for Enterprise Bank & Trust, the company’s principal subsidiary. Before earning his MBA, Lally received a bachelor’s degree in finance from Saint Louis University. He additionally completed The Executive Program at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business in June 2016.
Oberkfell, BSBA 1978, has helped Midwest BankCentre grow its assets by 73 percent and nearly triple its branch networks during his tenure. Prior to joining the bank, he cofounded Cummings, Oberkfell & Ristau, a certified public accounting firm. After about 10 years, Oberkfell left the firm, which is now Cummings Ristau & Associates.
Phillips, BSBA 1992, is the CEO of St. Patrick Center. She’s led the St. Louis-based nonprofit since 2015, guiding the agency through several important changes, including introducing its “Housing First” model and opening Biddle Housing Opportunities Center with the City of St. Louis. Phillips moved to the nonprofit sector after 15 years in corporate finance. Her resume includes stints at KPMG, General American Life Insurance Company and Monsanto. Phillips additionally is a CPA and has master’s degrees in social work and business from Washington University in St. Louis.
Salmo, BSBA 2006, is the general counsel of LMI Aerospace, an aerostructures manufacturing and engineering services firm. He joined LMI in 2016 as the assistant general counsel and moved to his current role after the company’s acquisition in 2017. Prior to LMI, Salmo was an attorney at Polsinelli, where he also served as co-chair of the Polsinelli Startup Venture Group in St. Louis. Salmo’s law degree is from Southern Illinois University.
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