Alumna and former Vice Chancellor Kathy Osborn named 2018 Citizen of the Year

Some of the fruits of Kathy Osborn’s labor at the University of Missouri–St. Louis can still be seen nearly 20 years after she departed her post as vice chancellor of university relations.

Kathy Osborn

Kathy Osborn received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from UMSL and went on to serve as the vice chancellor of university relations. (Photo by Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Most notable is the Des Lee Collaborative Vision she worked with then-Chancellor Blanche M. Touhill to build with noted philanthropist E. Desmond Lee. It continues to bring together key educational, cultural, governmental and social service institutions to establish programs and share resources that benefit the St. Louis community.

Osborn has continued to help shepherd projects intended to benefit the region since 1999, when she left UMSL to spearhead the establishment of the Regional Business Council. Under her leadership, the coalition has grown to include 100 CEOs from some of the area’s largest employers, all working together on business, civic and philanthropic affairs for the betterment of the greater St. Louis area.

Last Sunday, Osborn was named the 2018 Citizen of the Year, an honor sponsored by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and chosen by a committee of past honorees with a history dating to 1955.

Among the people commending her contributions was Lee’s stepson, Andy Taylor, now the executive chairman of Enterprise Holdings.

“She really shows people how they can plug in and do things collectively,” Taylor told the Post-Dispatch. “She is very direct, but direct in such an appealing and convincing way.”

Osborn’s commitment to the work of the Regional Business Council has never wavered.

“Since a young age, I had a sense of purpose and wanted to make a difference. But I didn’t have a clear sense of what that would look like,” Osborn told the Post-Dispatch. “With this, I could see that happen. I made a decision that it was going to be a legacy for me. I’ve had a number of (job) offers, but if I was going to get people of substance, very busy people, to be engaged, to be all in, I had to be all in.”

Touhill, the first woman chosen Citizen of the Year in 1997, recalled hearing about Osborn’s decision to leave UMSL.

“I thought: ‘This will be a loss for us,’” Touhill told the Post-Dispatch. “But when I realized what (the RBC) was going to be, I urged her to do it. People have to expand and get to the next level of achievement. She has done remarkable things for St. Louis.”

Osborn, who received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from UMSL, has kept in touch with her alma mater, serving on the Chancellor’s Council and receiving a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2000.

Read more about Osborn and the Citizen of the Year honor in the Post-Dispatch.

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