UMSL celebrates six distinguished alumni at annual Founders Dinner

2019 Distinguished Alumni

From left, Orvin Kimbrough, Patrick Gadell, Sara Foster, Tom Migneron and Gary Morse were the 2019 recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award, and Luigi Wewege received the Outstanding Young Alumni Award at last Thursday’s Founders Dinner at the Ritz-Carlton St. Louis. (Photo by August Jennewein)

As members of the University of Missouri–St. Louis community gathered last Thursday for the 28th annual Founders Dinner, they paid tribute to six alumni who have stood out for their career success as well as their community service and support of the university.

Sara Foster, Patrick Gadell, Orvin Kimbrough, Tom Migneron and Gary Morse became the latest recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award, the UMSL Alumni Association’s highest honor, established in 1987.

Luigi Wewege was likewise honored during the event at the Ritz-Carlton in Clayton, Missouri, receiving the Outstanding Young Alumni Award, which is given annually to a recent graduate of UMSL for significant early professional achievements that inspire other alumni and bring honor to the university.

Sara Foster, BA speech communication,1983 is the executive vice president of talent and corporate administration at Commerce Bancshares Inc. She is responsible for talent management and talent development activities, as well as maintaining oversight of several additional units, including legal, compliance, audit, non-credit risk management and flight operations. She began her career at Commerce Bank as a human resources representative, not long after graduating from UMSL, and has gradually worked her way up the ranks. Foster established multiple programs at Commerce to enhance the experience of all employees, especially women and minority populations. She also has volunteered her time at Young Women’s Christian Association, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, Normandy School Collaborative and the UMSL Chancellor’s Council. The St. Louis Business Journal recently named her to its 2014 list of Most Influential Business Women, and she also has been recognized as a YWCA Leader of Distinction.

Patrick Gadell, BA political science 1973, is an attorney in St. Louis with a distinguished legal career. After graduating from UMSL, he went on to earn his JD and has been practicing family and business law in the area ever since. He was appointed to represent the state of Missouri as a commissioner on the Education Commission of the United States. Gadell has been generous with his time and talent when it comes to supporting and advocating for UMSL, its students and alumni. He was one of the earliest supporters of the UMSL Finish Your Degree Scholarship and a former member of the UMSL Alumni Association Governing Board. He served on the inaugural 50th Class Reunion Committee and the UMSL College of Optometry Leadership Council. In 2018, he received the UMSL Alumni Association Volunteer of the Year Award and still serves on several of the association’s governing board committees.

Orvin Kimbrough, MBA 2002, is the president and chief executive officer of Midwest BankCentre. He first came to UMSL 25 years ago to take summer classes before continuing at University of Missouri–Columbia, where he earned an undergraduate and master’s degree in social work. He found his way back to UMSL for his MBA while, at the same time, serving as associate director of the Vashon/JeffVanderLou Initiative. More recently, Kimbrough served as president and CEO of the United Way of Greater St. Louis. Today, he is the first and only African American to lead a mainstream bank in the St. Louis region. Kimbrough has been named one of the St. Louis Business Journal’s Diverse Business Leaders in 2012, two years after being recognized on its 40 under 40 list. He contributes to the St. Louis American regularly and maintains a blog where he encourages conversation and collaboration. Kimbrough established the Orvin T. Kimbrough Scholarship at UMSL, specifically for students that come from foster care backgrounds.

Tom Migneron, BSBA 1982, is a long-time advocate and supporter of UMSL. After graduation he joined KPMG, an international accounting firm, but he found his way to Edward Jones in June 1986 as a senior auditor in the internal audit division. In 1991, he assumed responsibility for the internal audit division and, in 1993, became principal. Migneron moved to the operations division in 1998 and, 10 years later, assumed responsibility for that division as well. After more than 30 years at Edward Jones and serving on several industry boards, Migneron is now a retired general partner. In 2016, he received an UMSL Salute to Business Achievement Award, and he remains an influential mentor, speaker and devoted UMSL alumnus.

Gary Morse, PhD clinical psychology 1985, is the associate executive director and vice president of research and development at Places for People. He completed a master’s degree at UMSL in 1983 en route to his PhD. In 1995, he left the Missouri Department of Mental Health as director of community support systems to found Community Alternatives, a nonprofit dedicated to providing mental health services to low-income persons. In 2011, after he grew the agency to a 75-person staff with a $5 million budget, it merged with Places for People. Morse has secured more than $41 million in grants to support research and has collaborated on six major UMSL-affiliated research grants totaling $7 million. Morse has published more than 70 articles in professional outlets and has received multiple awards, including the Lewis Sherman Research Award Fellowship while at UMSL and the Vanguard Award from the Mental Health Board of the City of St. Louis.

Luigi Wewege, BSBA 2009, is the senior vice president of Caye International Bank, principal of Palmetto Global Ventures and serves as an instructor at the FinTech School. During Wewege’s time as an undergraduate, he starred on the men’s golf team and received Great Lakes Valley Conference Academic All-Conference honors. He also launched a pilot study for the Federal Trade Commission. After graduation, he spent time as a senior consultant for The Braintrust Network, as a commercial manager for Investment Research Group and was chief executive officer at Vivier & Company. He is passionate about developing opportunities that empower young people to create positive change, and he established his own foundation to provide an annual academic scholarship to a deserving student. Wewege has served as director and trustee of Doing Good Fellows and was the president of Junior Chamber International-Metro.

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