60 for 60: Marie Casey, Mike Jones, Maria Kerford, Terrence Rogers and Dawn Shiang honored as exceptional alumni

by | Apr 22, 2024

To celebrate its anniversary, UMSL is spotlighting 60 alumni who apply one or more of the university's core values in the world and help to make it a better place.

60 for 60 Alumni graphicThe University of Missouri–St. Louis is proud of the economic and philanthropic reach of its programs and partnerships, but it’s the people UMSL most wants to honor as it celebrates its 60th anniversary. Throughout the year of celebration, UMSL will be spotlighting 60 alumni who apply one or more of the university’s core values in the world and help to make it a better place.

This month’s honorees are Marie Casey, Mike Jones, Maria Kerford, Terrence Rogers and Dawn Shiang.

Marie CaseyMarie Casey, BS 1978

Marie Casey has an enduring love of life stories. Born and raised in the Northwoods neighborhood in the Normandy area of St. Louis, Casey got the chance to explore her passion thanks to her mom, who encouraged reading, writing and art from a young age.

“My mom, who taught primary students at Mark Twain School, took me, my six sisters and brother, to the St. Louis County Library every other Friday night,” she said. “I found the biographies the most captivating.”

Casey, who graduated summa cum laude from UMSL in 1978 with bachelor’s degrees in political science and speech communications, parlayed her passion into a storybook career in journalism, marketing communications and writing. She has authored a dozen books, as well as videos and exhibits, chronicling the legacies of families, unions and notable St. Louis-based companies, including Drury Hotels, Reinsurance Group of America and Schnuck Markets.

Besides her mom’s influence, Casey credits her success as a storyteller to the supportive and affirming community she discovered at UMSL while learning and working as a student.

“I experienced the generosity of so many professors, staff and fellow students who were helpful and encouraging, many of whom remain a part of my life to this day,” Casey said. “The quality of teaching and level of engagement were extraordinary.”

Casey says there were many memorable moments during her time at UMSL, including her work as a reporter and news editor for the student newspaper, The Current, and the honor of her nomination as an UMSL Rhodes Scholar. UMSL is also where Casey met her future husband, Kenn Entringer, and where their daughter Anna earned her first degree.

After graduation, Casey joined St. Louis Construction News and Review, serving as staff writer and editor. In 1983, she founded Casey Communications to provide marketing communications services, working with design and construction firms, financial services and technology companies, labor management organizations and schools. She later expanded to serve many of St. Louis’ most recognized entrepreneurial organizations.

Casey has served on many nonprofit boards, including the Missouri Historical Society, the St. Louis Mercantile Library and several UMSL boards. She has received numerous honors, including the St. Louis Forum Trailblazer Award, the UMSL Distinguished Alumni Award and the UMSL Trailblazer Award.

As her life story continues to unfold, she is especially proud of her continued involvement with UMSL as a member of the Chancellor’s Council.

“Our spirit of transformation is accomplished by individuals and groups working in community with each other,” she said. “This university not only changes lives but is also a tremendous community anchor, lifelong support network for students and alums and a powerful launch pad for students.”

Mike JonesMike Jones, BSEd, 1976

Plato once said that the unexamined life is not worth living. For UMSL alum Mike Jones, this philosophical quote became a mantra as he became the first member of his family to attend college and, later, in distinguishing himself as a public servant during an impactful career spanning five decades.

Jones, who was born in St. Louis and was raised in a neighborhood south of Fairground Park, always had an active interest in current events, particularly national and international affairs. The adults in Jones’ life were big consumers of newspapers and magazines, inspiring him to read everything he could get his hands on.

“I met Plato at UMSL, along with scores of other great minds as I learned to be a thinker,” Jones said. “I prevailed in four decades of politics, not because I’m smarter, but because I was intellectually better prepared.”

The intellectual curiosity that was built into his DNA and kindled at UMSL paid off in a professional life of private and public sector accomplishment. In January 2016, Jones founded Jones Strategic Advisors, a consultancy with an emphasis in governmental affairs, economic development and community relations. Before that, he served as senior policy advisor to St. Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley, overseeing the departments of Planning, Human Services, Health, the Children’s Service Fund and the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. He also chaired the Lambert Airport Joint Development Commission and the Midwest China Hub Commission.

Jones served St. Louis Mayor Clarence Harmon as chief of staff and deputy mayor for development. Among his accomplishments was the development of the Marriott Grand Convention Hotel. In addition, he oversaw the drafting of the Downtown Now! master plan and negotiated the Highlands Plaza redevelopment. Earlier in his career, he was a member of the St. Louis Board of Alderman and served as executive director of the St. Louis Housing Authority and the Greater St. Louis Regional Empowerment Zone, a federally funded community and economic development initiative targeted to under-invested areas of the St. Louis region.

His private sector experience includes roles as executive director of Herbert Hoover Boys Club and regional manager, corporate affairs for Anheuser-Busch. Jones currently writes commentary for and serves on the editorial board of The St. Louis American.

From a curious kid and college student to impactful public servant and professional, Jones has spent a lifetime absorbing knowledge while reflecting on and examining his place in the world. Jones says he is grateful for all that UMSL taught him along the journey.

“Whatever contributions I’ve made to the St. Louis community could not have happened without UMSL,” Jones said.

Maria KerfordMaria Kerford, BA 2004, MPPA 2014

Maria Kerford grew up in a family committed to Winston Churchill’s belief that we make a living by what we get but make a life by what we give. Kerford, who was born in Ohio and grew up in Kansas City, placed a high value on being active in the community and serving others to help make the world a better place.

After high school, Kerford’s pursuit of a purpose-driven life reached full stride after enrolling at UMSL, a decision she says was sealed after meeting Bob Bliss, then the dean of the Pierre Laclede Honors College. As an undergraduate, Kerford was exposed to the administrative side of nonprofit organizations while working in the Office of Development. From that experience, Kerford went on to earn a master’s in public policy administration with an emphasis in nonprofit management.

“I had the opportunity to expand my interests and pursue many new opportunities while studying and working at UMSL,” Kerford said. “I was so incredibly lucky to have been an involved student and had some behind-the-scenes ‘real life’ experiences.”

Kerford parlayed all that she learned at UMSL into a successful career in philanthropy, transforming several purpose-driven organizations in St. Louis by connecting patrons with their passions. Currently, Kerford serves as senior director of planned giving at Washington University in St. Louis. Her nonprofit fundraising career also includes previous roles with the United Way of Greater St. Louis, YouthBridge Community Foundation of Greater St. Louis and Solutia Inc.

Despite a steady stream of present and past accomplishments, some of Kerford’s fondest memories take her back to her UMSL days, from being selected to be the student representative to the University of Missouri Board of Curators and a resident assistant to meeting her future husband and getting married in the Provincial House Chapel.

“Growth is a personal choice,” she said, “and UMSL gave me the ideal environment in which to do so.”

Terrence RogersTerrence Rogers, BSBA 1996

St. Louis native Terrence Rogers is in the business of helping others realize their dreams of home ownership. As president of community lending for Carrollton Bank, Rogers has provided more than $1.2 million in down payment assistance funding during the past three years to low-income families seeking to purchase homes in the St. Louis area. Since first joining Carrollton Bank in 2012, Rogers has helped build a community-lending partnership program that is recognized as a model for banks across the country, helping more than 1,100 families with their home loans.

“My work feels more like a calling,” Rogers said. “I’m a lifelong learner who is eager to share knowledge with others to help them achieve their long-term goals.”

Rogers says his career was influenced by his childhood experience as a North St. Louis kid who attended the Ladue School District in middle school as part of a school desegregation program. After high school, Rogers attended Southeast Missouri State for two years, then transferred to UMSL, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1996.

“One of the things I remember the most is just how accessible all my professors were,” Rogers said. “I also started my career in banking with the help of UMSL’s career center assisting me with my resumé and preparing me for my first bank job.”

Before joining Carrollton Bank, Rogers worked at Wells Fargo for 13 years as a sales manager in St. Louis and in Illinois. He also worked for Regions Bank in Chesterfield as a vice president and small business banker from 2010-12.

Rogers is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, 100 Black Men of America and National Sales Network. He is also the vice president and board member for Little Urban Smiles and regional steering committee member for Home Grown STL.

Dawn ShiangDawn Shiang, BA 1983, PhD 1988

Family is one of the consistent themes underscoring the successful life and career of Dawn Shiang. For starters, family was the motivating factor behind Shiang’s physicist father’s decision to seek a transfer from Los Angeles to St. Louis after his employer, Douglas Aircraft, merged with McDonnell Aircraft in the late 1960s.

“Dad put in for the transfer, and by 1970 we settled in rural Missouri, where he commuted 90 miles to and from work to get us out of city life,” Shiang said. “He saw it as a win for the family.”

Growing up, Shiang was particularly interested in science and wanted to become a doctor. She earned a Curators Scholarship for finishing in the top 3% of her graduating class in Troy, Missouri, and was the first woman from her school to be recruited for a basketball scholarship.

But family considerations would influence Shiang’s decision to enroll at UMSL. While at the university, she says she experienced a very strong sense of family while studying chemistry.

“Even though it was a commuter school, I made lifelong friends, and I am still close to many of the faculty, including my department head at the time,” Shiang said. “UMSL gave me the education to succeed and to plug into a pipeline for science that afforded me an exceptional career.”

UMSL is also where Shiang met her husband, Bill Shiang. Both graduated from UMSL with bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and PhDs in organic chemistry. After doing their postdoctoral work at Pennsylvania State University, Dawn and Bill joined Dow Chemical Company in 1990, living, working and raising their family in China and Switzerland, as well as the United States. During her 25-year career with the company, Dawn developed four patents in five years before pursuing a management track that culminated in her role as associate director of sustainable technologies.

After retiring from Dow Chemical in 2013, Dawn and Bill kept the family vibe strong, starting a hobby farm in southern Missouri. About an hour from the farm, in West Plains, Dawn began volunteering as an advocate for the 37th Judicial Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children, amplifying the needs of kids in foster care, eventually serving as the organization’s executive director in 2017.

From her role as an innovator in the material sciences to her commitment to the foster children of Missouri, Dawn’s spirit of transformation has touched countless lives in positive ways.

UMSL Daily

UMSL Daily