UMSL Alumni Association recognizes 4 leaders at annual Salute to Business Achievement Awards

by | Apr 29, 2024

UMSL alumni Jeanne Dee, Bill Dickens, Morgan Koenig and Janelle Stowers were honored for their leadership in the business world.
2024 Salute to Business Achievement Awards

The UMSL Alumni Association honored alumni (from left) Bill Dickens, Morgan Koenig, Janelle Stowers and Jeanne Dee, alongside new College of Business Administration Dean Shu Schiller (on right), at the 2024 Salute to Business Achievement Awards at a reception on Thursday in the Millennium Student Center. (Photo by Derik Holtmann)

Jeanne Dee had a job, but not the type of career that was personally meaningful.

As she told the crowd assembled on Thursday evening at the Millennium Student Center on the University of Missouri–St. Louis campus during the annual Salute to Business Achievement Awards, she was kind of coasting along.

Then, the 9/11 terrorist attacks happened, and Dee was determined to transform her life, to make a complete change and do something that impacted others in a positive way. Her new focus, she decided, would be working with nonprofit organizations.“I thought that would be meaningful work,” she said. “I could get behind a mission and do something in that avenue.”

She wasn’t exactly sure how to go about making that happen, with her background in English literature and humanities classes. Her husband suggested accounting as a path forward.

“I think I looked at him like, ‘That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard,’ ” she said, eliciting laughs from the attendees. “My dad was an accountant, but like a green visor-wearing accountant. In fact, when I told my dad that I was going to study accounting, he said, ‘Why would you do something like that?’ But he’s very proud of me now. We talk about balance sheets and things like that.”

Dee made a call to UMSL and immediately knew she had found the right place to start her new career progression. After graduating with a Bachelor of Accounting in 2005, she worked at UMSL’s Office of Research Administration, then went into the public accounting world. In 2016, she joined Anders CPAs, where she specializes in audits of financial statements for not-for-profit organizations, and also does work with employee benefit plans, closely-held businesses and government entities.

“I get to work in a Top 100 CPA firm running the not-for-profit practice, which is basically, for me, living the dream,” she said.

Dee, now a partner at Anders, was one of four UMSL graduates honored during Thursday’s event, held in the MSC Century Rooms. Bill Dickens III, Janelle Stowers and Morgan Koenig were also recognized by the UMSL Alumni Association‘s Business Alumni Chapter for their impact on campus and in the community. Jennifer Jezek-Taussig, the associate vice chancellor of alumni engagement, hosted the event. John Hixson, past president of the UMSL Alumni Association, introduced the honorees, and Shu Schiller, the new dean of the College of Business Administration, provided the opening remarks.

“This is very meaningful to me. I very much appreciate the award,” Dee said. “And to my fellow colleagues who also won awards tonight, congratulations to all of you.”

Unlike Dee, Dickens knew he wanted to study accounting in college. But like Dee, his plans changed, more than once. Dickens intended to attend Bradley University, in Peoria, Illinois, but at the suggestion of his mother, he took a look at UMSL.

“One of the things that stood out to me during my visit to UMSL was this sort of blue-collar sensibility that seemed to permeate amongst the student body,” Dickens said. “Those I met that day studied during the day and worked at night. This was a business school attended by students who meant business, and that resonated with me.”

So he ditched his Bradley plans, moved into the University Meadows apartments and dove into the UMSL college experience. His junior year, he took an elective class that changed his career direction again, on the theory and the practice of personal financial planning, taught by Thomas Eyssell. Jack White was a guest speaker, and he described financial planning as a career “where you can marry your love of numbers with interpersonal relationships, and at times, play the role of a psychologist.” Dickens was hooked.

Through his UMSL connections, Dickens landed an internship at Moneta in 2002, with no intention to stay for any significant amount of time. Again, plans changed.

“Upon graduation from UMSL, my internship evolved into full-time employment as an assistant, to client service manager, to consultant to advisor and ultimately, today, as one of the owners of the firm,” he said.

As much as Dickens has given to Moneta, he’s given back to UMSL, too, in an eternal attempt to repay the kindness and assistance he was given during his years as a student.

Stowers has earned two degrees from UMSL, a Master of Education in 2011 and an MBA in 2018, and she uses both learning experiences in her career.

“UMSL was definitely a pivotal place for me,” she said.

In addition to founding the Stowers Realty Group, she also started the Realty Central Education Center, a training institution that offers pre-licensing courses and continuing education for real estate professionals. She’s active with her alma mater and in her community. She’s always looking for the next project to tackle, the next person she can help.

“I would like to think that, with all the chatter and the naysayers, and what society says that you can’t do or you won’t do or you won’t have or you won’t be, sometimes you just have to silence the chatter and do whatever it is that you set out to do,” Stowers said. “Whatever goal you attempt to achieve, you just have to go for it.”

Koenig, the senior vice president and head of investment portfolio management at Enterprise Bank & Trust, has always been career-focused, dating back to high school when she stopped playing basketball and used that time to get a job. After two years at then-Central Missouri State, she transferred to UMSL.

“That decision was based primarily on the hopes and aspirations for a better chance of getting some sort of internship or job after the fact,” said Koenig, who only knew a couple people in the St. Louis area. “In order to meet people, I knew I needed to get involved outside of classes.”

That’s what she did, joining a sorority and other campus organizations, holding offices with those groups to practice skills that would serve her well after graduation. And her “get involved” approach has continued post-UMSL, too.

“Similarly throughout my career I’ve made efforts to get involved beyond just the work we’re doing at the computer and with our clients,” Koenig said. I focused efforts to join various organizations from business resource groups that my current employer offers, as well as professional organizations that focus efforts on encouraging diversity in the investment management industry.”

With her alma mater, Koenig volunteers as a member of the UMSL Business Finance Advisory BoardDickens is part of that, too – and with the Alumnae Chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha.

Ryan Fagan

Ryan Fagan