A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

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Ignite’s ‘Staenberg Speaker Series’ sparks success for young Jewish professionals

Attendees networking at Staenberg Speaker Series

It could be said that a local Jewish community must have three important pillars from which to thrive; a strong federation, a strong community center, and a strong local Jewish newspaper/website. A fourth pillar might be a strong foundation of Jewish youth from which the local community will continue to prosper.

That fourth pillar is the purpose and mission behind the work of the Ignite Young Jewish Professionals and why they created the recently launched Staenberg Speaker Series.

Ignite Young Jewish Professionals

Ignite was founded in 2017 with the goal of creating a space for Jewish young professionals to connect to their rich Jewish heritage through engaging, meaningful and interactive events.

In general, the programming of Ignite YP provides Jewish learning and immersive experiences. We designed this speaker series to provide networking for our current Ignite frequenters as well as newcomers we hope to meet through the series itself,” said Shani Roberts, Director of Ignite YP.

This Staenberg series kicked off on September 20th, with keynote speaker Maxine Clark, the founder and Former Chief Executive  Bear of Build-A-Bear Workshop, as well as the CEO of the Clark-Fox Foundation and Chief Inspirator at Delmar DivINe.

The goal of the series is to leverage the strong local resources available from successful Jewish professionals within our community and provide networking and mentorship opportunities for young professionals trying to jump-start their careers.

“We felt continuous events over a six-month series would be a great way to really foster long-term networking and mentorship opportunities,” said Roberts.

Role Models

The role of mentors and positive role models will be a constant thread and focus throughout the speaker series.

“In my opinion, nothing compares to the power of storytelling and that’s what we’re hoping to bring to the Staenberg Speaker Series, positive role models in the Jewish community whose stories will inspire the next generation to pursue their passions, build their careers, and give back,” said Mia Kweskin, Chair of the Staenberg Speaker Series and Jewish Light Board member.

Having mentors in your life can be a massive boost to business success. So why are they so important and how can they contribute to a young person’s success?

I still keep in touch with mentors from my very first internships during college, and I’ve continued to collect mentors through every stage of my career thus far,” said Kweskin. “My mentors have shared their experiences, advice and insights to help guide me, opened up their networks to me, and advocated for me during moments when I was ready to take risks and grow my career.”

During our first Staenberg Speaker Series event, Maxine Clark talked about how it takes a village to start a business, and I think it’s similar when you’re starting your career–it takes a village of mentors to show you the way, and I know for me many of those mentors had confidence in me before I had confidence in myself, and for that I am so grateful!

Along with networking and fostering role model and mentoring connections attendees will also receive a spark of Judaism and Jewish values threaded throughout the series. For example, business ethics, morals or concepts that the speakers have cherished and valued will be part of the focus.

The series continues on Wednesday, October 18, with a speaker with valuable experience in growing a small business.

“Our next speaker is Ryan Rich, CEO and Owner of Hot Box Cookies, Managing Partner of Joint Operations and a self-described serial entrepreneur,” said Kweskin. “In 2019, Rich was named to the St. Louis Business Journal’s 40 under 40 list. We welcome all young Jewish professionals in the St. Louis area to join us to hear Ryan’s impressive story.”

Staenberg Speaker Series: Ryan Rich

When: Wed, Oct 18, 6:45 PM – 8:30 PM
Location will be emailed to all who register. 
How Much:
More Info:
You can register to attend online.


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About the Contributor
Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer
Jordan worked at KSDK from 1995 to 2020. Jordan is a three-time Emmy award winner who produced every kind of show from news to specials during his tenure, creating Show Me St. Louis, The Cardinal Nation Show. He started ksdk.com in 2001 and won three Edward R. Murrow Awards for journalistic and website excellence in 2010, 2014 and 2020. Jordan has been married for 25 years and is the father of two college students. He is an avid biker, snowboarder, and beer lover. He created the blog drink314.com, focusing on the St. Louis beer community in 2015. Jordan has an incredible and vast knowledge of useless information and is the grandson of a Cleveland bootlegger.