‘Women of Achievement’ honored


Susie Philpott and Marci Rosenberg, members of the Jewish community of St. Louis, were among the 2008 Women of Achievement honorees. Women of Achievement is an annual event which honors ten local women for their outstanding volunteer work.

Founded in 1955, by the old St. Louis Globe-Democrat, and continued by presenting sponsors KMOX 1120 Radio, the Suburban Journals and the Ladue News, the awards have been coordinated since 1993 by the St. Louis Women of Achievement Organization, an independent non-profit entity. Some 685 people attended the awards ceremonies and presentations last week in the Grand Ballroom of the Ritz Carlton in Clayton.


Carol Daniels of KMOX Radio served as mistress of ceremonies for the program, which included remarks by the presenting sponsor representatives and Women of Achievement leadership, a presentation of a video highlighting the accomplishments of each of the honorees, and the formal presentations of the awards to each honoree.

Those honored were: Nancy H. Grove, Animal Welfare; Joni Karandjeff, Community Leadership; Virginia Kirkpatrick, Social Enterprise; Lisa McMullin, Cultural Enrichment; Pamela Meanes, Civic Leadership; Susan Berger (Susie) Philpott, Education Enrichment; Marci Levision Rosenberg, Creative Philanthropy; Paula V. Smith, Social Responsibility; Verna Green Smith, Education Advocate and Shirley Washington-Cobb, Youth Dedication.

“The group reflects the region’s ethnic, religious and socio-economic diversity,” Daniel said. “These women come from all walks of life, and represent a wide range of interests, careers and ages.”

Susan Musgrave, a longtime friend and associate of Philpott, is shown in the video as praising Philpott as “a true leader who is motivated to make meaningful change.” The University City resident was inspired to perform volunteer community service by observing her mother, who ran the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Gift Shop. She remembers her mother’s enthusiastic volunteer work with affection and respect.

Philpott volunteers for the Reading is Fundamental program, which encourages children to read, by having volunteers read to them and giving them books to take home. Philpott told Nancy Larson of the West County Suburban Journal, “The kids are darling and so enthusiastic. They love the stories we read to them and I love interacting with them, like when they ask, ‘Why does the character do such and such?’ The fact is that our school system is struggling and many children are not reading up to grade level. I feel this helps a little bit to inspire them to read better and to love books.”

Philpott also volunteers for Springboard for Learning, a nonprofit organization providing art, cultural, humanities and science programs in schools and community organizations. She hires and assesses kindergarten through eighth-grade teachers who “enrich children’s lives and broaden their interests.”

She has also been involved with the St. Louis Public Schools Foundation, which now manages 100 funds, supporting initiatives such as college scholarships, literacy, technology, teacher recruitment and retention as well as new playgrounds.

Philpott provdided 12 years of leadership at the Scholarship Foundation. For many years, she chaired the Foundation’s Designated Scholar Loan Fund, a unique program that pairs donors with students, thereby enriching the donor’s giving experience and augmenting the student’s learning experience with networking opportunities.

She has also been active in Aim High, which works to increase high school graduation rates in St. Louis Public Schools. She chaired the Strategic Planning Committee, which clarified program expectations and goals. The program, now in its 18th year, continues to benefit from Philpott’s leadership, fund-raising ability and counsel.

Among other activities, Philpott also serves as a counselor for Planned Parenthood of St. Louis, stressing her belief that people have as much information as possible so as to make responsible decisions about their own sexuality.

Philpott gives many public speeches on behalf of her various causes, and told the Suburban Journals that she receives “the most wonderful thank you letters or pictures from the children. You feel that you’ve really made a difference.”

Marci Levision Rosenberg has long been active in the Jewish and general communities of St. Louis. She is a past president of B’nai El Congregation and is currently chair of the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center Commission. She has been a vice president and active board member of the Press Club of Metropolitan St. Louis. She was co-chair with Joan Quicksilver of the Press Club’s National Media Person of the Year event which honored Joe Buck. The event, for which Rosenberg has produced videos and formats for many years, raises funds for internships and scholarships for young journalists and communicators. “Marci is truly an outstanding person who is very generous, kind and really makes a major difference in so many activities in our community,” said Joan Quicksilver in the video.

In her interview with Nancy Larson of the Suburban Journals, Rosenberg described how she became involved with Director Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation. Spielberg, director of the Oscar-winning Holocaust film, Schindler’s List, set up the Shoah Project which has been doing video interviews of Holocaust survivors, many of whom are dying out because of age or infirmity. The videos are being preserved and archived for future generations at the University of Southern California.

Rosenberg told Larson she became interested in this effort when she interviewed a Holocaust survivor back in 1990. She then made a commitment to “document as many of the life stories of survivors as possible.

Rosenberg added, “I knew that however long it took me — maybe the rest of my life — to get every survivor who wants to tell their story, I would. At some point in your life you do have to say, ‘This is what I’m going to do’ — and then do it.” Rosenberg’s work at the St. Louis Holocaust Museum has also included being the producer-director of the annual Yom Hashoah observance, the Day of Remembrance for the Six million Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust, an event which she chaired for three years before becoming chairman of the Holocaust Museum Commission.

Rosenberg, who began her long volunteer career as a candy striper at St. John’s Mercy Hospital when she was 13, is proud of the work the Holocaust Museum does with young people of all faiths and backgrounds, pointing out to her interviewer, “Thirty thousand kids and adults come through the museum every year. The lessons that they hopefully walk away with, they won’t learn anyplace else — about what hatred is and what it does. I’m lucky I can be a conduit.”

Rosenberg had been born premature, and she was often ill as a child. She spent almost the entire third grade in the hospital, suffering from encephalitis. This inspired her to volunteer to produce the St. Louis Variety Club Telethon from 1991 through 2004. She told Larson she remains close to the poster child from her first telethon. “She’s like my own child,” Rosenberg said of Rachel Bakersville, who now lives in Kansas City.

Rosenberg has also worked with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation’s Project Concern, producing a video about working class families who cannot afford medicine for their families. She added, in her interview with Larson, “I’m so lucky to have the family and to have the blessings I’ve had in my life.”