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We are excited to announce our event Dancing with the St. Louis Stars will continue and is being held January 23, 2021. This year, fans can expect an exciting new, virtual and interactive approach. Further event details to be announced here, or follow us on our Facebook page – Independence Center St. Louis

A Virtual Event

CHAMPION OF CHAMPIONS

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Couple that has the most people vote for them the night of the event (actual number of people, not dollar amount in votes.)

Team Nichols & Mike McAllister

CEO

Technology Partners, Inc.

Co-Owner

Dance Pizazz

Team Nichols & Mike McAllister

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About Team Nichols

Ally Nichols is the daughter of Lisa Nichols, CEO of Technology Partners, Inc. Lisa along with her husband Greg founded Technology Partners over 25 years ago.

Ally loves to dance and started taking lessons in preparation for her performance in her year’s Dancing with the St. Louis Stars. At 25 years old, Ally lives with her mom and dad and spends her time volunteering at Progress West Hospital.

Ever since Ally was diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth, Lisa has known that Ally has “Something Extra.” Down syndrome is the result of having an extra chromosome, a tiny piece of additional code in her DNA. For Ally, as with most individuals with Down syndrome, that chromosome isn’t the only “something extra” that makes her different. Ally is one of the kindest, most loving, and generous people you will ever meet. Known for her famous hugs, she has a way of making everyone she meets feel special and loved. Her playful personality and fun demeanor light up the room and she will always leave you with a smile on your face.

When Dancing with the St. Louis Stars asked if she could be the “something extra” in this year’s contest, Greg, Lisa and Ally enthusiastically said yes. As Ally puts it, “I have moves!” For Lisa, as a member of the dance committee and former DWSLS Judge, she is thrilled to help Ally prepare for the big night in January. Lisa spends much of her time co-leading the IT Staffing and Solutions teams at Technology Partners while hosting her leadership podcast, “Something Extra with Lisa Nichols.”


About Mike

Dance Pizazz opened up its first 3,600 square foot location in St. Peters, MO. After a successful 10 years in business and transforming thousands of students into comfortable social dancers, Dance Pizazz needed more space and it was time to expand our facilities thanks to our amazing students.

In November of 2018, Mike McAllister, and his wife Nikki had a vision and bought a commercial space O’Fallon that would soon become the New Dance Pizazz, bigger and better than the old space. Dance Pizazz now boasts stunning 14 foot ceilings, 5 grand chandeliers, a state of the art Bose speaker system for lessons, top-notch party speakers for events, elegant party LEDs, and most importantly the biggest ballroom dance studio in all of St. Louis.

Mark Trudeau & Lucy Fitzgerald

President & CEO

Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals

Owner

Just Dancing - West

Mark Trudeau & Lucy Fitzgerald

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Mark Trudeau is the president and chief executive officer of Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals. 

Mr. Trudeau was formerly President of the pharmaceuticals business of Covidien, with experience in markets around the world. Originally from Detroit, Michigan, he has lived and worked in Singapore, Canada, and the United Kingdom, as well as in the United States.

Prior to his tenure at Covidien, Mr. Trudeau served as President and CEO of Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc. He simultaneously served as interim President of the global specialty medicine business unit from January to August 2010.

Before joining Bayer in 2009, Mr. Trudeau headed the immunoscience division at Bristol-Myers Squibb. During his more than 10 years there, he served in multiple senior roles, including as President of the Asia/Pacific region, President and general manager of Canada operations, and General Manager and Managing Director of UK operations. Mr. Trudeau was previously with Abbott Laboratories, serving in a variety of executive positions. He began his career in engineering at Eli Lilly and Company and at E.I. DuPont De Nemours, Inc.

Mr. Trudeau holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and a master’s degree in business administration, both from the University of Michigan.


About Lucy

Lucy Fitzgerald, and her husband Michael, were both born and raised in Florissant, Missouri, where Michael excelled in several sports and Lucy spent most of her childhood in a ballet studio. As young adults they became interested in ballroom and latin dancing, and also discovered they shared a similar entrepreneurial spirit. While training extensively and building a competitive partnership, a romantic partnership flourished, and they were married in 2008.

Michael and Lucy have provided top-quality entertainment for private parties and special events. They were even invited to perform foxtrot and swing in front of the legendary Glen Miller Orchestra, a career highlight for the couple. Every year in January, they are each partnered with a local celebrity in the highly-anticipated “Dancing with the St. Louis Stars” competition. Lucy is a three-time undefeated champion of this charitable event, which benefits Independence Center, a cause that is very near and dear to Michael and Lucy.

Tim & Robin Wentworth

Chief Executive Officer

Evernorth - Cigna

Tim & Robin Wentworth

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About Tim

Tim Wentworth serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Evernorth. Prior to this role, Wentworth served as President, Express Scripts and Cigna Services. Prior to the Cigna/Express Scripts combination in 2018, Wentworth served as President and CEO of Express Scripts, where he was responsible for all aspects of the company’s strategic direction and core business. He joined Express Scripts when the company merged with Medco in April 2012. At Medco, he led the employer and key accounts organizations for nearly 14 years. He also served as President and CEO of Accredo, the company’s specialty pharmacy.

Wentworth earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University and an associate’s degree in business from Monroe Community College.

Tim and his wife Robin have been together since high school and married for 38 years. They have raised three daughters and Robin has been involved in many educational and philanthropic activities. Most importantly, they enjoy amateur ballroom dancing together!


About Robin

Tim Wentworth serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Evernorth. Prior to this role, Wentworth served as President, Express Scripts and Cigna Services. Prior to the Cigna/Express Scripts combination in 2018, Wentworth served as President and CEO of Express Scripts, where he was responsible for all aspects of the company’s strategic direction and core business. He joined Express Scripts when the company merged with Medco in April 2012. At Medco, he led the employer and key accounts organizations for nearly 14 years. He also served as President and CEO of Accredo, the company’s specialty pharmacy.

Wentworth earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University and an associate’s degree in business from Monroe Community College.

Tim and his wife Robin have been together since high school and married for 38 years. They have raised three daughters and Robin has been involved in many educational and philanthropic activities. Most importantly, they enjoy amateur ballroom dancing together!

Jim Brennan & Lucy Fitzgerald

Owner & President

McKelvey Homes

Owner

Just Dancing - West

Jim Brennan & Lucy Fitzgerald

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About Jim

James G. Brennan is the owner and President of McKelvey Homes, St. Louis’s oldest and most established homebuilding company.  Building a Tradition of Excellence since 1898, McKelvey Homes has grown to the fifth-largest homebuilder in St. Louis with multiple communities throughout St. Louis and St. Charles Counties.

Over the years, McKelvey Homes has built thousands of homes around the area, and has won numerous awards for excellence in design, construction, value and customer service.  In addition, McKelvey Homes was voted the #1 Homebuilder in St. Charles County.

With more than 35 years of experience in real estate, construction and homebuilding, Jim is well-known for his community service and his activities on behalf of the homebuilding industry.  Outside of the office, Jim enjoys golfing, playing tennis, and spending time with his family.  He and his wife of 42 years, Rose, are very proud parents of three grown sons and even prouder grandparents to three beautiful grandchildren.

Jim is an active member of many HBA committees.  As a Past President of the Home Builders Association of St. Louis & Eastern Missouri, he was elected to its prestigious Hall of Fame for Excellence in Achievement. He has chaired numerous HBA committees over the years. He has been involved in the Home Builders Charitable Foundation since inception and served as past president. In addition, he has twice been honored with its Champion Builder Award for his exceptional service.  Jim is a frequent industry speaker and is often quoted in local media on the status of homebuilding in our area.

Jim has worked in a host of political, civic, and charitable organizations over the years including being a past President for Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital and Board Member for over 30 years. He served as board member for Habitat For Humanity, and was Chairman of the Development Council. He was also a Board Member for St. Louis Community College Foundation, and a Participant in Leadership St. Louis. Jim currently serves on the Board of Governors for Bellerive Country Club.

Jim has helped raised millions of dollars for worthy causes. In 2019 he chaired the inaugural Dance for Dravet to raised funds for the Dravet Syndrome Foundation to help find a cure for this rare form of epilepsy.

In 2017 he won Dancing with the St. Louis Stars for the benefit of the Independence Center. He continues to be involved in the raising of funds for mental illness.

Jim is a former member of the Boards of Trustees for the Carpenters’ Health & Welfare Trust Fund of St. Louis, the Carpenters’ Vacation Trust Fund of St. Louis as well as the Carpenters’ Pension Trust Fund of St. Louis.

A 1974 graduate of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and a CPA Jim was honored with its Salute to Business Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership and Professional Achievement in Business Award.


About Lucy

Lucy Fitzgerald, and her husband Michael, were both born and raised in Florissant, Missouri, where Michael excelled in several sports and Lucy spent most of her childhood in a ballet studio. As young adults they became interested in ballroom and latin dancing, and also discovered they shared a similar entrepreneurial spirit. While training extensively and building a competitive partnership, a romantic partnership flourished, and they were married in 2008.

Michael and Lucy have provided top-quality entertainment for private parties and special events. They were even invited to perform foxtrot and swing in front of the legendary Glen Miller Orchestra, a career highlight for the couple. Every year in January, they are each partnered with a local celebrity in the highly-anticipated “Dancing with the St. Louis Stars” competition. Lucy is a three-time undefeated champion of this charitable event, which benefits Independence Center, a cause that is very near and dear to Michael and Lucy.

Jim Castellano & Angi Heien

Chairman - Retired

RubinBrown

Dance Instructor

Jim Castellano & Angi Heien

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About Jim

Jim Castellano retired in 2017 from RubinBrown LLP, one of the nation’s 50 largest accounting firms, after a career spanning forty-four years at the firm. Jim joined RubinBrown in 1973 and was elected Managing Partner in 1989 and Chairman in 2004. Under Jim’s leadership, the firm grew to become the largest accounting firm in St. Louis and one of the largest 50 in the nation. Jim also served as Chairman of Baker Tilly International, leading it to become one of the world’s ten largest networks of independent accounting firms.

Jim currently serves as a Board member for several companies and non-profit organizations.


Kristin Johnson & Antonio Douthit-Boyd

Principal - BOA Talent Acquisition & Performance

Edward Jones

Co-Artistic Director

COCA

Kristin Johnson & Antonio Douthit-Boyd

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About Kristin

As the Edward Jones principal responsible for BOA Talent Acquisition and Performance, Kristin Johnson leads the contribution of the branch office administrator role within the client team.

She joined Edward Jones in 1995 as a member of the Internal Audit department and two years later became the department’s internal audit manager.

In 2000, Johnson relocated to the Operations division, where she served as a department leader, senior department leader and group leader in several account and trade processing departments.

Johnson was named a principal in 2006 and worked in the firm’s Retirement Services and Client Reporting areas over the next six years. In March 2012, she relocated to the firm’s Service division to lead the Service Optimization business unit. She assumed her current responsibilities in 2013.

Johnson was named a member of the Edward Jones Management Committee in 2014 and is a senior executive sponsor of the firm’s Black African American and Young Professionals Business Resource Groups.

A native of Belleville, Ill., Johnson graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in accountancy, from Webster University with a master’s degree in information management, and from Washington University’s executive MBA program.

She is active in several organizations and serves on the boards of the Center of Creative Arts (COCA) and Webster University.


About Antonio

In 2015, Antonio Douthit-Boyd was named Co-Artistic Director of Dance of COCA, where he began his dance training at age 16 under the direction of Lee Nolting. Douthit-Boyd returned to COCA after 11 years with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. He also trained at the Alexandra School of Ballet the North Carolina School of the Arts, the Joffrey Ballet School, San Francisco Ballet, and the Dance Theatre of Harlem School. Douthit-Boyd became a member of Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1999 and appeared in featured roles in the ballets South African Suite, Dougla, Concerto in F, Return, and Dwight Rhoden’s Twist. He was promoted to soloist in 2003. He also performed with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal. He is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary–6/7 and Partnering of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. He is also on faculty at Washington University in St. Louis, teaching modern dance in the collaborative MFA program between the University and COCA.

Fred Kostecki, Anna Bahn & Hanna Pierce

Managing Partner - St. Louis

RubinBrown

Dance Instructors

Convergence Dance & Body Center

Fred Kostecki, Anna Bahn & Hanna Pierce

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About Fred

Fred Kostecki is the Managing Partner of the St. Louis office and previously served as Partner and Chairman of RubinBrown’s Assurance Services Group. He serves large and mid-size public and privately-held clients primarily in the distribution, manufacturing and professional service industries and has diversified audit and accounting expertise.

Fred is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and Harvard Business School’s Leading Professional Services Firms Program.


About Anna

Anna has been dancing since the age of 12. She started her studies in ballet, but quickly learned that belly dance was a greater passion. She started teaching at 15, and performing belly dance locally at the age of 20. Before college, she discovered social salsa and Argentine tango, which she immediately fell in love with.

Anna graduated from Mizzou as a Registered Respiratory Therapist, with a bachelor’s in Health Sciences in 2011. She is also an ACE certified personal trainer. After seven years working at at Mercy Hospital, she now works full time in the dance and fitness industry. In addition to managing the fitness studio, Pure Barre, she teaches tango, salsa, swing, belly dance, and ballroom lessons.

About Hanna

Hanna grew up in Midland, Texas training at the school of Midland Festival Ballet. She was awarded multiple scholarships to train in the summers at highly respected schools such as Milwaukee Ballet School, Orlando Ballet School, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Joffery Academy of Texas, and the Glenda Brown Choreography Project. After high school Hanna attended the Alonzo King LINES ballet  training program in San Francisco. There she had the privilege of dancing Alonzo’s work and being under his watchful eye. She also was able to work with  many well known choreographers, companies, and teachers such as Maurya Kerr, Lee Wei Chao, Vim Vigor, Sidra Bell, Kyle Abraham Company, Martha Graham Company, Gregory Dawson, and the Wayne McGregor Company.

She then became a company member with CommonThread Contemporary Ballet in St. Louis under the director Jennifer Medina. She has performed Jay Jackson’s work at Pride Fest St. Charles along with other performances for social justice events in the community. Hanna now does project dance work along with working and dancing at Convergence. She also recently has received her Gyrotonic Method Level 1 certification. In her free time Hanna loves to workout at Pure Barre, ride bikes, and teach little kids ballet.

Lynn Ann Vogel & Robert McKenney

Partner

Vogel Law Office

Dance Instructor

Convergence Dance & Body Center

Lynn Ann Vogel & Robert McKenney

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About Lynn

Lynn Ann is a partner with Vogel Law Office where she works with her husband Paul. Her practice focuses on assisting nationwide clients with real estate matters and alternative investment opportunity review. Additionally, she serves as a neutral for Alternative Dispute Resolution matters, primarily in real estate, construction and employment matters, building on her experience as a litigator in those areas previously in her career. A very large part of her career and time is focused on volunteering and leading bar associations. She has served as President of The Missouri Bar as well as the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, for which she is currently serving as a Delegate to the American Bar Association. She is a past member of the Executive Committee for the National Conference of Bar Presidents and the Lawyers Association of St. Louis. She is a Fellow and Board member of both the St. Louis Bar Foundation and the Missouri Bar Foundation and sits on the Missouri Supreme Court Commission on Racial and Ethnic Fairness. When she has free time, she is a corporate spouse supporting her CEO husband, Paul, with his busy client schedule at his firm, Argos Family Office. 

Her community involvement includes serving on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater St. Louis and the St. Louis Internship Program. She is also active with the Junior League Larks, the Heritage Account Board, and Saint Louis Woman’s Club.


About Robert

Robert McKenney has been dancing and instructing for over a decade and was born into a dancing environment. The son of a dance teacher, he grew up watching dance competitions, classes, and events, and eventually decided that it looked like fun! He entered a competition when he was 7 years old, started teaching when he was 18 and has since taught throughout the country. He was even a guest teacher at the National Academy of Tango in Buenos Aires, Argentina in the summer of 2015.

Robert has travelled extensively to Argentina and specializes in the Latin dances. Argentine Tango, Salsa, Cha Cha, and folk dancing are his favorites! Robert has studied with expert teachers in the U.S., as well as several master teachers in Argentina who have shaped and influenced Argentine tango and Latin dance. He has also shared his love of dance by teaching throughout the country from California to Massachusetts and several places in between.

In addition to teaching, Robert has danced and performed all over the United States and Argentina and regularly performs in the St. Louis area. He has danced everywhere from the popular, historic Muny Theater to Busch Stadium in front of thousands of people, as well as performing regularly in the St. Louis area.

Bob Tomaso & Emily Wehrman

Office Managing Partner

Husch Blackwell

Dance Instructor

Discover Ballroom

Bob Tomaso & Emily Wehrman

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About Bob

Bob Tomaso is the St. Louis Office Managing Partner at Husch Blackwell, a 700 lawyer firm with offices throughout the Midwest, Mid-South and Rocky Mountains. Bob, who focuses his practice exclusively on the representation of employers, received his B.A., summa cum laude, in 1985 from Washington and Lee University. He received his J.D. in 1989 from the University of Virginia School of Law.

He has first-chaired numerous employment discrimination jury trials in federal and state court, and successfully argued appeals in ten different jurisdictions.

In 2002, he was named to the St. Louis Business Journal’s List of 40 Under 40 and he serves as Vice-Chair of the Employment Law Section of the American Health Lawyers Association. For more than 10 consecutive years, Bob has been named as one of the “Best Lawyers” in America. Bob is a past member of the Alumni Board of Directors, Washington and Lee University; St. Luke’s Hospital; and the Police Athletic League. He has also served as President of the Board of Directors of the St. Louis Chapter of The First Tee, an organization that teaches life skills to underprivileged kids through the game of golf.


About Emily

Emily is a professional ballroom and latin dancer, Reiki Master teacher and healer, embodiment coach, poet and magical goddess that loves to laugh. She brings her passion for movement, healing and sensuality to all the offerings, classes and trainings she shares with the world. After the breakdown of a ten year professional competitive ballroom life she set off on a journey to discover what makes the DANCE OF LIFE vibrant and healthy on and off the hardwood. She managed a yoga studio, and poured herself into the practices of energy medicine, embodiment, nutrition and sexuality. Now that she’s butterflied back into the partner dance world as emilyWEHRMAN llc and The Art & Alchemy of Dance, Emily brings a revolutionary style of dance education to the world that is infused with her great depth, enthusiasm and wisdom. Come as you are and expect to be welcomed to her community with open hands, open hearts and warm smiles. Cheers and dance on!

Craig Schnuck & Elena Lyashenko

Chairman Emeritus

Schnuck Markets, Inc.

Dance Instructor

Just Dancing Studio St. Louis

Craig Schnuck & Elena Lyashenko

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About Craig

Craig D. Schnuck is Chairman Emeritus of Schnuck Markets, Inc. and continues to be involved in the company’s growth and development. Formerly, Craig served the company as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for 17 years.

Craig currently serves on Washington University’s Board as immediate past-chairman, Executive Committee, Washington University Investment Management Company and chairman of the Building and Grounds Committee in addition to BJH Board of Directors and BJH Finance and Planning Committee. Craig has previously served on the boards of US Bancorp, BJC Healthcare (Vice Chair), Edison Brothers Stores Inc. and General American Life Insurance Companies.

Craig, a 1966 graduate of John Burroughs went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Food Industry Management in 1970 and an MBA in Finance in 1971 from Cornell University.


About Eleyna

In her native Belarus, Elena and her husband Vassily were the National Professional Dance Champions for multiple years and represented their homeland in 40 World and European Dancesport Professional Championships. Elena has been a professional ballroom and Latin dancer for more than 40 years. In 2000, Elena moved to the United States with her daughter and husband to teach competitive dance. She is certified by the world’s leading dance professional organizations.

Nancy Staudt & Alex Borodko

Distinguished Professor of Law

Washington University

Dance Instructor

Majestic Dance Studio

Nancy Staudt & Alex Borodko

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About Nancy

Nancy Staudt was named Dean of the Washington University School of Law, effective May 2014. She is a nationally renowned scholar in tax, tax policy, and empirical legal studies. Staudt is the author or co-author of nearly 40 articles and two books, and her work has been published in the country’s leading journals and university presses. She has given more than 100 speeches and keynote addresses to national and international audiences on a range of tax, law, and public policy topics.

Staudt has served as an advisory panelist and/or board member to organizations such as the National Science Foundation, the Association of American Law Schools’ Tax Section, and the Law and Society Association. Before assuming her deanship, Staudt served as vice dean for faculty and academic affairs at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law and as the inaugural holder of the Edward G. Lewis Chair in Law and Public Policy; she was the Class of 1940 Research Professor of Law at Northwestern University and a professor of law at Washington University from 2000 to 2006.

Staudt has held visiting professorships at Vanderbilt University, Boston University, and the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel, and she has been a visiting scholar at Stanford University. Prior to her academic appointments, Staudt was a tax associate at Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco. She clerked for the Honorable John T. Noonan on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, and she provided free legal services to both battered women and organizations seeking tax-exempt status from the federal government.


About Alex

My name is Alexandr Borodko, and I began ballroom dancing at the age of eight in my hometown of Minsk, Belarus. I continued to dance in grammar and high school, eventually earning a bachelor’s degree in Ballroom Dance and Choreography from the Belarusian University of Culture. Post graduation, I danced as an amateur for 11 years with top placements in major dance competitions throughout Europe.

Since coming to the United States 25 years ago, I have established myself as a highly successful professional competitor, winning a wide variety of professional division events. At the same time, I have become an established and sought after dance instructor in St. Louis. Through the years, my students have participated and won countless competitions in the United States and around the world.

In 2014, my wife and I began a new chapter of our lives with the opening of our business, Majestic Dance Studio. Our wish is to provide instruction, education and inspiration to those interested in ballroom dancing. Our goal is to make Majestic a place for dancers (and soon-to-be dancers) learn the art of ballroom dancing in a warm and inviting atmosphere.

Richard Schul & Angi Heien

Retired Group Vice President

Emerson

Dance Instructor

Richard Schul & Angi Heien

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About Richard

Richard was born and raised in Niagara Falls, NY. He began his career at Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1969 after graduating from Indiana Institute of Technology with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. He earned an MBA from the University of Dayton in 1976. He held positions of increasing responsibility in engineering, quality assurance and marketing with the Small Motor Division of Westinghouse. 

He started his career with Emerson Electric in St. Louis in 1981 as a Product manager HVAC motors, then director of marketing 1984 and vice president of marketing 1987 for Emerson Motors. In 1990, Richard was named president of the Alco Controls Division of Emerson in Maryland Heights. In 1997, he was named president of Emerson’s Air Moving Motors Division. In 1998, he was named president of Specialty and Air Moving Motors and in 2000 was named group vice president of Emerson’s Commercial Industrial Motors group. In 2004, Richard was named group vice president of Emerson Climate Technologies. Richard retired from Emerson in 2011 after 30 years. He remained on as an Emerson consultant for another two years. 

From 2004-2010, Richard had P&L responsibility for Climate Technologies business entity in the Middle East & Africa, as well as the Manila, Philippines call center. Richard had been active in the Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) serving on the Board of Directors for more than 25 years and several committees including: Communications; AHR EXPO; Government Affairs; Budget & Investment; and Chair of the International and Audit committees. Richard received the Richard Schultz award in 2008 and the Distinguished Service Award in 2011 from AHRI. 

Richard traveled the world extensively promoting Emerson’s brand awareness for Copeland, White Rodgers and ALCO Controls while covering marketing and sales for Emerson’s marquee customers in the heating, air conditioning, refrigeration and ventilation markets. As the Emerson Climate Technologies LEAD group coordinator from 2006-2013, Richard mentored several high potential managers @ Emerson. From 2014-16, Richard created his own management consulting group, mentoring executives for Fortune 500 companies. Richard also managed Emerson’s corporate sales. 

Richard’s passions other than his family are: charitable work and golf. Richard is very active in the St. Louis community. He is a member of Ascension Catholic Parish in Chesterfield, where he served as parish council president in 1996-1997. He served on the board of the Maryland Heights Chamber of Commerce in 1994-95. He served as the North County Friends of Scouting chairman and district chairman for the Boy Scouts of Greater St. Louis from 1997-2003 and has remained active with the Northstar district on the FOS committee. He was honored as the North County Boy Scouts’ “Good Scout” Man of the Year in April 2017. He has served on the board of directors for St. Joseph’s Institute for the Deaf since 1991, where he is the current board chair. Richard was a board member of the greater St. Louis area Make-A-Wish Foundation for twelve years, where his term ended in the fall of 2016. Richard is involved with Boys Hope Girls Hope as a mentor for under-privileged young adults. Richard joined the board of Trustees of Indiana Tech (his alma mater) in 2012 where he serves as vice-chair. Richard is on the board of Cool Technologies, a high-tech company headquartered in Santa Rosa, CA. Richard received the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award in the greater St. Louis area from the American Philanthropic Foundation in November 2013. Richard has been a member of Bellerive CC since 1994 where he serves on the board. Richard has been married to Geri for 50 years (May 1970). They have two children, Brad 41 (married and two grandsons) and Angela 34 (married with a daughter and son), who both live in the St. Louis area.


About Angi

Mark Bulanda & Angie Brooks

Senior Vice President

Emerson

Executive Director

Dancing Classrooms St. Louis

Mark Bulanda & Angie Brooks

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About Mark

Mark Bulanda is an Emerson senior vice president who oversees the company’s acquisition planning and portfolio management activities. He was appointed to this position in April 2016 and works with Emerson’s businesses to identify potential acquisition candidates. In 2016, he was named to Emerson’s Office of the Chief Executive, which helps develop and guide the company’s global business strategies.

Bulanda has a 30-year career with Emerson. He previously managed Emerson’s Industrial Automation businesses and was appointed an Emerson executive vice president of the Emerson Industrial Automation business in 2012.

Bulanda is a member of the boards of directors for the St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf, Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis and the St. Louis Science Center.

Bulanda received a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from GMI Engineering and Management Institute, and holds a master’s degree in business administration from Northwestern University in Chicago. He and his wife Kelly have 3 boys and 2 girls and have lived in St. Louis since 2001.


About Angie

Angie would tell you that her career with St. Louis Dancing Classrooms is a dream come true.   After more than a decade of dancing professionally on stage and screen, Angie returned to her hometown of St Louis and enrolled at the University of Missouri-St. Louis earning her degree in Psychology. Upon graduating, Ms. Brooks went on to become the Program Coordinator for Covenant House- Missouri, overseeing and sometimes facilitating the artistic and athletic programming offered at their Community Center. From there, she moved on to become a College Coach with the local non-profit organization, College Bound, where she mentored high school students on track to becoming the first generation in their family to pursue higher education.

While all of her past work serving, teaching, and mentoring area youth and young adults was incredibly valuable and rewarding. Ms. Brooks felt that something was missing. That something — was dance. In 2008, Angie saw the documentary Mad Hot Ballroom and instantly knew that the work of Pierre Dulaine and his Dancing Classrooms program was her calling. In 2009, with the hard work and determination of Lauren Wilmore and Arash Sabet, St. Louis Dancing Classrooms became a reality and Angie began her work as a Teaching Artist. In 2017, Ms. Brooks became Director of St. Louis Dancing Classrooms. Dreams really can come true!

Arnold Donald & Lucy Fitzgerald

President & Chief Executive Officer

Carnival Corporation & PLC

Owner

Just Dancing - West

Arnold Donald & Lucy Fitzgerald

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About Arnold

Arnold Donald is President & Chief Executive Officer of Carnival Corporation & PLC, the largest travel and leisure company in the world. Their portfolio of ten cruise brands — Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard, P&O Cruises UK, P&O Cruises Australia and Fathom are based throughout North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. Together these brands maintain a fleet of over 100 ships and serve more than 11 million guests annually. Carnival Corporation & PLC also operates Holland America Princess Alaska Tours, the leading tour company in Alaska and the Canadian Yukon with 10 hotels plus rail and bus services connecting guests with the northern interior. Traded on both the New York and London Stock Exchanges, Carnival Corporation & PLC is the only group in the world to be included in both the S&P500 and the FTSE 100 indices.

Mr. Donald has been President & CEO of Carnival Corporation since 2013; prior to that he served on the board for 12 years. He currently serves on the board of Bank of America Corporation.

Mr. Donald spent more than twenty years at Monsanto Company as Corporate Senior Vice President, and President of the Consumer and Nutrition sector and President of the Agricultural sector. After leaving Monsanto, Mr. Donald was Chairman of Merisant Company whose products included the leading global sweetener brands Equal and Canderel.

Immediately prior to Carnival, Mr. Donald was a founder and President and Chief Executive Officer of the Executive Leadership Council, a professional network and leadership forum for African-American executives of Fortune 500 companies, and the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, the largest charitable funder of diabetes research in the world.

A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Mr. Donald received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Carleton College, a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Washington University in St Louis, and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.

Mr. Donald has a strong commitment to higher education and serves on the boards of two of his alma maters, Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota and Washington University in St. Louis, in Missouri. He is also on the boards of the Greater New Orleans Foundation and Tulane University among others.


About Lucy

Lucy Fitzgerald, and her husband Michael, were both born and raised in Florissant, Missouri, where Michael excelled in several sports and Lucy spent most of her childhood in a ballet studio. As young adults they became interested in ballroom and latin dancing, and also discovered they shared a similar entrepreneurial spirit. While training extensively and building a competitive partnership, a romantic partnership flourished, and they were married in 2008.

Michael and Lucy have provided top-quality entertainment for private parties and special events. They were even invited to perform foxtrot and swing in front of the legendary Glen Miller Orchestra, a career highlight for the couple. Every year in January, they are each partnered with a local celebrity in the highly-anticipated “Dancing with the St. Louis Stars” competition. Lucy is a three-time undefeated champion of this charitable event, which benefits Independence Center, a cause that is very near and dear to Michael and Lucy.

Ron Daugherty & Nina Middendorf

President and CEO

Daugherty Business Solutions

Dance Instructor

Just Dancing Studio - St. Louis

Ron Daugherty & Nina Middendorf

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About Ron

Ron Daugherty is President and CEO of Daugherty Business Solutions, which he founded in 1985.  Selected as The Top Place to Work in St. Louis in 2020, Daugherty has become a leader in providing advisory services and technology consulting, helping corporations leverage leading technology to improve business results.  Ron has led the growth of offices and development centers in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York, Columbus and St. Louis. The Daugherty Enterprise now employs over 1,500 IT and business consultants.

Ron is deeply committed to the growth of the St. Louis community, recently supporting the St. Louis Economic Development Initiative run by Greater St. Louis Inc.  He is part of an executive team working to build the technology workforce of the future with specific focus on helping more young people of color and women pursue technology careers.

In 2012, Ron was presented with the Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Inspiration Award by the Gateway Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  This award recognizes the most active and inspiring leaders making a significant difference in the local community.  His efforts have positively impacted many organizations including the Independence Center where he has not only danced but judged at their annual Dancing with the St. Louis Stars Gala.  This event has raised millions for those struggling with mental illness and depression in our region.  Additionally, Ron recently completed five years on the Board of United way of Greater St. Louis, is on the President’s Council of The Magic House and continues to serve on the Board of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Gateway Chapter.

A former Golden Gloves amateur boxing champion, Ron’s hobbies include blues harmonica, equestrian sports, and fencing. In 2017, Ron represented the United States in the Pan American Games hosted in St. Thomas Virgin Islands winning the Gold Medal in the Men’s Foil competition.


About Nina

I was born and raised in Hamburg, Germany. At age 15 I was introduced to ballroom dancing and fell in love with it. I competed in Germany for four years until I moved to St. Louis and started my career as a ballroom dance instructor at Just Dancing. I have been teaching at Just Dancing now for over 22 years and never lost my passion for the art of dance. My specialty is in making everybody feel comfortable on the dance floor from social dancing, wedding couples and large group lessons to ballroom competitions. In addition, I have been teaching ballroom dancing cotillion to 7th and 8th graders for over 10 years. I especially enjoy the progress my students make with every dance lesson and their growing confidence on the dance floor.

Ed Monser & Angie Brooks

President - Retired

Emerson

Executive Director

Dancing Classrooms St. Louis

Ed Monser & Angie Brooks

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About Ed

Edward L. Monser served as Emerson’s chief operating officer from 2001-2015 and as president of Emerson from 2010 – 2018. He has more than 30 years of experience in senior operational positions at Emerson and played key roles in globalizing the company.

Active in promoting international understanding and trade, Monser was vice chairman of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum and served on the advisory Economic Development Board for China’s Guangdong Province and the board of advisors for South Ural State University in Chelyabinsk, Russia. He is also a past board member and past vice chairman of the U.S.-China Business Council.

In the St. Louis community, Monser has served on the boards of directors or trustees for several educational, civic and charitable organizations, including Ranken Technical College.

Monser serves on the board of directors for Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., Canadian Pacific Railroad, Vertiv Holding, and the Advisory Board of Seyer Industries.


About Angie

Angie would tell you that her career with St. Louis Dancing Classrooms is a dream come true.   After more than a decade of dancing professionally on stage and screen, Angie returned to her hometown of St Louis and enrolled at the University of Missouri-St. Louis earning her degree in Psychology. Upon graduating, Ms. Brooks went on to become the Program Coordinator for Covenant House- Missouri, overseeing and sometimes facilitating the artistic and athletic programming offered at their Community Center. From there, she moved on to become a College Coach with the local non-profit organization, College Bound, where she mentored high school students on track to becoming the first generation in their family to pursue higher education.

While all of her past work serving, teaching, and mentoring area youth and young adults was incredibly valuable and rewarding. Ms. Brooks felt that something was missing. That something — was dance. In 2008, Angie saw the documentary Mad Hot Ballroom and instantly knew that the work of Pierre Dulaine and his Dancing Classrooms program was her calling. In 2009, with the hard work and determination of Lauren Wilmore and Arash Sabet, St. Louis Dancing Classrooms became a reality and Angie began her work as a Teaching Artist. In 2017, Ms. Brooks became Director of St. Louis Dancing Classrooms.  Dreams really can come true!

Brittny Adams & Joe Elvis Alway-Baker

Member

Independence Center

Dance Instructor

Majestic Dance Studio

Brittny Adams & Joe Elvis Alway-Baker

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About Brittny

My name is Brittny Adams and I have been a member of the Independence Center for over 8 years now. I am currently employed at BJC Behavioral Health as a Peer Support Specialist part-time. However, in the next couple of months I am looking to go full-time and come off of disability. Let me tell you a little bit about how I became a member and employed.

I came to the Clubhouse after two staff members came to where I was living, at the time, to tell me about the Clubhouse and all it had to offer me. They came as part of the DM-3700 program, in which they got my name from a list of people who utilize the ER quite often for mental health reasons, primarily, and for medical reasons. I will never forget the date when I visited the Clubhouse… April 28, 2012. I fell in love at first sight. After working with the dedicated staff at IC, I was finally connected with a good psychiatrist and therapist at Independence Center Health Group, better known as Midwest Psychiatry. After many years of dealing with mental health issues that were not properly treated, the doctors finally found the right cocktail of meds to prescribe me. I finally found some peace. It was here that I met the love of my life, Stanley. He helped advocate for me to get off some of the meds as I was taking multiple drugs that were for the same illness or problem.

After expressing my goals and aspirations with some of the staff, they convinced me to give school another chance. I had previously attempted to get my bachelor’s degree two other times, but I always dropped out after two or three weeks. I took one class at a time and finally got my degree in psychology. There were many times when I wanted to give up on school, but Stanley and a few staff at IC consistently encouraged me to keep going. I wanted to help others who suffer from mental illness and substance use disorders, so I took the Certified Peer Specialist training. After completing the training, I took the exam and passed with a perfect score. Now, keep in mind that during all this time I was on SSI disability income and getting home health care services. It had been recommended to me that I should look for employment, but I declined because I was afraid of losing my disability benefits. However, after much prodding and encouragement from staff and Stanley, I finally decided to look for employment. I put my resume together and put it on Indeed. I went on several job interviews to no avail. I was beginning to lose hope, but Stanley and staff kept encouraging me and reminding me that the right job was going to come along, I just had to be patient. I saw a position for a part-time Peer Support Specialist at BJC Behavioral Health and I immediately applied. Needless to say, I got the job and have been there for over a year now.

None of these successes would have been possible without the help, encouragement, and faith in me from the staff at IC and Stanley. I wanted to do something to give back to the Clubhouse what all they had given to me so freely, and that is when I asked to be considered for Dancing with the St. Louis Stars as the member dancer in 2017. I was ultimately chosen to be the member dancer and I loved every minute of it. I had a great partner, Joe Elvis Always-Baker, who taught me how to tell my story through dance and that is when we decided to do a contemporary piece. That year, we won Crowd Favorite and Judges’ Favorite. It was a very humbling and moving experience. When I was asked to participate this year, I quickly said yes.

This organization is a Godsend and I highly recommend it to any adult who has mental illness or substance use disorders. The Independence Center saved my life and helped me to realize that my mental illness and substance use disorder does not define who I am; it is simply a diagnosis. They also helped me to believe in myself and believe that I can achieve anything that I put my mind to. 

Thank you Independence Center!


About Joe

 

Marco Mino & Stephanie McKinley

Member

Independence Center

Studio Owner

Yes! Yoga

Marco Mino & Stephanie McKinley

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About Marco

Marco has been a member since 2010 and confesses that he cannot remember a time when he didn’t feel the stinging highs and lows of depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety. Marco grew up in a military family, which meant his life was constantly uprooted. Living without stability at home made it difficult to develop relationships, even harder living as a gay male. The night Marco graduated high school, he and his family moved from Charleston to San Francisco. Marco was aspiring to be a nurse, but his father clearly expressed his opinion that nursing was a “female” profession.  

Unable to be who he was at home, Marco enlisted in the Air Force and served our country as a Diet Therapist. Two years later, unfulfilled, he transferred to the Navy spending his first year on duty in Bahrain assigned as personal chef to the Admiral of the Middle East Forces. He then requested to join the Submarine Service and earned his Qualified in Submarines medal or “Dolphins”. Marco served the remainder of his Naval enlistment as a submariner. 

After leaving the Navy, Marco worked at a spa restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. and started his own cheesecake-baking company out of his home. A few years later he and his partner moved to Illinois. Free from the opinions and judgement of his family, he enrolled in college and earned his degree and became a Registered Nurse. 

Through each stage of life, Marco managed his illness with medication, but as his depression became more and more severe, he was eventually treated with electroconvulsive therapy (shock treatments). Juggling his career, his illness, and a diagnosis of prostate cancer, Marco became severely depressed and attempted to take his own life on multiple occasions. Hospitalizations every other month led Marco to lose his job, the ability to drive and His relationship fell apart. He had nowhere to turn.

Marco was connected with a BJC Healthcare caseworker who referred him to Independence Center., “Independence Center gave me the resources I needed to find purpose in life,” said Marco, “I began working with staff and members on my self-esteem and confidence, and they helped me believe in myself again”

Independence Center has provided Marco with many opportunities to explore his talents, his interests and to live authentically as who he is. Over the years, Marco has been a member dancer in the 2016 Dancing with the St. Louis Stars, Clubhouse Colleague trainer, Board Member of the Independence Center. He has advocated for people living with mental illness as part of the Missouri Coalition and went to Washington DC speaking with both Senator’s Blunt and McCaskill regarding funding for Mental health in Missouri.  

Most recently, he has served as a Faculty Member of Clubhouse International where he is responsible for the accreditation of Clubhouses around the world. He has traveled from Finland to Hawaii helping other programs achieve the status they desire, the ability to call themselves a “Clubhouse”.  

“I don’t know where I would be today without the Independence Center,” said Marco, “Through all of this, I guess you could say I was just building “relationships” which is one of the key strengths of the Clubhouse.”


About Stephanie

Stephanie is a former elite Olympic training gymnast, so personal training and fitness instructing comes naturally. She studied many styles of dance for most of her life. She competed Ballroom and Latin dance professionally for nearly 20 years and has been teaching for 30 years. She was a cheerleader for the St. Louis Football Cardinals and St. Louis Steamers Soccer team. Stephanie competed 4 seasons with Dancing with the St. Louis Stars, winning the competition twice. She has entertained crowds of 500 – 20,000 people, most notably as opening act for country music star Easton Corbin.

DeAndra Smith & Emily Wehrman

Member

Independence Center

Dance Instructor

Discover Ballroom

DeAndra Smith & Emily Wehrman

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About DeAndra

DeAndra Smith is a member at Independence Center. He works in the kitchen creating menus, preparing and cooking meals, and helps coordinate other member volunteers during breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the Clubhouse, helping to serve over a hundred members and staff daily.

DeAndra was born completely blind in his left eye and legally blind in his right eye. At an early age, he was physically and verbally abused by his mother and outcast by his family and society. He was told at an early age he was not going to amount to anything in life and for a long time believed that. As an adult, his God given talents were taken advantage of by friends that he thought had his best interest in mind.

Things took a turn for the worst in 2007; overworked and underpaid, he lost his apartment after hours were drastically cut at the restaurant he was employed at for over seven years. He lost his home and spent the next few years couch hopping and frequenting homeless shelters, never staying in a place long enough to get his feet on the ground. DeAndra suffered from depression from an early age, but the stress of not having a safe, permanent place to live and steady employment landed him in the hospital with severe depression, anxiety and PTSD.

On November 1st, 2014, he went to the hospital for anxiety. His recovery started then when he found out about Independence Center. He never knew that such a place existed, a place he would be surrounded by people like himself. At Independence Center, he learned to be the man he wished to be, learned how to communicate with others and feel the acceptance of a supportive community, and had access to resources he so desperately needed.

He has attended the Clubhouse on a daily basis for almost three years as a volunteer, mainly in the kitchen, cooking and preparing meals. With the help of Independence Center, DeAndra was able to get safe, affordable housing and reestablish himself as an active participant in the community, no longer in the shadows of his mental illness. He has gained a home at Independence Center, finding friends that are now family. His next goal in life is to go to school to achieve a master’s degree in culinary arts and would like to one day own his own restaurant.


About Emily

Emily is a professional ballroom and latin dancer, Reiki Master teacher and healer, embodiment coach, poet and magical goddess that loves to laugh. She brings her passion for movement, healing and sensuality to all the offerings, classes and trainings she shares with the world. After the breakdown of a ten year professional competitive ballroom life she set off on a journey to discover what makes the DANCE OF LIFE vibrant and healthy on and off the hardwood. She managed a yoga studio, and poured herself into the practices of energy medicine, embodiment, nutrition and sexuality. Now that she’s butterflied back into the partner dance world as emilyWEHRMAN llc and The Art & Alchemy of Dance, Emily brings a revolutionary style of dance education to the world that is infused with her great depth, enthusiasm and wisdom. Come as you are and expect to be welcomed to her community with open hands, open hearts and warm smiles. Cheers and dance on!

Chris Hampel & Anna Bahn

Member

Independence Center

Dance Instructor

Convergence Dance & Body Center

Chris Hampel & Anna Bahn

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About Chris

Chris Hampel, Maintenance Engineer at the Chase Park Plaza and member at Independence Center will be representing both at this year’s Dancing with the St. Louis Stars.

Chris came to Independence Center in 2014 after numerous hospitalizations, was homeless, and was living in his van or other shelters. He was connected to Independence Center through Labre Center, a program of Peter & Paul Community Services. Chris says when he first arrived at Independence Center, he did not know what he was going to do or how he was going to start over. Chris started coming to the Center and got involved with the Street Level where he worked on Employment doing attendance, data entry, front desk, and more. He says that the computer skills he practiced and improved at the Clubhouse gave him the confidence to start a TE (Transitional Employment) position at Wells Fargo Advisors. Chris worked at Wells Fargo for 14 months and gained valuable relationships, work skills, and more support from his growing community. He says “Wells Fargo saw my potential and continued to give me more and more responsibility”. Chris is now employed full time at Chase Park Plaza as a Maintenance Engineer, allowing him to utilize his construction background on projects in the hotel. He now leads different projects within the Maintenance team and says the freedom and flexibility of the job are rewarding.

During his time at Independence Center, he has achieved independent living, re-established himself into full time employment, improved coordination of care for his mental illness, and now is a great role model for other members hoping to become more independent in the St. Louis community.


About Anna

Anna has been dancing since the age of 12. She started her studies in ballet, but quickly learned that belly dance was a greater passion. She started teaching at 15, and performing belly dance locally at the age of 20. Before college, she discovered social salsa and Argentine tango, which she immediately fell in love with.

Anna graduated from Mizzou as a Registered Respiratory Therapist, with a bachelor’s in Health Sciences in 2011. She is also an ACE certified personal trainer. After seven years working at at Mercy Hospital, she now works full time in the dance and fitness industry. In addition to managing the fitness studio, Pure Barre, she teaches tango, salsa, swing, belly dance, and ballroom lessons.

Lisa Rodgers & Michael Fitzgerald

Member

Independence Center

Co-Owner

Just Dancing West

Lisa Rodgers & Michael Fitzgerald

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About Lisa

Lisa Rodgers was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri and earned her degree in Business Administration from Hickey College. She was diagnosed with bi-polar depression and anxiety. She has found that through medication, support from family and friends, and maintaining a positive attitude, she is capable of managing her illness. 

Lisa became a member of Independence Center Clubhouse on March 14, 2016. While at the Clubhouse, she volunteers at the Snack Bar and sometimes in the Upper Level Unit (Kitchen, Flower Shop, Sanitation of Upper Level areas). Through her involvement, she has built positive and supportive relationships and has gained leadership skills. 

She says, “I am excited for the opportunity to participate in the Dancing with the St. Louis Stars event. This is an important event that will help us raise money for Independence Center to benefit more members like me.”


About Michael

Michael Fitzgerald is a professional competitor and instructor of Just Dancing West studio in St. Peters, and is looking forward to entertaining this year’s crowd.

Michael has been teaching ballroom & Latin dancing for fourteen years, and has enjoyed great success with his students and his professional partner, his wife Lucy. Dancing the American Smooth style, they have placed as finalists in nearly 100 professional ballroom events across the country. Michael has enjoyed numerous performance opportunities at private events and charity functions, and he has received several awards for his excellence in teaching.

Michael is a professional member of the National Dance Council of America and proud to be a seven-year veteran of Dancing With the St. Louis Stars.

Michelle Tibbs & Michael Fitzgerald

Member

Independence Center

Co-Owner

Just Dancing West

Michelle Tibbs & Michael Fitzgerald

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About Michelle

In 2011, Michelle Tibbs donned A ‘Glittered Glove & Hat’, challenging, “Who’s BAD??? I’m bad. Really, really, BAD! Just like Michael Jackson sang.” Tibbs went on to declare, “I have the diagnosis of Bi-Polar Affective Disorder or B.A.D. And I am baaad. Really, really bad! But not because of what I have, but because of who I am. Tibbs and her dance partner, Michael Fitzgerald, then Danced to a medley of music by Michael Jackson, coordinated to illustrate being destroyed by, going through, controlling, overcoming, and dominating the devastating impact of mental illness. On a triumphant note, Michelle Tibbs became: The B.A.D. Girl!

B.A.D. Girl Tibbs continues to make good. She continues to use over 37 years of lived experience to stomp out stigma, highlight healthy wellbeing and provide psycho-education. She’s now working on her 11th year as a Certified Peer Specialist for an Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Level Team with Places for People. Tibbs has been an active Independence Center Member since 2008. Tibbs collaborates with many mental wellness oriented organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Missouri Institute of Mental Health (MIMH). Tibbs was nominated as 2020’s MIMH Mental Health Champion and performed with the IC Players via Zoom for World Mental Health Day, October 2020.  Tibbs enjoys participating in the Real Voices, Real Choices Consumer Conference annually for continued networking and training. Michelle Tibbs is a Founding Board Member of Consumer Operated Service Program (COSP), Gift of Voice. 

Born and raised in Saint Louis, Ms. Tibbs holds a degree in psychology from Rutgers University. She loves gardening, volunteers with the Black Rep of Saint Louis, parishioner of Greater Deliverance Church and has been a member of Professional Women’s Group (PWG) since 2009. Michelle enjoys speaking to audiences of all sizes, sharing her lived experience and spreading a message of hope.


About Michael

Michael Fitzgerald is a professional competitor and instructor of Just Dancing West studio in St. Peters, and is looking forward to entertaining this year’s crowd.

Michael has been teaching ballroom & Latin dancing for fourteen years, and has enjoyed great success with his students and his professional partner, his wife Lucy. Dancing the American Smooth style, they have placed as finalists in nearly 100 professional ballroom events across the country. Michael has enjoyed numerous performance opportunities at private events and charity functions, and he has received several awards for his excellence in teaching.

Michael is a professional member of the National Dance Council of America and proud to be a seven-year veteran of Dancing With the St. Louis Stars.

Terri Hodges & Steve Brockman

Member

Independence Center

Dance Instructor

Just Dancing Studio - St. Louis

Terri Hodges & Steve Brockman

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About Terri

First, I would like to thank the Independence Center for opening their doors to me. I have been a member for over 18 years, and I have spent my days and weeks, including many Saturdays working in the Clubhouse Shop, assisting customers with expert fashion advice and giving all-inclusive tours of donated household goods located throughout the store. I truly care about others and will always go the extra mile to make people feel comfortable and valued as customers, coworkers, members, and friends. 

One afternoon, a customer mentioned to me that my compassionate nature would make me a great social worker. At that point in my life, someone seeing something in me that I did not see in myself is how I ended up going back to school at age 58. That is when I learned about the Sidney R Baer scholarship opportunity that Independence Center has for members returning to school through the educational program at the Clubhouse. 

I was truly grateful for the scholarship that allowed me to continue my education. I finished my associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in social work. I wanted to give back to those in need what I had received so freely which was the education, care, love, and opportunities from IC. I hope that I show members that they can accomplish what they put their mind to, that my story gives them hope, and that I helped to encourage them.  What I have gained is a gift that is to be given away by helping others like myself. Every day, I wake up and it’s a gift. It’s a gift from God and no matter what, we can decide how our day will go to make it a good day.  I know that when we are given a gift, we should always work to share it with others. 

With these 18 years that Independence Center has been in my life, it has been a good life. It has helped me and that’s why I keep coming.


About Steve

Steve has been teaching ballroom dancing since 1979.  He has been teaching at Just Dancing Dance Studio since it’s beginning in 1987, and was one of the studio’s founders.  He has competed in the Smooth, Rhythm, Latin and Ballroom styles of dancing, with Ballroom (Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Fox Trot and Quickstep) being his specialty. Steve enjoys teaching all levels of dance from people with no dance experience to very experienced competitive dancers. He enjoys being able to share the fun, exercise of the body and mind, and the challenge of learning something new with his students as they learn to ballroom dance.

I DANCE BECAUSE

Schedule a tour to see first-hand why our dancers say “YES!” to help restore lives

Top St. Louis Business Leaders Come Together for Virtual Dancing with the St. Louis Stars Fundraising Event

(ST. LOUIS – November 12, 2020) For nearly 40 years, Independence Center has been helping restore the lives of those suffering from mental illness. This year, to celebrate that milestone, they are hosting a special version of their biggest fundraising event, Dancing with the St. Louis Stars, and bringing back nearly 30 of the former dancers and top St. Louis executives who have competed in years past. The online voting and fundraising efforts of each dancer will determine who will be crowned the “Champion of Champions” at the virtual event on January 23, 2021 at 7:00 p.m.

This year, fans of the event can expect an exciting, new and interactive approach to the signature dance competition. The past performances for each dancer will be shared on social media and the Dancing with the St. Louis Stars website for two months leading up to the event. The four dancers with the most votes and donations will have their performances live streamed as part of the virtual Dancing with the St. Louis Stars event and the winner will be selected that evening based on the amount raised.

Independence Center Business Development Manager Abby Berger said proceeds from Dancing with the St. Louis Stars allows Independence Center to continue its mission of restoring lives by providing services and support to people with serious and persistent mental illnesses.

“This year, in particular, has been extremely challenging for our members and our organization as a whole,” said Berger.  “The global pandemic has forced all of us to pay more attention to mental health, and we hope this event will be a reminder of why the community’s support is so important. We’re very appreciative of all of the amazing St. Louis business leaders and Independence Center members who are participating again this year.”

The previous dancers who will be competing this year are Bob Tomaso, Husch Blackwell Office Managing Partner; Ed Monser, Emerson Retired President; Mark Trudeau, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals President & CEO; Team Nichols (Lisa & Ally Nichols), Technology Partners, Inc. CEO; Mark Bulanda, Emerson Senior Vice President; Nancy Staudt, Washington University School of Law Dean; Tim & Robin Wentworth, Evernorth – Cigna CEO; Jim Brennan, McKelvey Homes Owner & President; Arnold Donald, Carnival CEO; Craig Schnuck, Schnuck Markets, Inc. CEO & Chairman Emeritus; Jim Castellano, RubinBrown Retired Chairman; Richard Schul, Emerson Former Group President; Lynn Ann Vogel, Vogel Law Office Partner; Fred Kostecki, RubinBrown Managing Partner; Kristin Johnson, Edward Jones Chief of Human Resources Officer; Ron Daugherty, Daugherty Business Solutions President & CEO; Chris Hampel, Independence Center Member; DeAndra Smith, Independence Center Member; Lisa Rodgers, Independence Center Member; Marco Mino, Independence Center Member; Terri Hodges, Independence Center Member; Brittny Adams, Independence Center Member and Michelle Tibbs, Independence Center Member. 

Dancers will campaign for votes (1 vote = $10) via the www.dancingwiththestlouisstars.org website and the dancer who raises the most votes will be crowned Dancing Champion of Champions. Independence Center will also award Dancing MVP awards for the couple that raises the most support combining votes and sponsorships.

About Independence Center

Independence Center is a community-based rehabilitation program for adults with mental illness in the St. Louis area, built on the Clubhouse model of psychosocial rehabilitation. Its mission is to provide all the services and resources a person with a serious and persistent mental illness needs to manage their symptoms, find belonging and purpose and gain the independence to live a healthy, quality life. For more information about Independence Center, go to www.independencecenter.org.

SPONSORS

EMCEE
BRITTNY ADAMS

My name is Brittny Adams and I have been a member of the Independence Center for over 8 years now. I am currently employed at BJC Behavioral Health as a Peer Support Specialist part-time. However, in the next couple of months I am looking to go full-time and come off of disability. Let me tell you a little bit about how I became a member and employed.

I came to the Clubhouse after two staff members came to where I was living, at the time, to tell me about the Clubhouse and all it had to offer me. They came as part of the DM-3700 program, in which they got my name from a list of people who utilize the ER quite often for mental health reasons, primarily, and for medical reasons. I will never forget the date when I visited the Clubhouse… April 28, 2012. I fell in love at first sight. After working with the dedicated staff at IC, I was finally connected with a good psychiatrist and therapist at Independence Center Health Group, better known as Midwest Psychiatry. After many years of dealing with mental health issues that were not properly treated, the doctors finally found the right cocktail of meds to prescribe me. I finally found some peace. It was here that I met the love of my life, Stanley. He helped advocate for me to get off some of the meds as I was taking multiple drugs that were for the same illness or problem.

After expressing my goals and aspirations with some of the staff, they convinced me to give school another chance. I had previously attempted to get my bachelor’s degree two other times, but I always dropped out after two or three weeks. I took one class at a time and finally got my degree in psychology. There were many times when I wanted to give up on school, but Stanley and a few staff at IC consistently encouraged me to keep going. I wanted to help others who suffer from mental illness and substance use disorders, so I took the Certified Peer Specialist training. After completing the training, I took the exam and passed with a perfect score. Now, keep in mind that during all this time I was on SSI disability income and getting home health care services. It had been recommended to me that I should look for employment, but I declined because I was afraid of losing my disability benefits. However, after much prodding and encouragement from staff and Stanley, I finally decided to look for employment. I put my resume together and put it on Indeed. I went on several job interviews to no avail. I was beginning to lose hope, but Stanley and staff kept encouraging me and reminding me that the right job was going to come along, I just had to be patient. I saw a position for a part-time Peer Support Specialist at BJC Behavioral Health and I immediately applied. Needless to say, I got the job and have been there for over a year now.

None of these successes would have been possible without the help, encouragement, and faith in me from the staff at IC and Stanley. I wanted to do something to give back to the Clubhouse what all they had given to me so freely, and that is when I asked to be considered for Dancing with the St. Louis Stars as the member dancer in 2017. I was ultimately chosen to be the member dancer and I loved every minute of it. I had a great partner, Joe Elvis Always-Baker, who taught me how to tell my story through dance and that is when we decided to do a contemporary piece. That year, we won Crowd Favorite and Judges’ Favorite. It was a very humbling and moving experience. When I was asked to participate this year, I quickly said yes.

This organization is a Godsend and I highly recommend it to any adult who has mental illness or substance use disorders. The Independence Center saved my life and helped me to realize that my mental illness and substance use disorder does not define who I am; it is simply a diagnosis. They also helped me to believe in myself and believe that I can achieve anything that I put my mind to.

Thank you Independence Center!

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