Founder, Heartland Saint Louis Black Chamber of Commerce
Veta T. Jeffery has spent her life fighting for the rights of others. She began her professional career advocating for the rights of Differently Abled individuals. Conflict Resolution education and training allowed her to serve others successfully navigating them through education, employment, building and housing issues. She went on to spend over 20 years working in the financial services and banking industry as a licensed professional and as a Senior Executive in both sectors. Her commitment has been to organizations locally and nationally creating opportunities for minorities to gain access in economic development spaces.
As an accomplished national speaker, representing the interests of corporations, Not-for-Profits and various communities of people, Mrs. Jeffery capitalizes on her ability to bridge diversity gaps and inspires others to do the same. She is passionate about growing, strengthening and building economically strong businesses, communities and families.
During Missouri Governor Nixon’s administration, Mrs. Jeffery accepted a Special Assignment following the Ferguson uprising, to serve as Manager of Community Development in the Office of Community Engagement and Department of Community and Economic Development. The Heartland St. Louis Black Chamber of Commerce was just one of the many programs that came from her service to the State of Missouri.
In the fall of 2020, Mrs. Jeffery was honored to accept her current role as Chief Diversity Officer for the St. Louis County Government.
Her volunteer roles today find her serving as the Founder/Board Member of the Heartland St. Louis Black Chamber of Commerce, representing over 550 business owners. She also sits on the Board of Directors locally for Beyond Housing and The Empowerment Network and Nationally the US Black Chambers Inc.
Mrs. Jeffery is married to Pastor Tony Jeffery, Pastor of The Center of Life Christian Church and they are the proud parents of two beautiful girls, Ishmaiah age 19 and Toni age 10.
What makes St. Louis a model for other mid-sized cities?
St. Louis has many great institutions and assets that we are blessed to have, benefit from, and enjoy during our daily lives and commerce. Institutions that are playing major roles in our bid to stay afloat and craft the road to recovery from COVID19. I would refer to the institutions and other assets of St. Louis as its “bones.” St. Louis has great bones!
Institutions such as the number one rated Urban League in the country, the number one rated African-American weekly newspaper in the nation, an extraordinary health system in the BJC/ Washington University Complex, the Southside Wellness Center for our Seniors, a great community based organization in Better Family Life (BFL), the Cortex Corridor, Bayer, Washington, St. Louis and many world renowned Universities along with a stellar Historically Black College in Harris Stowe State University. We are home to the Gateway Arch, our beloved St. Louis Cardinals, the Stanley Cup Winning Blues, top ranking Zoo and our newest members being the St. Louis Aquarium, the Colossus Ferris Wheel and our new 22,500 seat MLS stadium.
St. Louis has tremendous access to railways; freight; two airports with international possibilities; major highways for trucking and is home to major corporation. We are primely positioned for business.
Our list goes on to recognize our Regional Chamber, our Regional Business Council, Civic Progress, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Bosnian Chamber, and our Asian Chamber alike.
Prior to 2016 missing from this list of great notable attributes that culminate the structure of great bones that make up St. Louis, was a business entity with a sole dedicated focus of organizing St. Louis’ black business community. The black or African American population is 45.3% and black owned businesses are major employers and revenue drivers to our economy.
The path to incorporation for the Heartland St. Louis Black Chamber of Commerce (HSBCC) was one that was strategic and expansive in its organizing. The priorities and mission were driving by the dynamics of the missing components of programs and services identified by convening the leaders of local minority driven organizations and cataloging how they serve. The HSBCC’s strategic plan was created to address the gaps in the services identified from those meetings as well as findings from listening sessions composed of business owners and members of the community at large. Once we were confident, we were not duplicating services and that there was a need for what we could offer, the HSBCC was formed. We now go about addressing the needs of businesses based on our unique Priorities.
The HSBCC organized with a strong Board of Director with over 100 combined years of corporate and business leadership. Members of the Board hold some of St. Louis strongest positions representing expertise in the following sectors: banking, legal, food and drug, utility, construction, beauty, and social services.
Our Chamber represents members in all stages of business.
What do you find most inspiring about your city?
Our city has great elasticity. Following Ferguson I was fortunate to work for then Governor Jay Nixon and I got an up close and personal perspective of the ground breaking work that had to be done to build us back stronger following a heavily watched crisis. The world watched as we formed the Ferguson Commission and the evolution of Forward Thru Ferguson and all of the many organizations, programs and partnerships that have formed since that time. Our own SLEDP was successful is putting together a five year look back cataloging success stories and accomplishments. While we recognize that we have a great deal left to accomplish we are finding more and more ways to work together everyday.
- I am inspired by our ability to grow and change and I look forward to new evolutions every day.
- I am inspired by all the land in minority neighborhoods that we can develop
- I am inspired by all of the unbanked and underbanked that we can serve
- I am inspired by our opportunities to lead by example while all eyes are looking to August, 2024 – 10 Years Following Ferguson
- I am inspired by all that I know that we can become.