FOCUS St. Louis honored 20 organizations and initiatives that have made the St. Louis region a better place to live and work at its 17th Annual What’s Right With the Region!, Wednesday, May 7, 2014, the Sheldon Concert Hall. More than 700 people attended the sold-out program that netted over $140,000 to further FOCUS’ work of developing leadership, influencing policy, and promoting community connections to strengthen the region.The event marked an uplifting regional celebration considered more meaningful because awardees are nominated by citizens from throughout the region.

A highlight of the evening came with the presentation of the board-designated FOCUS St. Louis Leadership Award to Chris Krehmeyer, President and CEO of Beyond Housing. On account of his tireless enthusiasm for collaboration, positive attitude, and innovative solutions, Krehmeyer has become a model for courageous leadership and inspires us to ask, “What can we do for our communites?”

After growing up in University City, Krehmeyer graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in urban planning. Since 1993, Chris has served as the President and CEO of Beyond Housing, a community development organization dedicated to helping entire communities become better places to live through affordable housing and comprehensive resources for families and individuals.

Under his leadership, Beyond Housing focuses on enhancing all factors that produce a thriving community: housing, health, employment, economic development, and strong families. In addition to owning and managing 415 family and senior low-income rental homes, Beyond Housing provides financial education, foreclosure intervention, savings programs, and youth development programs.

Krehmeyer and Beyond Housing’s vision have spurred remarkable changes in Pagedale, MO. They led efforts to construct the city’s first supermarket in more than four decades and influenced the opening of Midwest BankCentre, its first full-service bank.They operate the Pagedale Family Support Center, built low-income housing for seniors, and currently are working toward opening a health clinic and movie theater in the same area.

Beyond Housing also directs the collective impact initiative Vision 24:1, which addresses the serious challenges facing the 24 municipalities comprising the Normandy School District. Beyond Housing convenes a wide range of partners to expand its successful Pagedale strategies to serve the 40,000 residents in the district. As Krehmeyer acknowledges, “None of us have the capacity to do it alone.”

Kathy Osborn, Executive Director, Regional Business Council, and Larry Otto, President, Bank of America-Missouri, served as the co-chairs. Fox 2 late morning co-anchor Elliot Weiler handled the master of ceremonies duties. Lead sponsors included Bank of AmericaEdward Jones, the Regional Business Council, and Monsanto. Underwriters represented Wells Fargo Advisors and Falk Harrison+; meda partners comprised Fox 2St. Louis Public Radio, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and KPLR 11.

Besides the Leadership Award, FOCUS St. Louis honored organizations and initiatives each in four categories: Demonstrating Innovative SolutionsFostering Regional CooperationImproving Racial Equality and Social Justice, and Promoting Stronger Communities. The list of respective awardees follows: The BEACH Project, Caring for Kids, Kids Vision for Life St. Louis,Operation Food Search, Safe Connections; Behavioral Health Network of Greater St.  Louis, BioSTL, Great Rivers Greenway-Centennial Greenway, St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, St. Louis Integrated Health Network;The Ethics Project, Loyola Academy of St. Louis, New Life Enterprises-Project Graduation, PROMO, Shalom House; and Epworth Children & Family Services, Gateway Greening, Gateway to Better Health, Logos School, Mid-East Area Agency on Aging

FOCUS St. Louis comprises the region’s premier leadership organization. The nonprofit develops and connects diverse leaders from public, private, and civic sectors, and empowers them to work together to build a thriving St. Louis community. FOCUS offers a continuum of leadership programs to engage leaders, from high school students to senior executives. Program alumni have been inspired to launch new nonprofits, start businesses, and run for political office.