We’re pleased to announce Constance Gully, President and CEO of Parents as Teachers, and Michael McMillan, President and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, as the recipients of the 2021 FOCUS Leadership Awards.
This prestigious award, chosen by the FOCUS Board of Directors, is given annually to individuals who demonstrate committed leadership, generate a meaningful impact in the community, and encourage strong community engagement in others. The awards will be presented at the 24th Annual What’s Right with the Region celebration to be held on Thursday, May 13.
“Constance and Michael demonstrate what it means to answer the call as leaders,” says Sharon Harvey Davis, board chair for FOCUS St. Louis. “In the face of the challenges of the past year, they have not only continued to lead their organizations forward but have also adapted to better meet the needs of those they serve.”
Constance Gully started with Parents as Teachers in 2014 as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and was named President and CEO in 2017. Parents as Teachers is widely recognized for its evidence-based home-visiting/parent education model, serving nearly 200,000 families annually in all 50 U.S. states, 115 Tribal communities, and six countries, including the 250 families in the St. Louis region served directly by the National Center’s Show Me Strong Families affiliate.
Gully leads the strategic direction of the organization, while driving its continued growth and impact. At the onset of the pandemic, Parents as Teachers leveraged four years of virtual family engagement experience with its PAT@USC Telehealth pilot to swiftly pivot to virtual home visiting; they never stopped partnering with families.
In light of PAT’s experience with virtual service delivery and effective pivot, key national funders approached Parents as Teachers to take the lead in launching the Rapid Response Virtual Home Visiting Collaborative (RR-VHV) to provide best practice principles and strategies to support all home visiting professionals in maintaining meaningful connection with families during this time of increased anxiety and need. In November 2020, Parents as Teachers was awarded $5 million dollars from Enterprise Holdings as the early childhood partner in its ROAD Forward Initiative to advance social and racial equity in the communities it reaches.
Gully brings more than two decades of experience in the public and non-profit sectors to her role. She held several leadership roles, including interim president, during her 16-year tenure at Harris-Stowe State University. Gully earned a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Illinois State University, an MBA from Lindenwood University, and is a Certified Public Accountant. She was recognized as Chief Financial Officer of the Year for Large Non-profits in 2011 and Diverse Business Leader in 2016 by the St. Louis Business Journal. Her board service has included the St. Louis Zoo Association, Bi-State Development Agency, the St. Louis History Museum Sub-District, Dr. Martin Luther King State Celebration Commission for Missouri, SSM Health Foundation and LaSalle Middle Charter School. She is a member of the Enterprise Bank & Trust Clayton Advisory Board and a graduate of the FOCUS Leadership St. Louis program (class of 05-06, best class ever).
Michael P. McMillan has served as President and CEO of The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, Inc., since 2013, growing the agency from a $17 million annual budget to $35 million in 2021 with 20 locations, 55 programs and 350 staff. The St. Louis Urban League was the first affiliate of the National Urban League movement to be awarded a Five-Star Rating, which it holds to this day.
McMillan recently completed a merger with Grace Hill Settlement House, resulting in a combined $38 million infusion for Head Start/Early Start and the addition of a Women’s Business Center. In 2020, he completed acquisition of a historic former Sears department store in the heart of the African-American community and has begun a $20 million restoration project creating a new regional headquarters that will serve as a hub for the 125,000 clients served annually, as well as adding a regional cultural arts center, medical and legal clinics, a hydroponic farm and a food pantry.
Over the past year, McMillan has mobilized a record number of volunteers and public and private partners to execute the largest COVID-19 emergency relief effort in the state, raising $4.2 million and providing food, masks and supplies to more than 90,000 families. In response to the crisis in Ferguson, he created the Save Our Sons program and hosted the Urban League’s largest job fair in its history. He also envisioned and stewarded the building of the Urban League Community Empowerment Center in Ferguson, which opened in 2017.
Prior to his role with the Urban League, McMillan was the youngest person elected as a member of the St. Louis City Board of Aldermen and as License Collector. He has received hundreds of awards and commendations and was recently inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame as its youngest member. He was also named one of the Ebony Power 100 Most Influential African Americans.
McMillan is a member of the Boards of Directors of the following organizations: The St. Louis Zoological Commission; Enterprise Bank; Harris Stowe State University; The US Bank Advisory Board; The St. Louis Sports Commission; Heat Up St. Louis, Inc. (Cool Down St. Louis); The St. Louis Community Foundation; The Municipal Opera; the Greater St. Louis Area Council-Boy Scouts of America and the Workforce Investment Board of St. Louis County. He was named the 2020 Person of the Year by The St. Louis American. He is a graduate of Saint Louis University with a bachelor’s degree in African American Studies and a minor in Political Science with an emphasis in Finance. Additionally, McMillan is an Eisenhower Fellow, an American Council of Young Political Leaders alumnus and member of Eta Boulè Chapter of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Inc., 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis and St. Alphonsus “Rock” Catholic Church.
The St. Louis community is invited to join us to recognize Constance Gully and Michael McMillan for their leadership and service in our region, as well as the recipients of this year’s What’s Right with the Region and FOCUS Alumni Awards.
24th Annual FOCUS St. Louis What’s Right with the Region Awards Celebration
Thursday, May 13, 2021 · 5:00-7:00 p.m. · FOCUS Virtual Campus (online)
Past recipients of the FOCUS Leadership Award have included Otis Williams, Bob Fox, Dr. Kelvin Adams, Dr. Jason Purnell, Frankie Muse Freeman, Anna Crosslin, and Chris Krehmeyer.