United Way recognizes Donald M. Suggs’ years of community service

Oct 1, 2020

United Way of Greater St. Louis honored Donald M. Suggs, publisher and executive editor of The St. Louis American and president of the St. Louis American Foundation, with the 2020 Freeman-Kortkamp Award for his years of service in the St. Louis region.

Suggs has a long history with United Way, including serving on its Executive Committee and as a member of the de Tocqueville Society. Suggs was also a founder of United Way’s African American Giving Initiative in 1994 which, now known as the Charmaine Chapman Leadership Society, remains one of the most successful African-American giving groups in the country.

“Dr. Suggs is truly a trailblazer, a champion for civil rights, the arts and civic affairs,” said Michelle Tucker, president and CEO of United Way of Greater St. Louis. “His dedication to our community has been unwavering. We are pleased to honor Dr. Suggs for his longstanding commitment to helping people through his leadership in the community and work with United Way.”

The Freeman-Kortkamp Award was created to honor the outstanding service and performance of a United Way of Greater St. Louis board member who makes the community a better place to live, work and thrive. The award was first given in 2006 to Robert O. Kortkamp and Frankie M. Freeman, two longstanding United Way volunteers who made an incredible impact on the organization and community.

Suggs was born in East Chicago, Indiana, and went on to become the chief of oral surgery at Dover Air Force Base and the first African-American to serve as an associate clinical professor at St. Louis University Dental School. Active in the Civil Rights Movement, he served as chairman of the Poor People’s March on Washington in 1968. Later, he founded the African Continuum, which brought non-commercial African-American artistic endeavors to St. Louis, and he became the first African-American to serve as president of the Convention and Visitors Bureau of St. Louis (now Explore St. Louis).

He is currently publisher and executive editor of The St. Louis American, Missouri’s largest weekly newspaper, and president of The St. Louis American Foundation.

In addition to his work with United Way, Suggs is very active in the St. Louis community, serving on a variety of business, civic and nonprofit boards. He currently serves as a board member for Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Forest Park Forever, Nine Network of Public Media, Opera Theatre St. Louis, Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis Regional Chamber, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis and others.

Additionally, Suggs was previously awarded the 2004 St. Louis Citizen of the Year Award, Leadership Award from FOCUS St. Louis, Press Club of Metropolitan St. Louis Media Person of the Year, National Newspaper Publishers Association Publisher of the Year, inducted into the Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame and other honors.

United Way of Greater St. Louis mobilizes the community with one goal in mind — helping people live their best possible lives. Located throughout 16 counties in Missouri and Illinois, United Way helps people in the region build a foundation for a good quality of life through basic needs, financial stability, education, health and strong communities.

For more information or to donate, contact (314) 421-0700 or visit www.HelpingPeople.org.