2017 Founders Award Presentation

Editor’s note: The following is Debbie Ravel‘s speech prior to the presentation of the Founders’ Award to David Rodgers during the 2017 Expanding Knowledge Conference.

The NRTA’s Founders’ Award recognizes members who have rendered distinguished service to the association, to their respective company or to their community.

The Founders’ Award committee reviews the nominations submitted each year and makes the final determination of who should receive the award.

This year’s recipient is honored not only for outstanding service to the association, but also to their company and to their community. This year’s recipient has demonstrated, in their everyday life, the same spirit of achievement as described by our founders Paul Kinney and Moe Laliberte.

This year’s recipient has been a member of the NRTA since its inception; has presented many classes at our annual conferences; and has served on the Curriculum Committee and the Board of Directors. In 2008 he became an officer, serving as Secretary until 2014 when he became Vice President.

Our recipient has an impressive career in retail real estate. Starting out as an Accounting Clerk in Lease Compliance at Edison Brothers; advancing to a Senior Lease Administrator at Nine West Group; then to Manager of Lease Audit at Famous Footwear; next as the Director of Real Estate Management at Brown Shoe Company and is currently excelling as the Vice President of Real Estate Management at Caleres, Inc.

In 2006 he was featured in Chain Store Age magazine’s “Rising Stars: 40 under 40”. In 2011 the St. Louis Business Journal commended his community service efforts by awarding him the Diverse Business Leaders Award. He was recognized by the St. Louis Regional Chamber and St. Louis Chapter of the Urban League in 2013 with the Excellence in Business Performance Award.

Our recipient believes in giving back to his community. He serves on the board of Wyman Center, a non-profit committed to helping children from challenged backgrounds succeed through community service learning initiatives, and presides over his neighborhood association. As previous chair of the civic engagement arm of the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative, he helped organize fundraisers, clothing and gift drives, and beautification projects for local service organizations focused on underserved children.

Our recipient has shown himself to be somewhat of a Renaissance Man. Not only has he had an exceptional career in retail, he has expanded his world by opening his own coffee shop, owning a farm, and developing several residential properties for which he is a landlord.

In his spare time, our recipient is devoted to his family including his husband of 11 years, Paul, and their dog Louisa. He also helps tend to their 10 backyard chickens, 2 beehives and recently arrived box turtle, while following each and every St. Louis Cardinals game.

Did I mention he is my favorite dance partner?

Please join me in congratulating the 2017 Founders’ Award recipient: David Rodgers, from Caleres, Inc.