50 Most Intriguing Women: Shuntae Shields Ryan
Words by: Ashley Winters
When you think of the word community, what do you envision? Is it a neighborhood filled with houses, a park down the street, or a market on the corner? Possibly, kids riding their bikes seeing who can go the fastest. Or, is it person who takes the word community and puts it into action for the greater good of our youth? Well to be honest, I see both because you can’t have one without the other.
Shuntae Shields Ryan is a “community”. She’s a wife, mom, servant leader, gives love, mentorship and teaches life lessons, all while communicating to St. Louis City & County families the services offered to their youth at a space solely designed for them, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis. As the Vice President of Marketing & Communications for the Greater St. Louis Boys & Girls Clubs, Shuntae uses her talents and skills to keep this organization at the forefront of our communities. In a profession that requires all of you, Shuntae Shields Ryan is the perfect fit.
After graduating from the University of Missouri Columbia with her degree in English and a minor in Atmospheric Sciences (Meteorology), Shuntae’s plans didn’t exactly map out the way she intended when she realized moving out of state to pursue being a Meteorologist didn’t fit in with her future endeavors, she knew she wanted to go back home to St. Louis, and serve within her community.
Fresh out of college in 1994, after serving as an HR recruiter for AT&T, Shuntae landed at Downtown Incorporated, a non-profit organization that had been newly revamped and was looking for fresh ideas in the Marketing and Communications department. She attributes the knowledge she has learned in Marketing and Communications and, her extreme commitment to professionalism to her very first boss at Downtown Incorporated. She also notes that EVERY door that has opened for her then and now has truly been a blessing. Shuntae has served at the Boys & Girls Clubs for four years now, but how she got there is a one of a kind journey. As she was at a crossroads at Downtown Incorporated, they were facing challenges concerning the youth in that area in regards to community centers not being accessible to them. At a networking event, she met the President of the Boys & Girls Clubs, Dr. Fowler and, connected with him on her willingness to volunteer her time with his organization to provide outlets for the youth in that area. After serving on the Marketing Committee for the Clubs for a few years, Shuntae knew a transition was in order, and that her passion had finally met up with her purpose, to her it was all a part of God’s plan.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis has ten locations in both the City and County of St. Louis, are in every major school district and they work with kids starting at elementary school all the way up through high school graduation; providing after school, summer, teen, mentor, job skills, and sports programs. Shuntae feels her work is intentional, as she’s building up the community through our youth. But, like most non-profits there can be challenges that many corporate companies wouldn’t understand. One of the main challenges always on Shuntae’s mind from an outreach perspective is being able to reach people on a larger scale, as it’s tough when trying to reach every parent and every child to let them know all that’s available to them at a Boys & Girls Clubs where they provide opportunities to kids and teens who wouldn’t otherwise have them.
Yet, Shuntae will continue to fight the good fight. She wakes up every day motivated and inspired to create new ways to reach the youth in our area. She will continue to overcome hurdles by building and connecting partnerships throughout St. Louis and making sure the Boys & Girls Clubs becomes a house hold name. It’s her desire to stay and grow within non-profit organizations where she values the work that is being done, and feels it’s her way of knowing she is intentionally giving back. Through her and the teams work the Boys & Girls Clubs, they provide every child the opportunity to reach their full potential, armed with the tools and knowledge to make a difference in their own lives and this great nation! That is what makes her job easy and heart happy – to know the leadership team that she works with are all passionate about serving our youth.
Next for Shuntae, is to always be that positive role model in a young person’s life, work to make an impact on the community she was born and raised in, to pass on the wisdom of finding what you are passionate about and being willing to serve. As she keeps striving to be that community for young people, I can guarantee something big is around the corner!