Dr. Cheryl Watkins, MBA
YWCA Metro St. Louis President and CEO
A champion for women, innovator, and strategic leader, Dr. Watkins has a proven track record of creating, managing and growing businesses in corporate, non-profit, innovation and start-up environments. Her background aligns with the vision for YWCA, and we are confident her leadership will propel the Agency to strategically grow services to support the whole woman and family under YWCA’s three pillars of safety, security and stability.
Dr. Watkins is a physician by training with an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. She has developed successful and impactful strategies that have improved organizations’ overall market positioning, profitability, operational efficiency and excellence. Her vast experience coupled with her dedication and passion to serving women are a true asset and will empower YWCA to grow and reach great heights of achievement.
Her career has spanned industries in both healthcare and biotechnology with progressive leadership roles in startups (several that she developed) to multinational organizations, successfully leading teams that have made significant impact.
For the past decade, Dr. Watkins was engaged with one of the premier organizations that founded St. Louis’ vibrant startup ecosystem, BioSTL. She began her career with BioSTL’s investment group as an Entrepreneur in Residence—working to help grow their portfolio companies. Soon after, BioSTL engaged her expertise to create and lead the successful STEM Entrepreneurial Inclusion Initiative which supports, educates, and engages women, people of color and immigrant entrepreneurs developing STEM ventures in our region. This Initiative has received national best practice awards, provided peer mentorship to other cities, and was recognized by the Obama White House for the outstanding accomplishments achieved.
This leadership role has allowed her to engage with various corporates, non-profits, government and educational institutions and other entities in various capacities in and outside of our region including invitations to board participation, regional strategic planning engagement, as well as invitations to be a speaker on local, regional and national platforms.