People Who Inspire: Keithen Stallings
At Monsanto Company, diversity is an integral part of its corporate culture. The global agricultural corporation is committed to attracting and retaining talented employees from a wide range of backgrounds. That’s where Keithen Stallings comes in.
Keithen does diversity outreach by forming partnerships with the Council of 1890 Land Grant Universities—a network of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) dedicated to providing educational opportunities for students through innovative scientific research and community-minded extension programs.
Monsanto offers highly-competitive paid 10-12 week summer internships and six-month co-ops in the fall and spring semester. In addition, Monsanto has recently launched scholarship and apprenticeship programs for diverse students enrolled in STEM related programs.
In his current role, Keithen manages the relationships with 21 1890 HBCUs in order to help Monsanto build a more diverse pipeline of talent.
“I love seeing our future leaders transition from being college students to young professionals. I keep tabs on them throughout their careers. I enjoy seeing them becoming leaders in their industry and going out into the community to do great work”.
From their first day working at Monsanto, students hit the ground running and become contributing members of a high performing team with meaningful responsibilities, which allows them to have a realistic look at how Monsanto works.
Candidates have the ability to make an immediate impact to Monsanto’s bottom line by applying their coursework to a variety of individual work assignments and team-based projects that closely align with their field of study. Students benefit by having access to training, networking, and professional guidance given by Keithen and his colleagues.
“My goal is to instill in the youth what it takes to be successful, [to help them understand] the virtue of hard work and most importantly to give back to the next person so that they can be successful as well, Keithen said. “I want them to look at the big picture and know that it’s not all about you. It’s about the next person. It’s about the footprint that you leave when you depart this earth.”
The most rewarding part of Keithen’s job is meeting new people and building relationships as he
travels in the Fall and Spring to different colleges and universities around the country. The most challenging part is being away from his beautiful wife, Daphne, and their 5-year-old son, Kellen.
Keithen was born and raised in East St. Louis, and now resides on the south side of St. Louis city. He counts his mother, Jean, as his greatest role model. She raised Keithen and his two brothers (one older and one younger) as a single parent.
Keithen holds a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from Illinois State University. After Keithen obtained his degree, he felt that it was important to return back to his own community in order to “expose other kids to the fact that there’s something more out there”. He has remained active in and around the St. Louis and East St. Louis area ever since.
In 2013, Keithen received the St. Louis American Salute to Young Leaders Award. Some of his past community work includes serving on the board at Harris-Stowe Child Development Center’s
Parental Board, volunteering with the United Way, Community Cuts for Kids, KidSmart Backpack Giveaway, Urban League Turkey Giveaway, and SLU Campus Kitchen. He also served as a mentor for at-risk high school students for the Urban League School to Business Program.
Keithen created the St. Louis Employment Network, an online community that assists people with
their search for employment. He has served as Chairman of the Retention Committee with NAAHR, the core leadership team with African-Americans at Monsanto, and mentors minority college students with MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences). Keithen is currently a member and sits on the board of directors of the 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis.
“There is so much work that needs to be done in the community. There are very few people doing a lot of work,” Keithen said. “I take pride in [volunteering]. My son sees me doing it. I get involved in as much as possible.”
Just as he strives to improve himself physically—he works out daily and is a vegetarian— Keithen continues to improve himself professionally. He was nominated to become a part of the Consortium for Leadership Development (CLD), which is an association of high-profile corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and educators who have joined forces to create a training program for high-potential individuals and emerging business leaders.
The program offers training modules, skill building forums and targeted leadership symposiums to cultivate the next generation of leaders. Keithen has successfully completed the program and will graduate on June 13th, 2015.