Moneta Partner Peter Racen launches the UMSL Accelerate Entrepreneur of the Year Awards to celebrate entrepreneurship

Moneta Partner Peter Racen recently celebrated entrepreneurship and recognized the contributions of five outstanding individuals in the St. Louis area. The UMSL Accelerate Entrepreneur of the Year Award was established by Racen and his wife Linda to spotlight the impact of University of Missouri – St. Louis (UMSL) and UMSL Accelerate to transform lives through education and an emphasis on entrepreneurship. In addition, the award encourages UMSL alumni to join in developing opportunities to create businesses and jobs in underserved areas of the greater St. Louis community.

The event was held on Oct. 20, 2022, three days before the unexpected death of Lifetime Achievement Award Winner and retired Express Scripts Chairman and CEO George Paz. George was one of five awardees who were commended for outstanding entrepreneurial achievement, including impacting thousands of lives through the creation of jobs and opportunities for individuals to fulfill their dreams.

  • Lifetime Achievement award: the late George Paz, chairman and former CEO of Express Scripts
  • Entrepreneur of the Year award: Akeem Shannon, founder and CEO of Flipstik
  • Social Entrepreneur of the Year award: Maxine Clark, founder and former CEO of Build-A-Bear Workshop and Chief Inspirator of Delmar DivINe
  • Entrepreneur Advocate: Marc Bowers, executive director of St. Louis Makes
  • Student Entrepreneur of the Year award: Celsi Lyons, owner of Celsi’s Dog Care and UMSL student

“I firmly believe that entrepreneurship can transform communities by lifting people out of hopelessness and allowing them to use their God-given gifts and talents to serve their communities and support their families,“ Racen said. “Being surrounded by these five award-winners was truly humbling.”

Racen credits the book Practicing the King’s Economy as the catalyst for founding this award and providing a vision for what is possible when established businesses direct a portion of their profits toward job creation in underserved communities. Harnessing the power of each persons’ talents to collectively nurture and accelerate the creation of business is the overarching goal.

“UMSL transformed my life by providing a world-class education at an affordable price. I grew up in an entrepreneurial family. My grandfather, who immigrated from Russia, started our family business in 1946. UMSL equipped me to run that successful family business for 20 years, employ 120 people, sell it to a publicly traded company 24 years ago, and then start a wealth management business focused on helping other business owners with the issues we faced,” explained Racen. “I continue that mission now as a partner of the Gast Freeman Troyer Racen team at Moneta, which was ranked No. 11 among the nation’s Top 100 RIA firms by Barron’s in 2022. I am deeply grateful for the impact UMSL has had in my life as well as that of other entrepreneurs.”

The Entrepreneur of the Year committee responsible for shaping the vision for the UMSL Award includes:

  • Laura Burkemper
  • Michael Butler
  • Susan Elliott
  • Sharon Fenoglio
  • Michael Kehoe
  • Dan Lauer
  • Chelsea Nollau
  • Jim Schallom

To learn more about becoming involved in the UMSL Accelerate Entrepreneurial ecosystem, please contact Peter Racen at or Dan Lauer, UMSL Accelerate, at

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