Muriel Smith and Missouri State Senator Brian Williams honored for work to improve children's lives through education, health care, and legislation

At a state, city, or neighborhood level, this year's St. Louis Children’s Hospital Advocacy Award recipients, Muriel Smith and Missouri State Senator Brian Williams, have dedicated their personal and professional lives to uplifting the children of our region and instilling a sense of possibility for the future through education, health care, and legislative progress.

Muriel Smith, Executive Director of St. Louis Area Diaper BankMuriel Smith is the Executive Director of St. Louis Area Diaper Bank, an organization focused on ending diaper need as well as lack of access to period supplies, called period poverty. For most of her 20-year nonprofit career, Smith has seen how inequitable distribution of resources, such as education, food, housing, and green spaces, has affected the lives of those in under-resourced neighborhoods in the St. Louis community; however, one of the things that struck her the most was these inequities impact access to basic needs that most people took for granted.

At the St. Louis Area Diaper Bank, Smith helps ensure that individuals and families in the St. Louis region have basic items to help care for themselves. In addition, she has been instrumental in creating awareness of the causes and consequences of diaper needs and period poverty in the St. Louis community. Under her leadership, the St. Louis Area Diaper Bank has increased the number of partner agencies and organizations, distributed over three million diapers annually, expanded its period supply program, and helped create the Missouri Coalition of Diaper Banks. 

Smith also is involved with several nonprofit organizations in St. Louis, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis, Family Resource Center, and North Side Community School. She serves on the Missouri Momnibus Committee, a collaboration of several dozen Black advocates across the state who have joined in their dedication to Black Maternal Health. Smith is also a member of the Mujeres and Menstruators United Coalition. 

Missouri State Senator Brian WilliamsMissouri State Senator Brian Williams represents the 14th Senatorial District in St. Louis. He grew up in Ferguson, Missouri, and is the first Black male to serve in the Missouri Senate in two decades. Senator Williams believes the best way to engage youth, protect seniors, and revitalize the community is by addressing  the often-overlooked roots of economic disparities by strengthening public schools, increasing access to quality health care, and focusing social and racial equity, and public safety. 

As a senator, Williams has created legislation giving those with sickle cell anemia access to needed pain medication prescriptions, protected individuals' MO ABLE funds for disability costs, and currently leads the Capitol's annual human trafficking awareness day. He is also a champion for reaching across the aisle to achieve consensus on tough issues such as gun control. Senator Williams regularly speaks about health care issues and sits on the Appropriations Committee, which is pivotal to how funds are distributed in the state.

In addition to his legislative duties, Senator Williams serves as a board director for People's Health Center, where he helped develop a behavioral health care center for underresourced children. He is a member of the advisory boards for St. Louis Crisis Nursery, Simmons Bank, iHeart Media, Nurses for Newborns and the University City Children's Center.

"Both Muriel and Senator Williams have significantly contributed to child advocacy, and we are grateful for their leadership and passion for making our communities better for kids and their families," said Trish Lollo, president of St. Louis Children's Hospital.

Established in 1994 by St. Louis Children's Hospital, the Advocacy Award recognizes local and state leaders who leverage their positions, resources, and influence to do what's right for kids. Other recipients have included Rebeccah Bennett, Founder and Principal of Emerging Wisdom and its subsidiary, InPower Institute; Missouri State Senator Bill White; Dr. Art McCoy, Former Superintendent of Jennings School District; Former Missouri State Representative David Wood; Dr. Reverend Starsky Wilson; Missouri State Senator Eric Schmitt; Dr. Kelvin Adams, Former St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent; Former Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis and Michael McMillan, President and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis.