Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients
Rhonda Driver '93
Distinguished Black Heritage Alumni Award
Rhonda Driver ’93 has always been passionate about health care and helping others in the underserved community. At age 15, Driver fell in love with pharmacy and decided she wanted to use pharmacy as a vehicle to make a real change in people’s lives, especially in the minority population. For the past 13 years, she has been able to fulfill her passion working at the Missouri Department of Social Services, most recently as Deputy Division Director of Clinical Policy and Operations. There she manages a staff of roughly 100 employees and serves as the lead clinical administrator for the MO HealthNet Division (MO HealthNet), the Medicaid program for the state of Missouri.
When Driver first began at MO HealthNet, the agency primarily focused on claims reimbursement. Now, under Driver’s leadership, they have designed a state-of-the-art clinical program for some of Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens, ensuring they are delivered evidence-based and clinically appropriate care. Prior to this positon, Driver worked in management at Walgreens Pharmacy, where she continues to work on a part-time basis. “It is hard to walk away from patient care,” Driver says. She also finds working at Walgreens to be beneficial to her role at MO HealthNet. “When I make changes in the Medicaid system, I get to see first-hand how the change works in a real-world setting,” she says. She adds that working for the Medicaid program has been some of the most fulfilling work of her career. “It has opened my eyes to the needs of the underserved in our state,” Driver says.
She credits her St. Louis College of Pharmacy education to her success. “STLCOP was an incredible training ground and afforded me the opportunity to follow my dreams to become a pharmacist and make a difference in this world,” Driver says. In addition to the solid foundation of pharmacy, the College taught her the necessary skills of being a critical thinker, which she accounts for much of her success. “It gave me the ability to think critically and be resilient,” she says. Driver was selected for the Black Heritage Distinguished Alumni Award because of her commitment to the community and extensive work with the Missouri Medicaid program. “I am humbled to be recognized and honored by my peers. I am grateful for the recognition from the College and the Alumni Association,” Driver says.
Art Perry '72
Distinguished Black Hertiage Alumni Award
Throughout Art Perry’s life, he has always kept his, “eyes on the prize.” Perry first stepped foot into a pharmacy at age 14 and continued to work in one while taking political science courses at Saint Louis University. After his junior year at SLU, Perry began to question if a degree in political science would allow him to provide for his family. While working at Kean Drug, Perry was encouraged by David ’52 and Bernard ’48 Kean to enter pharmacy school, “I was the first in my family to go to college,” Perry says.
Perry continued to work and support his wife and children while attending St. Louis College of Pharmacy. After graduating from STLCOP, Perry stayed at Kean Drug and was a highly favored preceptor. Later he transitioned to Eli Lilly and Co. and worked there for 19 years, where he received six promotions and was selling the company’s drugs to the U.S. government. Perry is passionate about social justice and his community. He is committed to the advancement of the pharmacy profession and ensuring the diversity of pharmacists in the St. Louis area. He is a proponent of increasing the health literacy of student pharmacists by promoting their interaction in federally qualified health clinics. He continues to work to strengthen that relationship as an instrument to advancing the skills necessary for pharmacist-patient communication.
Some of Perry’s favorite memories of STLCOP are of Drs. Haberle and Naeger, serving on the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors, and especially serving on the Colleges’ Board of Trustees and contributing to the decision for the College to stay in the Central West End. Perry was selected as the recipient of the Black Heritage Distinguished Alumnus Award because of his continued work and dedication in advancing the profession and improving the cultural competencies of the St. Louis community. “I am absolutely honored by such recognition,” he says.
Leah LaRue '10
Young Alumnus Award
Since earning her degree from St. Louis College of Pharmacy, LaRue wasted no time getting involved in pharmacy practice. She is currently employed by Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, where she has held positions in medical information, patient and product safety, and recently led the development of the medical advocacy department.
LaRue is passionate about patient safety and has led several educational initiatives to address the safe use of opioid pain medications, including issues surrounding misuse, abuse and diversion. In 2013, she was named the Industry Pain Educator of the Year by the American Society of Pain Educators and PAINWeek. She is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration degree from Webster University.
"I am very honored to have received this award from such a respected association. To me, this award serves as recognition of hard work, an inspiration for other young professionals, and a reminder that STLCOP has a sincere interest in their alumni and their continued successes."
Christopher Herndon '97/'98
Outstanding Achievement Award
As an associate professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Pharmacy and clinical assistant professor at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, Herndon cares for chronic pain patients at a large family medicine residency clinic where he trains pharmacy and medical students. Herndon mainly focuses on pain and palliative care education. He is the Co-PI for the NIH Center of Excellence in Pain Education at SIUE.
Herndon is active in the practice and serves on the Board of Directors for the Midwest Pain Society, the Clinical Practice Guidelines Committee for the American Pain Society, the Section Advisory Group on Pain and Palliative Care for the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, and the Curriculum Task Force, Pharmacy for the International Association for the Study of Pain. He is the 2006 recipient of the “Pain Champion Award” from the Alliance of State Pain Initiatives and the 2012 recipient of the “Academic Pain Educator of the Year Award” from the American Society of Pain Educators.
"I am truly humbled by this award, and can think of so many other graduates that are much more deserving. Having had academic problems during one of the years while at STLCOP, I was forced to truly reflect on my future and career goals. I’m grateful for the guidance I received by several of the faculty and owe this award to them, to those who 'took a chance' to always work hard and do the right thing, even when it wasn’t the easiest path. In all honesty, I feel this award is the direct result of the characteristics I learned while at STLCOP: perseverance, hard work, and taking risks when others may benefit. I cannot thank the alumni association enough for this incredible honor."
Alicia Forinash '00/'01
Distinguished Service to the Community Award
As an associate professor of pharmacy practice at St. Louis College of Pharmacy, Forinash practices at St. Mary’s Health Center in the Maternal-Fetal Care clinic. Her primary responsibilities include management of chronic medical conditions in high risk obstetrics. She is one of only a handful of pharmacists in North America who practice in obstetric pharmacy.
She also serves as residency director of an ASHP-accredited PGY-2 ambulatory care residency at the St. Louis College of Pharmacy and St. Mary’s Health Center. She has published several articles on women’s health and in pedagogical research. She is active in the Women’s Health PRN for ACCP, and she is also a member of the Ambulatory Care and Education and Training PRNs in ACCP. She is a member of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy women’s faculty SIG, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Organization of Teratology Information Specialists, and was elected to fellow of American College of Clinical Pharmacy. In 2013, she received the Healthcare Professional Educator of the Year award from the Saint Louis University Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Women’s Health Physician Residency program.
"I am truly honored to be recognized by my alma mater."
J. Gregory Boyer ’76
Distinguished Service to the Profession Award
Boyer is an active employee within the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). His current position is assistant executive director and director of professional degree program accreditation. Prior to his work within ACPE, Boyer held positions in pharmacoeconomic outcomes research within the pharmaceutical industry. He has also served as an independent pharmacist in Illinois and Texas. Boyer received his Masters of Business Administration from Eastern Illinois University and his Ph.D. in Health Policy and Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
"I certainly was surprised to get the notification I’d been nominated, and even more surprised to have been selected. It’s an honor to be recognized in this way, but still a surprise. Accreditation is something done behind the scenes, a necessary evil in the minds of many, so to be recognized for my role in this process is surprising."