Olin alum named to head STL’s Regional Business Council

  • February 20, 2024
  • By WashU Olin Business School
  • 2 minute read

Karen Branding, EMBA 2003 and a former leader of WashU Olin’s marketing and communications department, was named president and CEO of St. Louis’ Regional Business Council, effective May 1.

Branding succeeds Kathy Osborn, the 25-year leader of the organization, a consortium of more than 100 executive presidents and representing more than 100 of the region’s largest companies located throughout the 16-county bi-state region.

This report is an edited excerpt of the RBC’s news release.

Branding has spent the past 13 years as senior vice president for external engagement and corporate communications for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

In her new role, the St. Louis native will manage all day-to-day operations of the Regional Business Council and continue to expand the scope and depth of the organization’s community initiatives and funding. She will receive transition support from Osborn.

I'm honored to take the helm of such a prestigious organization—one whose mission, vision and values are central to our community's progress on so many levels.  

Karen Branding

“Kathy has done an incredible job to boost the business, civic and philanthropic investment in the region and building on this foundation will continue to be the single greatest priority of the organization,” Branding said in the RBC's statement.

The RBC has worked diligently to improve the quality of education for all children, founded unique talent and workforce initiatives and has fundamentally changed how the region views, attracts and retains talent. In addition, the organization has developed and funded a broad range of programs to reduce violent crime through supporting and funding innovative enforcement, intervention and prevention programming.

Alaina Maciá, BS 1998/MBA 2002, serves as RBC board chair and chief executive officer of MTM Inc. She said the RBC members recently developed a focused and principle-driven vision that will be integrated into its business, civic and philanthropic efforts as the organization continues to advance equity, drive progress and transform the region.

Prior to her work at the Federal Reserve, Branding served as associate dean of marketing and communications at WashU Olin from 2007 to 2010. She was with Anheuser-Busch for 15 years, serving as chairman, president and CEO of its Busch Creative Services subsidiary; corporate vice president of Busch Entertainment Corp.; and director of corporate communications for the parent company.

In addition to her WashU MBA, Branding earned her bachelor’s degree in public administration from Drake University and a master’s degree in public affairs from Indiana University.

“Karen brings an incredible amount of expertise and talent to the position that will further allow us to expand RBC’s work within the community and continue to realize our vision for a better region,” Maciá said. “She also follows a woman of leadership and conviction, an unwavering champion of the St. Louis region, in Kathy Osborn.”

About the Author

Washington University in Saint Louis

WashU Olin Business School

Firmly established at the Gateway to the West, Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis stands as the gateway to something far grander in scale. The education we deliver prepares our students to thoughtfully make difficult decisions—the kind that can change the world.

Contact Us

For assistance in finding faculty experts, please contact Washington University Public Affairs.

Monday–Friday, 8:30 to 5 p.m.

Sara Savat, Senior News Director, Business and Social Sciences


Kurt Greenbaum,
Communications Director

Twitter: WUSTLnews