Ronald J. Kruszewski, chairman and CEO, of St. Louis-based Stifel Financial Corp., has been selected for membership in the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc., a nonprofit educational organization honoring the achievements of outstanding individual.
The association encourages youth to pursue their dreams through higher education. Kruszewski joins 12 other exceptional business, civic and cultural leaders from across North America in receiving 2019 honors. For more than 70 years, the Horatio Alger Award has been annually bestowed upon esteemed individuals who have succeeded despite facing adversities, and who have remained committed to higher education and charitable endeavors throughout their lives.
Born into a blue-collar family in South Bend, Indiana, Kruszewski is the second of four children. His mother was employed as a clerk at a telephone company and his father worked three jobs to support the family. In South Bend, most of his peers graduated from high school and began working in factories or at skilled trade jobs, but while not necessarily a scholar in high school, Kruszewski had a strong desire to attend college. He was admitted to Indiana University, where he paid his own way by mowing lawns and working the door at a local bar and graduated with honors.
After graduating with a bachelor's degree in accounting in 1981, Kruszewski began his career in finance as an assistant auditor for KPMG Peat Marwick in Chicago.
He soon made his way to Illinois Company Investments, where he held several leadership positions and eventually became the company's chief operating officer.
He then spent the next 10 years at Robert W. Baird & Company before accepting the CEO position at Stifel Financial Corp./Stifel, Nicolaus & Company Inc. in St. Louis. At the time, Stifel was a small regional brokerage firm, but Kruszewski recognized its immense potential. He took out a loan and put the entirety of his life savings into Stifel stock.
Today, Stifel employs more than 7,000 people across the nation and has annual revenue of approximately $3 billion. Kruszewski, who has spent more than 20 years as the head of Stifel, is one of the longest-tenured CEOs of a publicly traded company in the financial services industry.
"From a young age, Ron was self-motivated to chase success, a quality that we have seen in so many of our outstanding Scholars," said Matthew Rose, president, Horatio Alger Association and 2013 Horatio Alger Award recipient. "Rather than enjoying only personal success, Ron has remained committed to selflessly extending his good fortunes to create positive change for so many. We are proud to welcome Ron into our Association."
Kruszewski is the chairman of the American Securities Association, sits on the Federal Advisory Council and serves on the boards of Saint Louis University, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Foundation. He is actively involved in many national non-profit organizations, with a specific interest in healthcare, including Barnes Jewish Hospital, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, American Liver Foundation, Arthritis Foundation and March of Dimes. Mr. Kruszewski is an avid supporter of the arts, specifically through his fundraising for the Center of Contemporary Arts, St. Louis Art Museum and St. Louis Symphony. In the same spirit of the Association, Stifel's scholarship program, The Fabric of Society, awards thousands of dollars each year to 50 high school seniors in need of financial aid.
"I've been fortunate in my career to work alongside smart, talented and generous people who have cultivated my skills and supported my goals," said Kruszewski. "Receiving this award and becoming a member of this prestigious Association is an accomplishment that is unmatched by any other honor I've received. I look forward to meeting the incredible Horatio Alger Scholars and supporting their dreams – just as others have done for me."
Through its members, Horatio Alger Association aims to educate young people about the limitless opportunities afforded to them by the free-enterprise system. To further this mission, the organization awards scholarships to outstanding high school students who are committed to pursuing higher education and giving back to their communities. Like Association Members, Horatio Alger Scholars have faced significant adversities, but have also displayed unmatched resilience in overcoming their challenges. Since the scholarship program was established in 1984, Horatio Alger Association has provided more than $159 million to students in need, all of which has been funded solely through the generosity of Association Members and friends.
"Mr. Kruszewski's evolution from an ambitious young adult into a successful, altruistic businessman is a wonderful depiction of the Horatio Alger story," said Terrence J. Giroux, executive director, Horatio Alger Association. "He forged his own path and created the life he desired, all while caring for those he met along the way. For our Scholars, Kruszewski will serve as a great model as they too work to not only develop into successful people, but truly good people."
Kruszewski and the Member Class of 2019 will be formally inducted into the Association on April 4-6, 2019, during the Association's 72nd Horatio Alger Award Induction Ceremonies in Washington, D.C. The annual three-day event honors the achievements of both Members and National Scholars, affording both groups the opportunity to meet and interact as well as exchange stories of hardships and triumphs.
For more information about Horatio Alger Association and its Member Class of 2019, visit www.horatioalger.org.