Staff & Trustees
Elke Buckland began her career in not for profit management in 2013 holding executive roles in both Development and Operations. Prior to her work in non profit she worked in manufacturing and supply chain management for 16 years. Elke has extensive knowledge in setting the strategy and implementing initiatives for organizational growth. Her ability to cultivate longstanding relationships, both professionally and personally, is a not only a strength but a passion. In her leadership roles Elke has managed, mentored, and collaborated with board, volunteers, and staff to help foster positive influence in the community.
While she did not know Fred Saigh personally Elke is pleased to have learned about the extraordinary impact he made in the lives of those he helped and of those who knew him, as told through stories and memories shared by Joann and Mary.
Natives to St. Louis, Elke and her husband Keith, are both proud to raise their two kids in the same neighborhoods where they grew up. The family are also active members of Ladue Chapel Presbyterian Church.
Julie has over twenty-five years of work experience with non-profit organizations throughout St. Louis. She has spent her entire career working for organizations striving to make our community better. In 2010, she decided to leverage her development, donor relations,and government relations experiences and ventured out as a development and grant-writing consultant. She served diverse populations and causes throughout St. Louis, including children’s health, special needs education, immigrants and refugees, the arts, and women’s issues.
Julie is a native of St. Louis. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas in Organizational Communications. Early in her career, Julie had the opportunity to meet Mr. Saigh. In later years, she had the pleasure of working with JoAnn Hejna and Mary Kemp through various organizations benefitting from the generosity of The Saigh Foundation.
Associate Executive Director
Mary worked in the healthcare field for 20 years as an RN specializing in geriatric and psychiatric nursing. She joined The Saigh Foundation in 2004 to assist JoAnn Hejna in the administration of the foundation. Mary feels privileged to have known Fred Saigh during the last year of his life and can attest to his kindness, generosity, and sense of humor. Her work at the foundation has helped her be more aware of the needs of the community and she is proud to have been a part of Fred’s legacy of improving children’s lives. She has two sons and three grandchildren who live in Colorado.
(from left to right) Mary Kemp, Associate Executive Director and Co-Trustees: Franklin F. Wallis, Esq., JoAnn Hejna and Heidi Veron
Mike Hejna is President & Chief Executive Officer of Gundaker Commercial Group, Inc. (GCG). With a background in real estate financing and development, his responsibilities include overseeing the functions of GCG as a company, with a primary focus on organization and capital formation of developments and joint ventures. He manages the affiliates of GCG, comprising 40 separate business entities that engage GCG’s Asset Management, Brokerage, and Development Divisions. Mr. Hejna is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, College of Business, receiving a BS in Business and Public Administration.
Mike is actively engaged in his community. His professional and community leadership roles include the following: CBC High School – Board of Directors, Retired; Centrue Bank – Holding Company Board of Directors, Loan Committee, Retired; Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce – Chairman, City Committee; Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce – Board of Directors, 2006 Chairman, Retired; Chesterfield Valley Coalition – Board of Directors, President; University of Missouri -Business/ Finance Advisory Board & Davenport Society; Webster University Business Advisory Board; Better Together, Board of Directors.
Heidi Veron has more than twenty years experience managing diverse public and private projects, from complex implementations involving multiple suppliers; to management, development and implementation of specific business programs and processes. Heidi has extensive experience managing Government projects — including business re-engineering and privatization efforts.
Heidi was born in St. Louis. After studying Marketing Communications at the University of Missouri, she went on to director positions at GTECH Corporation, Transactive Corporation, and Lockheed Martin before beginning her own consulting firm. Heidi’s success is grounded in her ability to effectively determine customer needs and conceptualize, design, build and improve processes to deliver timely and cost-effective products that meet those customer needs. Heidi’s work has touched millions of people and helped state governments save millions of dollars. She is active in the community and has served on various boards of directors including most recently the Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis.
Heidi has been a trustee of The Saigh Foundation since 2005.
Franklin F. Wallis, Esq.
Frank Wallis is an attorney specializing in wealth management legal issues, primarily estate planning, charitable giving, business constitution planning, trust company representation, international trust and tax matters, estate and trust planning and administration, transfer tax issues, and institutional fiduciary advice. An active participant in community activities, Mr. Wallis has served on the boards of directors of Opera Theatre of St. Louis, The Arts and Education Council of St. Louis, KETC Channel Nine and Dance St. Louis, the St. Louis Community Foundation, the St. Louis Art Museum, Laumeier Sculpture Park, the Duke University Estate Planning Council, and other charitable organizations. Mr. Wallis holds a special certificate from the Hague Academy of International Law, and holds degrees from Central Methodist University, Duke University and the University of London.
After serving as Fred Saigh’s trust lawyer for many years, Mr. Saigh named Frank as co-trustee of The Saigh Foundation. Mr. Wallis was not only Fred Saigh’s lawyer, but also a trusted friend.
JoAnn Hejna (1932-2019)
Founder, Executive Director and Co-Trustee
JoAnn was born in East St. Louis, Illinois. After completing her education, she started working for Fred Saigh on her 24th birthday in 1956. (She says it was the best birthday present she ever received.) Mr. Saigh had sold the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team a few years earlier and was maintaining an office for the management of his investments. JoAnn started as his administrative assistant and, in time, became his business partner and devoted friend. She remained with Fred for 44 years. Together they planned the formation of a private foundation to ensure his legacy of giving to the children of St. Louis. During the last five years of his life, he and JoAnn developed the mission, board of trustees, and structure for The Saigh Foundation. JoAnn has served as Trustee and Executive Director of the foundation since the death of Fred, at the age of 94, in December 1999. On March 5, 2016 JoAnn celebrated 60 years with Fred and the foundation. To honor the memory of Fred, JoAnn aspires to meet critical unmet needs of children in St. Louis through the contributions of The Saigh Foundation.
JoAnn was the mother of six biological sons and one chosen daughter, grandmother of 18, and great-grandmother of 18. She was active in the Methodist Church, a member of the Gateway Center for Giving, and a Partner in St. Louis Social Venture Partners. St. Andrews Resources for Seniors chose JoAnn as one of the Ageless-Remarkable St. Louisans 2007 recipients. JoAnn’s grandchildren are very proud that she threw out the first ball at a Cardinals’ game in 2010.