After 45 years of dedicated volunteerism, Pam Toder has been elected president of the Women of Achievement organization. WOA is the oldest ongoing program in the St. Louis area whose sole mission is to honor the volunteer service and leadership of women in the community.
Recognized by WOA in 2011 for her dedication to women’s health, Toder says her mother, the late Peggy Ross, has always been her inspiration. “My mother, a 2004 Woman of Achievement, taught me that you can always find a way to give of yourself and pay it forward,” Toder says.
At the age of 10, Toder’s mother survived a near-death experience in a fire. Then she watched as her mother created a scholarship at Barnes-Jewish College in honor of her nurse’s dedicated help during her two-year recovery.
“After she recovered, my mother became very involved with the Jewish Hospital Auxiliary, and I joined her when I was 22 as a volunteer photographer,” Toder says. Toder continued her volunteerism there for 25 years.
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Like her mother, much of Toder’s life has been focused on philanthropy. She served on the founding board of Gateway to Hope and was instrumental in helping the organization with Key to the Cure fundraising events to financially serve uninsured and underinsured individuals diagnosed with breast cancer.
The March of Dimes has also benefited from Toder’s fundraising efforts. She chaired the organization’s Signature Chef event three times. Little did she know at the time that the organization would make a difference in her own life. “Their research made it possible for my 4-year-old granddaughter to be carried by a surrogate and for my grandson’s lungs to be fully developed when he was born five weeks premature,” she says.
At Cancer Support Community, where she was also a founding board member, she helped the organization create support groups for people struggling with cancer. She also served on the board of The Scholarship Foundation and raised funds to provide interest-free student loans to local scholars. She co-chaired the St. Louis Press Club’s Beauty Buzz event and raised funds for media scholarships for local students, and she also serves on the Humane Society board that is celebrating its 150th anniversary this fall.
When her daughter, Paige, was in seventh grade, Toder and her friend Betty Goran started Planet St. Louis, a social group for teens. “For 13 years, we organized weekend events for students from 22 different schools that focused on inclusivity and diversity while exposing them to the St. Louis community and all it has to offer,” she says.
Pam and her husband, Craig, have been married for 44 years and live in Ladue. “Craig is extremely supportive of all that I have done,” she shares. “I am also blessed that our children, Paige and Stuart Noel, and Courtney and Spencer Toder, are philanthropic in our community.”
Spencer, who is running for the U.S. Senate, “has a clear vision on how to make people’s lives better and wants to break through much of the division that we are currently experiencing as a country,” she says.
Toder shares that Women of Achievement is proud to announce that the call for nominations is now open for 2022 Women of Achievement honorees. Visit woastl.org to learn more. The 2021 WOA event will be held virtually at 7 p.m. on Sept. 13 on Nine PBS.
An innate storyteller and award-winning photographer and writer, Alice Handelman provides Ladue News readers with a glimpse into lives that enrich St. Louis.