Mark Mantovani is running for the Democratic nomination to be the next County Executive for St. Louis County. He'll provide more effective, ethical leadership for our County as well as the larger region. He brings a unique set of skills and experiences to the political arena that will challenge the status quo, unite the community and guide the region to achieve its full potential.
Mark is a proven leader, who has demonstrated a capacity for innovative, collaborative and bold leadership, but his story is not atypical in St. Louis. In fact, at its core, it is a St. Louis story with its roots both in the City of St. Louis and in St. Louis County.
Mark grew up in St. Louis, the grandson of an Italian immigrant. His father was a veteran of two wars and a paint salesman; his mother ran the household. Theirs was the quintessential middle-income American family with parents who worked hard, provided for their three children and encouraged them to reach greater heights. As a family, they knew neither poverty nor affluence. Thanks to the strengths imprinted on him by his parents and grandparents, Mark has had a stellar career as a lawyer, teacher, entrepreneur, CEO, civic and charitable volunteer. He’s been an active community leader, serving the community and those less fortunate than him as the Chairman of St. Louis’s Downtown Partnership, and on the boards of St. Louis University High School, USO of Missouri, the St. Louis Sports Commission, Boys Hope/Girls Hope International, Quincy University, the Saint Louis Zoo and other St. Louis institutions.
Mark’s family, friends, peers, and employees will tell you that he worked hard to achieve his goals; that he is honest, driven and persistent; a risk-taker, collaborator and leader, and a kind soul with a passion for St. Louis.
Here's his story...
Mark was born in St. Louis. His parents lived in a small home on Arsenal Street near the St. Louis Hill neighborhood. His dad, John, devoted his early adulthood to serving our country, reaching the rank of major in the Army during World War II and later in the Air Force, during the Korean War. In between wars, he worked for the Veteran’s Administration. Following his military career, he took a job with U.S. Paint Company where he sold paint to companies in small towns across Missouri. He continued as a commissioned traveling salesman for the rest of his career.
Mark’s father was the son of an Italian immigrant. Though he never went to college, he was smart and worked hard into his seventies. A renowned athlete as a young man, he drove beer trucks and played on company fast-pitch softball teams in front of large crowds at Carondelet Park.
Mark’s mother, Marinelle Pouyer, grew up in St. Louis, and, like many families during the Depression, she helped her mother take in sewing and laundry to earn money while her father drove a streetcar. As a young woman, she joined the Veteran’s Administration, where she met Mark’s father. They married in 1948 and started a family the next year.
Mark’s brother John F. Mantovani was born first, followed by Mark in 1954 and sister Diane. His parents built a middle-class life for their family. Mark’s mother was the glue that held them together, the conciliator. From his mother, Mark learned the importance of commitment to family and the fine art of mediation.
When Mark was 5 years old, the family moved to a ranch house in Affton where he attended Seven Holy Founders parochial school through eighth grade.
Growing up in St. Louis County, Mark believed there was nothing a kid from St. Louis couldn’t achieve. At that time, the city was the 10th largest in the country, and the region was nationally prominent in a multitude of ways. The community was a preeminent producer of cars, shoes and, of course, beer. Many of Mark’s friends’ parents were employed in aircraft manufacturing and the space program. The Arch was being built and Jack Buck and Harry Carey broadcast Cardinals’ games across most of the continent. While it was not true for every young St. Louisan in those days, to Mark, it seemed to be a time and place filled with opportunity.
Mark attributes his accomplishments, in large part, to the optimism St. Louis inspired in him when he was a youth, and he wants to help our community restore the more positive trajectory with which he grew up.
Like his father, Mark attended St. Louis University High School where he played a little basketball and football. He also was involved with student government. He worked part-time and summers at a downtown department store, frequently riding the bus to and from his job. Bus transportation also provided many a ride home after school, as did an occasional hitchhike.
Following high school, Mark attended Quincy College, where he majored in Political Science and History. While in college, he worked summers making paint, and in a chemical laboratory. He was also a Resident Assistant (to reduce college expenses), student body president and graduated with highest honors in 1976.
On August 5, 1977, Mark married his high school and college sweetheart, Patty Hofmeister, an Ursuline Academy student-athlete who hailed from Rock Hill in St. Louis County. Patty was also the product of a middle-income family. She attended the University of Missouri and graduated with a degree in medical technology. She worked in that field until 2000. She also coached high school field hockey in later years while raising their family. In fact, both Patty and Mark have been actively engaged in coaching youth sports teams over the years.
Today, Mark and Patty have been married 40 years and have three grown children and eight grandchildren, Gina Kelley, Joe Mantovani and Claire Aubel. Each returned to St. Louis after college and reside with their families in St. Louis County. Nothing makes Mark happier than having them nearby and spending time with them. He and Patty host their entire family for informal dinners every Sunday evening. They realize how fortunate they are to have all their children and grandchildren in St. Louis and believe every family should have that gift. Mark intends to help expand the regional economy and add high quality jobs to entice our young people to stay in St. Louis.
After college, Mark attended the University of Missouri Law School, graduating in May of 1979. In the summers, he clerked at a law firm in downtown St Louis and then at the Missouri Department of Social Services in Jefferson City.
Following law school, Mark went on to graduate school to study business and finance. He and Patty moved to Pennsylvania where he earned his MBA at the University of Pittsburgh. While a grad student, Mark launched his business career with Condron Associates, a new start- up company providing financial consulting to executives. Mark seized the chance to work side by side with the founder as a part-time employee while earning his MBA, and worked there full-time after receiving his degree.
Mark spent the next five years from 1980-1985 with Condron Associates where he experienced running a small business. The opportunity took him and Patty to Houston and then to the Twin Cities to open new offices. The company grew from two employees to 40 and eventually was sold to American Express. Meanwhile, by the age of 26, Mark was working with and advising CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies and catching the entrepreneur bug.
But the allure of their hometown roots and their families kept calling Mark and Patty back to St. Louis. In January 1985, Mark established his own law practice to assist individuals and family businesses through various life situations. He also conducted financial seminars for Fortune 500 companies and taught undergraduate level business and law classes at Meramec Community College, which he continued to do for the next 15 years.
In 1992, Mark joined with colleagues to form a new law firm (today known as Behr, McCarter & Potter P.C.), where he specialized in corporate and estate law. In 2000, one of Mark’s law clients who owned a small marketing business asked him to help grow the business. Mark took on the task and left the law firm (then Behr, Mantovani, McCarter & Potter P.C.) to become president and CEO of NSI Marketing Services, now Ansira.
As CEO, Mark led the company and grew the business from 50 employees to more than 800, and increased annual revenue from $5 million to more than $120 million. As it grew, the company came to be cited as one of the fastest growing businesses, and eventually one of the largest privately owned businesses, in the St. Louis region. Twice it was named as one of the fastest growing U.S. companies located in America’s inner cities.
Having served on the Board for several years, in 2010, Mark was elected Board Chairman of the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis. In this position, Mark became a champion of the region, calling for sustained improvements and building coalitions of “doers.” Through the years Mark has committed his energy and leadership to the entire St. Louis region, serving on the boards of many local organizations and advocating for growth and innovation.
While CEO, Mark instilled his philanthropic values into the heart of Ansira, encouraging employees to give back and creating a charitable and service-oriented corporate culture. Causes that help people who face cancer and search for a cure are especially close to Mark, as both he and his wife, Patty, are cancer survivors. To this day, Ansira sponsors teams and organizes a water station for Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure events.
Mark left his CEO role at Ansira in 2014 grateful for his St. Louis experiences, yet frustrated knowing that the region could be so much more. With the intent to broaden his civic service, Mark was named a Fellow at Harvard University in its Advanced Leadership Initiative where he concentrated on enhancing state and local governance. While in this program, he was encouraged to pursue public service.
Today, Mark is running as a Democratic candidate for St. Louis County Executive.
Mark believes we have a responsibility to invest in people and communities. He believes that was the kind of investment that allowed him to prosper and succeed, and that the St. Louis region can do better at innovating and providing opportunities for full, rewarding lives for all of our citizens.
“We have great strengths and a growing commitment to equity and social justice in our community that can serve as the foundation for a new century of progress. I believe we lack genuine leadership in St. Louis County and I believe with imaginative leadership, and a firm commitment to the ethical operations of our county government, we can harness the great hearts, energy and imaginations of our neighbors, friends and civic leaders to return this region to a place filled with hope and fulfilled ambitions.”