Archetypes: Ginger Imster


An interview with Ginger Imster, a leader in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. As executive director of Arch Grants, Imster helps foster a culture of innovation and startup success in St. Louis through the booming nonprofit that attracts entrepreneurs across the globe by providing $50,000 grants and pro bono support. A native of Missouri, Imster previously served as the director of development at City Academy in North St. Louis, where she managed a $25 million comprehensive campaign in support of the school’s efforts to provide scholarships to low-income families. In 2010, she served as president of St. Louis’ Association of Fundraising Professionals, an organization for nonprofit fundraising executives. She also serves on the boards of stl250, Bellefontaine Cemetery and the Visiting Nurse Association of Greater St. Louis.

What is your current frame of mind? Hopeful.

When and where are you happiest? On water, preferably on a boat with my husband.

What is your favorite smell? Horses.

What is one word that describes you? Straightforward.

What did you eat for breakfast today? Jamba Juice Pomegranate Paradise.

What is your most marked characteristic? I’m tenacious.

What is your greatest weakness? My tenacity.

What trait do you most admire in others? Humility.

Who or what is the greatest love of your life? My husband, followed by our four kids.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My sense of time.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Still having the affection and friendship of the man I married 15 years ago.

Which living person do you most admire? I’m caught up in the leadership of Christine Legarde right now. I’m intrigued by the scale of what she is doing as the managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

With which historical figure do you most identify? I am a great admirer of Susan Blow, Margaret Bush Wilson and Dr. Kathryn Nelson—all from Missouri.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, who or what would it be? I like my life. But if I had the opportunity to do it again, I’d come back as a marine biologist.

What is your most treasured possession? Photographs and mementos of time spent with family and friends.

What is your greatest extravagance? My children.

What is your greatest fear? Outliving my children.

On what occasion do you lie? To spare another’s feelings.

Who are your favorite writers? John Irving, Mark Twain, Harper Lee and E.B. White.

Which artists do you admire most? My mother-in-law, Margery Dodson Imster, who was a painter, and my parents, Harlan and Karen Lynn, who were theater people until it became impractical to be thespians; then they became theatrical parents.

What is your favorite hobby? Gardening.

Who are your heroes in real life? I have tremendous respect for small business owners. They are the job creators and economic engines of so many communities, including St. Louis, and are unsung heroes for many families and neighborhoods. I tip my hat to first responders, single parents and servicemen and women, too.

If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be? Harry Truman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Abe Lincoln and Mark Twain would be a great cast of characters for an interesting conversation around equity, justice, corruption, compassion and humor.

What’s something interesting that you just learned? How to use Google Chromecast.

What are you most looking forward to? My children discovering their “zing.”

What is one thing you wish would happen? Educational equity, regardless of ZIP code or income.

If you could say something to your younger self, what would it be? Listen to your parents. This too shall pass. Believe in your capacity to overcome—it’s worth the fight, and you will surprise yourself.




Photo credit: Wesley Law

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