By Anthony Carlsen
Special to Stlouisrams.com
ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The St. Louis Rams are one of the most civic-minded organizations in St. Louis with the goal of being a vital part of the fabric of the community 365 days a year. The success of these efforts is due largely in part to the leadership of Molly Higgins, vice president of corporate communications and civic affairs.
Growing up on a farm in northwest Iowa, sports was a big part of Higgins’ life. She said much of her childhood was spent outdoors playing sports with her brothers and cousins, and when she and the boys weren’t outside throwing the ball around, they were inside watching sports on television.
“I always prided myself on being able to hold my own with the boys when it came to sports,” Higgins said. “I was competitive whether it was on the playing field or being more knowledgeable than them when it came to player and team stats. I guess it was good training for my current position in the NFL.”
With aspirations of one day working in professional sports, she went to the University of Northern Iowa and earned a degree in public relations and a minor in marketing. She got her start in the workplace in public relations for an international company called Unigraphics Solutions that had global headquarters in St. Louis.
After a meeting with Allison Collinger, the Rams former head of corporate communications and community outreach, Higgins decided to change careers to pursue a stronger passion.
“There was something that really appealed to me about being able to combine my passion for sports with a passion to make a difference in people’s lives,” Higgins said. “I was at a point early enough in my career where I wanted to try it just because had I not, I would have probably always asked the question, ‘what if?’ So, it was a humbling experience going from a full-time job making decent money back to an internship, but it turns out I made the right decision.”
The Rams community outreach efforts bring together staff, coaches, players and cheerleaders to help positively impact the lives of children and families in the St. Louis area. Higgins is in her eleventh season with the Rams and has seized the opportunity she has to influence change since day one.
“It’s exciting to be able to help shape our off the field strategy and spearhead our community efforts,” Higgins said. “Our goal is to leverage the unique platform that we have as a professional sports organization to bring awareness to needs in the community and help amplify the good work being done in the community. We want to have a consistent presence in the bi-state region and we are continually looking for ways to partner with organizations that are already doing good work. Our hope is that with our assistance, we can further enhance their efforts and broaden their impact.”
Higgins said the Rams’ community outreach efforts have made such a profound impact due to the unanimous support from the organization. She boasted of her gratitude for the support she receives daily from the key decision makers of the team as well as personnel from top to bottom.
“I tell my staff all the time that we are only limited by our own creativity,” Higgins said. “If we can dream it, we can make it happen because we have the support from the very top – ownership, Kevin (Demoff), Les (Snead) and Coach (Fisher). I think my staff finds that invigorating. They are just as passionate about doing good as I am, so we view every day as a new opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others and create a stronger connection with this community and our fan base.”
The team has significant relationships with approximately 40 charities or non-profits, but Higgins declined to name a favorite charity, likening that to asking a mother to choose her favorite child. She did say she was exceptionally proud of some of the advances they have been able to make with partners such as United Way of Greater St. Louis, St. Patrick Center, KidSmart and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
When talking about the team’s involvement with Make-A-Wish, she said that is always a meaningful experience for her and her staff.
“We hosted Devin, a young Make-A-Wish recipient, a couple weeks ago,” Higgins said. “For the days that he was with us, he forgot about all the worries in his life. To see our players and Coach Fisher and Les (Snead) and Kevin (Demoff) and the entire organization rally around him, it just reminded me that I have the absolute best job in the world. At the Rams, it’s truly a team-oriented approach to doing good for the community, so I’m very fortunate in that regard. We all understand that while football is our primary business, wins can come in many forms even beyond game days.”
That team-oriented approach to doing good goes even beyond the Rams and reaches into Higgins’ family. Higgins’ father also gets involved in the Rams’ community outreach work, making the nine-hour trek to St. Louis each December to dress up as Santa Claus at the team’s annual Motion for Kids Holiday Party, where the Rams partner with the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis and open the doors of the Edward Jones Dome to 3,000 underprivileged kids for a day of holiday fun.
Outside the office, Higgins enjoys golfing when she can find the time, watching her nieces and nephews play sports and dining at a variety of restaurants in the St. Louis area or wherever her many travels take her.
“I’m a big foodie,” Higgins said. “I’m kind of known as the resident foodie on staff, so people will come to me when they have a big evening or a significant milestone coming up. I’m the go-to person when somebody needs a restaurant recommendation – I take great pride in that.”
Higgins could not go without one final shout out to the entire organization, thanking them for their passion and commitment to better the lives of the less fortunate.
“I’ve never been around a more philanthropic group of players,” Higgins said. “Every single one of our guys is involved in charitable efforts, and when you have such a great locker room of players looking to help out in the community that opens up a world of possibilities for my staff and me. And with so many unique resources at our fingertips, the good that we can do is infinite.”