Kerri Roberts on WWU campus

Alumni You Should Know: Kerri Roberts ’11, CEO of Salt and Light Advisors, Columbia, Missouri

After 20 years of building a career working in the business of others, Kerri Roberts decided to invest in someone else this Spring – herself!

The Center, Missouri native who earned her Master of Business Administration from The Woods in 2011 had used her expertise in operations and human resources to bolster organizations for two decades. But then in April 2023 she saw the light, so to speak, forming her own company called Salt and Light Advisors, a consulting and advisory firm providing operations and human resources services to companies around the globe.

“In 20 years of working for others, I loved seeing how different industry leaders chose to make their own paths,” Roberts said. “I felt like I was able to learn from and alongside some of the best of the best and felt ready to bring what I learned and apply it to my own business. Salt and Light was born while sitting in a silence and solitude retreat recently. I want to bring Salt (wisdom, knowledge, experience, perspective) and Light (hope, energy, and rays of professional sunshine) to the business community.”

Kerri Roberts headshot

Roberts’ foray into owning a running her own firm was a step away from what had already been a highly successful career, including working in a Magnet healthcare environment, a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award-winning company, a Fortune 100 Best Workplaces mortgage operation, a stint in public higher education and then on operations in the insurance industry.
She’s been named to the 2021 and 2022 Hot 100 and 2022 Elite Women by Insurance Business America, Top 20 Under 40 by CoMo Magazine and listed as Women in Power, Women Who Move the City and Women of Excellence by local publishers.

And then the same month she started Salt and Light Advisors, her alma mater of William Woods recognized her with the Graduate and Professional Alumni Award during Alumni Weekend 2023, one of the top alumni awards WWU bestows annually.

“It was a surprise and an honor,” Roberts said. “I’ve enjoyed maintaining my relationship with the university over the years, coming in to talk to students about business, mentorship and growth. I respect the leadership of the University and look forward to continuing to be an ambassador for years to come.”


Like so many working professionals, Roberts was already well into her career when she made the decision to attend The Woods in 2009.

“I chose WWU because I was working full-time and wanted to remain employed while getting my Master’s,” she recalls. “William Woods had a location in Columbia (Mo.) which was perfect for me, and I obtained my MBA in 2011.”

“I loved the real-life application in the MBA program at William Woods,” she continued. “I had professors who were active business men and women and it was a great shift from the traditional professors I had during undergrad. And being able to complete the program in less than two years while continuing to work full-time made it a no-brainer.”

After earning her MBA, Roberts’ career took her through high-profile positions at Veterans United Home Loans (Director of Learning and Development), the University of Missouri System (Human Resources Director), TIG Advisors (Chief Operating Officer) and Keystone Agency Partners (Vice President of Partner Operations). Each step helped enhance her professional experience as she prepared to make the big step to establishing her own firm.

“The biggest blessing has been having peers in business reach out to me and ask if we can talk about working together,” she said. “I pictured entrepreneurship starting out as hounding folks to give me a shot. I am grateful for the businesses who have been open to collaboration and have helped me to move into the next season of my professional life.”

So now that next season involves running Salt and Light Advisors. Based in Columbia, Missouri, where she lives with her husband and son, Roberts serves the gamut of roles for her client companies.

“I have a client list that spans across mergers and acquisitions, insurance companies, medical spas, law firms, retail and non-profits, with some other companies in the pipeline,” Roberts said. “I act as an outsourced Chief Operating Officer, Chief Human Resources Officer or Chief Marketing Officer, depending on the contract. Some clients keep me on retainer, some I work with on a regular basis, and some are project-based.”

It might seem like running a one-person business from scratch is like drinking from a fire hose, but if anyone is suited to making it a success, it is Kerri Roberts.

“Right now, being newer, I’m building out all my tools as resources on demand, so I rarely have something I can easily pull from as a I create,” she said. “In the future, this will get easier as I have more repeatable processes. That said, I plan to always treat each client as unique because no two businesses have the same values, people or goals.” The same could be said for professionals. But clearly, Kerri Roberts is one person who has the right values and goals to succeed, which she has already proven in her career as it moves on to a new business horizon.