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Turning Point Public Affairs
Melanie Abrajano serves as Vice President of Turning Point Public Affairs, a St. Louis based political and legislative consulting business. In addition to providing political and government affairs expertise for Turning Point's clients, Melanie is responsible for running the day-to-day operations of the Missouri Club for Growth and managing the Club's political action committee. In this capacity, Melanie strategically advises campaign staff and elected officials at all levels of government. During the 2008 Presidential election cycle, Melanie served as the Political Director for the McCain-Palin campaign in Missouri, leading a team of campaign professionals and helping secure the presidential campaign's only victory in a targeted state. Her previous positions include Midwest Field Director for the American Road & Transportation Builders Association; Executive Director of Congressional and Public Affairs - Great Lakes Region of the United States Chamber of Commerce; and Regional Political Director at Associated Builders and Contractors. Melanie received her Bachelor of Arts degree in political science with a concentration in political communications from Ohio University. She currently resides in St. Louis City with her husband, Todd and their son, Evan.
As a Policy Analyst in the Government Relations Department at BJC HealthCare in St. Louis, Courtney Anvender researches current trends and developments in health care policy to understand how health care reform impacts the BJC HealthCare system and its 13 hospitals in Missouri and Illinois. In addition, Courtney monitors health care debates and legislation on the local and national levels to ensure that the formation of public policies best align with BJC's priorities. She serves as an advocate for BJC HealthCare's legislative and policy priorities by regularly meeting with lawmakers in Jefferson City, Springfield, Illinois and Washington, D.C.
Administrative Hearing Commission
Alana Barragán-Scott was appointed to the Administrative Hearing Commission by Governor Jay Nixon in December, 2012, after serving for three years as the director of the Department of Revenue. Previously, she served as the department's deputy director and general counsel. She also served in the Missouri Attorney General's Office for 15 years, and held the position of senior counsel for special litigation, in which she focused on complex litigation and appeals. Barragán-Scott received a Best Brief Award from the National Association of Attorneys General for excellence in brief writing in the U.S. Supreme Court's 2001 term. She obtained both her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Missouri, and also served as an adjunct professor for the law school from 2004 to 2009.
Serving Ascension Health as Senior Director, Communications, Caroline Battles leads alignment of the organization’s strategy for communications, advocacy and community health across its 39 Health Ministries (hospitals, health systems and clinics) in 24 states and the District of Columbia. Caroline is responsible for the organization’s external communications strategy, guiding public acceptance of its efforts to transform healthcare with an emphasis on providing access to vulnerable populations. Caroline brings to her role significant experience in the political, public and philanthropic sectors, most recently serving as Chief of Staff for U.S. Representative, Russ Carnahan. In this role, she led operations, managing three offices and providing strategic counsel on communications, outreach, policy position and the political environment. Previously, Caroline was the director of public policy for the Missouri Foundation for Health, where she developed and implemented a comprehensive government relations plan and a multi-year strategy resulting in a state-wide consumer advocacy organization. Caroline has a master’s degree in business administration from Washington University in St. Louis, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
City of St. Peters
Lisa Bedian is the Communications Director of the City of St. Peters, Missouri, where she manages internal and external communications for the City, special events, website content and cable television channel operations. She joined the City in 2003 and since then, the Communications Department has been recognized with nine national cable programming awards and five national print publication awards. Before coming to St. Peters, Bedian was the Director, Communications at Ascension Health, the nation’s largest nonprofit hospital system. She is an Emmy-award winning broadcaster with nearly ten years’ experience at KSDK-TV as their Community Relations Director. Prior to her work at KSDK, Bedian was the chief-of-staff for the late Mel Carnahan when he held the office of Lieutenant Governor of Missouri. She also worked at Jewish Hospital as their public relations and special events manager. She has sixteen years of full and part-time experience in television and radio sports broadcasting as a producer, reporter, hockey analyst and talk show host, including six years with CBS in St. Louis and New York. An active community volunteer, she serves on the boards of Doorways Interfaith Housing, MOSAICS (Missouri Festival for the Arts) and the advisory board of the Gateway (formerly St. Louis) Journalism Review. She volunteers with the FIRST Robotics Competition and is a member of the St. Louis Sports Commission and Sports St. Charles County. She has an M.A. in Marketing from Lindenwood University and B.A. in Political Science from the University of Missouri St. Louis where she was named an outstanding alumnus of the Political Science department in 2000.
Brenda Bethman, Ph.D,
University of Missouri-Kansas City
Brenda Bethman, Ph.D., has served as director of the UMKC Women’s Center since January 2007. She also holds appointments as Acting Director of the Women's & Gender Studies Program, Affiliated Faculty in German in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, and as Adjunct Graduate Faculty. Before landing at UMKC, she worked as the Director of the Women's & Gender Equity Resource Center at Texas A&M University and in a variety of graduate positions at the DEFA Film Library at UMass Amherst. Brenda has presented and published on altac careers, social media, assessment, women's leadership, women’s literature, Austrian literature, and feminism in a variety of venues. She serves on the Modern Language Association's Committee on Academic Freedom, Rights, and Responsibilities and is also a co-founder and facilitator of the #femlead chat on Twitter.
Missouri Supreme Court
Judge Patricia Breckenridge was appointed to the Missouri Supreme Court in September, 2007. She began her judicial career at the age of 25, when she was appointed Associate Circuit Judge of Vernon County. Breckenridge was a member of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District before becoming the third woman on the current Supreme Court, setting a new record. She served as Co-Chair of the Missouri Gender Fairness Implementation Committee, a member of the Missouri Task Force on Gender and Justice and was a Council of State Government’s Toll Fellow. Judge Breckenridge earned a B.S. degree and a law degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She is a Fellow of the American Bar Association, and has been the recipient of several awards including honors from the Women Lawyers of Greater St. Louis in 2008, and the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law’s Citation of Merit in 1996.
Mary Grace Bruntrager,
2011 Shear Fellow
Mary Grace graduated from Truman State University this May (2013) with a BA in History. After participating in the Leadership Academy in 2011, she studied abroad in Rome, Italy, and later interned on Rep. Stacey Newman’s successful re-election campaign for the Missouri House. This fall, Mary Grace will be joining the City Year Corps in Chicago. City Year promotes community activism for the students in hopes of combating high school drop out rates. She will be tutoring 7th through 9th grade for one year.
Retired Circuit Judge
Judge Burger retired from the bench in 2008 after 13 years as a Circuit Judge for the Twenty Second Judicial Circuit (1995-2008). She was the trial judge for many complicated civil cases including multi-week trials and one trial lasting three months. In 1997, she was appointed to sit on the Missouri Supreme Court to hear cases as a special judge. She was Presiding Judge for the St. Louis Drug Court for two years; Truancy Court Judge at Roosevelt High School for four years. Before becoming a judge, she practiced law for nineteen years; first as a prosecutor for four years with the Juvenile Court and then as an Assistant Circuit Attorney. For the next fifteen years, she practiced law with small firms or in solo practice. She served as a Hearing Officer for the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners during that time.
UMSL Office of Equal Opportunity
Deborah J. Burris is the Director and Chief Diversity Officer of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity at the University of Missouri - St. Louis. In this capacity, she provides administrative leadership for equal opportunity and diversity for UMSL and counsels the chancellor, senior administrators, faculty, staff and students concerning equal opportunity issues. She brings to her position over 30 years of higher education experience working in student development, human resources and equal opportunity/diversity administration. Advancing opportunities for women and other underrepresented groups has been at the core of her career. She currently serves as co-chair of the Chancellor’s Cultural Diversity Council. Ms. Burris earned a Master of Education in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis from the University of Missouri Columbia and an undergraduate degree from St. Louis University in Organizational Development. She also holds a Chancellor’s Certificate in Human Resource Management from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Ms. Burris is actively involved in professional and community service. She was received an “Unsung Hero Award” from the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. in March 2013. She served two terms as the second vice president of the American Association for Affirmative Action (AAAA). She is a member of the American Association of University Women, St. Louis City chapter (AAUW) and served as the founding president of the Rolla Area Business and Professional Women organization.
Retired Educator and Diplomat
Sharon Carper had two full careers of twenty years each, as a teacher and then as a diplomat. She began her teaching career in Normandy Schools, St. Louis and finished teaching English and Social Studies at Principia Upper School, St. Louis. More recently she has been on the faculty at Principia College for the adult Summer Sessions and Autumn Session programs. She joined the Foreign Service in 1989, working for the U.S. State Department in U.S. Embassies overseas, serving in many parts of Africa as well as South America. She also traveled for the State Department in India. Carper’s areas of expertise include Refugee Affairs and Immigration, Children's Issues and International Adoptions, American Citizen Services and Passports, and Public Affairs (writing and speaking on behalf of the State Department). She accompanied her husband, Jeremy Carper, on two Fulbright scholarships abroad, in Krakow Poland and Amman, Jordan. Carper is a graduate of Principia College where she studied history and education. She has a MEd in Education from the University of Missouri, St. Louis with additional graduate studies at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Massachusetts and Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. While she and her husband were Foreign Service officers serving in U.S. Embassies in Africa, they adopted four children, two brother-sister sets. Today Carper has five grandchildren...in her family are five languages that are not English!
Deptartment of Veterans' Affairs
Schnell Carraway is employed with the Department of Veterans Affairs, as a Subject Matter Expert for the Post 9/11 GI-Bill. She serves on the Committee of Waivers and Compromise for the St. Louis Regional Processing Office, where I assist veterans and all interested parties in debt resolution and audits of their education benefits. Carraway graduated from Southern IL University-Carbondale with a Bachelor’s degree in Workforce Education & Development and graduated from Webster University with a dual-Master’s degree in Human Resource Development and Management & Leadership. She was selected into the VA’s EXCEL to leadership program for the FY2013 and also qualified as a semi-finalist for the 2013 Presidential Management Fellows Program for the Federal government.
Saint Louis University School of Law, former Director of Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
Margaret Donnelly is a Health Law Practitioner-in-Residence at the Saint Louis University School of Law. Prior to joining the law school, Donnelly served as Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, an appointment made by Governor Jay Nixon on January 12, 2009. As director of DHSS, she served as the state's top public health official and oversaw a budget of $1 billion, with responsibilities ranging from planning Missouri's response to disasters to inspecting hospitals and child care centers to supervising programs that allow seniors and people with disabilities to live independently. Donnelly served in the Missouri House of Representatives from 2003-2009. She focused much of her work on the state budget and issues relating to families, seniors and health care. She served as ranking member of the Appropriation Committee and the House Budget Committee. Prior to her work in the public sector, Donnelly was an attorney in private practice for 20 years. She was a member of the Ferguson-Florissant School Board from 1986 to 1992, including one term as president of the board. From 1991 to 1992, she was chair of the Commission for Abused Women and Children, which established the first domestic violence shelter in St. Louis County. She was a member of the METRO Board of Commissioners from 1999 to 2002 and the board of directors of Beyond Housing from 1981 to 1984. Previously, she served on the board of directors of the Family Support Network. A 1988 graduate of St. Louis University’s law school, Ms. Donnelly earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from the same university in 1975 and 1977, respectively.
Advantage Capital Partners
Deborah Dubin is Vice President at a venture capital firm that invests in low income communities nationwide. She is an attorney, an educator and an advocate. Ms. Dubin has extensive public affairs, community relations and campaign experience, having worked on a number of local, statewide and national efforts. She has also held senior positions as legal counsel and policy aide to several elected officials, and she has worked as an attorney in private practice. Ms. Dubin is a graduate of the CORO Foundation 'Women in Leadership' program, and was appointed by the Missouri Governor to the AmerenUE Community Development Corporation, a 9-member state board charged with distributing $9 million in funds for economic development. Ms. Dubin has served as an adjunct faculty member at Washington University in St. Louis since 2003, teaching a course on the nexus between business and public policy. She earned her undergraduate degree, magna cum laude from Harvard College and a Juris Doctorate from University of California at Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law. She resides in Clayton, Missouri with her husband and two sons.
Jo Ann Emerson,
former Congresswoman and CEO, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
Jo Ann Emerson became the fifth CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in March, after serving eight-plus terms in the United States House of Representatives, representing Missouri’s 8th Congressional District. When she resigned her seat, she was the longest-serving member of Missouri’s Congressional delegation. First elected to finish her late-husband, Bill’s, eighth term in 1996, Emerson was the first Republican woman elected to Congress from Missouri. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Emerson was the Chair of the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee and also served on the Agriculture Subcommittee and Legislative Branch Subcommittee. She was a founding member of the Bipartisan Congressional Retreat, whose mission is to foster better relations in Congress with Members from each party. Emerson earned a B.A. in political science from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1972, and pursued an active career in public affairs and grassroots communications. She has served as the Senior Vice President of Public Affairs for the American Insurance Association, as Director of State Relations and Grassroots Programs for the small-business oriented National Restaurant Association, and as Deputy Communications Director for the National Republican Congressional Committee. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, based in Washington, DC, is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states, including Missouri.
American Association of University of Women (AAUW)
Karen is a retired social studies teacher and middle school counselor in the Pattonville School District, and a high school administrator at Eureka High School in the Rockwood School District. After 34 years in education, she is currently Co-President of the Ballwin-Chesterfield Branch of AAUW, and a member of the National AAUW Leadership Corps. She was a working mom throughout her professional career and shares that when she made the decision to return to teaching, she had never known another professional who returned to work after having a baby. She holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Missouri – St. Louis in Counseling and a Specialist in Educational Leadership and Administration from Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. Prior to ‘finding’ AAUW, she volunteered with Legal Advocates for Abused Women (LAAW) and CASA – Court Appointed Special Advocate for St. Louis County Family Court. American Association of American Women – AAUW gives her the opportunity to use her leadership skills to support the mission of AAUW – “AAUW advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research”. $tart $mart is just one of the programs that Karen actively supports as component of AAUW’s Public Policy Agenda of expanding educational opportunities; promoting economic security; and promoting and defending civil rights for women and girls.
Attorney at Law and Clayton Alderwoman
Cynthia Garnholz was elected to the Clayton Board of Alderman in a special election in August 2007, and is now serving her second full term. She has been a practicing attorney in the greater St. Louis metropolitan area since 1980 and is currently with the firm Bauer Soule Garnholz and Albin. She has also served as a Provisional Judge for the St. Louis County Municipal Court since 2007. Cynthia is a member of numerous professional associations, including the American Bar Association, the Missouri Bar Association, the Women Laywers’ Association of Greater St. Louis, and the Clayton Chamber of Commerce. She is a founding member of the Collaborative Family Law Association in St. Louis, serving as a board member and treasurer from 2003-2008. She has served on the Clayton Century Foundation (another organization she helped found) since 2010, and is the aldermanic liaison to the Clayton Plan Commission and Architectual Review Board. Cynthia has a B.A. in business administration from Fontbonne University, and her law degree from Washington University in Saint Louis.
Consumer Economics Specialist, UM Extension
Suzanne Gellman is a Financial Education Specialist with the University of Missouri Extension Program. Suzanne develops educational materials and has authored several financial education curricula. She presents seminars, and does consulting, throughout the St. Louis area, on various financial planning topics, financial management practices, and related legal issues. Suzanne also coordinates local programs such as the Women's Financial Education Series ; Get Checking, a local program that helps people re-establish checking accounts; and the $tart $mart program that helps women learn to negotiate their wages and benefits. Suzanne has her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Consumer Economics from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She has her Law degree from St. Louis University School of Law, and is a member of the Missouri Bar. You can find her blog at http://financialinfoforwomen.wordpress.com/
Acting Director of Missouri Department of Labor
Governor Jay Nixon appointed Julie Gibson, formerly the Director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development's Division of Workforce Development, to serve as acting director of the Missouri Department of Labor in March 2013. Gibson, of Jefferson City, served as Director of the Division of Workforce Development since March 2009. Having worked in the Clinton Administration as a special assistant to U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich and as Director of Job Development and Training during Governor Mel Carnahan’s administration, Gibson has extensive knowledge of employment and training policy and programs. Gibson was involved in the early development and implementation of One-Stop Career Centers in Missouri.
Brittany Gholson, 2010 Shear Fellow
2013 Shear Intern
Mary Brittany Gholson is a spring 2012 graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies emphasizing the areas of Political Science, Speech Communication, and Criminal Justice. At SEMO, she was an active member of Delta Delta Delta sorority, and was President of the Southeast Dance Marathon, raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network. She was an active participant in the Model United Nations club, All University Judicial Board, International Business Club, and served as a Presidential Ambassador. She also held multiple jobs, including an internship with the U. S. Attorney's Office. In summer, 2011, she was part of a 15-member delegation to Rwanda with Global Youth Connect, working to advance human rights. She just returned from a 10 month Idex Fellowship in India, working to expand sustainable social enterprises for a school located in a highly conservative Muslim slum area of Hyderabad. This fall she will attend school in Chicago for a certificate in NGO and Philanthropy Management, followed by long-term plans of earning her Master's degree in International Development and Human Rights Law.
Lewis, Rice & Fingersh, L.C.
Shanon Hawk is Director of Legislative Affairs for Lewis, Rice & Fingersh, LC. She serves her clients either by monitoring legislative or regulatory issues of concern, or by directly lobbying public officials and policymakers at the state and local levels, and maintains daily contact with members of the Missouri General Assembly, as well as statewide elected officials and many regulatory agencies. Shanon also has substantial experience in the development and administration of various interest groups, trade associations, and grassroots organizations. She has experience working on campaigns at both the state and local levels. In addition, she serves as the Treasurer for multiple Political Action Committees and is responsible for filing PAC reports with the Federal Elections Commission and Missouri Ethics Commission to ensure compliance with ethics laws. She donates her time as a community organizer focusing on helping low-income families overcome barriers, encouraging equality, promoting the rich benefits of a diverse community, and building parks. Ms. Hawk served on the Board of the Jefferson City Multicultural Forum for four years (2 years as President) and continues to serve on the Board of the Cole County Parks Committee. She served a two-year term as President of her church’s Board of Directors (May 2009 - May 2011) and has since resumed her role as Chair of their Social Action Committee. She is also a past Board member of the Jefferson City Human Relations Commission, Optimist Club of Jefferson City, Jefferson City Regional Martin Luther King Committee, and Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce Governmental Relations Committee.
St. Louis Public Schools
Marcia Hayes-Harris is an Early Childhood Coordinator for the St. Louis Public Schools. She spent 15 years at Washington University where she directed the new student orientation program. While there she also created Black Anthology, a student run production, that will celebrated its 25 year anniversary this year. She began her career at the St. Louis Public Schools 15 years ago, working in Development Office before moving into the Early Childhood Division. Much of her 10 years in Early Childhood have been spent overseeing family literacy programs for young mothers and their children. She developed and implemented the Parents As Literacy Coaches program, and she and a colleague also developed and implemented the Transitions program, which is designed to offer GED students an introduction to college. Ms. Hayes-Harris has served on the board for the Wesley House and the Missouri Association for Social Welfare where she currently serves as president. She has received several community awards including the Child Advocate of the Year Award in 2009 from Annie Malone. She is an active member of Christ Pilgrim Rest, M.B. Church. Hayes-Harris received her Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and later a Master of Arts degree in Media Communications from Webster University in St. Louis. Ms. Hayes-Harris has been married for 26 years and has four children and two grandchildren.
UMSL Department of Political Science
Farida Jalalzai is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Dr. Jalalzai's research analyzes the representation and behavior of women and minorities in politics and the role of gender in the political arena. Her work focuses on women national leaders (Women and Politics 2004; Politics & Gender 2008; International Political Science Review 2010, Journal of Women, Politics, & Policy 2010, German Politics ) gender and campaign coverage (Politics & Policy 2006), and the behavior of political widows compared to the husbands they replaced in Congress (Journal of Women, Politics, & Policy 2008). Her first book Shattered, Cracked and Firmly Intact: Women and the Executive Glass Ceiling Worldwide (Oxford University Press 2013) offers a comprehensive analysis of women, gender, and national leadership positions. Currently, she is conducting several case studies of the behavior of women national leaders including presidents Laura Chinchilla (Costa Rica), President Dilma Rousseff (Brazil), Cristina Fernández Argentina) and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Liberia). She also researches Muslim American political behavior and discrimination since 9/11(Politics & Religion 2009; 2011) and is working on an edited collection, “Muslim Political Attitudes and Participation in Post 9/11 America- Findings and Future Directions.” She teaches many classes on gender in politics including Gender and the Law; Politics of Gender in the U.S.; Women and Leadership World-Wide: Breaking the Glass Ceiling; and Women, Gender, and Political Institutions. She also teaches Politics & the Media; Political Behavior, and Diversity and Social Justice Issues. Some of her other activities include chairing the Race, Gender, and Ethnicity section of the Northeastern Political Science Association and serving as a board member for the St. Louis based organization, Interfaith Legal Services for Immigrants (ILSI).
Bethany Johnson-Javois, CEO
St. Louis Integrated Health Network
As CEO of the St. Louis Integrated Health Network, Ms. Johnson-Javois leads a $2 million non-profit that serves the region’s safety net health care providers and the local community to promote the mission of providing quality, affordable, accessible care to all with an emphasis on serving the underserved. Her leadership in the healthcare sector has garnered notable recognition including being selected by the St. Louis American as a 2011 top Young Leader under 40 and the Access to Equal Justice Award from the Washington University School of Law’s Clinical Education Program. Bethany serves on the board of trustees for the Deaconess Foundation and served as vice-chair of Non-Profit Services Center. As a licensed Evangelist Missionary in the Churches of God in Christ, she is a noted motivational speaker, trainer, and facilitator around spiritual development, leadership and youth capacity building. Among her academic achievements, Bethany was a Danforth Urban Fellow at Washington University School of Social Work and secured a fellowship in the Missouri Education Policy Fellowship Program. Bethany has a BS in International Business Management from Missouri State University and a Masters in Social Work from Brown School at Washington University.
Susan Jones, 2009 Shear Fellow
Saint Louis Board of Education
In her first campaign for public office, in April 2013, Susan Jones earned over 11,000 votes to secure a spot on the Saint Louis Board of Education. Jones was one of six candidates for three spots on the Board, and she won almost 2,000 votes more than any other candidate. A graduate of Gateway Institute of Technology High School in the St. Louis Public School system, Susan is an Interventionist Assistant for the Ritenour School District. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from UMSL in 2010, and a Master’s Degree in Leadership from Webster University. During her years at UMSL, Susan was President of the Associated Students of the University Missouri and was an intern at the Leadership Academy in 2010.
City of St. Louis Treasurer
Prior to being elected St. Louis city treasurer in November, 2012, Tishaura Jones served two terms in the Missouri House of Representatives. A Democrat, she was the first African-American and first woman to be named assistant minority floor leader in the Missouri House. She won a highly contested four-way race to land the Democratic nomination for city treasurer — beating out three well-known men. In 2005, she was selected to represent the United States on an American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL) trip to Israel and the Palestinian Territories, and she was recently selected for the prestigious Toll Fellowship Program sponsored by the Council of State Governments. Rep. Jones received a bachelor’s degree in Finance from Hampton University in 1994 and a master’s degree in Health Administration from the Saint Louis University School of Public Health in 2001. Her previous employment includes serving as vice president of public finance for investment banking firm Blaylock Robert Van and as adjunct faculty in Harris-Stowe State University’s
Sue Kendig, JD, RNC, MSN, WHCNP
Teaching Associate Professor, UMSL, Attorney at Law
In addition to her ongoing teaching at UMSL in the areas of Health Policy and Women’s Health Management, MS Kendig began practicing law and policy consultation in related areas after obtaining her law degree from the University of Missouri in 2007. She was the only nurse appointed by Gov. Holden to the MO Commission on Patient Safety (2003-4), served on the Medicare Evidence Development & Coverage Advisory Committee (2009 - 2011) and is currently a member of the Missouri task Force on Prematurity. Her policy interests include patient safety and quality, health care reform and health services delivery transformation. She earned her BSN from Maryville University and her MSN from UMKC.
Small Business Liaison, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt’s Office
Lane Koch is a seasoned Missouri political operative with extensive experience in grassroots organizing and political strategy. Lane is currently serving as Senator Roy Blunt’s Small Business Liaison. Most recently, Lane served as the Executive Director for the RNC’s Victory 2012 program for the Romney-Ryan presidential election. As Executive Director, Lane led the Romney/Ryan ticket to a successful, twelve-point margin victory in Missouri. Previously, Lane worked as the Political Director for Pelopidas, LLC, a comprehensive, influence management firm that offers issue advocacy, non-profit fundraising, capital campaign development and government and public affairs consulting. In addition, she worked extensively with United for Missouri as their Grassroots Director and Fundraiser, helping grow the organization by over 15,000 members in 2011 alone. Lane was previously employed by Friends of Roy Blunt as the Deputy Political Director, and worked for the Missouri Republican Party as the Victory Regional Political Director. She began her political career in 2007 working for three years for Senator Christopher “Kit” Bond’s St. Louis & Washington D.C. offices, focusing on constituent services and communications. Lane graduated from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana with a B.A. in Political Science. A fourth-generation Missourian, Lane resides in Chesterfield with her husband and their five month old daughter, Langley.
National Female Genital Mutilation Project
Inger-Lise Lien is a social anthropologist specializing in migration, Pakistani Culture, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and gangs. For the past 2 months, she has been a Visiting Fellow at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Since 2005, she has been a researcher at the Norwegian Centre for violence and traumatic stress studies (NKVTS), where she leads the national competence team on Female Genital Mutilation. She is the principal researcher on a project exploring adolescents from asylum/refugee backgrounds in prison, and directs projects on genital mutilation in the Norwegian context and more broadly. In addition to teaching masters students at NKVTS, Dr. Lien teaches municipalities in Norway on violence, forced marriages, and FGM, and the Danish Police on culture, honor and gangs, and forced marriages. She has been a Visiting Fellow at the University of California, San Diego and the University of California, Irvine, as well as at UMSL. Dr. Lien earned her Ph.D. from the University of Oslo in 1993. Her research focused on Morality, Emotion and the Cast System in Pakistan. She earned her “professor competence” from the Norwegian Institute of Urban and Regional Research in 1999.
Policy and Communications Assistant, Missouri Secretary of State's Office
Lola Oduyeru (oh-dew-yea-roo) graduated from UMKC May 2012 with a B.A in Political Science. After graduation she spent her summer as an intern in Congressman Cleaver's office in Washington, DC. She then worked at DST Systems Inc. as a Mutual Funds Account Liaison. She currently works as the Policy and Communications Assistant for the Secretary of State's office in Jefferson City. She spends her free time cycling through Jefferson City and cooking.
Congresswoman Ann Wagner's Office
Erin Olson, a St. Charles, Missouri native, graduated from Truman State University in 2000 with a BA in Political Science and was a George H.W. Bush Fellow at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, earning a Master of Public Service and Administration in 2003. She began her career in public service as a Presidential Management Fellow in Washington DC, working as a budget analyst for the US Department of Commerce and later working with both House and Senate appropriations committees as an analyst in the Budget Outreach and Communication Division at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Erin then lived overseas for five years in Vilnius, Lithuania where she chaired the International Women’s Association of Vilnius, an NGO that raised and distributed funding in support of women, children, and the elderly. After returning to the US, Erin worked for the Missouri Republican Party in the 2012 election cycle as the Regional Field Director for St. Charles before joining Congresswoman Ann Wagner’s staff where she currently handles constituent services for the residents of Missouri’s 2nd Congressional district.
Sara Parker Pauley,
Director of Missouri Department of Natural Resources
Gov. Jay Nixon named Sara Parker Pauley as the Director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources in December 2010. As director, Sara leads the department’s efforts to protect, preserve and enhance Missouri’s natural, cultural and energy resources. Sara previously worked as a project manager for D.J. Case & Associates, a natural resources communications firm. She has also served as the Executive Vice President of PrimeGen Power USA, a start-up distributed power energy company based in Missouri; as the deputy director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources; and chief of staff to former Missouri House Speaker Steve Gaw. A lifelong conservationist and an avid hunter, Sara has been an executive committee and board member of the Conservation Federation of Missouri. She was a member of the board of the American National Fish & Wildlife Museum, where she served as director of conservation programs from 2005-2006. She has published a number of articles on wildlife and natural resources management. Sara received both her law degree and her bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri - Columbia, and did post-graduate studies in Australia as a Rotary Fellow.
PhD Candidate, UMSL School of Education
Ambumulire Nellie Itimu-Phiri is a doctoral candidate in Special Education at UMSL while on leave from Mzuzu University in the Southern African nation of Malawi, where she served as a teacher trainer since 2002, and Dean of Women from 2005-2009. Abumu plans to return to Malawi after graduating in Dec. 2013, with a goal of continuing to teach teachers. At UMSL, she has been a Des Lee Scholar at UMSL since 2010, and an International Peace Scholar since 2011. She received the annual UMSL Trailblazer Award in 2011, in recognition of her contributions to the education of women and special education in Malawi. Her research interests include inclusive education, early childhood education, and gender issues in education. When not glued to a computer or teaching, Ambumu enjoys reading, and learning about new cultures. She is fluent in four languages.
Angela Turner Quigless,
Appellate Judge, Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District
Judge Angela Turner Quigless was appointed to the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District April 12, 2012. Previously, she served 9 years as Circuit Judge in the City of St. Louis, and eight years as an associate circuit judge in the court. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia and her Law Degree from Saint Louis University. Before becoming a judge, she was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, an Assistant City Counselor and an Assistant Circuit Attorney for the City of St. Louis. Her other public service includes working for the Missouri Public Service Commission as Assistant General Counsel, as well as working for the Missouri Department of Revenue. She is married and the mother of a son, Charles, who was born in 2001. She is a member of many professional associations and is involved in the community.
Linda Rallo is a policy analyst for Missouri Wonk, a firm that specializes in fiscal, tax and economic development policy for state and local government. Prior to that, she worked in electoral politics managing finance and communications. She also held positions in corporate government affairs and served as staff member in the Missouri House of Representatives. Before entering public service, she worked in the private sector as an editor and writer for the software industry. Ms. Rallo has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a master’s degree in public policy administration from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She also is happily married to her husband of 24 years and has three children.
Jefferson County Councilwoman
Renee Reuter is the first District 2 representative on the new seven-member Jefferson County Council. In 2011, she served as the first Chairwoman of the council in Hillsboro, Missouri. Renee was first elected to her position in 2010 in a landslide election where she earned over 60% of the vote. In 2012, she won re-election to her post with a 54% win. In addition to serving on the County Council, Renee is an attorney who works in house at Enterprise Holdings, Inc. Renee graduated in 1987 from Windsor High School in Imperial, Missouri and attended Jefferson College in Hillsboro, Missouri. She earned her Associate of Arts degree from Pikes Peak Community College and her Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, CO while her husband served in the ARMY. Renee earned her J.D. law degree at St. Louis University and was admitted to practice law in the State of Missouri in 2002. She currently serves on Board of Directors of the Acts 1:8 Mission Society and is active with her church, Immanuel Lutheran Church of Barnhart. In the past 12 months, she has provided strategic advice that helped 6 first-time candidates win campaigns for a variety of County-wide seats, and local fire and ambulance districts. This year, she was instrumental in forming the first Pachyderm Club in Jefferson County, Missouri. Still in its infancy, the club already has over 20 paid members. Renee and her husband, Michael, have two grown sons.
St. Louis Public Schools
Linda Riekes has over 35 years of service in the St. Louis Public School system. She began her career as a 7th & 8th grade social studies teacher at Hamilton Middle School in 1970. Since then, she has directed a variety of projects including the Law and Education Project, the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Program, the St. Louis Consortium for Dropout Prevention, the Law and Citizenship Education Project and the St. Louis Internship Program. She currently serves as the Development Officer and Liaison to the St. Louis Public Schools Foundation. In that position she has helped the public schools receive over $100 million in public and private grants.
Mary Rhodes Russell,
Missouri Supreme Court Judge
At age 36, Judge Mary Rhodes Russell was the youngest person, and only the third woman, to be appointed to the Missouri Court of Appeals in St. Louis. In December 2004, she was tapped by Governor Holden to become the third woman appointed to the Missouri Supreme Court. She will become the Chief Judge of the Court in July, 2013. Judge Russell received her B.S. and B.A. Summa Cum Laude from Truman State University in 1980. In 1983, she graduated from law school at the University of Missouri–Columbia. After serving as a law clerk in the Missouri Supreme Court, she engaged in private practice in Hannibal, Missouri. Governor Carnahan appointed Judge Russell to the Court of Appeals in May, 1995, and she served as presiding judge of the Court in 1999-2000. Judge Russell has served on many state boards and commissions, including the Board of Governors of Truman State University and the 1991 Senate Redistricting Commission. She is active in Bar and Judicial organizations and devotes much time to mentoring young women interested in the legal field. Her nieces, Heather Lasher Todd and Laura Lasher, are graduates of the Leadership Academy.
Laura Denvir Stith,
Missouri Supreme Court Judge
Judge Laura Denvir Stith was appointed to the Missouri Supreme Court in 2001, and served as Chief Justice from 2007 to 2009. Prior to obtaining this position, she served as a judge on the Missouri Court of Appeals, spent 14 years in private practice, and clerked for Missouri Supreme Court Justice Robert Seiler. A native of St. Louis, MO, Judge Stith graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University in Boston before obtaining her J.D.- also magna cum laude- from Georgetown University Law Center, where she was Editor of the Law and Policy in International Business Journal. She is the founding director of L.E.A.P (Lawyers Encouraging Academic Performance) a public service organization for lawyers located in Kansas City, a Missouri fellow of the American Bar Association, President of the Association for Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City, and Chair of the Gender and Justice Joint Committee of the Missouri Bar and the Supreme Court of Missouri. Judge Stith resides in Kansas City with her husband and three children.
Anne U. Tolan,
Webster Groves City Council
Anne was one of three women elected in a four-candidate race for the Webster Groves City Council in 2008. She was re-elected in 2012. A graduate of the 2008 Pipeline to Local Office program, Anne has over 17 years of experience as a community volunteer. She serves on the Sue Shear Institute Advisory Board and is the Past Board President and a member of the advisory committee for the Miriam School, a private, non-profit institution that serves children with multiple learning disabilities. She is also the Vice President of the Board of Directors for Pathways to Independence.
Kacie Starr Triplett,
Mental Health Consultant, Behavioral Health Network of St. Louis
Kacie Starr Triplett, a native of St. Louis, Missouri is a visionary, community leader and public servant. Elected at the age of 26, she served as one of the youngest elected officials in the history of St. Louis politics, serving on the St. Louis Board of Aldermen from 2007-2012. She previously served as the District Affairs Coordinator for Congressman Russ Carnahan and prior to that, served as the Community Outreach Coordinator for former Minority Leader Dick Gephardt in Washington, D.C., and St. Louis. She has been featured in Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine and also Ebony Magazine. Receiving her Bachelor’s degree from Hampton University and her Master’s degree in International Relations from Webster University, Kacie has traveled extensively and represented the United States on several international delegations throughout the continent of Asia. She is also the current host of a television show called Inspire St. Louis, which features young professionals making a difference in the local community, and the host of Inspired Overflow, a faith based weekly talk show. Calling it a “walk of faith”, Kacie recently resigned from her position on the St. Louis Board of Alderman, to work on a special project that focuses on the mentally ill and homeless in the St. Louis region.
Betty Van Uum,
Public Affairs and Economic Development, UMSL
A native St. Louisan, Betty Van Uum is the first woman elected to the seven-member St. Louis County Council in 1974. After serving for 2 terms, she joined the staff of UMSL in 1983. She is the campus’ senior officer for public affairs and economic development. She has helped foster the growth of the campus foot print by over 100% as well as the addition of many buildings. A long time advocate for civil rights and equality for women, Van Uum has worked tirelessly in support of public transit. She played a major role in assuring that the UMSL campus was served by Metro and served on the Agency’s governing board from 1994-2000. She was the Chairman of the Board from 1998-9 and also served as interim Director of the Agency in that period.
Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Margie Vandeven is the Deputy Commissioner of Learning Services at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The Division of Learning Services is responsible for all of the department’s activities related to educational success of students, educators, and schools. The division includes offices which manage quality schools, college- and career-readiness, special education, educator quality, early and extended learning, adult learning and rehabilitative services, and the data system management.
Acting Director of Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
Gail Vasterling was appointed Acting Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) on December 10, 2012 by Governor Jay Nixon. Previously, she served as DHSS Deputy Director from February to December 2012. She also served as Deputy Counsel to Governor Nixon from April 2010 until February 2012. In this role, she served as liaison for the Department of Health and Senior Services. Ms. Vasterling served as General Counsel for the Missouri Department of Corrections from January 2009 until April 2010. From 1994 until January 2009, Ms. Vasterling was an Assistant Attorney General. She was promoted within the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, ultimately to the position of Chief Counsel of the Litigation Division. Ms. Vasterling has a BSBA from the University of Missouri, and a JD from Washington University School of Law.
Missouri State Senator
Sen. Gina Walsh was elected to the Missouri Senate in 2012, after a brief sabbatical from public life – she served four terms in the Missouri House before being term-limited in 2010. While serving in the House, Sen. Walsh built a reputation as an independent voice, working with both Democrats and Republicans to find common-sense solutions to the problems facing Missouri. A Democrat, she represents District 13 in St. Louis County. Sen. Walsh is a retired member of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local #1 with over 30 years of experience in the trade. She currently serves as president of the Missouri State Building & Construction Trades Council (AFL-CIO), the first woman to hold the post. Prior to running for the legislature, she served on the board of the Riverview Fire Protection District for nine years as director, serving five years as chair.
Mayor of Webster Groves
Gerry Welch is Mayor of Webster Groves and serves on the Sue Shear Institute Advisory Board. She began her political career in 1994 as a member of the Webster Groves, MO City Council. She was elected Mayor in 1998 and was re-elected in 2004 and 2006 and every election since. Mayor Welch is a past president of the St. Louis County Municipal League and served as a member of the Board of the East-West Gateway Development Council. She is currently President of the Missouri Municipal League. She has also been a faculty member in the St. Louis Community College system.
Attorney at Law
Hope Whitehead is an attorney who heads her own firm, Whitehead and Associates, L.L.C., where she practices criminal, civil and administrative law. She served a brief stint in the Missouri House of Representatives in 2010, after winning a special election in Feb. of that year. She previously served as an Associate Administrative Law Judge for the Division of Workers’ Compensation and as the Director of the Division of Liquor Control. Whitehead has worked as the Associate General Counsel for the St. Louis Housing Authority and as a prosecutor for the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office. She received a degree in psychology from Fordham University and a Juris Doctorate from the Washington University School of Law. She is a former member of the Missouri Bar Board of Governors and former president of the Mound City Bar Association. Hope and her husband, Jon, celebrated their 27th wedding anniversary in 2012. They have two boys.
Rebecca Willard is the Director of Fundraising and Special Events for Pelopidas, LLC, a full-service public affairs consulting firm in St. Louis, Missouri. In this role she is responsible for managing political and nonprofit fundraising clients, issue campaigns, and special events for a variety of causes. She has raised over one million dollars for local organizations and campaigns. In addition to her fundraising leadership, Rebecca has been involved in the establishment of the state chapters of numerous political grassroots organizations including Americans for Prosperity, United for Missouri, and the Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri. Rebecca earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Master of Public Affairs, both from the University of Missouri. Prior to her time at Pelopidas she served as a legislative aide in the Missouri State Capital and as the membership coordinator for a state association. A Gold Award honoree in her Girl Scout days, she today serves on the Gold Award Advisory Board for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri. She is also involved in the Show-Me State Series for Excellence in Public Service, Young Friends of the Opera Theatre, Young Friends of the Missouri History Museum, Meeting Professionals International, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and the Professional Women’s Alliance. Rebecca lives in beautiful Lafayette Square in St. Louis with her husband Aaron and their daughter Eliza.
Jefferson City Bureau Chief, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Virginia Young has been a state capital reporter since June 1989. In November 2005, she became the Jefferson City bureau chief for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She covers state government including Legislature, the executive branch and Supreme Court. She also covers elections and out-state news. Ms. Young has worked as an assistant professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism and as a writer and editor for the Columbia Missourian and the Columbia Daily Tribune. She has won a number of awards for work in her field and is co-editor of “Women on Deadline: A Collection of America’s Best,” 1991, Iowa State Press. Ms. Young has a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a Bachelor’s Degree in English from William Jewell College in Liberty, MO. She is married with two children.
Deputy Director of Policy, Missouri Secretary of State's Office
Elizabeth Zerr attended the University of Missouri-Columbia, where she was an Undergraduate Research Fellow. Her research interests began with enzymatic biofuel cells, but shifted to social sciences with an analysis of Mexican water resource governance following the North American Free Trade Agreement. After university, Zerr coordinated a Missouri House of Representatives campaign, tended bar, and applied for more than 40 jobs. Eventually, she began work at a sustainability consulting firm in the Middle East, 3BL. Based in Bahrain, she spent her free time traveling throughout the region. In 2010, Zerr relocated to the US; after two years snowboarding in Colorado, she finally returned to Missouri to work for Jason Kander, Missouri's current Secretary of State. Zerr serves as Deputy Policy Director. In this capacity she works with the Missouri legislature and the executive branch to represent the legislative interests of the office of Secretary of State, which oversees elections, securities, archives, and the state library.