Common Searches

Collaboration enables whole communities.

CIAC actively engages individuals and organizations across the region to build strong partnerships and coalitions that advance community health and development.

The St. Louis region needs high-performing community partnerships and coalitions because every outcome that our region desires requires them. Leaders across St. Louis understand that no single organization has ever been able to achieve population-level outcomes on its own, a notion that is backed by practice-based research. From safe neighborhoods to college and career readiness, and from racial equity to addiction-free communities and everything in between, St. Louis is making significant investments in partnership and coalition work to address our most vexing problems.

If St. Louis is going to see the population changes desired, then investments must also be made for the ability of our region’s many community partnerships and coalitions to succeed. This drives the Community Innovation and Action Center’s strategies to support and strengthen community partnerships and coalitions throughout the region. Strategies typically aim to build peer support, skills, and/or infrastructure.

Our Programs and Partners

Thread STL

thread-logo.pngAs the bedrock of CIAC’s emerging portfolio of strategies to strengthen our region’s many community partnerships and coalitions, Thread STL is a community of practice that brings together partnership leaders for facilitated peer-to-peer connection, coaching, and problem solving. This community includes over 70 practitioners representing more than 45 partnerships from across the St. Louis region.

Founded in 2015, Thread STL was created by and for community change makers. Members share a commitment to community partnership as an expectation for sustainable, impactful community change, as well as a commitment to learning and development. Thread STL primarily seeks to serve those whose role is to lead or manage a community partnership—in a full-time, part-time, or unpaid capacity—and those who provide crucial resources to support community partnerships, including funders, advocates and advisors. It is governed by a 6-member Steering Committee comprised of Thread members.

CIAC staff serve dual roles at Thread STL with Lisa Clancy serving as Associate Director of Partnership Performance with support from contractors and practicum students. Learn more about Thread here.

Chancellor’s Certificate in Community Partnership and Coalition Leadership

Beginning in early 2019, the University of Missouri-St. Louis will offer a Chancellor’s Certificate in Community Partnership and Coalition Leadership. This program will provide content knowledge to build the competencies and skills of aspiring and current community partnership leaders in the region. Courses will cover everything from the history of community partnerships and coalitions to partnership evaluation, giving practitioners an opportunity to learn while doing. Stay tuned for more details.


Riisa Easley, Thread STL Steering Committee
Assistant Teaching Professor, UMSL

Riisa Rawlins-Easley has served in leadership positions and as an independent consultant for various nonprofits in the St. Louis Region since relocating to the area in 2004. She has over 10 years of experience in cultural competence and stigma reduction, integration of primary care and behavioral health, and positive youth development. Her passion for relationship building is evident in all that she does. 

Currently, Riisa serves as lead consultant for the St. Louis Regional System of Care and is an assistant teaching professor and program coordinator for the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training Program of the School of Social Work at UMSL. Here, she is responsible for convening regional stakeholders to develop an enhanced and expanded system of care that is family driven, youth guided, culturally and linguistically appropriate and trauma responsive. She enhances the Thread STL mission with her extensive experience and UMSL roots through her service on the steering committee.