Collaborative Leadership Team
Kiley Bednar, EdD, MSW
As one of CIAC's Co-Directors, Kiley leads and oversees a growing portfolio of strategies to build the strength of our region’s many community partnerships and coalitions, including
Paul Sorenson, MSW
As one of CIAC's Co-Directors, Paul leads the collaborative St. Louis Regional Data Alliance (RDA) to support local governments, nonprofits, funders, and universities in using data for community benefit. The RDA is actively involved in building public health data infrastructure to address COVID-19 and beyond, and works closely with United Way 2-1-1 and its partners on establishing the St. Louis Community Information Exchange to share referrals across health and social service providers. Paul co-authored the 2021 "Tackling Data Dilemmas in Social Care Coordination" white paper with Open Referral and helps lead the Missouri Aging Services Data Collaborative, a grand prize winner of the ACL’s Social Care Referrals Challenge in 2022. At CIAC, Paul also helps lead new project development, collaborative strategy, and other university and organizational support initiatives. Paul previously founded and ran GoodMap, an online tool for nonprofits to organize information about the services they provided to their communities, and served as the Director of Strategic Planning at Grace Hill Settlement House. Paul graduated from the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis in 2012 and is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at UMSL.
Risha Frazier, MPH
Data Strategy Lead
Risha Frazier (they/them), CIAC’s Data Strategy Lead, is an epidemiologist with 10 years of population health research experience. They completed their Bachelors in Biological Sciences and received their Master of Public Health in Environmental and Occupational Health and Epidemiology from Saint Louis University. Risha comes from a lineage of storytellers. Some used food, others song — Risha uses data. Their most recent focus has been the creation of a comprehensive data visualization hub that seeks to tell the story of infant mortality to a variety of stakeholders and policymakers.
Through their experience as the principal investigator of a mixed methods study dedicated to addressing the health and healing of persons impacted by infant loss, they bring expertise for community voice and how social determinants affect health outcomes and health disparities. They are excited to bring their lived experience and expertise to help guide data strategy toward the aim of building a collaborative, equitable, and innovative approach to university projects and partnerships that is deeply responsive to community priorities.
Emily Laurent, MPH
Evaluation and Applied Research Lead
As CIAC's Evaluation & Applied Research Lead, Emily manages a portfolio of evaluation and applied research projects and works closely with project teams to support data collection, analysis, and dissemination. She brings extensive experience in mixed methods program and systems-level evaluation, project management, evaluation capacity-building, and data collection, analysis, and visualization. Emily is passionate about supporting programs that aim to improve the lives of individuals and their communities, and employs a participatory approach that centers stakeholder engagement and culturally responsive, equitable evaluation.
Prior to joining CIAC, Emily served as an internal and external evaluator across various government, academic, and nonprofit settings. Emily has a Masters in Public Health from the University of Minnesota. She enjoys traveling, hiking, and attending live music shows.
Sara Mohamed, MPH
Equity and Engagement Lead
At the Community Innovation & Action Center (CIAC) and the St. Louis Regional Data Alliance (RDA), Sara focuses on developing and implementing strategies focused on racial equity, building community with local data partners, participatory decision making, qualitative data infrastructure, and community engagement work.
Sara Mohamed completed her MPH in behavioral science and health education at St. Louis University. Since then, she has worked at Washington University in St. Louis and St. Louis County Department of Public Health growing her knowledge and experience in systems dynamics and coordination, evaluation, and assessing the impact of policy on community. She is passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion and always strives to center community voice in her work.
Leah Moser, MPH, CHES
Planning and Operations Lead
As the Planning and Operations Lead at CIAC, Leah provides strategic support and planning for the Center’s project development, including the MO-SECA early childhood initiative, and develops internal systems across projects, governance and Center operations. Leah previously served as the Director of Planning and Partnerships at Generate Health, a St. Louis based maternal health coalition focused on eliminating racial disparities in birth outcomes.
Previously, Leah was the Program Director at the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion and Population Health at Syracuse University where she managed the Healthy Monday Syracuse health promotion campaign and supported a portfolio of community-driven initiatives to reduce the community burden of chronic disease. Leah earned a master’s degree in public health and is a Certified Health Education Specialist who has earned certificates in health services management and creative leadership. Her interests are in multi-sector collaborations and place-based strategies to build strength with communities.
Wally Siewert, PhD
Learning and Partnerships Lead
Dr. Wally Siewert has over two decades of experience with civic education, leadership development, and community engagement. After a first career in non-profit grassroots advocacy, Wally went back to graduate school for his PhD in Philosophy (applied political ethics & theory) at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He came to St. Louis in 2011 as the Director of the Center for Ethics in Public Life (CEPL) at the University of Missouri - St. Louis. During that time CEPL established itself as a statewide hub for public ethics information, conferences, workshops, research, best practices, legislative tracking, community collaboration and more. From 2017 to 2023 Wally was the Director of Civic Engagement with FOCUS St. Louis, the region’s premier leadership development non-profit. In this capacity he developed public values workshops and leadership training to address the necessity to have difficult conversations around volatile values-based issues, and led area leaders through these discussions. He is excited to rejoin the UMSL team as Learning and Partnerships Lead at CIAC — helping to oversee the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs and training components of the MO-SECA early childhood initiative.
As a volunteer, Wally is a board member for Show-Me-Integrity, a statewide non-profit advocating for democracy reform, was a legal petitioner on the successful “Reform STL” movement, and was a co-chair of Mayor Tishaura Jones’ Stimulus Advisory Board, which created a road map for spending the first $150 million in Federal COVID stimulus funds in the city. Wally’s most deeply held political beliefs are not about policy, but about political process— about what it means to live together in peace in a modern diverse democracy, about how we create cooperation among co-citizens while simultaneously respecting every individual’s right to pursue her own personal conception of the good.
Adriano Udani, PhD
CIAC Research Advisor
(he, him, his)
Adriano Udani joined the CIAC team in 2020 as its Research Advisor, partnering with the center to deepen its integration within the university and guide CIAC's focus on community-based applied research. Adriano is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Public Policy Administration Program at the University of Missouri, St. Louis. He received his Masters of Public Affairs from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, and his PhD in political science at the University of Minnesota. Adriano specializes in the politics of U.S. immigration policymaking and enforcement. His research is published in Administrative Praxis & Theory; The American Review of Public Administration; American Politics Research; Social Sciences Quarterly; Politics, Groups, & Identities; Policy Studies Journal; State Politics & Policy Quarterly; and Public Integrity. Adriano was recently selected as an inaugural cohort member of the American Political Science Association’s Institute for Civically Engaged Research. His current work utilizes community-based and participatory methods with immigrant service providers, attorneys, and a group of Mexican and Central American asylum seekers to abolish detention of all forms. This work has led to broadly researching and theorizing on the co-production of knowledge from academics and collaborators outside of academia. Adriano has taught undergraduate and graduate courses on the politics of hate, difference, and social justice; public policy, inequality, and the U.S. democracy; survey design; applied statistics; and, policy-centered approaches to the study of inequality.
Wyatt J. Humrichous
Community Data and Research Associate
Wyatt J. Humrichous is a Community Data and Research Associate at UMSL’s Community Innovation and Action Center and is a part of the fiscal mapping team. Wyatt began as a Graduate Research Assistant at the center in the Fall of 2021, when he began pursuing his Master’s in Public Policy and Administration at UMSL. Since then he has helped support a number of CIAC projects. Wyatt is passionate about advocacy on a number of issues ranging from climate reality to LGBTQ+ protections. Wyatt brings experience working in Government, Law, and Human Resources. He is also the loving father of a rescued Labrador named Louisiana.
Community Data and Research Associate
(she, her, hers)
Natalie (Nat) Mudd-Brooks is a Community Data and Research Associate at the Community Innovation & Action Center (CIAC) where she specializes in state budget research, stakeholder engagement, and data visualization. With a background in social work and policy analysis, Nat joined CIAC as a practicum student in January 2022 and quickly transitioned to a full-time role after completing her Masters in Social Work.
She brings expertise in policy analysis, community engagement, and a passion for equity, inclusion, and food security to the team. Nat's work involves collecting and analyzing state and federal data, data visualization, and fostering collaboration with stakeholders. She is driven by a profound commitment to create lasting impact for individuals and communities alike.
Community Data and Research Associate
(she, her, hers)
Lacey is passionate about using evaluation, assessment, and data to build the capacity of communities and organizations, with a focus on equity. Lacey has spent time as a Data & Research Fellow at Forward Through Ferguson where she contributed to a major report on the state of education reform in the St. Louis region. In addition to her role at CIAC, Lacey is also a Master of Public Policy Administration student at UMSL.
(she, her, hers)
(she, her, hers)
Hanna Katz Wilking
(she, her, hers)
Paul Evensen, PhD
Paul passed away in June 2021. You can read more about his incredible life and work here.
Paul Evensen was the Founder and Executive Director of Social Innovation STL. After a successful three year start-up and incubation period, Paul led the merger of the Public Policy Research Center at UMSL with Social Innovation STL to form the new Community Innovation and Action Center.
Previously, Paul served as Senior Vice President of Community Planning and Evaluation at the Forum for Youth Investment, Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at Wyman, was the President and Co-Founder of Community Systems Group, Inc., served as the designated Subject Matter Expert for the National Guard Bureau’s J3/ Domestic Operations Joint Directorate Civil Operations Program, and is the co-founder of several nonprofit organizations located in South Carolina and Kansas. Paul completed his doctorate at the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Centre for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas and has worked with hundreds of coalitions across the country addressing a range of outcomes including teen pregnancy, poverty, HIV prevention, literacy, hunger, school readiness, and substance abuse.
Mark Tranel, PhD
Former Director, PPRC
Mark Tranel has been with the University of Missouri-St. Louis Public Policy Research Center (PPRC) for over 25 years, serving as its Director 2002 to 2018 and Director Emeritus of CIAC from 2018 to 2020. He has been the principal investigator or project manager on over 70 applied research projects. The Public Policy Research Center served as an independent applied research center of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. The PPRC conducted applied research, evaluation, and special research projects for civic, nonprofit, and public organizations, primarily in metropolitan St. Louis.
Prior to joining the PPRC, Mark was the Director of Real Estate Development for the Economic Council of St. Louis County. He established the small business incubator program in St. Louis County and managed the redevelopment of several industrial sites. He was also Manager of Neighborhood Preservation at the Normandy Municipal Council, responsible for coordinating community development programs administering a home improvement program, and a circuit city administrator program. He was the first Director of Parks and Recreation in the City of Bellefontaine Neighbors. Mark currently serves as the Collector in the City of Bellefontaine Neighbors, is a member of the Riverview Gardens School District Special Administrative Board and is a member of the Executive Board of North County, Inc.
Claire Rippel, MSW
Education Director - Community Development
University of Missouri Extension
Claire Rippel is the Education Director - Community Development at University of Missouri Extension. In this role, she develops community partnership initiatives that link university resources with the needs and priorities of communities by working on a variety of topics including capacity building, leadership development, and community engagement. Claire joined University of Missouri Extension faculty in 2016 and has extensive experience working in urban communities. Prior to joining Extension, Claire worked as the Director for Community Development at Grace Hill Settlement House. Claire currently serves on the board of Old North St. Louis Restoration Group and Perennial STL and is the co-founder of the Park Picnic Project.
Todd Swanstrom, Ph.D.
Des Lee Professor
and Public Policy Administration
Todd Swanstrom has a joint appointment in Political Science and Public Policy Administration. Todd has an MA from Washington University (1971) and a Ph.D. from Princeton (1981). His co-authored Place Matters: Metropolitics for the Twenty-First Century, 3rd ed., (U. Press of Kansas, 2014) won the Michael Harrington Award from the New Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. Todd’s current research focuses on neighborhood change in older industrial cities. He is facilitating a collaboration between urban scholars in St. Louis and Dortmund, Germany, on how “gentrification” is perceived differently by different actors.
Todd has used the resources of his endowed professorship to support the Community Builders Network of Metro St. Louis, a coalition of CDCs, banks, foundations, and governments working to build better neighborhoods in the St. Louis region. Todd is Chair of UMSL’s Anchor Institution Committee, which is guiding the work of the university with surrounding communities. Todd tries to relax by playing golf but it only makes him more stressed out. He strongly recommends against taking up the game.
WORK WITH CIAC!
We frequently have openings for graduate research assistants, practicum students, and staff positions. Interested in learning more? Please reach out to Kiley Bednar at email@example.com.