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Meet the CIAC Team

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 ThreadSTL. A St. Louis native, Kiley comes with more than 20 years of experience in youth development, education, and social service administration. Most recently, she served 10 years with the Forum for Youth Investment, providing training and technical assistance to state and local leaders working to get young people ready for life. Through the Forum’s David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality, she supported out-of-school time partnerships throughout the U.S. in building systems to measure and improve the quality of their youth programs. Prior to this, she oversaw the Forum for Youth Investment’s training programs – including the Ready by 21 webinar series and the Ready by 21 Institutes – as well as coordinated the national Children’s Cabinet Network for statewide coordinating bodies. As a technical assistance provider at the Forum, she led community engagement efforts, data communications, and strategic planning for cities and states focused on better aligning their efforts around improved child and youth outcomes. Kiley received her EdD at UMSL, a Master of Arts at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration, and is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach.


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 and Infrastructure Lead

Risha Frazier (they/them), CIAC’s Data Strategy and Infrastructure 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
Coro Fellows Program Director

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. 


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.

Data Team


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.

Arianna Morris's headshot

Arianna Morris
Data and Projects Assistant

Graduated from Harris Stowe State University with a bachelor's in political science. On the Board of Adjustments in Jennings, Missouri.


Nat Mudd-Brooks
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.


Lacey Robinson
Community Data and Research Associate
(she, her, hers)

At the Community Innovation & Action Center (CIAC) and the St. Louis Regional Data Alliance (RDA), Lacey focuses on supporting statewide fiscal mapping efforts, qualitative data collection and infrastructure, and a variety of emerging efforts across CIAC.

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.

Learning & Outreach Team


Rachel Goldmeier
Outreach Coordinator
(she, her, hers)

Rachel Goldmeier serves as Outreach Coordinator but is no stranger to UMSL. Rachel earned a Master of Social Work at UMSL in 2015 and after working at Sumner High School, the St. Louis Jewish Community Center, and more, went on to work for UMSL Succeed for two years. Rachel enrolled as a student in the Master of Public Policy and Administration program in 2022 and then joined CIAC as a Graduate Research Assistant where she had the opportunity to lead and assist with projects revitalizing communities while examining nuisance and vacant housing, home repairs, and broadband internet access. During her career as a social worker, Rachel has worked in case management services, event creation, and implementation and has experience working with older adults, youth, and individuals with disabilities. As part of CIAC, Rachel uses her diverse skillset to support MO-SECA outreach efforts, conduct qualitative interviews and analysis, event plan, and beyond. Rachel is passionate about inclusion, accessibility, and equity and is proud to be part of the CIAC team.

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Christy Roberts
Community Trainer
(she, her, hers)

As a Community Trainer for the Community Innovation and Action Center, Christy has delivered professional development to Missouri early childhood administrators through MO-SECA’s Leadership and Business Academies.  Christy has been involved in early childhood education for 25 years with an expertise in Early Intervention, Special Education, Applied Behavior Analysis, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Evidence-based Home Visiting and Reflective Practice.  Key components from each of these areas help her to facilitate learning to training participants that is inclusive and engaging.

Christy also works as a St. Louis Area Childhood Community Leader developing and implementing a strong community plan aimed at ensuring all families with young children can access high-quality programs, services, and resources.

Hilary Sedovic's headshot.

Hilary Sedovic, MSW
Learning & Design Strategist
Coro Fellows Program Learning Director

As Learning & Design Strategist at CIAC, Hilary focuses on designing and facilitating accessible, responsive experiences that support continuous learning and shared understanding for informed decision-making. Intensely interested in the multifaceted ways through which people interact with and are affected by the world around them, Hilary is often asking “Why? / Why not?” or “Could you say more about that?”. In previous roles, she has partnered with clients to design and facilitate learning experiences for audiences of 8-300+, provided coaching and thought partnership on the development of accessible and responsive engagements and processes, and led internal professional development efforts around evaluative thinking and continuous improvement.
Hilary earned a Master of Social Work degree with a specialization in Management from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. She is an amateur potter, nature enthusiast, and food aficionada.


Hanna Katz Wilking
Communications & Outreach Specialist
(she, her, hers)

At the Community Innovation and Action Center, Hanna Katz Wilking is a member of the outreach team with a focus on connecting early childhood administrators to the prefessional development opportunities provided by Missouri Supporting Early Childhood Administrators. Hanna brings years of experience creating accessible, high-value, and entertaining conferences and events for professional communities. In addition to her work at CIAC, Hanna is a textile artist focused on reusing materials sourced from the waste stream.


Kalekidan Yeshiwas
Community Data Analyst

Kalekidan Yeshiwas is a Community Data Analyst at the Community Innovation & Action Center (CIAC), specializing in data collection, cleaning, and analysis. She joined the team in January 2023 as a Data Intern and smoothly transitioned into a full-time role after earning her Bachelor's degree in Data Science & Analysis from the University of Missouri - Saint Louis.

Kalekidan’s current focus is on providing outreach and data support for the MO-SECA project. Deeply committed to utilizing data for social good, Kalekidan takes immense pride in contributing to CIAC's mission of improving outcomes for the community. As a native of St. Louis, she feels a strong connection to the local community and is dedicated to making a positive impact through her work.

Graduate Assistants & Students

Nancy Aguilera heashot

Nancy E. Aguilera, MA, MPPA
Graduate Research Assistant
(she, her, hers)

At the Community Innovation and Action Center, Nancy assists with data collection, management and analysis. She earned a Master of Public Policy Administration and a Master of Political Science from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Nancy currently is a fourth-year doctoral candidate of political science at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Her interests are in the areas of international relations, democratization and democratic backsliding.

Elexis Hubbard's headshot

Elexis Hubbard
Practicum Student

At the Community Innovation and Action Center, Elexis assists with events, supports shaping a DEI resource document, facilitates participant interaction, and collaborates on organizing a community panel discussion. Elexis currently is a senior of the Social Work program at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Her interests are in the areas of event planning and implementation, community outreach and advocacy, and DEI work. 

Ellie Steffens' headshot

Ellie Steffens, MPH, MA
Graduate Research Assistant

Ellie is a fifth-year clinical psychology doctoral candidate at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. As a graduate research assistant at the Community Innovation & Action Center (CIAC), Ellie assists in data collection, quantitative analyses, and manuscript creation for the CDC-funded project, “Community Health Workers (CHW) for Covid Response and Resilient Communities.” 
Prior to joining CIAC, Ellie received her Masters in Public Health from Boston University and Masters in Psychology from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Beginning in July of 2024, Ellie will be completing her pre-doctoral internship at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. 

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Samantha 'Sam' Walls
Graduate Research Assistant

At the Community Innovation and Action Center, Sam is active with the CDC’s Community Health Workers for COVID Response and Resilient Communities (CCR) initiative. A fellow Community Health Worker herself, Sam works alongside the evaluation team in ensuring fair and thorough representation of the work being done by local CHW organizations. With an over 10-year history in non-profit health, Sam is vested in health equity, particularly through health literacy. Outside of CIAC, Sam is set to graduate with her Master's in Public Policy and Administration from the University of Missouri - St. Louis in Spring 2024. With her upcoming extra free time, she hopes to have the opportunity to travel abroad more often. As Susan Sontag is quoted as saying, "I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list."

CIAC Affiliates


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
Community Collaboration
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.

Danielle Wallis headshot.

Danielle Wallis

Danielle has worked at the intersection of philanthropy, education, and regional coalitions for over a decade. She began her own consulting practice in 2019, focusing primarily on effective grantmaking, strategic planning, research, and building cross-organizational systems that improve the social sector. She has authored reports on regional collaboration in the social sector; the endowment landscape in St. Louis; and the national landscape of community and economic development philanthropy. Select clients include the Community Innovation and Action Network (CIAC) at UMSL, Gateway Center for Giving/Philanthropy Missouri, Incarnate Word Foundation, St. Louis Community Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Youth Transition Funders Group, Inside Philanthropy, and others.

Prior to launching her consulting firm, Danielle worked with the St. Louis Public Schools Foundation where she designed and managed strategic program investments to support students in St. Louis’ largest urban public school system, researched and developed a report to inform the district’s decision to return to elected school board leadership, and developed infrastructure to support school-community partnerships in the school district. Danielle has also held positions at the United Way of Greater St. Louis, where she supported the back-office operations of the Ferguson Commission, and at the Gateway Center for Giving (now Philanthropy Missouri), where she supported regional foundations in making their grantmaking more coordinated and informed. 

Danielle was born and raised in St. Louis, MO. She graduated summa cum laude from Washington University with dual degrees in Education and American Culture Studies, with honors earned through a thesis on the role of school culture in charter schools. She is also an alum of the Coro Fellowship and holds a Master of Business Administration from Saint Louis University. In her free time, Danielle and her husband are renovating a historic home in St. Louis and wrangling a wild garden of native plants.

Founding Director


Paul Evensen, PhD
Founding Director
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. 


We frequently have openings for graduate research assistants, practicum students, and staff positions. Interested in learning more? Please reach out to Kiley Bednar at kileybednar@umsl.edu.