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Facilitators and Speakers

Neighborhood Leadership Academy Facilitators

Kristen Wagner Headshot


Kristen Wagner, Founder

St. Louis Cohort

Over the past 25 years, Kristen built her profession with a commitment to social inclusion, community health, and empowering people to realize their full potential. She has served in a variety of non-profit organizational roles including middle and executive management positions. During her time as a University Professor, Kristen was engaged in research, teaching, and community engagement focused on program and policy interventions in three key areas: asset-based community development, culturally relevant capacity building, and participatory research and development strategies that promote community wealth-building. Over the years, she has worked with numerous American Indian and Native Alaskan tribes across the United States as well as remote villages in Madagascar. Kristen decided to transition out of her academic career and concentrate her efforts toward working directly with Indigenous and rural communities and now serves as a consultant for Hope Nation, LLC, a consulting firm she co-founded in 2017. Kristen is married to Jason Wagner and lives in St. Louis, Missouri. Now that she has nurtured her three children into adulthood, she not only enjoys spending time with them, but also dedicates time to fostering animals to prepare them for their forever homes. She holds a BA in Psychology from the University of North Dakota (1997); an MSW (2005) and a PhD (2011) in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis. 




David Dwight IV

Driven by a passion for systems change and racial equity, David Dwight IV is the founder of DD4 Consulting, LLC, a strategy firm that supports social impact organizations to advance their visions for equity and justice and deepen their impact. David has served in a variety of leadership roles to engage community voices and apply a Racial Equity lens to regional and national issues, including public safety, economic recovery, and philanthropy. From 2019-2023, he served as the Executive Director and Lead Strategy Catalyst at Forward Through Ferguson (FTF), the organization created to actualize the racial equity vision of the Ferguson Commission, which was a wide-ranging community policy recommendation process engaging over 3,000 residents after the Ferguson Uprising. In 2015 he served as the communications fellow for the Ferguson Commission, where he worked closely with the Citizen-Law Enforcement Relations working group before becoming the founding staff of Forward Through Ferguson in 2016. His experience in co-founding Students in Solidarity in 2014—a multi-campus student advocacy coalition—led him to center equity, justice, and advocacy in his career. He is dedicated to supporting the St. Louis region and communities across the US as we forge a path toward a transformed society where racial equity is the status quo. David balances his equity work and maintains his sanity through theatre and dance.


Dwayne T. James, P.E.
St. Louis Cohort

Dwayne T. James collaborates with the Extension Council, Extension faculty / staff, and the regional director to provide direction for the research-based educational programs offered to residents throughout St. Louis County. Mr. James has been a resident of North County for the majority of his life.  He served as a City of Ferguson Council Member from July 2006 to April 2016. As a council member, he introduced successful legislation for the implementation of Complete Streets, the increase of environmental standards, the establishment of the Ferguson Youth Advisory Board, and the creation of guidelines to encourage community gardens. As a founding member for the Ferguson Youth Initiative, he works to build relationships, develop partnerships, and identify opportunities to empower teenagers (13 – 19 years of age) in the North County area. Dwayne is a trained facilitator in the Navigating Difference Cultural Competency and Strategic Doing curriculums.


David L. Burton

University of Missouri Extension

David is a county engagement specialist in community development for University of Missouri Extension and is headquartered in Springfield, Mo. In this role, David manages the Greene County MU Extension Center and works with staff and members of the elected extension council to create impactful and sustainable educational programs in the community. He is also an instructor in various programs related to community and individual leadership, heritage tourism, media relations, and becoming an engaged neighbor.


Sarah Hultine Massengale
University of Missouri Extension

Sarah works as a County Engagement Specialist in Community Economic Development with the University of Missouri Extension, headquartered in Dent County, and serving Dent, Phelps, Crawford counties.  Sarah’s current work includes facilitating programs in non-profit organization, community food system development, and supporting rural community non-profits in partnership with Missouri Community Betterment Association. She has a doctoral degree in Rural Sociology where her research focused on community wealth impacts of rural food systems.  Sarah has a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a bachelor's degree in biology and environmental studies from Knox College.


Letitia Johnson
University of Missouri Extension

Letitia “Tish” Johnson began working for MU Extension in January 1996 as a community development specialist in rural counties along the Mississippi River south of St. Louis.  She currently holds a split position that is part local administration and engagement, and part community development programming, headquartered in Columbia (Boone County), Missouri.  Johnson’s niche is bringing together social work’s focus on societal well-being -- particularly for under-represented and more vulnerable populations -- with the processes of community development.  Her programming focuses on cultural competency (DEI), leadership development, and local government/public policy.  Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and a Master of Social Work in Social and Economic Development from Washington University in St. Louis. 


Mistti Ritter 

University of Missouri Extension

Mistti Ritter identified her strengths as: nurturing community partnerships and stakeholder relationships; nonprofit capacity and mission retention and identifying intersections of opportunity. Mistti supports Jefferson county by focusing on areas of leadership development and organizational capacity, workforce, and environmental health.  She strengthens local communities through education about asset identification and social entrepreneurship. Mistti supports the Jefferson County Extension Council and Extension Center operations, serving as an information conduit and catalyst for UM System Engagement within the county and developing professional capacity in MU Extension programming including Community Economic Development; Community Emergency Management and Local Foods.


Tina Edholm

University of Missouri Extension

Tina Edholm is a Field Specialist in Human Development and Family Science with the University of Missouri Extension. In this role, Tina strives to empower families through educational opportunities and furthering community engagement. Tina joined University of Missouri Extension faculty in 2020. Prior to joining MU Extension, she received her Educational Specialist in Educational Technology as well as a Master’s in Family Studies from the University of Missouri. She also holds Graduate Certificates in Nonprofit Management and Grantsmanship.


Elizabeth Anderson

University of Missouri Extension

Elizabeth Anderson is the county engagement specialist for Osage County with University of Missouri Extension.  She serves there, as well as Cole, Callaway, and Gasconade counties, with an emphasis on community economic development.  Elizabeth joined MU Extension in 2021 and has been focusing her work on leadership development, as well as initiatives involving workforce development and local government.  She also serves on the boards of Osage County Agritourism Council, Missouri Community Betterment, and Central Missouri Community Action Agency; as well as the Lincoln University Cooperative Extension Human Nutrition and Health Advisory Board.


Kyle Whittaker

University of Missouri Extension

Kyle Whittaker is a county engagement specialist in agricultural business at the University of Missouri Extension. He serves Webster, Wright and Texas Counties in southwest Missouri. Kyle serves on a value-added meats team that focuses on creating sustainable supply chains, by fostering relationships between local consumers, meat processors and local livestock producers. He offers several engagement activities and programs in the counties he serves. He has been involved with Neighborhood Leadership Academy for the past three years. Kyle has taught leadership skills to youth and adults through his career in education and as a MU Extension faculty member. Kyle currently works with many 4-H members in an effort to develop youth leadership skills, through many different project areas. He is a retired Agricultural Education instructor, retiring from Marshfield High School in 2019. 


Tasnim Haq

University of Missouri St. Louis

Tasnim Haq holds a Masters in Social Work. She is the program manager for Creating Whole Communities, which houses NLF and NLA. She has been working with the NLF and NLA programs for over three years. Her work is primarily focused on connecting University resources and neighborhood residents to strengthen communities


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Tasnim Haq