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Nov 9



"Why Words Are Humans' Most Important Invention. We need to look at the evolution and power of how we speak with and at each other. Language is the most important element in achieving racial equity and racial justice."

-Nikki Giovanni



Racial Equity

Sessions designed to advance understanding of  and implementation of racial equity capacity building.

Opportunity to Thrive

Sessions that directly address the social and economic barriers to thriving, racially equitable communities.

Youth at the Center

Youth-centered sessions that speak to racially equitable systems change and awareness.

Justice For All

Sessions that center the criminal justice system and best practices for moving forward collectively in a new, racially equitable reality.

Affinity Groups

BiPOC Caucusing & 

People of Color Networking
White People Caucusing

Black Women Leaders Networking

Corporate Allies Networking

Ready to choose your sessions?


*Sessions are subject to change*

12:00 pm - Event Opens, Exhibits Open
1:00 pm - Welcome, 
Rebeccah Bennett

1:05 pm - Why Are We Here? Purpose. - Annissa McCaskill
1:25 pm - Snapshot of the Region - Dr. Kanika Cunningham

1:45 pm - Snapshot of the Region - Rev. Bethany Johnson-Javois

2:15 pm   -   Keynote Session w/Nikki Giovanni - Why Words Are Humans; Most Important Intervention 

3:15 pm - Keynote Audience Q&A, w/Nikki Giovanni
3:30 pm - Snapshot of the Region, Rebeccah Bennett

3:45 pm - Book Signing with w/Nikki Giovanni 

3:45 pm - 4:30 pm - The Kinloch Doc - Documentary Screening

3:45 pm - 5:00 pm - Vendor Fair & Welcome Party



7:00 am - Conference Opens, Exhibits Open
8:00 am - Welcome, Dr. Marty K. Casey

8:10 am - Community Gospel Choir of St. Louis 

8:15 am Snapshot of the Region, Dr. Matifadza Hlatshwayo-Davis

8:30 am - Snapshot of the Region, Dr. Marty K. Casey

Folks are aware of housing authorities as institutions providing housing to low-income individuals and families.  However, few are aware of the programs that are developed to work with residents in their goal to build self-sufficiency and leadership.  This session will highlight the significant impact of the Family Self-Sufficiency Program, how residents can get involved, and how organizations can support them.

Say What?! - Addressing Racial Equity with a Government Program

9:00 am - 10:15 am - Breakout Session #1:


Vontriece McDowell, Director of Resident & Community Engagement -

St. Louis Housing Authority

Vera Wren, Family Self-Sufficiency Coordinator - St. Louis Housing Authority


Grace Hagan


Dr. Will Ross

Dr. David Cunningham

Professor and Chair of Sociology Washington University in St. Louis

Deleshā George

Deaconess Foundation


Dr. Wally Siewert

Empowered AntiRacist Leadership


Dr. Nicole Evans,

Embracing Equity

Carly Riley, Director of Virtual Learning, Embracing Equity


Marina P. Gross

Leadership is a BIG task in and of itself! With the transformation to an anti-racist, equitable organization being the ultimate goal, leaders are being asked to figure out the puzzle of how to get there.  In addition, leaders are often asked to carry out this big work – alone. This session will examine a framework for leaders that centers on an ecosystem approach for transformative change, while also leaving them empowered to do the work. We will delve into three interlocking pieces of the puzzle that center institutional, interpersonal, and individual focus for the empowered antiracist leader. These critical pieces of transformative leadership and reflective work will lead to action steps for the entire organization!


Jessie Dockins, School Programs Coordinator,

Missouri Botanical Gardens / Shaw Nature Reserve

Jessica Kester, Education and Visitor Experience Senior Manager

Missouri Botanical Gardens / Shaw Nature Reserve

Beth Adams, Outdoor Educator

Missouri Botanical Gardens / Shaw Nature Reserve

Michelle Bonebrake, Outdoor Educator

Missouri Botanical Gardens / Shaw Nature Reserve

Join Shaw Nature Reserve’s education team on a journey towards making “Nature for All” more than just words.  From removing barriers and redesigning curriculum to fostering feelings of comfort and belonging, we’ll explore the many ways we’ve worked to transform our school, youth, and community programs into culturally relevant experiences that are learner-centered and nature-focused.   We’ll share our efforts, impacts, challenges, and next steps toward becoming a space where everyone feels welcome and able to access the physical and mental benefits of connecting with the natural world.  If you are a teacher, a youth or community group leader, and/or would like to learn more about a local environmental learning campus where equity is centered and diversity is celebrated, then this session is for you!


Rachel D'Souza, Gladiator Consulting


Michael Eggelston

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Violeta Gutkowski

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Linda Nguyen, Executive Director

Community Builders Network

Monique Thomas, Executive Director Cornerstone Corporation (CDC)

In this session, we will discuss key findings from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank’s newly released report, Grants in the Gateway. The report examines the flow of grant-based funding to community and economic development (CED) organizations in the region, including using a racial equity lens. We will hear reactions from nonprofit CED organizations about funding to Black-led CED organizations while exploring actionable strategies that promote racial equity in funding to nonprofits.  

10:30 am - 11:45 am - Breakout Session #2:

Get Your People: Addressing Racism With Your Colleagues and Co-workers 


Zenique Gardner Perry & James Meinert

Co-Founders, Undo Bias

In this session, Zenique Gardner Perry and James Meinert will share about their efforts and successes in using both caucus spaces and dyadic listening in the workplace to shift workplace culture and develop anti-racist practices.


Taylor Bass, LMSW, CD,

Therapist & Full Spectrum Doula,

The Wellness Center


Aaliyah Sweet P. Bailey

This session will discuss the importance of amplifying the issue of PMAD symptoms among Black birthing women and people. It will also cover the long-term impact when these concerns are addressed during the perinatal period and how that benefits the entire Black family system.

Indigenous St. Louis: Roundtable Discussion


Dr. Pam Begay, Director, Kathryn M Buder Center for American Indian Studies & Associate Professor of Practice

Washington University in St. Louis

Rico Rose

Local Activist and Native Community Member

Sherry Echohawk

Local Activist and Native Community Member

James, McAnally, Executive Director

& Artistic Director



Colleen Cunningham

A roundtable discussion of members of the STLr City Working Group on the group’s approach to relationship building with Native communities both locally and in Oklahoma, potentially joined by Native community members who have been collaborators or who have otherwise engaged with the project. Individual Working Group members will discuss programs and projects within their institutions, and how the project Indigenous St. Louis has contributed to those goals. The discussion will also highlight work by individual group members or institutions, including Counterpublics collaboration with the Osage Tribal Historic Preservation Office and Dr. Hunter to rematriate the remaining properties on Sugarloaf Mound, and the placement of works by Native artists in relation to the site.

What It Takes to Drive Equity Through Economic & Community Development 


Zack Boyers, Chairman & CEO

Washington University in St. Louis

Neal Richardson, President & CEO

St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC)

Jason Hall, CEO

Greater St. Louis, Inc.

Dara Eskridge, Executive Director

Invest STL


Linda Nguyen

Roundtable conversation about the barriers to and opportunities for advancing racial equity through efforts in economic & community development arena with expert perspectives from diverse actors in the subject arenas including Zack Boyers, CEO of U.S. Bancorp Impact Finance; Neal Richardson, President & CEO of St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC); Jason Hall, CEO of Greater St. Louis, Inc.; and Dara Eskridge, LEED AP ND, Executive Director of Invest STL.


Kara Bender & Kelly Feder

Calling in our white, white-passing, and multi-racial folks who want to explore ways whiteness shows up in your body. You are invited to this interactive practice space where we will try on body-based alternative strategies to many of our habitual behavior patterns that are rooted in white supremacy culture. Cole Arthur Riley of Black Liturgies says, “Oppression happens when we’re disconnected from our bodies.” In this workshop, you will be invited to begin noticing your body’s reactions, sensations, and the emotions that often accompany those patterns, so that acting from a place of choice rather than reaction is more possible.

12:30 pm - 1:30 pm: Luncheon w/Panel - Justice For All? Reflections on the State of Justice following the 2014 Uprising


Michael Brown, Sr. 

Cal Brown

Mike Milton

Blake Strode

David Dwight, IV


Kinya Johnson & Faybra Jabulani

Nine years after the 2014 Uprising, the St Louis region is still struggling to ensure safety, equity and Justice for every resident. Several highly reputable and effective organizations have risen to answer the call to ensure justice for all through advocating explicitly for policies, structures, and investments in institutions that will dismantle structural, anti-Black racism that persists in the local landscape. The purpose of the panel is to hear from a few prominent movement leaders who are continuing to work towards Racial Equity though holding the actors and structures of the Justice System accountable, and are providing transformational resources to impacted communities. Panelists will weigh in on questions about definitions of Justice, Safety and Equity, and will offer their perspectives on pressing issues that each participant can take away calls to action to support now and in the future. 

12:25 pm  - Chosen for Change.

2:15 pm - 3:30 pm - Breakout Session #3:

Equity in Mental Health Access

This presentation features our collaboration with two CCGF grantees, Webster University and The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, and will provide an opportunity for participants to become familiar with trust-based philanthropy principles in theory and in practice.  In hearing from the two grantees who are doing the work to advance racial equity with support from CCGF, we hope participants are challenged to think differently about the relationship between funder and organization and continue dialogue afterward regarding how the practices could be implemented as an empowering mechanism for marginalized communities within their own organizations and within their funding relationships.


Candace Anthony, EdD, LPC, BC-TMH, 

Program Development

Chiron Community Giving Foundation

Teresa Steinkamp, MSW, LMSW,

Advising Director

The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis

Muthoni Musangali, PhD, LPC, NCC,
Professor, Counseling Department

Webster University, St. Louis


Mark Fiala


Claire Schell, Founder

Claire Schell Consulting


Atia Thurman

During this session, we will explore the critical role of psychological safety in enabling all employees – especially those who are most marginalized – to thrive. Through personal reflection and group discussion, participants will identify what psychological safety looks like and name workplace barriers to achieving it. In particular, the group will examine the influence of white supremacy culture as an impediment to psychological safety. We will define white supremacy culture and its implications; as Tema Okun tells us, “White supremacy culture trains us all to internalize attitudes and behaviors that do not serve any of us.” We will explore these common attitudes and behaviors (e.g. perfectionism, either/or thinking, defensiveness) - how they show up in organizational culture, and how we can interrupt them. Participants will leave with a greater understanding of these terms and will feel more empowered to build a more psychologically safe environment in their own workplace.

Centering Black Advocates to Address Racial Inequities in Overdose


Daje Bradshaw, Community Partnerships and Programming Specialist

University Of Missouri St Louis, Missouri Institue of Mental Health

Arial Collins, Co-Chair

The CENTER Initiative Community Advisory Board

Gerald Dennis, Co-Chair

The CENTER Initiative Community Advisory Board

Andreas Prince

Panel: Keith Lofton, Harriet Montgomery, Rev. Alfred Long Sr., Rev. Burton Barr



LaVada Rice

 Black individuals are disproportionately dying from overdose across the United States, including here in Missouri. The CENTER Initiative is a project aimed at reducing racial inequities in overdose in St. Louis, already the epicenter of our state’s overdose crisis. To inform this project, the initiative developed a St. Louis-based Community Advisory Board (CAB) composed of 8 Black individuals with direct and indirect experience with substance use and addiction. CABs ensure that projects are driven by trusted community messengers and help hold project staff accountable to the needs of communities. Project staff and community partners have worked with the CAB to develop meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships. This presentation will share the accomplishments and lessons learned from the CENTER Initiative so far and include a panel discussion with current CAB members who will share their experiences participating in research, advocacy, and relationship building as part of the CAB. 


Michelle Witthaus, Policy Design + Activation Partner

Invest STL

Krista Cooksey, Public Health Research Coordinator

Rooted Participant

Christopher Harrell, Financial Advisor

CKH Financial & Rooted Volunteer

Vianey Beltran, Vice President | Senior Philanthropy & Community Impact Specialist

Wells Fargo

Invest STL reinvests in communities that have been affected by the legacy of systemic anti-Black racism. “It takes money to make money” seems to be a universal truth when it comes to getting ahead in America. It’s even more critical in communities who have suffered generational losses in wealth due to systemic racism. Earlier this year, Invest STL launched “Rooted: Cultivating Black Wealth in Place” an anti-displacement effort aimed at helping residents build wealth so they can afford to stay and grow in their neighborhood. The Rooted initiative paired participants with a financial advisor and provided them with $20,000 to use towards wealth-building strategies. This session will provide an overview of the initiative and an opportunity to hear from those who are participating in the initiative- a community member, financial advisor, and our funding partner

3:45 pm - 5:00 pm - Breakout Session #4

3:00 pm - 4:00 pm: The Kinloch Doc - Documentary Screening


Alana Marie, Director

The Kinloch Doc


Faybra Jabulani, Lead Racial Equity Capacity Catalyst

Forward Through Ferguson

Sarah Murphy, Racial Equity Support Catalyst, Community Lead

Forward Through Ferguson, Washington University in St. Louis


Atia Thurman

More and more institutions—across sectors—realize the importance of incorporating racial equity into their structure, policies, and practices; but they struggle with the how. The Racial Equity Roundtable is a facilitated monthly cohort model for these institutions. This session offers activities that engage the Roundtable’s main objectives: building a network of radically collaborative leaders, problem-solving, and creating an action plan to infuse racial equity in organizational transformation. Roundtable alumni will be an active part of the session to offer perspective and grapple in public about the journey along the Path to Racial Equity. 

The Roundtable is part of the Build Racial Equity Capacity component of Forward Through Ferguson’s #STL2039 Action Plan to achieve a St. Louis region where racial equity is the reality by 2039—a generation after the killing of Michael Brown Jr. catalyzed the #Ferguson uprising. The MO Governor-appointed Ferguson Commission identified racial inequity as the primary root cause of #Ferguson and the global #BlackLivesMatter movement. Embracing the Ferguson Commission’s mandate, Forward Through Ferguson centers impacted communities and mobilizes accountable bodies to advance racially equitable systems and policies that ensure all people in the St. Louis region can thrive.


Joseph Kevin Wright, Principal

YARD & Company 

Monique Thomas, Executive Director

Cornerstone Corporation

Dr. S. Hero Harrell, Executive Director/ Founder, weCollab, Sovereign University / weCollab Steering Committee Member

Treena B. Thompson, Senior Program Officer

Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis / weCollab Steering Committee Advisor

Lisa Potts, Director of Prevention Partnerships

Saint Louis MHB / weCollabSteering Committee Advisor

Lorin Jackson, Collaboration Support Partner

Invest STL

Jonathan Roper, St. Louis City Planning Executive Neighborhood Planning


Linda Nguyen

The weCollab neighborhood planning effort yielded the first fully resident-led neighborhood plan to be adopted by the City of St. Louis in June 2023. The session brings together West End and Visitation Park neighborhood residents, Cornerstone Corporation (neighborhood-based community development corp), Yard & Co. (planning consultants), and Invest STL (funding and capacity partner) to share the process, components, and approach to organizing and carrying out a process that centers existing Black residents when developing and acting on a vision for the future. The session will consist of a brief presentation of the process and plan, followed by a roundtable and workshop with session attendees on using the Resident-Led Planning Playbook developed from the learnings of the weCollab effort.

Toward A More Diverse Professoriate: Recruiting, Retaining and Supporting Faculty of Color at our Colleges and Universities

During this session, we will discuss research about the recruitment, retention, and support of faculty of color at our local institutions of higher education and provide strategies for how institutions can work collaboratively in this effort.


Dr. Candace N. Hall, Assistant Professor

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville


Marina P. Gross

From Grief to Activism: A Conversation with Valerie Castile and Mike Brown Sr


Michael Brown, Sr., Co-Founder

Michael Brown Sr. Chosen For Change Organization


Valerie Castille, Founder

The Philando Castile Relief Foundation

Dr. Courtney Graves

The Salvation Army- Ferguson Community Empowerment Center


Dr. Saint Rice

Join us for an impactful panel discussion featuring two individuals who have turned their personal tragedies into a catalyst for change. Valerie Castile, the mother of Philando Castile, and Mike Brown Sr, the father of Michael Brown, will share their experiences, resilience, and the activism that emerged from their grief.

Moderated by Dr. Courtney Graves, this conversation will delve into the raw emotions of loss, the pursuit of justice, and the transformation of pain into advocacy. Valerie and Mike will share their insights, struggles, and the ways they have worked to make a difference in their communities.

This event is an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the power of activism and the strength of the human spirit. Join us as we explore the paths that Valerie Castile and Mike Brown Sr have taken to honor their sons' legacies and drive meaningful change.

4:00 pm - 5:00 pm:  The Art of Documentation - Because it Matters WHO Tells the Story


Alana Marie, The Kinloch Doc


A compelling exploration of the power + significance of preserving the narratives of marginalized communities. We will delve into the multifaceted world of documentation as both an art form and a means of empowerment.

Youth at the Center Day

8:00 am - Conference Opens 
9:00 am - Welcome to Youth at the Center Day, Precious Barry

9:15 am - 10:00 am   Youth Panel : 
Working Collectively As One


Elizabeth Franklin, Chair

St. Louis County Youth Advisory Council


Ismail Botchway, Student

Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience

Teahna Phillips, Student

Harris-Stowe State University

Raevyn Ferguson

College & Career Readiness Program Coordinator

The Little Bit Foundation


Precious Barry, Youth Activist


10:15 am -11:00 am - Breakout Session #5

It is important that we as young people work together with all generations to cultivate our community. This panel will go into detail on a series of questions on what is the effective way of passing down the torch, knowingly knowing that we all work together as one.


Angela Carr, Vice President and Chief Impact Officer

Nine PBS

Alex Stallings, Senior Director of Early


Nine PBS

Kristina Vidovic, Early Learning Initiative Manager

Nine PBS


Deleshā George & Zasmine Johnson

Join Nine PBS in exploring the transformative Drawn In, a powerful Initiative that leverages literacy, social-emotional learning, and art engagement to create a lasting impact within our early learner’s homes, schools, and broader communities. This session dives deep into how we employ our trusted Model of Community Engagement to create fun, educational content with community organizations and partners, parents and caregivers, and educators. We will highlight examples of victories, hardships, and actionable steps in how to co-produce community-driven resources that support early learners and all that care for them.

Black Mamas Thriving: Shifting Birth Culture in St. Louis


Okunsola M. Amadou



Daffney Moore

Equity is a trending topic in education. But what does it mean inside school walls? Members of the Alive & Well team will share stories and experiences from the frontlines of education, demonstrate how racial equity in education connects directly to the health and well-being of our communities, and encourage community action that will challenge the system and push for positive change.

A Culturally Responsive Approach to K-12 Inequity: The Believe Projects


Julius B. Anthony, Founder and President of

St. Louis Black Authors of Children’s

Literature and The Believe Project

St. Louis Black Authors,


Dr. Sheldon McAfee 

In this presentation, discover how literacy has become the primary factor that can determine if Black children will succeed in the region's public schools. Discover how Black, LatinX, and Indigenous children’s literature and the arts is being used to ensure school success.

11:15 am - 12:00 pm - Breakout Session #6

Presentation by Precious Barry


Precious Barry, Youth Activist


Lisa Greening, Executive Director

Turn the Page, STL


Deleshā George

In this session, the discussion will be the inequitable facts related to illiteracy between our white and brown/black students, why and how this has happened, and what we can do to ensure all children are reading proficiently by the end of third grade. 

Who's Feeding St. Louis? A Look at the Landscape of Food Insecurity and Workforce Development


Kisha Lee, President and Chief Executive Officer, Propel Kitchens


Carmen Stayton

Access to healthy food is far from a guaranteed resource in St. Louis – as of 2020, more than 200,000 individuals in the metro area are food insecure. On the surface, food deserts might appear to be a reason for this. 40% of families with children in St. Louis received food stamps. This is nearly double the rate in the United States, where 20% of families with children receive food stamps. In the St. Louis region, Black families are nearly six times as likely as white families to receive food stamps. 59.7% of black households with children receive food stamps, compared to 10.1% of white households with children. Come to this session to take a deep dive into food insecurity in the St. Louis area, and learn about Propel Kitchens, a nonprofit looking to feed the city and develop the next generation of culinarians.

12:15 pm - 12:30 pm - Conference Closing - Riisa Rawlings, Organizer Committee

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