WEPOWER's Tomorrow Builders Design Fellows will be working for the next 4 months to synthesize your ideas and vision into a "playbook" for our region to utilize. Design Fellows are co-facilitators of the four-month design process, leading solutions team members through various activations leading to the development of the Community Wealth Building Playbook. They are also ambassadors of the work, constantly celebrating and spreading the word about the process, inviting folks to participate, and then building awareness about the CWB Playbook that will be released. We're excited to have this amazing group of community members leading this Reimagining Process.
Kara Bender (she/her) is a systems thinker, organizer, participant-centered educator, and an embodied and playful facilitator. Through her consulting organization, Seed & Spiral, she encourages growing our collective imaginations for liberation through body-based, earth-centered, equity offerings. She is deeply committed to naming her stake and responsibility as a white cisgender woman in ending oppressive systems and has over 15 years of experience in community organizing and anti-racism facilitation. When she’s not working, she spends her time biking in parks near her home, scouting the next best ice cream place, and reading sci-fi fantasy novels next to her kitty.
Marissa Brooks is a dedicated health educator, facilitator, motivational speaker, and healer who is driven by a fervent belief in empowering families to cultivate a resilient local economy. Marissa, a mother and wife, leverages nine years of teaching experience and holds a bachelor's in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education and a master's in Marriage and Family Therapy. Her dedication extends beyond personal well-being, acknowledging the deep connection between community health and economic prosperity. Through her efforts, Marissa strives to narrow the divide, cultivating healthier communities that will enhance the vibrancy of the local economy.
Bryanna Brown is a bridge-builder between equitable, innovative solutions and those who need them most. Bryanna, an alumnae of Georgia State University, earned her Bachelors of Interdisciplinary Studies in Arts Administration and earned her MBA at Washington University in St. Louis. Previously, she was an educator through Teach for America as a 2016 Metro Atlanta corps member. She also worked in strategic planning at Friday Social Impact Consulting firm. Currently, she is a strategic planner at Copeland.
Dewitt Campbell, III was born and raised in St. Louis City. He received his Bachelor's Degree in Sociology from Webster University and Master's Degree in Social Work from Washington University. Dewitt has worked in Social Services for the past 28 years providing substance abuse prevention services, services for unhoused youth and adults, emergency disaster relief services, and equity and inclusion training and consultation. He currently operates DC3 Solutions, which provides non-profit consulting, temporary executive leadership support, and human relations training and consultation with a focus on issues of equity and inclusion.
Shontay Ford's story unfolds from a challenging but divine start in East St. Louis, IL, blending faith, resilience, and a fervent commitment to the liberation of her community. Being grounded in Christian beliefs, she tirelessly advocates for safe spaces to amplify the voices of marginalized youth. Rooted in a profound love for family and community, her journey is a testament to overcoming adversity. A love for travel broadens Shontay's perspective, weaving a narrative of triumph over adversity, dedication to justice, and an enduring passion to knit together a tapestry of love, freedom, and understanding.
Javia was born is St. Louis Missouri. She attended the University of Missouri- Columbia for undergrad earning degrees in International Business Marketing and Spanish. After spending a year in the workforce she decided to enroll in a Masters program at the University of Missouri - St. Louis. In 2021, she earned her MBA with an emphasis on Information Systems and Business Intelligence. Javia is the co-owner of Pour Decisions STL, a mobile bar company.
Mia Howard is a Managing Partner at NewSchools Venture Fund. In her role, she leads the Innovative Schools investment area, which supports educators with bold new visions for schools that embrace an expanded definition of success, equity, and innovation.
Prior to joining NewSchools, Mia was the Founding Partner of Schools and Talent at The Opportunity Trust. Before that, Mia was Founder and CEO of Intrepid College Prep Schools, a growing network of public schools in Nashville, Tennessee. Mia has spent her career in education focused on how to ensure K-12 learning experiences allow students to chart their own futures and achieve economic mobility. Mia is also a mental health advocate and is currently on the boards of NAMI St. Louis, the local affiliate of the National Alliance for Mental Illness, and City Garden Montessori School.
Dr. Natalie King
As the daughter of 1st & 2nd generation immigrant parents and raised in the US south, Dr. King has always lived at the center of ‘Equity’ as an imperative, not a nice to have. At 26, she became one of the youngest, and first Afro- Latina, to receive her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Illinois at Chicago, creating a platform for others to go on and do the same. During that time, her work was focused on studying the biophysics of depression and autism and she subsequently became a double-licensed emergency medicine technician. As a patient care provider, current Medical Affairs professional, and integrated beauty and health company Founder (Florae) her passion continues to include expanding the lens of equity & access for her community. She’s an International TEDx speaker and has served on numerous committees and advisory boards for national and international organizations, including UNICEF Next Gen, Women in Bio, and Make-A-Wish Illinois.
Julia López (she/ella) adopts an anti-oppressive approach in her work as a public health researcher and mental health clinician. She specializes in complex trauma, stigma, and substance use. She actively fosters trauma-informed, inclusive and intersectional care for diverse populations, including migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, people living with HIV/AIDS, and LGBTQIA+ individuals. Through her advocacy, she strives to influence multi-level interventions that not only support survivors at an individual level but also contribute to broader systemic improvements in public health and mental healthcare policies.
Aiyana Nash, a resilient St. Louis County resident, originally from East St. Louis, Illinois, navigates the complexities of the contemporary economy. Unveiling a passion for social work during her Bachelor's at the University of Missouri St. Louis, she delved into governance, interning with the U.S. Congress and St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. Aiyana earned her Master's in Social Work from the Brown School at Washington University, specializing in social and economic development. At the crossroads of academia, advocacy, and action, she stands as a beacon of hope, exemplifying determination, empathy, and resilience. Her most cherished title? Mother to Lola, embodying the promise of a brighter future.
Geoffrey Soyiantet stands as a lifeline for newcomers, many of whom arrive through the Diversity Visa program. Geoffrey's dedication to fostering economic growth and cultural exchange resonates profoundly. As the co-founder of the St. Louis African Chamber of Commerce, he pioneers initiatives that stimulate business and trade between the African Continent and the St. Louis Region. His advisory role in the St. Louis Mosaic Project underscores his commitment to promoting diversity and inclusivity within the region. A passionate advocate for immigrant entrepreneurs and community integration, Geoffrey relentlessly pursues his vision of a more inclusive and prosperous St. Louis. A cohort member of FOCUS Leadership St. Louis and a holder of a Bachelor's in Economics and a Master's in Business Administration from Lindenwood University.
Toni Taylor is a St. Louis native, born and raised in "The Greater Ville" neighborhood. She has always possessed a passion and commitment to education, youth advocacy, community involvement, and most of all, family. She brings 10+ years of experience in supporting, uplifting, and organizing her community. Toni is the President of the non-profit Cary On The Ball Inc, the sole purpose of which is working with children and youth in need by connecting them to various resources. In addition, she has organized several community givebacks aimed at serving our youth. She tries to uplift and improve her community as a member of the FSV response team, a partnership between Arch City Defenders and Faith For Justice. She also completed her cohort two member status at Rung For Women in 2022.
Ebony Williams is the Co-founder of Expect Us social justice organization. She started out in 2014 for Michael Brown Jr., and has had an amazing experience throughout the process where she has stepped in many rooms and worked for several organizations. Ebony is a mom to a 2 year old handsome boy who she has to pave the way for. She is currently the Director of Organizing for Bridge 2 Hope Parent Institute and our North Star is to get all children on grade level and on track by 2040.
St. Louis native, Morgan Williams, is a Program Manager for the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team at Ameren Corporation. Morgan is a dedicated, passionate professional, that has led transformative initiatives at Ameren. She drives continuous learning in her organization through the design and implementation of DE&I trainings that educate and raise awareness of DE&I and drive Ameren's corporate goals and objectives. Morgan values opportunities that allow her to bring people together and inspire those around her. She is committed to creating a more equitable community and continuing to make an impact over the years through various organizations that support the youth & women.