The 2021 Cohort consists of 23 Leaders from North Saint Louis City and sections of North Saint Louis County:

Leia Burroughs

Saint Louis City – Academy         

Leia Burroughs is a person of many different talents. After spending the majority of her growing years in Omaha, Nebraska, and completing her degree in Culinary Arts as well as a bachelor degree in Hospitality Restaurant Tourism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, she moved to Austin, Texas three days after getting married to experience what it means to Keep Austin Weird. During her time in Austin, she went from just a volunteer to the founding secretary for a 501c3 called Flo Code which is now a national non-profit. Her developmental experiences in Austin led her to change her career from one focused on the culinary arts to one focused on event management. A career opportunity in her husband's hometown of St. Louis, MO, prompted another cross-country move. Almost one year later, she is currently serving as the first and only event specialist specifically for the Olin School of Business Graduate Programs Office at Washington University in St. Louis and has the tremendous opportunity to create, innovate and execute events for more than 1500+ domestic and international graduate students. She is actively engaged in the Academy/Sherman Park Neighborhood Association (ASPNA) Community Garden and is currently a board member on the greenspace initiatives for the ASPNA neighborhood to launch soon. Top


Shameem Clark-Hubbard

Saint Louis City – West End       

26th Ward Alderwoman Shameem Clark Hubbard is the proud wife of Rodney R. Hubbard and devoted mother of five, Ayana, Rodney Jr., Jabari, Attallah, and Ayishah. She was born and raised to her parents Joseph and Richelle Clark, in the 4thWard GreaterVille Area, where her Grandfather Joseph W.B.Clark Sr. laid a foundation as the 4Th Ward Alderman from 1963-1973 and then as the First African American Director of Public Safety For The City of St. Louis. She grew up watching his examples through politics and public service as president of NAACP and his church and various other organizations, and learning the value of serving the GREATER GOOD! At about the age of 9, her parents moved her and her two siblings to the 26th Ward. As a young adult, Shameem owned and operated a successful business for 15plus years in the 26th Ward on Delmar Blvd; and after getting married, Shameem chose along with her husband to move back to the 26th Ward and raise their family.

Shameem humbly served as 26th Ward Democratic Committeewoman from 2012-2016. She made the personal choice not to run for re-election in 2016 but never stopped answering calls, never stopped showing up to meetings, and NEVER lost her passion for working and serving our community. She understands the cares and concerns are different from one corner to the next in our diverse neighborhoods and stands on a platform of addressing them and SERVING through transparency, inclusion, and open-door communication. She believes leadership is about ACTION, not position. In 2019 she ran a victorious grass-root campaign to fill the vacated 26Th Ward Alderperson seat, was sworn in on April 16, 2019, and hit the ground running, learning and serving ever since! Shameem prays and believes her sincere heart and unifying spirit will shine a different light not just on the STLCity Board of Alderman and the 26Th Ward but on the Entire City Of St. Louis! Top


Keith Crawford

Saint Louis City – North Pointe         

Keith A. Crawford is a native of St. Louis. Generally, his work life has been spent in the construction industry and related fields. Keith has worked as a hired or self-employed manager most of the time. He has worked in fourteen of the United States from New York to California, building various government facilities and public works. His signature construction project is the Dome at America's Center, where he worked as a Project Engineer and Special Projects Manager in the building of that facility. Keith's favorite project was the renovation of the main athletic field at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY. He also worked on two phases of the MetroLink light rail system as a subcontractor with my crews building concrete structures, including several on the UMSL campus. Since 2001, Keith has only done consulting work. During most of his career, Keith belonged to one construction industry trade association or another. He has also been a volunteer for a number of community organizations, and he always votes. The year 2021 will mark the fortieth year of commitment for Keith and his wife; they both have adult children from previous relations. Top


Patricia Dees

Saint Louis City – St. Louis Place         

Patricia Dees is a strong woman of faith who continues to overcome adversity while putting others first. Patricia's Lupus battle led her to advocacy for the Lupus Foundation-Heartland Chapter, which allows her to spend time educating & motivating patients, caregivers, and others about Lupus.
While being educated at Lincoln (Jeff City) & Washburn Universities, Patricia garnered a reputation of spreading compassion and of instilling self-confidence in all those she encounters. These characteristics lead to Patricia & Melissa Golder founding the "Lawrence Strawbridge Foundation" after the untimely death of Tyra Shannon & Lawrence Strawbridge. The foundation motto of "Bridging the Gap" has ensured that students from the inner city are given the same opportunities as their suburban counterparts by providing college scholarships and meeting other educational needs.
Patricia was recently given the honor of becoming Chair of the St Louis Place Neighborhood Association and looks forward to continuing the groups strong sense of community pride and perseverance. This mother of four, bonus mom to one, new grandmother to Messiah, and guardian for youth has learned that you are not only what has happened to you but what you've made happen for others. Top


Angela Drake

Saint Louis City – Greater Ville         

Angela Drake is a St. Louis native and a real estate agent since 2003 and currently with Keller Williams Realty. After receiving her license, she joined and became a member of NAR (National Association of Realtors), MAR (Missouri Association of Realtors), and SLAR (St. Louis Associations of Realtors) and has been a member for the past 16 years. About 4 years ago, Angela began her community participation with the non-profit known as SLACO (St. Louis Association of Community Organizations). After joining SLACO a year later, she began to serve as secretary. Currently, Angela has served in that role for 2 years. In Angela’s early time as secretary, she joined the LRA Committee, and their group started what has become known as the Finest 15 Workshops. Angela can proudly say that she created these workshops that help educate the average person on how to purchase an LRA property and find financial resources that can assist in the renovation of these homes. Currently, the workshops have helped over 50 people in finding their LRA home. The homes are sometimes used as a 1st time home experience or investment property. Top


McFarlane Duncan

Saint Louis City – Vandeventer         

McFarlane Duncan is non-profit fundraising professional with 12 years of experience in raising funds for political campaigns and non-profit organizations. McFarlane specializes in fundraising campaign design and strategy. McFarlane has led various development departments including work with UNCF (United Negro College Fund) where he helped provide over two-million dollars in scholarship support to students in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

Currently he is the Development Director for Confluence Academies, a charter school system that serves 3,000 students from kindergarten to 12th grade. McFarlane is highly engaged in community and social justice issues. McFarlane is a member of the 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. In his free time, McFarlane likes to run, and engage in film and video work. Top


Tashara Earl

Saint Louis City – Baden         

Tashara Earl, a St. Louis native, is a vibrant, out-going, and compassionate serial entrepreneur. Growing up in the Baden neighborhood of St. Louis led Tashara to embark on a journey of entrepreneurship and creativity. She obtained her MBA from Webster University and a dual B.S. degree in Entertainment Management & Entrepreneurship from Missouri State University. She has over ten years of experience in the entertainment industry working in radio, music, media, and stage performance. In 2018, she transitioned her career into the technology industry, focusing on wearable technology, beauty, and consumer goods. Tashara is one of the Co-Founders for the tech startups, Techrein & Public Safety Innovation (PSI). The two tech startups provide innovative safety wearable technology products for outdoor enthusiasts and public safety officials. Also, Tashara is the Founder & CEO of Shades of Color mobile app Self Made Beauty, which is an interactive psychology-based lifestyle beauty app designed to encourage self-love and empower healthy self-care, makeup, skincare & hair care habits. 

Tashara serves as President of the Revitalization of Baden Association (ROBA). Serving is a heartfelt mission to empower residents to work together to “Bring Baden Back.” Being involved and giving back to the community has shaped her ambition and outlook on life today.  

In addition, she is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. St. Louis Metropolitan Alumnae Chapter, where she is devoted to rebuilding and uplifting her community through public service and economic development. Top


Terry Epps

Saint Louis County – Pine Lawn         

After winning his first election and now during his third term in office, Mayor Epps has made many accomplishments to keep his community first and move his city forward. His achievements have spanned from the implementation of boarding up and demolishing vacant, derelict, and dilapidated homes to now acquiring a $1.6-mission-dollar STP development grant and the 2017-2021 CDBG Funds totaling $250,000 to repair, restructure and design streets, sidewalks, crosswalks, street signs, lighting, and homes with a plan to “Rebuild and Rebrand Pine Lawn” throughout the city and along the Natural Bridge corridor. Mayor Epps has negotiated contracts for the construction of the new Pine Lawn Dental Lab and Office buildings, the renovation of the Pelton-Jackson Park for $356,000, and the renovation of Princess beauty Supply on Natural Bridge Rd. for $200,000. All in all, through his work to reform policies for the use of vacant land, there is over 13,537,400.00 in new development for the City of Pine Lawn projected to begin in 2021. Top



Marcel Hagens

Saint Louis City – West End        

Marcel Hagens graduated from the University of Missouri – Saint Louis in December 2018 with a B.A. in Public Policy Administration. Their call to serve is evident in the endeavors that they have chosen to embark upon.
As a field organizer in the 2018 Missouri Senate race, Marcel was able to directly hear the needs of the people and develop strategies to ensure that the communities that they served would be informed and equipped to make the best decisions for themselves.
In 2019, Marcel joined the Clark-Fox Family Foundation as a Part-Time Associate for their Mass Incarceration Project. Although their time there was brief, they were able to assist in creating dialogue around the effects of Mass Incarceration on lower socio-economic classes of people and people of color. This work proved close to Marcel’s heart, seeing that they witnessed family member’s that have been both lost to and made it out of the Prison System.
All these experiences led them to their current roll as Policy Coordinator at Action St. Louis. In this role, Marcel is responsible for legislative tracking, collaborating with the organizers to keep them abreast of changes on a policy level, and working with Action’s partners to further the mission of building Black political power in St. Louis. Top

Charlin Hughes

Saint Louis County – Normandy        

Rev. Charlin M. Hughes, M.S.W., native to St. Louis, started her journey of servanthood early on. Her breadth of intentional and impactful work as a community leader, advocate, and change agent spans more than 30 years. Rev. Hughes’ courage, creativity, and capacity to inspire participation and collaboration are instrumental in making sure community voices are heard, and community needs are met.

Rev. Hughes limitless efforts have positively affected teen moms, the un-housed families of the Normandy Schools Collaborative, and the community at large. Moreover, the unjust verdict in the Philando Castile case bolstered a need to help bridge the gap between police and community. As a result, Rev. Hughes and two other community leaders birthed Humanity in the Middle to do so. At this point in her career, one should not be surprised by her efforts of excellence but instead warmed by knowing that she is committed to making the world a better place to live. Top


William Humphrey

Saint Louis County – Bel-Noir        

Williams has served as a District Director in mid-county (Normandy, Ritenour, Pattonville, Wellston, University City, Clayton, Ladue, Maplewood-Richmond Heights) school districts and south St. Louis City. Additionally, William worked for ten years in Human Resources as an Employment Supervisor, Human Relations Officer, and Equal Opportunity Specialist. He has also worked for ten years in the insurance industry as a Property Damage and Bodily Injury Claims Specialist.

William has served in the following volunteer areas: Fair St. Louis, UMSL Alumni Association, past President of the African American chapter UMSL, he also served for seven years on the Normandy School Board. The last year and a half as the School Board President.

William currently serves in the following volunteer areas: President, Hampton-Midtown Kiwanis, Trustee, Pleasant Green M.B. Church, Treasurer, Beyond Housing Capital Fund Board, Ruth Faulkner Food Pantry –Pleasant Green, and Coordinator of the Pleasant Green Media Ministry. Top


LaTonya Jackson

Saint Louis City – Grande Center/Lewis Place       

LaTonya Jackson, MBA, is in her 7th year of banking having served as a BankCentre Leader, the VP of Community Development, and currently as a Community Lending Officer with Bank of America.  Her focus was/is building and expanding relationships between Banks and the communities within the St. Louis Metropolitan Area.  With over 20 years of experience in social services, LaTonya has intimate knowledge of how to best serve the most under-served communities. In the banking industry, LaTonya has balanced leading growing banking relationships within communities, while educating individuals, families and financial education and connecting them to resources.

LaTonya has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Benedictine College and a master’s in business administration degree from Fontbonne University. She serves on the board of Better Family Life, Inc. She is the current Co-Chair of the St. Louis Regional Financial Empowerment Coalition. Top


Jane Kayser

Saint Louis County – Greendale       

Jane Kayser has been dedicated to the field of education for 35 years. With experience in public, private and parochial school, she has personally observed the roles that poverty, violence, drug use and incarceration have played in the social and academic life of students. Currently, Jane teaches at Every Child’s Hope, an alternative school that offers credit recovery and guides students working through emotional and behavioral challenges. If you want to hear Jane talk, mention the discrepancy of educational quality and opportunity. Jane believes in developing an educational system that provides an equitable and fair distribution of wealth and resources to all students. This opportunity is the key to equal access of employment, social standing and political impact. She maintains that perpetual lack of opportunity in education will continue to feed the unrest of society and further systemic racism to people of color, individuals that do not claim heterosexuality as their sexual identity and those living at the poverty level. Jane’s proudest professional accomplishments includes sending three students from Every Child’s Hope to the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) regional competition in St. Louis to pitch their proposed businesses – one of which qualified for the national competition in New York City, becoming a member of the Neighborhood Leadership Fellows cohort, and continuing to serve as an Alderwomen for the City of Greendale located in the St. Louis Promise Zone. Top


Ly Syin Lobster

Saint Louis County – Castle Pointe

Ly Syin Lobster is a public servant,  overcomer of domestic violence and sexual abuse. She has worked with numerous nonprofits, ministries, and small businesses.  She serves as the Legislative Assistant for the Missouri House of Representatives.   Ly Syin’s desire to help people has been a part of her life since she was a teenager. It inspired her to become involved in Leadership. She has been in leadership since high school.  In college,  she continued to grow as a  leader reviving the Mulitcultuarual Student Organization at Southwestern College, Serving as the president, and then launching the Non -Traditional Student Organization serving as vice president.  Ly Syin graduated from  Southwestern College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications.  She is an advocate to increase awareness about the impacts of Domestic Violence.  Ly Syin has been instrumental in empowering women in business, ministry, and nonprofit through Ladies of Inspiration Success. Recently she has been an advocate for criminal justice reform through work with Exodus Reentry Village.  She has volunteered with nonprofits to make a difference and improve life quality for those in her community.   Ly Syin has been a volunteer with an organization such as Ferguson 1000, which after a successful pilot, expanded into Global 1000. 

In 2019, she was listed in the Missouri Times Magazine in the Lifesavers category of 100 people you need to know in Jefferson city.  Ly Syin received a 2019 transformation award from Imagery International, a women's empowerment group founded by Enzear Layne, for her personal and professional growth.

Ly Syin serves on the Sisters Helping Each Other Reach Higher Heights Board and the Reprieve Spiritual Wellness Center board. Ly Syin has continued volunteering her skills at several nonprofits and ministries in the St. Louis Metro area. In 2006, she completed the Connections to Success Leading Lady Leadership Series.  Ms. Lobster completed additional leadership training at the Human Development Corporations’ Stepping Up to Leadership Program.

In 2011, she served as the Dress for Success Professional Women’s Group delegate.  As the delegate, she established a Dress for Success Midwest Professional Women’s Group Facebook page, which the organization still utilizes. Ly Syin led a community action project to help homeless women. Under her leadership of The Dress for Success Midwest Professional Women’s Group, she fed homeless women and their families at three different sites in the greater St. Louis metro area. The project concluded by having a conference to inspire homeless women. The conference featured speakers from the 2011 Working Women Survivor Show. The guest speakers consisted of local area businesses, women ministry leaders, and Professional Women’s Group members.  The Yes We Can Woman Overcoming Obstacles conference ended a panel discussion that led previously homeless women. Top


Samantha March 

Saint Louis City – Wells –  Goodfellow

Dr. Samantha March was born and raised in the City of Saint Louis.   After spending her educational career in the Clayton School District, Samantha graduated from Clayton High School in 2003.  She went on to attend Dillard University, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Park University and Maryville University.  Samantha has an undergraduate degree and certification in Early Childhood Education and a graduate and a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership.  She currently is an active member of the PBS/Nine Network Community Advisory Board and the Office of Financial Empowerment College Kids Advisory Board. 

Samantha is an Early Childhood Education Enthusiast specializing in learning through play.  She has thoroughly enjoyed working in the urban education community for 15 years.  As a servant leader, Samantha stands firmly behind her self-proclaimed mantra: intentional impact, limitless learning and connecting community; believing all children deserve the best educational opportunities available. Top


Veronica Morrow-Reel 

Saint Louis County – Dellwood

Veronica has worked in Banking for 27 years and held several municipal elected or appointed positions: City Collector, Alderwoman, Planning and Zoning Commission, and TIF Commission. She has given her time to such organizations as the American Cancer Society, Ferguson Township Open Democratic Club, Metropolitan St. Louis CRA Association, PFLAG, Special School District Governing Council, MU Extension Council, Missouri School Board Association Region 7 Executive Committee, and the Special Administrative Board over Riverview Gardens School District. Veronica is currently completing the requirements to earn my Distinguished Board Member Certification, the highest School Board Certification in the State of Missouri.

Honors Veronica has received are: 2014 North County Incorporated Special Recognition Award for Community Service and the 2016 Small Business Monthly Magazine Wonder Women to Watch for Community Advocacy. Top


Marsha Nelson 

Saint Louis City – Baden

Working in customer service has allowed Marsha Nelson to recognize the importance of maintaining a level of professionalism and always giving respect to others. Her volunteerism experience has helped her understand that "Policy shapes change," and it is important that people use their acquired knowledge to stay humanly connected. Marsha has devoted her time and effort to the neighborhood that she is local to as a resident and community member in North St. Louis, borderline North County. After completing the Neighborhood Leadership Academy – Marsha had multiple invitations to collaborate artistically with like-minded people and business owners.

Marsha's goal is to continue her education and connect individuals with resources that were once difficult for her to access. She will continue to promote human development and to help enhance interpersonal relationships through getting involved in the community she lives in, building relationships, and building a lasting connection that will continue to provide a meaningful guide to a family connection – having a sense of belonging is the ultimate goal! Marsha plans to continue to promote self-love and the importance of continuing education with respect to meeting people where they are. Top



Lisa Potts

Saint Louis City – West End

Project Director for the St. Louis Mental Health Board, Lisa manages a portfolio of 26 projects who have the collective mission to improve the quality of life for city residents by providing a coordinated system of behavioral services. Lisa also works with the Violence Prevention Commission to develop a community response to children exposed to violence.

Lisa has 28 years of experience in community organizing, neighborhood stabilization; developing and managing homeless/vacancy prevention and affordable housing programs; directing youth development and employment programs for underserved and gang involved youth and coordinating and increasing access to financial services for unbanked households. Lisa’s commitment to community is fulfilled through serving on boards and committees that are focused on economic prosperity and development of vulnerable communities. A 17-year West End resident, Lisa is heavily involved in supporting revitalization efforts through InvestSTL, a grant she co-authored with other residents. Lisa serves on the following boards: Bayer YMCA, Cornerstone Corporation, The Magic House, Park Place Housing & Economic Development and West End South Community Improvement District. Lisa holds a Masters’ degree in Public Administration from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Top


Orlando Sharpe

Saint Louis County – Ferguson

Orlando Sharpe is a STEM Catalyst/Consultant who has worked with various schools, community-based organizations, and local nonprofits to build STEM capacity and creative opportunities across the St. Louis region. Before starting the journey as STEM Catalyst, Orlando spent 15 years as an Elementary Educator and Technology Integration Specialist working with teachers and students to develop Ed-Tech proficiency. For more than a decade, he has served in various roles as a STEM Educator, speaking, presenting, and delivering training. As part of the facilitation team for STEMpact (WashU-ISP) he has played an integral role in the development and delivery of professional development to increase teacher quality in STEM Education. Orlando also spent five years as the STEM Catalyst for the Gateway Region YMCA, developing STEM programs and delivering high-quality professional training across the region. Orlando lives in St. Louis, MO where he is currently developing opportunities and partnering with organizations such as Gentlemen of Vision Rites of Passage Enterprises Inc and the St. Louis Science Center under the BETA.made brand. Top


Farrakhan Shegog

Saint Louis County – Wellston

After completion of high school in 2010, Farrakhan was recruited to attend Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology. After completion of his Associates Degree in Statistical Quality Control, he decided to continue his education in honor of a dear friend who was killed to gun violence. In 2014, Farrakhan graduated with his Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation and Technology Management. He currently is utilizing his specialized training doing inspections, testing, and consulting to various industries such as Aerospace, Manufacturing, Automotive, and Oil & Gas fields and now works for Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis.

Upon his return to St. Louis, Farrakhan co-founded Young Voices with Action where he mobilized and young people to help each other develop toward spiritual maturity, spiritual growth and discipleship. YVWA has provided financial and moral support in community activism ranging from fair housing, equality in education, investment in poor neighborhoods, job opportunities, and preventative healthcare. Top


Michelle Spraggins

Saint Louis County – Castle Pointe

Michelle Spraggins is a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother, residing in the Castle Point community for 18 years. Michelle is a re-dedicated community advocate committed to eradicating the issues of vacant and abandoned properties issues in the Castle Point community. She currently holds a position in the St. Louis County Police Department as the Castle Point Grant Assistant. She also works as a Life Auxiliary for geriatric patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. 

“This is my life’s work, and I love what I do! I am passionate about travel with my family and event planning.” Top


April Walker

Saint Louis City – West End

April Walker is an independent consultant and transformation coach who helps emerging leaders, corporate leadership groups, school districts and professionals to complete compelling narratives that shift the way they view one another. She leads such groups to inquire into and transform that system’s strengths, possibilities, and successes. She conducts workshops on Active Listening Skills, Appreciative Inquiry and Early Childhood Education focusing on Family Literacy. April was a principal speaker at Washington States’ Early Childhood Education Leadership Conference and her class attendance grew by 200% in one year. April received letters of appreciation from School District Superintendents after attending her workshops centered on Active Listening and Appreciative Inquiry based on parents and teachers coming together to support students with disabilities. April is currently focused on community building around getting everyone counted during the decennial Census count. April is also currently focused on creating a non-profit organization to help other non-profit organizations boost funding for communities of color in areas such as childcare, home repair, black owned businesses, contractor jobs and street repair. Top


Shavette Wayne-Jones

Saint Louis City – Kingsway East

Shavette Wayne-Jones is a Real Estate Specialist with the St. Louis Development Corporation’s Land Reutilization Authority (LRA). She acts as a liaison between the LRA and residents by fielding questions and helping to resolve issues. Previously employed with the City of St. Louis’ Neighborhood Stabilization Team, Shavette served as a liaison between residents and city services by facilitating issues through various departments including working to abate nuisance property behaviors. Shavette spent 21 years with the Hamilton Heights Neighborhood Organization as Executive Director, where she administered and oversaw various services including Community Development Block Grant funded programs and projects and the organization’s 60 unit property portfolio. Shavette attributes her deeply rooted ties and love for her community to her grandmother, the late 1st Ward Alderwoman, JoAnne Wayne. She puts her time where her mouth is by participating and supporting various community outreach projects within the St. Louis area and “taking pride in the Northside.”Shavette is a founding, active member and past president of the Grambling University National Alumni Association – St. Louis Chapter. Top