Community Advisory Board

Abdul Abdullah                                                                                                                        Abdullah is the City Manager for the City of Berkeley where he is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of all city departments.  He is the youngest African-American City Manager in the State of Missouri. His past employers include the City of St. Louis Affordable Housing Commission and Better Family Life, as the Assistant Director of Workforce Development.  In the community, Abdul has been an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity since 1998 and formerly served as a member of its National Board of Directors as the Assistant Vice President of the Midwest Region overseeing 12 states and Canada.  For the last 10 years, Abdul has been a dedicated Junior Football League football coach for Mathews-Dickey Boys’ and Girls’ Club and The St. Louis Midwest POP Warner Football.  He has mentored over 100 youth through the clubs’ athletic programs.



Karissa Anderson

cid:17B9C165-DCB3-47A9-90EF-E4762B4EB802Karissa Anderson is currently pursuing her Master’s in Social Work at Saint Louis University.  Her bachelor’s is from Southeast Missouri State and she is a graduate of Clyde C. Miller Career Academy, a St. Louis Public High School.  Karissa is an intern in Saint Louis University’s Student Educational Services office and is an education policy intern with The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, a program funded by Deaconess Foundation.  Karissa understands the value of postsecondary education and is determined to build her career around the important goal of supporting others along the path to a degree.  Her research interests include educational equity, financial aid policy, and leadership.



Pamela Tucker Coaxum

Pamela Tucker Coaxum is Executive Director for the Greater East St. Louis Community Fund and Founder of Strategic Resource Alliance. She is on the board of trustees of the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation, and a current collaborator with East Side Aligned, a Ready by 21 Initiative. Coaxum was integral in the creation of the Greater East St. Louis Early Learning Partnership. She also has been involved with civic endeavors in St. Charles County, as the former member of the Human Rights Commission. Pam is a graduate of University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. 


Greg Echele

Greg Echele is Chief Executive Officer of Family Resource Center. Through his work at FRC, he has gained extensive knowledge of issues and concerns of vulnerable youth, specifically those who are/were victims of physical and mental abuse. Prior to FRC, Echele held roles in nonprofit leadership at St. Louis Children's Hospital and the State of Missouri. At the end of 2016, Greg will retire from Family Resource Center, but intends to continue advocating for at-risk youth. 




Brittany Ferrell Ferrell is a graduate of the College Of Nursing at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.  Brittany is a Deaconess Nursing Scholar, a program collaboratively implemented by the St. Louis American Foundation and The Scholarship Foundation with full funding from Deaconess Foundation. Brittany completed an internship through The Scholarship Foundation’s Community-Based Internship program, in which she researched school-based health services within St. Louis Public Schools.  Brittany served as an Education Policy Intern with The Scholarship Foundation, a program generously funded by the Deaconess Foundation. Brittany is co-founder and catalyst of Millennial Activists United, a coalition of young leaders who have organized conscientious protest and resistance in response to tragic and systemic events of racism and oppression in the St. Louis region.  Previously, Brittany served as president of the UMSL campus chapter of the Minority Student Nurses Association and has been engaged as University Ambassadors. Brittany’s employment experiences include private duty nursing and work with Margaret Barton-Burke, the Mary Ann Lee Endowed Professor of Oncology Nursing at UMSL, on the Black Women with Breast Cancer Survivor Project.


Ashleigh Helaine Johnson-Jones

Ashleigh Helaine Johnson-Jones is the daughter of Andre’ and Cynthia Adams.  She is a 5th grader at Iveland Elementary School in Overland, MO.  Ashleigh is an avid reader, crafter, and possesses an entrepreneurial spirit, which has been demonstrated in her many business ventures and collaborations with her peers to make fundraisers for church and local causes.  Her current interests are learning the violin, participation in the school districts program for gifted children, participating in the honor choir at school, serving as a junior usher on her church usher board, and working with the elderly at her church.  Recently, Ashleigh’s academic excellence was recognized by the school district where she was awarded the President’s Award for Educational Excellence signed by President Barack Obama. Ashleigh is compassionate and sensitive and demonstrates a strong work ethic and aspiration for academic excellence.


Larry Morris                                                                                                                                    

Larry Morris is currently pursuing his Master’s in Media Communications with an emphasis on Media Literacy and Social Media at Webster University, where he also obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Audio Communications.  Larry has created, led, and participated in numerous panels within the St. Louis community, including subjects ranging from music to media literacy, to community forums to discuss topics that are of importance to the region.  He has a background in event planning, where he has organized afterschool programs for school-aged children, lecture series with nationally recognized keynote speakers and Grammy-nominated performers.  Larry presently consults on social media for Deaconess Foundation.



Faith Sandler

Faith Sandler serves as the first Executive Director of The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, an organization now comprised of $36 million in assets and formed in 1920 to provide financial support to students pursuing post-secondary education.  Faith has held that post since 1989.  Prior to joining The Scholarship Foundation, she was appointed by the federal court to evaluate desegregation programs in St. Louis Public Schools.  In addition to her responsibilities at the Foundation, Faith is also co-chair of a regional college access and success network called St. Louis Graduates, was named the 2014 MONEY Hero for Missouri by Money Magazine, serves on the board of directors of the Dan Broida/Sigma-Aldrich Scholarship Fund, the Washington University Neighbor’s Council, and the Advisory Board of University of Missouri-St. Louis Nonprofit Management and Leadership Program.  She has also taught a graduate course in nonprofit ethics and accountability at Washington University.  Faith's bachelor's degree is from Johnston College of the University of Redlands and her master's in cultural anthropology is from Washington University.


Paul Sorenson                                                                                                                                   

Paul Sorenson, MSW, is a 2012 graduate of the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis.  He is currently Grace Hill Settlement House’s Director of Strategic Communications & Planning, where he develops the agency’s message, program strategy and partner coordination.  Paul is also a social entrepreneur, founding efforts to help nonprofits connect to each other online and developing new ways to assist families become financially stable.  Paul was named one of the St. Louis Business Journal’s “30 Under 30” in 2014 and was a 2013 New Leaders Council St. Louis fellow.



Derion Tabb

Derion Tabb is a proud native of St. Louis, Missouri.  He currently attends the University of Missouri-St. Louis where he is a senior studying communications, and is a graduate of the St. Louis Public Schools system.  Derion currently holds an internship with the St. Louis Public Schools Foundation.  Through this experience, he is gaining practical experience and awareness about educational issues facing inner-city public school children and their families, as well as an understanding of the administrative responsibilities that come along with managing a not-for-profit organization.  Derion plans to pursue a graduate degree in Public Policy and Administration after completing his undergraduate studies.  He envisions St. Louis as being one of the most livable and equitable cities in the country, and seeks to use his educational endeavors to influence policy in the St. Louis region to this end.  His vision for the St. Louis is that the region is the best it can be for all members of its community.


Jessica Wernli

Jessica WernliJessica Wernli graduated from UIC with her masters in Social Work with a concentration in Community Health and Urban Development. While studying at UIC she interned with Gamaliel of Metro Chicago, introducing her to faith based community organizing. During her internship she attended Gamaliel's National Leadership Training which lead her to pursue community organizing as a career.  She is now the Director of United Congregations of Metro-East, a Gamaliel Network affiliate.  In her 3 years as Director, UCM has lead 2 Metro-East cities to sign Cool Cities Agreements, making a commitment to reduce greenhouse gasses city-wide. UCM is also leading a national campaign to update federal hiring regulations to allow the infrastructure workforce to be reflective of their communities and more inclusive of women and minorities. Jessica is also a member of the Urban League Young Professionals, where she serves on the communications committee as well as the State of Black St. Louis committee.  She has also done several community organizing trainings for the Young Professionals, including Power Analysis and Issues & Actions. 


Jodi Woessner

Jodi Woessner previously served as Executive Director at The Belle Center, a Round 2 Deaconess Impact Partner. Ms. Woessner began working at The Belle Center in 2003. Prior to The Belle Center, Ms. Woessner worked as a supervisor for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Division of Special Education and for the Department of Mental Health. She also served as a service coordinator and child development specialist in Texas' early intervention program. Woessner holds a B.A. in Human Services and Psychology from the University of Minnesota - Morris.