We envision a St. Louis region where all families, regardless of race, have the opportunity to thrive.
We Stories uses the power of children’s literature to create conversation, change and hope in St. Louis, and a stronger, more equitable and inclusive future for all.
IF more families are provided with 1) resources to improve the way they engage their children in conversations about race, 2) connections to like-minded families, and 3) opportunities to add their voices to racial justice activism and policy change efforts, THEN the resulting community of families will become a force of positive change, BECAUSE many want to be part of solutions to make St. Louis more equitable but feel unprepared, isolated, or disconnected from action opportunities.
We received our tax-exempt 501(c)3 status from the IRS in April 2016.
We seek to form partnerships with organizations in St. Louis that are already working to eliminate our region's racial disparities. With the help of these partners and small businesses, we align We Stories families to robust action opportunities that advance equity.
Laura grew up in St. Louis, left for college and made her way back more than a decade later with two kids, a cat, and a hip dude from California in tow. (Before you ask, she went to Ladue High School.) In her years away, she extolled St. Louis’ virtues to anyone who would listen, while she lived, worked and studied in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. These experiences taught her the value of exploring new places, meeting new people, and adopting new habits. As a parent, she hopes to share this openness and curiosity with her children, ages 5 and 2. Laura feels fortunate to have returned to St. Louis at a time of renewed civic commitment to address long simmering divisions, and has been inspired by the hope and vision of many community leaders that our city can become a place where all families thrive, regardless of race. For Laura, empathy is often a missing ingredient in efforts to solve our most pressing problems. Similarly, she believes in the power of stories to stretch our imagination, transport us to other realities, and help us see our unique qualities and common humanity mirrored back to us in beloved characters.
Laura has more than a decade of experience designing, implementing, and evaluating social justice programs. Most recently, she launched the organizational learning function at American Friends Service Committee, an international nonprofit organization with programs in the U.S. and abroad addressing a wide-range of peace and justice issues. Previously, Laura worked at The Pew Charitable Trusts where she was part of a team that provided strategic planning recommendations to nearly 400 program staff, working on policy issues ranging from consumer protection to environmental conservation. She is the author of several research reports on topics like the impact of the recession on city budgets, parents’ views of school choices, and the rising costs of healthcare and pension benefits. Her strengths include leadership development, curriculum design and group facilitation. Laura received her B.A. from Tufts University and her M.A. in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University.
Adelaide is a born and raised East-coaster who is still surprised by how much she loves living in ‘the Lou.’ While she hasn’t traded in her East-coast ways, she has learned a lot from the warm and gracious people in her adopted city. For her it’s been a place to learn from philosophical differences, push beyond common narratives, embrace possibility and challenge herself to work towards change. Sometimes this requires considering new ways to do things; often times it means being a minority voice. She is a firm believer in the power of everyday actions. She does think that the tenor of hearts and minds matter, especially when it comes to children. Her most important full-time job is caring for the hearts and minds of her own three children, ages 6, 4 and 2. She writes about these adventures as they relate to race, difference, and connection at Parenting While White.
Adelaide’s interest in racial equity began while earning her B.A. in Educational Studies and Sociology from Colgate University. She went on to earn a M.A. in Organizational Psychology and a M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology, where she studied racial identity development and group dynamics. She has spent most of her professional life as an entrepreneur, community builder and advocate. She was co-founder of In Good Company Workplaces, a first of its kind co-working space for women entrepreneurs in Manhattan, which opened in 2007. In Good Company has served thousands of women entrepreneurs and has helped shape the shared workspace industry of today. Adelaide is also the author of the book The Big Enough Company: Creating a Business that Works for You, in which she explores the relationship between size and success, using the examples of 100 women entrepreneurs to demonstrate that when it comes to satisfaction no one size fits all.
Adelaide is an active parent in her school district, a proud supporter of many civic organizations, and is honored to currently sit on the board directors at Forward Through Ferguson.
Selassie was born in Boston and after spending a few years in Northern Kentucky, moved with her family to attend school in St. Louis. Her lived experiences, as well as her academic studies, have driven her advocacy for comprehensive literacy programs. Her personal experiences growing up in Saint Louis County have allowed her to see opportunities for community growth by engaging in conversations that acknowledge the complex racial politics of St. Louis. In We Stories' mission and theory of change, she sees a great potential to transform our understanding of racial difference by altering the way in which we engage in discussions about racial difference.
In May 2012, she returned to Boston for college. She graduated with a B.A. in both Women's & Gender Studies and Film & New Media studies from Wheaton College. Following graduation, she completed a fellowship with the Media Art for Public Service (MAPS) media literacy program, a partnership with the Boston Health Commission’s Start Strong Initiative and MIT. There she facilitated discussions with students as they navigated the complex topics of gender, sexuality, ability, race, class, mental health, and other areas of difference, to create digital art for social change.
Selassie was drawn to We Stories’ mission and its incredible plan to engage young people and most strikingly, non-marginalized groups, in conversations about race. Selassie is eager to practice her social justice advocacy by serving as the executive assistant to the We Stories team.
Board of Directors
Leslie Hardy is the Advocacy, Inclusion & Outreach Manager at BJC Healthcare. In this capacity, she is responsible for the organizations’ community engagement, advocacy and outreach efforts to support improving outcomes and reducing disparities for populations served by BJC HealthCare. She is focused on collaboration and providing needed services to underserved communities, and serves as a key contributor in developing and supporting innovative programs and initiatives to promote the value of diversity and inclusion across the system. Originally from the east coast, Leslie enjoys living in the Central West End with her husband and three year old son who loves to read Full, Full Full of Love and I Like Myself!
Aliah Baker Holman
Aliah was born and raised in the St. Louis region. Her experiences attending a St. Louis County public elementary school, a St. Louis City public magnet middle school and a St. Louis County private high school gave her a unique perspective on the ways that social, economic and cultural divisions impact even our youngest citizens. She attended New York University and began her career in Advertising and Communications in New York City before returning to St. Louis in 2006. Upon her return to St. Louis she endeavored to provide a new option for St. Louis youth as a founding board member of St. Louis Language Immersion Schools, a public charter school in the city of St. Louis that teaches children to have broad world views through French, Spanish or Mandarin language learning and the International Baccalaureate curricular framework. She also serves as a St. Louis City Commissioner for the BiState Development Agency, which runs public transit and economic development initiatives for the region. Her 5-year-old son, Eddie D. Holman, V. (Quinn) enjoys reading aloud from books in his extensive personal library, including "Thunderboy Jr." by Sherman Alexie.
Maggie has a background in middle school education and has lived in St. Louis suburbs most of her life. She was drawn to We Stories, because she feels strongly that families in the St. Louis area need resources to help foster meaningful discussions about race and racism. Currently, her favorite book to share with her almost three-year-old son and infant daughter is Little Humans.
Dave Leipholtz brings a true passion for education to his position as the Director of Community-based Studies at Better Together. He brings nearly a decade of experience in both the private and public sectors. As a lifelong resident of St. Louis, Dave Leipholtz is committed to improving the future of the region. Dave’s strong understanding of community outreach stems not only from working on such high-level campaigns as Tommy Sowers’ 2010 bid for Congress, but also from running for state legislative office himself. Dave is active in the St. Louis community; he is a current member of Leadership St. Louis’s 2015-2016 class and a member of the Missouri Bar.
Kristin Moomey, AIA
Kristin set down permanent roots in St. Louis City after receiving her Masters in Architecture from Washington University in 1999. Together with her husband, Marcus (also an architect!), they've spent the past 17 years restoring their 1885 home in the historic neighborhood of Benton Park. Drawn to the juxtaposition of historical and modern design, Kristin views the renovation process as a model for how we can approach challenges in all aspects of our lives, particularly at a community level. With daughters Ella (13) and Frances (7), Kristin immerses herself in her second passion: children's literature, and she argues the best designed spaces are the ones teeming with good books. Kristin joins the We Stories team because she sees it as an actionable extension of her family's mission to live within, and learn from, diverse communities. The Moomeys' current obsession is Hamilton, but Kristin's heart belongs to any work by Ezra Jack Keats or Oliver Jeffers.
Ellie Myers, MSW, MPH
Ellie is a long-time nanny and was born and raised in Webster Groves. Her background in health disparities combined with her love for children drew her to We Stories' mission of creating a more equitable Saint Louis by fostering conversations about race with our region's youngest members. Her We Stories favorites include "More More More," Said the Baby, Juna's Jar, and Grace for President.
Rebecca Rubin-Schlansky, M.A.
Rebecca is a History and Women’s Studies teacher at Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School. Rebecca was born and raised in St. Louis, but it was not until her undergraduate years in New York that she recognized how dramatic the racial segregation was in her hometown. Upon moving back home to teach, she became committed to fostering a classroom environment that opened students’ eyes to the larger St. Louis community. Throughout her decade of teaching experience, she has witnessed a dramatic shift in her students’ eagerness to be introspective and work for justice. She knows that We Stories will ensure that these qualities become a part of all children’s empathetic views of the world. She lives in Olivette with her husband and daughter, age 2, whose favorite We Stories books are Please Baby, Please and especially We're Different, We’re the Same.
Jenna Voss, Ph.D., LSLS Cert AVEd
Jenna is an Assistant Professor in Communication Disorders and Deaf Education at Fontbonne University. Her career as a teacher and early interventionist, serving children with hearing loss and their caregivers, has evolved into preparing the next generation of professionals to do the same. Voss, having been born and raised in the greater St. Louis community, loves this city and has high hopes for its future, knowing that by supporting the youngest citizens we can do better. She resides in Glendale with her husband (Ben) and three young children (Michael, 6; Francis and Ramona, 2). Her family’s favorite We Stories reads include "More More More," Said the Baby, Please, Baby, Please, Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match, and Of Thee I Sing.
Pamela Washington, Ph.D.
Pam is a Gifted Specialist in the Webster Groves School District and Adjunct Professor at Maryville University teaching educators strategies to be culturally responsive in the classroom and meet the needs of their diverse students and families. She studies identifying underrepresented populations of students that are gifted. Pam is passionate about social justice issues and believes We Stories is a solution to bringing literacy and diversity into the lives of young children in a positive and natural way that will shape their lens of the world. She lives in St. Louis with her husband and two daughters. Uptown, a story about Harlem, Unstoppable Octobia May and Snowy Day are titles they enjoy reading over and over.
Christine is one of the St. Louis community’s most active volunteers, having served on the boards of over 30 nonprofit organizations including terms as president of six of these boards. Chris currently serves on six local nonprofit boards, and an additional seven boards in an advisory capacity. She was the founding Executive Director of FOCUS St. Louis, the region’s premiere leadership organization. It is a nonprofit organization that develops and connects leaders from diverse backgrounds, and empowers them to work together to build a thriving St. Louis community. Prior to that, Chris was the president of CALAB Consulting specializing in Nonprofit Management, Long Range/Strategic Planning, and Workforce Diversity.
Maxine is one of the true innovators in the retail industry. In 1997, she founded Build-A-Bear Workshop®, a teddy-bear themed retail-entertainment experience. In June 2013, Maxine stepped down from her Chief Executive Bear role to apply her entrepreneurial skills to her passion for improving K-12 public education and to invest in and mentor women and minority entrepreneurs. Maxine serves on the national Board of Trustees of Teach For America and the local St. Louis regional board, the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee of Washington University in St. Louis, the Board of Directors of Beyond Housing and Parents As Teachers, the national Board of PBS and the local Nine Network of Public Media Board of Directors where she is the recent past Board Chair. She and her husband Bob Fox are founding donors of KIPP St. Louis and Maxine is a member of the charter school advisory Board of Trustees.
Wray has worked with the United Way of Greater St. Louis in various leadership positions since 1984. Wray served as Vice President for Community Impact, and was a member of the backbone staff team working with regional leaders to support the East Side Aligned (East St. Louis, IL) and St. Louis Regional Ready By 21® collective efforts to improve conditions for cradle to career youth success. In March of 2016, she became United Way’s first Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion. Wray was elected to serve on the Edwardsville (IL) School Board, serving two terms from 1997 – 2004. Current volunteer activities include work with the St. Louis Regional Early Child Care Council, the East St. Louis Early Learning Partnership, St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation’s Community Advisory Board, Madison County’s (IL) Restorative Justice Board, EdPlus’ Council for Educational Advancement, Saint Louis Public Schools’ Early Childhood Advisory Committee, and Beyond Housing’s 24:1 Community Land Trust Board.
Kim moved to St. Louis in 1998 and has brought her talents and passion to bear in leadership positions across several leading arts institutions, such as St. Louis Symphony and Opera Theatre of St. Louis, as well as organizations committed to improving race relations and empowering women. She has also been instrumental in creating the structure for the Institute of Public Health at Washington University. Prior to her time in St. Louis, Kim’s career was in health care administration where she last served at Harvard Medical School.
Amy serves as the Manager of Diversity and Inclusion for The Children’s Hospital in St. Louis Missouri. Her responsibilities include understanding and addressing health disparities, training, strategy and integration planning for the hospital. Previously, Hunter was the Director of Racial Justice for the YWCA of Metro St. Louis. Her role included ensuring the mission of YWCA was embedded into every internal program and department while responding to the training, presentation and collaborative community building needs of the region. This responsibility heightened in the wake of Michael Brown’s killing in Ferguson and the ensuing racial tension. Hunter’s career includes corporate, nonprofit, education and now healthcare. “Lucky Zip Codes”, Amy Hunter’s TEDx Talk, incorporates the tenets of her beliefs. While working to improve social justice Hunter is also pursuing a PhD in Education from the University of Missouri St. Louis.
Christy is the CET Director of Entrepreneur Development Services. Christy brings a unique combination of business planning, financial modeling, fundraising and business development experience to the Cortex Innovation Community. In addition to running CET’s flagship training program for entrepreneurs, Square One, she is responsible for an array of programs and services to support the entrepreneurs in residence at CET and throughout the St. Louis ecosystem. Christy is the co-creator and co-host of the Entrepreneurially Thinking podcast. Christy is a member of the Forward Through Ferguson Board of Directors and is also an advisor to Mavuno and MEDLaunch. She earned her Masters in Business Administration from Webster University and her Bachelors in political science from Montclair State University.
Cheryl Milton Roberts
Cheryl is an organizational Development Practitioner and Education Consultant with a successful track record identifying strategic business opportunities, building diverse teams, creating strong inclusive organizational cultures and collaborative relationships. A dynamic facilitator, recognized for having an innovative approach to incorporating inclusion and diversity into learning and development. Prior to providing independent consultation, facilitation and training, Cheryl served as the Director of Organizational Development at Energizer. She is also served in long-standing leadership roles on the boards of John Burroughs School and New City School.
St. Louis County moms help white parents talk about race with kids. The Post Dispatch. 4.11.16
Telling stories to start conversations about race issues. St. Louis Jewish Light. 3.30.16
We Stories' aims to get white families talking about race, racism through children's books. "St. Louis On the Air", STL Public Radio. 3.29.16
Trouble finding diverse books for kids? Check out these titles. We Live Here podcast, STL Public Radio. 7.11.16
Talking To Kids About Race and Racism. St. Joseph's Press-News. 7.24.16
Thinking and Talking About Race with Kids: Our Friends at We Stories. Kids in the Stairwell. 7.21.16
Please Contain Your Curiosity About My Biracial Child. Mixed Remix. 4.21.16
Please Educate Your Family So My Family Doesn't Always Have To. The Adoptive Duo. 7.6.16
Two St. Louis Moms: The Good Men Project Conversations on Race. The Good Men Project. 1.18.17
We Stories and St. Louis County Library System. Urban Libraries Council.
We Stories Uses Children's Books to Dismantle Racism. St. Louis Magazine. 3.16.17
We Stories help parents talk to children about race. KSDK. 4.5.17
We Stories. givetwig. 4.10.17