Leadership & Staff
Co-Founder, Executive Director
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 7 and 4. 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.
With an incredible co-founder and board, Laura sets the organization's vision and strategy. She leads our board development and fundraising efforts, builds our team of staff and consultants, and makes sure we have the systems we need to grow. She plays key roles in our alumni community building, and her heart will always be in our program work.
co-founder, director of community & collaboration
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 8, 7, and 5. 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 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 and serve as a board member for Progress Women.
Adelaide spends much of her time building relationships, community, and opportunity both within the We Stories community and across our external partnerships. She loves to play in the space where big ideas and everyday people meet. Adelaide leads our work with schools, oversees the implementation of our Family Learning Program and leads our alumni community building efforts.
Rhema is a Texas transplant who now makes her home in St Louis. Although she misses the balmy Houston winters (with hardly any below-freezing temperatures!), St. Louis and its amazing people have carved a special place in her heart.
Rhema earned a B.A. in psychology from the University of Texas at Austin (hook ‘em, Horns!). After graduation, she worked in after-school enrichment programs and served two years as an AmeriCorps Education volunteer. In partnership with the United Way of Greater Houston, Rhema taught a peer-to-peer learning program that focused on equipping elementary-aged children with academic and socio-emotional skills and coaching teachers to implement the program.
Upon arriving in St. Louis to pursue her MSW at Washington University, Rhema continued her passion for educating young people through mentoring high schoolers with Wash U’s College Prep Program and working with Mission: St. Louis’s Beyond School Program. As part of her MSW practicum, Rhema worked with We Stories, and it was such a good fit, she now works on staff.
As the bi-racial daughter of a White woman and African man, race is always at the forefront of Rhema’s mind - both in her lived experiences and in how she helps guide parents through the Family Learning Program. It’s messy, complicated, and sometimes painful, but that’s what makes it so worthwhile. Living and working at the epicenter of racial equity community organizing while surrounded by so many people wanting to learn how to teach themselves and their children are privileges Rhema cherishes.
Development and Operations Specialist
Rachel Leonard is a fundraising professional with over 15 years of experience in database optimization, data-driven decision making, and creating comprehensive multi-year fundraising plans. Designing and implementing fundraising plans down to the nitty gritty is what Rachel loves to do-- deciding who to ask, when to ask, how much to ask for and making sure each donor is appreciated and acknowledged in a way that will make them want to give again, see their impact, and understand how their gift has helped.
Rachel Leonard grew up on the East Coast, spent some quality time on the West Coast and has landed in the middle. In 2015, she and her family moved from the Bay Area to St. Louis, where her husband is from, to be closer to family, cut down on commute times, and generally enjoy the space and pace that the Midwest is famous for.
Rachel is the proud mom of three amazing boys, ages 8, 6 and 10months and is thrilled to have the help of grandparents in raising caring, compassionate, and kind kids. She participated in the We Stories family learning program and is excited to join its staff team. Most recently, Rachel served as a Donor Data and Research associate at Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.