Co-Founder and 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 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.
co-founder and director of community and 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 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.