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New Leaders Council

2013 NLC Fellows: St. Louis


Lisa Clancy, Program Manager, Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri

Lisa Clancy was a mere 5-years old when her mother dressed her in a “Kids Can’t Vote But You Can” Children’s Defense Fund t-shirt for a community Fourth of July parade. Over 20 years later, Lisa is a strong advocate for children and believes passionately that every child deserves a high-quality public education. A native of the St. Louis area, Lisa earned a Master of Social Work degree from the Brown School at Washington University where her studies focused on social and economic development, urban education, and advocacy. Prior to completing her master’s program, Lisa completed a two-year commitment with Teach For America, where she taught elementary special education in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, a small fishing community located just outside of New Orleans. As a teacher, Lisa saw how the influence of an adult and the choices we make can literally make or break a child and she realized the desperate need for strong advocates for kids both in and out of the classroom. Aside from her time in the classroom, Lisa brings extensive experience working with children, families, advocates, policymakers, and community stakeholders through internships and roles at Redevelopment Opportunities for Women, Citizens for Missouri’s Children, the Washington, D.C. office of U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, KIPP Inspire Academy, and Teach For America – St. Louis. Lisa is an active member of the Programs and Evaluation Advisory Committee at Youth Learning Center and the St. Louis Public Radio Young Friends Leadership Council. She is also the Secretary of the Teach For America – St. Louis Alumni Advisory Committee.

Sarah Dirsa, Architect, Associate, Chair of Social Responsibility, HOK

Sarah W. Dirsa, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, SEED, is a licensed architect at HOK and is the founding Director of HOK IMPACT, HOK’s global approach to Corporate Social Responsibility. Sarah’s architectural work includes commercial, auditorium, residential, aviation and retail design. She was a core member of the Project Haiti team, HOK’s pro bono design partnership with the US Green Building Council to rebuild an orphanage and children’s center in Port au Prince, Haiti that was badly damaged in the 2010 earthquake. Sarah is the founding president of SEED Saint Louis, a nonprofit corporation aiding St. Louis-based projects and organizations that contribute to socially, economically and environmentally positive communities. She is the Vice President of the Board for the Isthmian Gallery, a New York State nonprofit organization that seeks to empower youth by fostering student artwork and enabling students to raise funds for the charities they support. She serves on the Mayor's Vanguard Cabinet for Education, working to improve the level of public schools and increase positive dialog regarding education in St. Louis. In 2012, Sarah successfully submitted an application to have St. Louis host the 2012 Next American City Vanguard conference, an annual 40 under 40 gathering of urban leaders seeking to improve their cities. She served as a member of the host committee working closely with Next American City to organize conference speakers and activities. Additionally, Sarah was selected to represent St. Louis as a Vanguard in the 2012 class. She has lectured at Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Missouri at St. Louis and FORM Contemporary Design Show on humanitarian design and social entrepreneurship. She gave a presentation on Project Haiti at Gulf Coast Green in Houston, TX in 2012 and has been selected to present at the 2013 AIA National Convention in Denver, CO. Sarah has contributed to Metropolis Magazine’s blog, POV (Point Of View), writing about Project Haiti and the challenges and rewards of designing in an area with limited resources and infrastructure. Sarah earned a B.A. in English from Binghamton University and an M.Arch and M.U.D. from Washington University in St. Louis. Originally from Mt. Kisco, NY, she lives in St. Louis with her husband Steve, son George, and two dogs Porter and Champ.

Sarah Felts, Attorney at Law

Sarah Felts serves as the Policy and Governmental Advisor in the Office of State Treasurer Clint Zweifel. She is a newly licensed attorney and a May 2012 graduate of the University of Missouri School of Law. Prior to her current position, Sarah served as the Deputy Voter Protection Coordinator for Sen. Claire McCaskill’s re-election campaign. She worked to ensure that all eligible voters were able to cast a ballot on Election Day by recruiting and training attorneys to serve as polling place legal observers. Sarah discovered her love of politics and public service while interning for State Rep. Rebecca McClanahan throughout college. Sarah graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Truman State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. During law school, Sarah gained a deeper appreciation of public service by interning for The Honorable Jean Peters Baker and representing clients in Mizzou Law’s Family Violence Clinic. She led several student organizations, including Law Students for Reproductive Justice, the American Constitution Society and Mizzou Law Democrats. She is currently a member of Young Friends of St. Louis Public Radio, Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and Missouri Cures. Sarah recently moved to Columbia, Missouri, about two hours from St. Louis. She is a St. Louis native, a diehard Cardinals fan and a proud alumna of Nerinx Hall High School.

Oliver Gould, Special Projects Manager, The Mission Continues

Born and raised in Willow, NY, a small town in the Hudson River Valley, Oliver attended the University of California, Santa Cruz. After graduating with a degree in Political Science in 2009, Oliver pursued his passion for public service through a career on the campaign trail. He served as Field Organizer for a City Council campaign in Cambridge, MA, Field Director for a Massachusetts State Auditor campaign, and finally as a consultant to a US Senate campaign based in Boston, MA. Oliver continued his public service work through a year of service with the Boston-based nonprofit organization City Year. As an AmeriCorps corps member on the selective National Pilot Program team, he worked with a team of nine other corps members to achieve all four of the program’s major goals for 2011. Oliver also served on City Year Boston’s Corps Council and Civic Engagement Reserve Team during his time with the organization. Oliver was selected for a Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs in 2011 and moved to St. Louis, MO to participate in the program. Oliver completed projects for St. Louis area organizations including Shearwater Charter High School, the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, Majority Strategies LLC and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. His last project was developing a risk mitigation strategy for The Mission Continues, a St. Louis based nonprofit organization that challenges military veterans to serve and inspire in communities across America. Inspired by the organization’s commitment to public service and leadership, Oliver joined The Mission Continues as Special Projects Manager in June 2012.

Kate Howell, VP-Development & Communications, International Institute of St. Louis

Kate is interest in the world beyond her doorstep started at a very young age, when her family visited Europe. As soon as she could read, she was studying French language and culture. She further developed her passion for language while earning a B.A. in French Language and Literature at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and continued at SIUE to obtain a M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language. Today she serves as VP of Development and Communications at the International Institute of St. Louis, the region’s top service provider for immigrants and refugees. Kate leads the agency’s Junior Board, its Business Solutions Center, as well as its Marketing, Fundraising and Volunteer efforts. Since starting at the International Institute, she has also completed an M.A. in Management and Leadership from Webster University. In her spare time she volunteers for Cinema St. Louis and Central Institute for the Deaf. She is also the Cultural Diversity Co-Chair of the Vanguard Cabinet of the Mayor of City of St. Louis; and sits on numerous boards: Community Service Public Relations Council; Social Fund; and, Small Rain. Her passions are centered on local issues, social entrepreneurship, and equal rights, especially for immigrants and the LGBT community. Kate’s briefest bio states, “seeking a better world, cute things, and funny people.” This is a great summary of her positive attitude and desire for positive change both at home and abroad.

Megan Kimball, Account Executive, Brighton Agency

A versatile and dynamic creative professional, Megan Kimball is a lead account executive for Saint Louis-based advertising and marketing agency, Brighton. At Brighton, Kimball is in charge of managing and coordinating marketing materials and packaging design updates for Proctor & Gamble’s natural pet food brand, Natura Pet Products. Her attention to detail and deep understanding of brand standards makes her a valuable asset to the team. Her strong background in video production and communications gives her the ability to think quickly and stay organized under pressure. Before coming to Brighton, Kimball worked as an associate producer at Double R Productions, a full-service communications firm in Washington, DC where she worked with a variety of clients from the American Red Cross, Johnson & Johnson to the National Guard and the U.S. Department of Justice. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Missouri, Columbia.

Dave Leipholtz, Manager of Public Policy, Regional Business Council

A native of St. Louis, Dave attended Washington University in St. Louis, where he received his undergraduate degree in political science.  Following graduation, he spent two years as a high school teacher before returning to school to pursue his law degree.  In 2010, Dave graduated from St. Louis University Law School with a concentration in health care law. For the past two years, he has served as the Manager of Public Policy at the Regional Business Council in St. Louis.  In addition, Dave is the current Vice-President of the Young Democrats of St. Louis.

Steven McCullar, Adjunct Professor, Missouri College

Steven McCullar is from Cincinnati, Ohio and the great nephew of Garrett Morgan, the inventor of the automatic stop light and gas mask. He is currently an Adjunct Professor teaching healthcare management at Missouri College; in addition, he received the Adjunct Faculty of the Year Award for 2012. Steve served in the US armed forces as a Navy Corpsman and has studied globally, pursuing a career as a diplomat working in the field of global health with the US State Department, United Nations, and World Health Organization. Over the past year, he completed an internship in the office of Congressman Russ Carnahan and participated in the Emerging Leaders Program, FOCUS St. Louis. Prior to moving to St. Louis to pursue graduate studies, he completed the Department of Veterans Affair’s Graduate Healthcare Administrative Training Program and subsequently worked several years as a healthcare administrator at the Dayton VA Medical Center, Dayton, Ohio. His future goals are to improve the health of those in underserved populations, reaching and preparing the generation of tomorrow, and promoting self-respect and empowerment within our local communities. Currently, Steve is a board member of several local organizations, which includes the United Nations Association of St. Louis and an organization preparing young athletes for collegiate academics and athletics, called Next Level Athletics. He uses his background as an athlete and coach in track & field and football, to encourage young athletes to succeed in the class and on the field. Steve holds a bachelor’s degree in sports medicine (Summa Cum Laude), Masters of Public Health and Masters of Business Administration, and currently pursuing a PhD in Public Policy & Administration – International Non-Governmental Organizations (Global Health). He is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and several Honors Societies.

Elise Miller, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Washington University in St. Louis

Elise Miller serves as the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Washington University in St. Louis, where she evaluates applications of students applying for freshman and transfer admission, and scholarship applications for the Annika Rodriguez Scholars Program. She concentrates on multicultural affairs, staff training, and recruitment in Texas and Puerto Rico. After studying Spanish and Latin American Studies at Washington University and living in Santiago, Chile, Elise became active in St. Louis organizations which seek to improve the well being of Latinos and non-native speakers in the area. She started her service work in college, volunteering as a tutor for the Latino Youth Mentoring Program and as an interpreter at the International Institute of St. Louis. Now, she works part-time for the Family Court of St. Louis County as a mentor for Spanish-speaking, juvenile delinquents. Elise also has a strong passion for politics, and currently volunteers for the Missouri Democratic Party and serves as the Secretary for the Young Democrats of Greater St. Louis. Elise plans to attend law school in the future, and as an attorney she hopes to provide leadership and initiative in identifying legal cases that are critical to the advancement of minority and immigrant communities.

Jake Narup, Graduate Research Assistant, Saint Louis University

Jake Narup is a Graduate Research Assistant in the Department of Public Policy Studies at Saint Louis University, working towards a Master's Degree in Urban Affairs in the Spring of 2013. Through this position, Jake has worked on a variety of projects and programs in the St. Louis area in coordination with a number of agencies, including St. Louis Public Schools, the Metropolitan Police Department and Missouri Probation and Parole. Jake has also worked on projects with several neighborhood development groups, including those in Shaw and Carondelet. Jake's professional interests include community and urban redevelopment and neighborhood organization. Prior to making the permanent move to St. Louis, Jake worked on the 5th and Hill Neighborhood Rights Campaign in Champaign, Illinois. Here, he advocated for a thorough cleanup of polluted groundwater left behind by a former manufactured gas plant, and mediation for the victims of contamination. Jake graduated from the University of Illinois in 2011, with Bronze Tablet Honors and a bachelor's degree in Sociology and Political Science. He is also the 2011 recipient of Champaign County Heath Care Consumer's Advocate of the Year award, and the Department of Sociology's Student Engagement award.

Pradeep Rajendran, Sr. Project Management Consultant, AT&T

Pradeep Rajendran is Sr. Project Management Consultant at AT&T and is originally from India, where he received his Bachelors in Information Technology. He moved to USA for graduate studies, completing his Master of Engineering and MBA at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Pradeep is actively involved in community work, serving on the Board of Asian American Chamber of Commerce, Junior Board of Contemporary Art Museum and the Steering Committee of Gennext-United Way. In 2011, Padeep was presented with the President’s Volunteer Service Award for his part in leading the efforts of September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance in St. Louis. He was also inducted into the Regional Business Council’s (RBC) inaugural Leadership 100 class. Pradeep is very excited to be part of the NLC fellowship program and would love to enhance my skills and meet like minded people who are interested in bettering the community.

Paul Sorenson, Systems Advancement Specialist, Grace Hill Settlement House

Paul has been heavily involved in St. Louis community development during his time completing a Master's in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis, and is now employed as the Systems Advancement Specialist at Grace Hill Settlement House, where he started as a practicum student in January 2011. His current position encompasses planning and implementing civic engagement and partnership programs in target St. Louis neighborhoods, specifically the 63107, 63106 and 63111 zip codes. He is also the founder of GoodMap, a web application where people and organizations can find, organize & share information about community and nonprofit resources. Paul is also actively involved in other St. Louis community and political outlets, including the Young Democrats of St. Louis, InveSTL, and the Mayor's Vanguard Committee. Paul has worked to further economic & neighborhood development in St. Louis and plans to continue this work throughout his career.

Joe Wilson, Paralegal/Office Manager, Roanoke Construction

Joe Wilson was born and raised in St. Louis, as a county boy who has grown to truly love the city. Joe went to Mizzou and studied English and History. He also walked on to the swim team and have never regretted the work it required. Now, Joe is in law school at Saint Louis University. He is particularly interested in urban development and real estate. Joe has worked for a couple of non-profits involved with veterans and labor. He has been a part of a few campaigns, though unfortunately he does not have a winning campaign under my belt just yet. has had his eye on NLC for about two years and is ecstatic that he was selected as a Fellow. It means a great deal to him to learn from people who have expertise in the field he wants to move in to and the NLC provides that.
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New Leaders Council is a 501 (c) (3) public charity dedicated to educating a new generation of leaders and to providing those leaders with the tools they need to succeed. NLC does not engage in political or legislative activities of any kind, does not support or oppose any candidate for public office, and serves only as an educational leadership training ground.