Alyssa Banford is the Director of Civic Engagement for the JCRC in St. Louis. Among many education and service events she organizes, her largest programs are the Jewish and Muslim Day of Community Service, the Jewish Coalition for New Americans Day Camp at the International Institute, and the Jewish Coalition for Racial Equity’s Virtual Conference. She graduated from Washington University with a Bachelor of Science in Communications and Public Relations, and is currently pursuing a Masters in International Relations from Harvard University. Before her transition to the non-profit world, she began her career in 2007 working in Fortune 500 advertising and marketing, then co-founded a startup called SYNEK out of CiC’s 4240 building. She is part of the first Marian Bland Langdon Cohort of the LEAP (Leaders in Equity, Antiracism, and Parity) Institute, is a trained liaison with Faith and For the Sake of All initiative designed to educate the St. Louis community about racial inequity, and serves as Welcoming Chair for the St. Louis JPro Board. She also is a 2019 New Israel Fund Global Activism Fellow focused on understanding social and political issues in Israel, a 2019 Bend the Arc Jeremiah Fellow focused on a national immigration reform campaign, and a former Member of the Board at Central Reform Congregation.
Ida Casey, an advocate for Social Justice, has worked and supported YWCA for many years. As an employee of YWCA Metro St. Louis for almost twelve years, she worked with youth, empowering them to realize their potential. She was also instrumental in launching the 21-Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge for the Bank of American, sponsored by YWCA Metro St. Louis. Ida received her undergraduate and graduate education in Communication and Communication Management from Webster University. She holds a graduate certificate in Social Justice from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and will receive her doctorate degree in Social Justice in May, 2021.
Sheila Davis is an ERSEA (Eligibility, Recruitment, Selection, Enrollment, Attendance) Manager for the YWCA Head Start/Early Head Start Program and a member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. As a manager, she oversees the enrollment at two of the programs St. Louis County sites. As a member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee she is committed to eradicating systemic racism, discrimination, and bias of any kind by creating a safe space for open dialogue surrounding sex, age, race, religion, and class based on her and others’ personal experiences.
Karla D. Scott, Ph.D.
Dr. Karla D. Scott is Professor of Communication at Saint Louis University. Her teaching and research focus on Black women’s lived experiences across communicative contexts, and dialogue strategies across identity differences and racial divisions. A proud native of East St. Louis, Illinois, she joined the SLU Department of Communication faculty in 1994 and served as Director of the African American Studies Program from 2000-2013 transforming the curriculum from certificate program to academic major. She also served as Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is the recipient of four Saint Louis University teaching awards and a College of Arts & Sciences mentoring award.
Dr. Scott is the author of “The Language of Strong Black Womanhood: Myths, Models, Messages and A New Mandate For Self Care” (Lexington Books). She is the recipient of the Organization for the Study of Communication Language and Gender (OSCLG) outstanding journal article award for “Communication Strategies Across Cultural Borders: Dispelling Stereotypes, Performing Competence and Redefining Black Womanhood”, published in Women’s Studies in Communication. She received an outstanding journal article award from the National Communication Association African American Communication and Culture Division (AACCD) for her article “Young, Shifting and Black: Leaving the Language of Home and Back Again – A Cautionary Tale of Crossing Race and Gender Borders”, published in Qualitative Inquiry. In 2015, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Communication Association AACCD. She is a member of the OSCLG “Wise Women Council” and in October 2020 became President of OSCLG. In 2020, she was inducted into the YWCA Metro St. Louis Academy of Leaders for her work in Racial Justice.
Dr. Scott is a cross-cultural dialogue facilitator and conducts professional development seminars designed to build capacity to talk about and across racial identity differences; develop contexts for dialogic communication and provide strategies for social justice education, and explore restorative self-care practices for Black women. She is the founder and principal of Dialogue, Diversity & Dharma LLC.
Dorothy’s love for the City of Alton and the YWCA mission of eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice and dignity for all led her to YWCA in early 2017. Dorothy spent 30-plus years improving communities and developing affordable housing throughout Madison County. She especially enjoyed her time working on Community and Housing Development projects. Through the years, she made many friends in the Riverbend area and truly enjoys reconnecting with colleagues from her days at Madison County. Her efforts led to safer neighborhoods, stronger public facilities and new housing for the mentally ill, homeless, seniors and low-income families. She helped form and manage several non-profits in Madison County, which were used in public private partnerships to develop low income housing. While she hails from East St. Louis originally, Dorothy is a resident of the city of Edwardsville. She has served on the Edwardsville City Council, Edwardsville School Board, Edwardsville Planning Commission, and the National Development Council HEDC and NMTC Advisory Board based in NYC. She was recognized by SIUE in 2020 as a Phenomenal Women for Embracing and Promoting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.