Our team is growing! 

If you are a regular reader of our newsletter, you may have noticed that we’ve hired a number of new staff members over the course of the last few months– and we haven’t even finished announcing all of our new teammates! This hiring spree is part of our strategic growth plan that we committed to as an organization in Spring 2021. Since I’m sure that it can be hard to keep track of our rapid growth as a casual observer, I thought I would take a moment to zoom out and give you a look at the bigger picture.  

The majority of our growth has been focused on the expansion of our policy team. Our most tenured staff member, Christine Woody, maintains oversight of our Food Security Coalition. We have very recently hired a new Criminal Justice Policy Manager, Gwen Smith, who will take over the criminal justice policy work that I have been covering for the last eight months and finally provide a full-time, dedicated staff member to that coalition. We have also hired two new Affordable Housing Policy Managers, Amber Smith (located in the Lake of the Ozarks region) and Vee Sanchez (located in Springfield). These two are taking over management of our Affordable Housing Coalition from Sarah Owsley as well as launching a new tenant organizing effort in Southwest Missouri, thanks to the generous support of Missouri Foundation for Health. 

Sarah, who has been serving as our Policy & Advocacy Director for the last 15 months, has had an increasingly unmanageable workload as we’ve grown our coalitions, our policy advocacy efforts, and now, several new training initiatives. In order to allow her to focus her efforts on building our training capacity around the state, we have split her role into two positions– a Policy Director and an Advocacy Director.  Sarah has moved into the role of Advocacy Director. In this position, she will lead our new Advocacy Partners Program, oversee our Anti-Poverty Advocates Summit, expand our advocacy training offerings to coalition members and non-coalition members alike, oversee our Friday Forum series, and, ultimately, design and launch our new Advocate Training Academy. 

We have hired a new teammate, Holly Honig-Josephson, to step into the role of Policy Director.  In this role, Holly will oversee the work of our Policy Managers, drive all of our policy advocacy work at the federal, state, and local level, plan and execute our annual Week of Action, and build new educational programs for our legislative partners.

Rounding out our team are our Communications Director, Amber Foster-Hobart and our Development & Operations Manager, Nay’Chelle Harris.  We are pressing pause on our staff growth for a few months while we focus on growing our coalitions during the legislative off-season, but hope to add to our non-policy team this winter. Our next step will be split our Development & Operations Manager role into two dedicated positions– an Operations Director and a Development Director– and to add 1-2 new members to our Communications Team. 

In line with our staff expansion, we are also thrilled to announce that our Board has recently elected seven new board members! You will be learning more about our new Board and staff in the weeks and months ahead, but I’m truly proud of the racial, geographic, and socioeconomic diversity on our growing team.  Between our board and staff, our team is 40% people of color and represents nine counties across Missouri.  We know that we cannot truly represent the interests of all Missourians without representing the backgrounds and lived experiences of all Missourians– and so we will continue to keep a clear eye on our diversity as we grow our staff and board in the months and years ahead. 

Questions about our growth and our future?  Don’t hesitate to reach out to any member of our team– we’ll all be thrilled to hear from you!

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