Press Release by Forward through Ferguson
Forward Through Ferguson Expands Board
A year after the Ferguson Commission released its findings, a non-profit organization drives progress toward Racial Equity in metropolitan St. Louis.
St. Louis—Seven St. Louis area residents dedicated to the cause of bringing Racial Equity to the region have been added to the founding board of Forward Through Ferguson. They were selected through a community-driven process designed to find “unflinching and unusual leaders” with a deep understanding and commitment to the goals put forward by the Ferguson Commission.
Forward Through Ferguson (FTF) is the non-profit organization formed to carry on the work of the Ferguson Commission. Missouri Gov.Jay Nixon created the commission in November of 2014 to address the root causes that led to the unrest following the death of Michael Brown, Jr. on August 9, 2014. On September 14, 2015, the commission issued its report containing 189 policy recommendations and an overarching call for Racial Equity in the St. Louis region. Racial Equity is defined as a state in which outcomes are no longer predictable by race.
“The Ferguson Commission’s focus on racial equity turns the modus operandi of other riot commissions on their head,” says Lindsay Lupo, author of Flak-Catchers: One Hundred Years of Riot Commission Politics in America. “Where others, such as the commissions that followed the 1992 Los Angeles riot, tried to remove race from their study, the Ferguson Commission has boldly pushed for sweeping reforms that would promote racial equity in the St Louis region.”
Since the report’s release a year ago, the Commission has turned to committees made up of citizens from diverse sectors and backgrounds to guide major decisions regarding the work surrounding the report—including the formation of Forward Through Ferguson. The committee felt strongly that the board for Forward Through Ferguson should be sourced through an open, equitable, community-driven process. Nicole Hudson, lead catalyst for FTF, was pleased with the results. “Reviewing the applications reflected back to us a deep understanding of the opportunity our region has for generational change,” She said. Of the 27 applications, the review committee recommended seven for the board. “The process allowed us to build relationships — beyond the seven — with people doing great work toward change in this region,” Hudson added.
The seven new board members are (alphabetically):
- Rebeccah Bennett, founder and principal of Emerging Wisdom, an social enterprise that advances personal, organizational, and social transformation.
- Zach Boyers, chairman and CEO of U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation.
- Trina Dyan Clark James, founder of Jamaa Learning Center, a full-service charter school in the Ville neighborhood on St. Louis city’s north side.
- Carmen Garcia Ruiz, cultural change agent with St. Louis Renewed, an empowerment and leadership program promoting racial justice and unity in the St. Louis region.
- Adelaide Lancaster, co-founder of We Stories, a program that uses children’s literature to support family conversations about race and social justice.
- Christy Maxfield, director of entrepreneurship development services at the Center for Emerging Technologies (CET), an affiliate of St. Louis’s Cortex Innovation Community.
- De Andrea Nichols, a community engagement specialist with the Contemporary Art Museum and founder and founding director of Civic Creatives, which equips organizations and leaders to resolve critical social challenges using design thinking.
Since its inception, Forward Through Ferguson has been operating with an interim board made up of four former Ferguson Commission members: Kevin Ahlbrand, Brittany Packnett, Felicia Pulliam and Rose Windmiller. They will continue to serve as board members at least through the end of the year.
In reviewing the applications, the selection committee looked for experience, commitment and understanding of the four key principles in the work to date:
- Radical Listening
- Policy over Programs
- Racial Equity
Also considered was work or experience in the three key areas of the report:
- Justice for All
- Youth at the Center
- Opportunity to Thrive
“The leadership for the work of the report must equitably reflect many voices in the region. At the same time, it’s not easy or comfortable work. Starting with a group who both holds an understanding of equity and—for whatever reason—has actively sought out this unflinching work is critical to the future of the work.” Hudson said. The board’s immediate next step is to work with the review committee to continue expansion and ensure inclusion of voices that did not surface in the initial process. “It’s an opportunity to ask why we didn’t get a flood of applicants from some segments of the community—black men or law enforcement, among others. To ask and really listen to the answers,” Hudson said.
To learn more about the Forward Through Ferguson Board visit
Board — Forward Through Ferguson
To read the original call for board members visit
About Forward Through Ferguson
Anchored in the collaborative, unflinching, and community-driven principles that guided the Ferguson Commission, Forward Through Ferguson is a catalyst for leading the St. Louis region on a path toward Racial Equity. Founded with the sunset of the Ferguson Commission on December 31, 2015, Forward Through Ferguson will focus on:
- Helping the region articulate a vision for a Path Toward Racial Equity;
- Helping connect existing resources throughout the region to each other and to the Calls to Action;
- “Fertilizing the soil” for generational change by providing citizens with the knowledge and tools needed to help drive change at the policy level.
About The Ferguson Commission
Governor Nixon appointed the Ferguson Commission in November of 2014 to address the root causes that led to the unrest following the death of Michael Brown, Jr. on August 9, 2014. The charge for the 16 volunteer Commissioners was to submit a report making policy recommendations for moving our region forward once and for all. The Commission held over 70 public meetings over 10 months, bringing together over 3,000 St. Louisans, who together with the Commissioners gave over 30,000 volunteer hours to produce the 189 Calls to Action that make up the report, Forward Through Ferguson: A Path Toward Racial Equity. The Commission sunsetted on December 31, 2015.