Past Center-Hosted Events

2019 Just for Kids (J4K) Community Conversations are forums designed to introduce our community action tank, Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being, to the St. Louis region and amplify Deaconess Foundation’s commitment to Building A Community Just for Kids, advancing the work of child advocates through public policy and racial equity. This series, first introduced in 2018, brings national leaders to St. Louis to hold forums designed to activate change for children in St. Louis. Each Community Conversation will bring timely insights on justice, equity, and well-being for children and leave participants with tools to apply these best practices in St. Louis.


October 15, 2019 - People Centered Policymaking

Tyra Mariani, New America

We welcome Tyra Mariani, President & Chief Operating Officer of New America. New America is a new kind of think and action tank: a civic platform that connects a research institute, technology lab, solutions network, media hub and public forum. Highlights from their 20-year history include influencing federal policy relating to early childhood education, developing programs to help redefine care policy and pioneering the ASPIRE Act. New America’s approach to public problem solving is detailed a recent piece in Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Prior to New America, Mariani was Chief of Staff to the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education and Deputy Chief of Staff to the U.S. Secretary of Education in the Obama Administration. She helped shape policies and programs impacting education from early learning through college and career and led teams that took Administration priorities from vision to strategy and implementation: including the President’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative and RESPECT, an effort to elevate and transform the teaching profession.

In addition to Conversation with Tyra, the October session will feature the release of the Missouri Children’s Budget: a multi-issue advocacy tool developed by Deaconess and Missouri Budget Project.

Public Problem Solving & People Centered Policy Presentation 

Built for Zero Presentation

VIDEO: Tyra Mariani Keynote | Just for Kids (J4K) Community Conversation: People Centered Policymaking

VIDEO: Missouri Children's Budget | Just for Kids (J4K) Community Conversation: People Centered Policymaking


November 18, 2019 - Service of Healthy Democracy

Joe Goldman, Democracy Fund and Democracy Fund Voice

As President of Democracy Fund and Democracy Fund Voice, Joe Goldman carries out the missions of these organizations ensuring that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people, and to help America build a stronger, healthier democracy.

Pierre Omidyar (founder and former chairman of eBay) created the Democracy Fund out of deep respect for the U.S. Constitution and our nation’s core democratic values. Democracy Fund envisions an American democracy that is healthy, resilient, and diverse. A society that respects the inherent dignity and inalienable rights of each individual and empowers each person to pursue and achieve the common good. A people that have the information they need to hold their leaders accountable and to actively participate in public life. And a public that is confident its voice is being heard and that democratic institutions are faithfully and effectively serving the nation’s best interests.

Joe will share the Fund’s perspective on essential elements and critical influences for healthy democracy and how the what the philanthropy is supporting to advance this framework. Conversation with Joe will be accompanied by announcement of Deaconess’ 2020 Policy Campaign Grant Funded Partners.

VIDEO: Joe Goldman Keynote | Just for Kids (J4K) Community Conversation: In Service of Healthy Democracy 

VIDEO: Response by Justin Hansford, ESQ | Just for Kids (J4K) Community Conversation: In Service of Healthy Democracy

VIDEO: 2020 Policy Campaign Announcement | Just for Kids (J4K) Community Conversation: In Service of Healthy Democracy


December 9, 2019 - Faith-Inspired Social Action

Jim Wallis, Sojourners

We welcome Rev. Jim Wallis, Founder, President and Editor-in-Chief of Sojourners, New York Times bestselling author and widely-recognized theologian.

Rev. Wallis a globally respected writer, teacher, preacher, and justice advocate who believes the gospel of Jesus must be transformed from its cultural and political captivities. He is a renowned speaker, regular international commentator on ethics and public life and is the author of 12 books, including American’s Original Sin, God’s Politics, The Great Awakening, and The Call to Conversion. He served on President Obama's White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and has taught faith and public life courses at Harvard and Georgetown University. “Coach Jim” also served for 22 seasons as a Little League coach for his two baseball playing sons.

In his most recent book, Christ in Crisis: Why We Need to Reclaim Jesus, to be published in September, he argues that our cultural and political crisis largely stems from how the American church has become disconnected from the teachings of Jesus Christ. As he has done throughout his career, his prophetic vision and pastoral wisdom both provoke and counsel, guiding us forward during this time of confusion and fear. He reveals how following the teachings of Jesus emboldens and empowers us to be not afraid, but to act in courage and hope.

Rev. Wallis will share reflections from his knew work and enter into conversation with local leaders about the intersections of faith and action. In addition to discussion of how to mobilize faith communities for community action, the Conversation will feature the announcement of Deaconess’ Rev. Buck Jones Memorial Grant for Tenant Organizing Funded Partners.

VIDEO: Rev. Jim Wallis Keynote | Just for Kids (J4K) Community Conversation: Faith-Inspired Social Action 

VIDEO: Response by Rev. Earle Fisher, Ph.D. | Just for Kids (J4K) Community Conversation: Faith-Inspired Social Action

VIDEO: Faith Leader Panel + Rev. Buck Jones Memorial Grant Announcement| Just for Kids (J4K) Community Conversation: Faith-Inspired Social Action


February 25, 2019 – 18th Ward Candidate Forum

Co-Sponsored by Covenant Blu Neighborhood Association & Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being

Covenant Blu Neighborhood Association and Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being co-hosted a public 18th Ward Aldermanic Candidate Forum on February 25th, 2019. As Alderman Terry Kennedy’s long tenure as the 18th Ward Alderman and his leadership of the Aldermanic Black Caucus draws to a close, the Forum provided a timely opportunity for residents and the surrounding community to hear from candidates about issues that impact our community. Candidates highlighted their public policy proposals and responded to questions.

Covenant Blu Neighborhood Association (CBNA) is a resident-led association currently representing both the 18th and 19th wards of the City of St. Louis. CBNA aims to continue neighborhood development and increase the community's voice in decision-making. Local initiatives of CBNA include, neighborhood clean-up days and bi-monthly meetings to keep members updated about community issues and available local resources.

VIDEO:  18th Ward Candidate Forum: Sponsored by Covenant Blu Neighborhood Association & Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being


2018 Just for Kids (J4K) Community Conversations are forums designed to introduce our community action tank, Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being, to the St. Louis region and amplify Deaconess Foundation’s commitment to Building A Community Just for Kids.

The J4K Community Conversations series is a set of public forums on topics that advance the work of child advocates through public policy and racial equity. The series is made possible with support from the estate of the late Mrs. Ruth and Rev. Carl C. Rasche, historian of The Deaconess Heritage and president emeritus of Deaconess Hospital, respectively.


April 19, 2018 – Building a Community Just for Kids

Marian Wright Edelman, Children’s Defense Fund

MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund (CDF), has been an advocate for disadvantaged Americans for her entire professional life. Under her leadership, CDF has become the nation’s strongest voice for children and families. The Children's Defense Fund’s Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.

A graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School, Edelman was the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar and directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson, Mississippi. She has received over a hundred honorary degrees and many awards including the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Prize, the Heinz Award, a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, and the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award for her writings which include: Families in Peril: An Agenda for Social Change; The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours, Lanterns: A Memoir of Mentors, I'm Your Child, God: Prayers for Our Children; I Can Make a Difference: A Treasury to Inspire Our Children; and The Sea Is So Wide and My Boat Is So Small: Charting a Course for the Next Generation. She is married to Peter Edelman, a Professor at Georgetown University Law Center. They have three sons and four grandchildren.

VIDEO: Greetings & Special Messages from Elected Officials | Just for Kids (J4K) Community Conversation: Building a Community Just for Kids 

VIDEO: Deaconess Background & Keynote Introduction | Just for Kids (J4K) Community Conversation: Building a Community Just for Kids

VIDEO: Mrs. Marian Wright Edelman Keynote | Just for Kids (J4K) Community Conversation: Building a Community Just for Kids

VIDEO: Legislative Response & Closing Remarks | Just for Kids (J4K) Community Conversation: Building a Community Just for Kids


August 3 & 4, 2018 – Fearless Dialogues

Dr. Gregory Ellison II, Emory University Candler School of Theology

FEARLESS DIALOGUES is a grassroots initiative that creates unique spaces for unlikely partners to engage in hard, heartfelt conversations that see gifts in others, hear value in stories, and work for change and positive transformation in self and other. Greg Ellison is the founder of Fearless Dialogues. Greg Ellison’s new book, Fearless Dialogues: A New Movement for Justice, uses interdisciplinary voices to provide school systems, local and regional initiatives, faith-based alliances, and partnership-minded organizations with a theoretical template for creating space, appropriating silence, fostering discussion, managing conflict, revealing strengths, nurturing strategic alliances and facilitating sustainable change.

The Rev. Dr. Gregory C. Ellison, II is associate professor of pastoral care and counseling at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. Ellison’s research focuses on caring with marginalized populations, pastoral care as social activism, and 20th and 21st century mysticism. He is the author of Cut Dead But Still Alive: Caring for African American Young Men and Fearless Dialogues, and has another book in progress, Anchored in the Current: The Eternal Wisdom of Howard Thurman in a Changing World.

VIDEO: Dr. Gregory Ellison II | Just for Kids (J4K) Community Conversation: Fearless Dialogues


August 21, 2018 – Faith Communities and Child Welfare

Dr. William C. Bell, Casey Family Programs

WILLIAM C. BELL became president and chief executive officer of Casey Family Programs in January 2006. He chairs the Executive Team and is ultimately responsible for the vision, mission, strategies and objectives of the foundation. Prior to becoming president and CEO of Casey Family Programs, he served as the foundation’s executive vice president for Child and Family Services, providing strategic direction to nine field offices and leading a staff working directly with young people from the public child welfare system. Prior to joining Casey, he served as commissioner of the New York City Administration for Children’s Services.

Dr. Bell earned his Ph.D. in social welfare from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, his Master of Social Work degree from Hunter College School of Social Work, and his bachelor’s in biology and behavioral science degree from Delta State University. Dr. Bell is a member of the board of Philanthropy Northwest, Delta State University Foundation and the Campaign for Black Male Achievement. He serves on the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association board of trustees, and he is a member of the advisory board of the Racial Equity and Leadership Institute.

VIDEO: Dr. William C. Bell Keynote | Just for Kids (J4K) Community Conversation on Faith Communities and Child Welfare

VIDEO: Dr. William C. Bell Q & A | Just for Kids (J4K) Community Conversation on Faith Communities and Child Welfare

Casey Family Programs' Faith-Based Toolkit Executive Summary


September 20, 2018 – Equity, Growth and Community

Dr. Manuel Pastor, University of Southern California

MANUEL PASTOR is Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California (USC). He currently directs the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and USC's Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII). Pastor holds an economics Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and is the inaugural holder of the Turpanjian Chair in Civil Society and Social Change at USC.

Dr. Pastor’s research has generally focused on issues of the economic, environmental and social conditions facing low-income urban communities – and the social movements seeking to change those realities. His recent books include: Equity, Growth, and Community: What the Nation Can Learn from America's Metro Areas, Unsettled Americans: Metropolitan Context and Civic Leadership for Immigrant Integration, Just Growth: Inclusion and Prosperity in America’s Metropolitan Regions, Uncommon Common Ground: Race and America’s Future, This Could Be the Start of Something Big: How Social Movements for Regional Equity are Transforming Metropolitan America; Staircases or Treadmills: Labor Market Intermediaries and Economic Opportunity in a Changing Economy and Regions That Work: How Cities and Suburbs Can Grow Together.

VIDEO: Dr. Manuel Pastor Keynote | Just for Kids (J4K) Community Conversation: Equity, Growth and Community

VIDEO: Dr. Manuel Pastor Q&A | Just for Kids (J4K) Community Conversation: Equity, Growth and Community

Equity, Growth and Community Presentation Slides

Missouri Changing States Power Audit Presentation Slides


October 23, 2018 - How Change Happens

Leslie Crutchfield, Georgetown University McDonough School of Business

LESLIE CRUTCHFIELD is an author, the Executive Director of the Global Social Enterprise Initiative at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, and a Senior Advisor at FSG Social Impact Consultants. Leslie is an author of three books, including Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits – recognized by The Economist on its Best Books of the Year list – and Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World, her third book releases soon, How Change Happens (forthcoming/Wiley 2018).

Leslie was previously a managing director at Ashoka, the global venture fund for social entrepreneurs, and she cofounded a national nonprofit social enterprise in her 20s. She has contributed to Fortune, Forbes, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and Stanford Social Innovation Review, and has appeared on programs such as NPR and ABC News. Leslie has served as a trustee of SEED Foundation and Kiva, and volunteered with Crossroads Africa. She holds an MBA and BA from Harvard, and resides in the Washington, D.C. region.

VIDEO: Leslie Crutchfield Keynote | Just for Kids (J4K) Community Conversation: How Change Happens

VIDEO: Leslie Crutchfield Q&A | Just for Kids (J4K) Community Conversation: How Change Happens

VIDEO: Panel Discussion with Local Movement Leaders moderated by Leslie Crutchfield | Just for Kids (J4K) Community Conversation: How Change Happens