Missouri Childhood Community Leaders Chosen

SAINT LOUIS, MISSOURI (October 2023) United 4 Children and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), Office of Childhood have chosen Missouri Childhood Community Leaders for each region of Missouri. Community Leaders start their role this month.

Missouri Childhood Community Leaders will partner with United 4 Children to increase awareness of early childhood programs in their area, resources in their local community, and the strengths and needs of their region. They will create a plan to promote childhood programs by consolidating networking and advisory activities when possible, conducting targeted community outreach activities, and recruiting providers to work in early care and education programs. Together, they will work to ensure equitable access to resources and to opportunities to provide input on local decision-making across their region. 

“Throughout the application and selection process, we saw genuine passion from each of the selected Community Leaders. Some of them have served in this role before and some are new to this work. We are confident each of them will keep the families and early educators in the community at the center of their work,” shared Early Care Education Resource and Referral, Sr. Manager Krysta Grangeno. 

Missouri Childhood Community Leaders: 

Organization                                                                 Point of Contact            Region 

University of Missouri – MU Extension  Aileen Garcia  North Central Region 
Families and Communities Together (F.A.C.T.)  Tom Dugger  Northeast Region 
Northeast Missouri Caring Communities, Inc.  Melissa Emel  Northeast Region 
Youth Alliance  Robin Hammond  Northwest Region 
Children’s Mercy Hospital/Promise 1000  Amy Sielaff  Northwest Region 
United Way of Central Missouri  Theresa Verslues  South Central Region 
Blair Oaks School District  Shauna Kerperin  South Central Region 
Creating Parent Readiness (CPR) in the Ozarks  Karissa Coppedge  South Central Region 
Dunklin County Caring Council  Jenifer Godsey  Southeast Region 
St. Francois County Community Partnership  Kimberly Weakley  Southeast Region 
Jefferson County Community Partnership  Tracy Smith  Southeast Region 
El Dorado Springs R-2 School District Parents as Teachers   Jennifer Caldwell  Southwest Region 
Turn the Page STL  Lisa Greening  St. Louis Region 


University of Missouri-St. Louis Community Innovation and Action Center 

Christy Roberts and Carrie Henderson  St. Louis Region 


The state previously identified Community Leaders for each region of Missouri. This initiative formed a coordinated support system focused on making sure families have the resources and knowledge needed to make informed decisions about the safety, health, and education of their children. The state adjusted Community Leader regions this year, which led to new Community Leaders being selected. To view the updated map to identify your region, visit the Early Connections webpage at: https://earlyconnections.mo.gov/media/pdf/community-leader-map  

Through a competitive bid process earlier this year, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), Office of Childhood awarded United 4 Children to serve as Missouri’s Early Care and Education Resource and Referral Network. In this role, United 4 Children provides resource and referral services to early care professionals, children, and families in Missouri. The agency also coordinates and supports the state’s Community Leader work. 


About United 4 Children: United 4 Children’s vision is to ensure every child has the foundation to thrive. The nonprofit’s team believes that all children deserve a strong foundation to thrive regardless of race, zip code, or ability. The United 4 Children team meets caregivers where they are to assess, train, coach, and support them with the knowledge and skills necessary to ensure that children feel safe, are nourished, and are nurtured with social-emotional and inclusive services. To learn more, visit united4children.org. 

Media Contact: Gary Lowder | lowderg@united4children.org  | 314-531-1412  


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