Diversity Awareness Partnership


Catrina Salamacatrina

Education and Training Manager, Diversity Awareness Partnership

Presenting: Unconscious Bias in the WorkplaceListen. Talk. Learn. Dialoguing Across DifferenceBuilding a Multigenerational Workforce

Catrina Salama is Diversity Awareness Partnership’s Education and Training manager, in which role she trains clients in diversity and inclusion and supports organizations in implementing diversity initiatives. Catrina holds a master’s degree in clinical adult psychology from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and an undergraduate degree in psychology from Webster University. Catrina also serves as adjunct faculty at Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville teaching about Multiculturalism and social justice at the graduate and undergraduate level. In her previous role as Multicultural counselor, she provided mental health treatment to underrepresented students and developed outreach and programing specific to the needs of underrepresented students on campus. She has also been a part of campus climate committees where she gained experience evaluating the climate of diversity in an educational setting. Catrina’s passion for diversity comes from her experience as a first generation American and her time spent traveling abroad.


Anna Warbelow

Associate Director of Campus Life, Washington University in St. Louis

Presenting: Gender Identity and Expression: Language and Concepts

Anna Warbelow, Associate Director of Campus Life at Washington University, created and served as the lead facilitator for the University’s Faculty and Staff SafeZones program, which offers peer-based trainings focused on creating more inclusive environments for  LGBTQIA+ students, staff, faculty, and community members. At the University, Anna also serves on the LGBT Advisory Board and on the Campus Diversity Collaborative. She received her Ph.D. in Art History with a focus on queer art and theory from Washington University, has a master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and completed her undergraduate work in English Literature at Michigan State University. Anna has offered social justice facilitations and trainings and presentations on LGBTQIA inclusion around the city and nationally for a variety of audiences. Anna is passionate about reproductive justice, particularly in the queer community, local food, and all things St. Louis. As a white cis queer woman Anna is committed to active allyship through educating herself and others about injustices faced by people of color and trans* people. 


Noor Hasan

Management Consultant, Allstate

Presenting: Elevating Corporate D&I: Advancing Diversity Work Through a Millennial Social Justice Lens

Noor Hasan is a management consultant at Allstate, where she consults on business process transformation and technology strategy. She has also worked on Allstate’s Inclusive Diversity Team, where she consulted on creating inclusive talent pipelines, facilitated difficult dialogues and trainings, created an integrated communication strategy, and built the company’s first transgender education curriculum. She also served as the inaugural chair of Allstate’s Intercultural Competence Committee, leading a team of millennial grassroots initiatives for diversity and inclusion. 

Outside of work, Noor volunteers with Young Chicago Authors’ Louder than a Bomb competition, Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago, Cabrini Green Legal Aid, and is a member of the Northwestern University Alumni Admissions Council. In 2016, she was awarded an Outstanding Skills-Based Volunteer Award by Allstate and was recognized in 2016 as one of Chicago Scholars’ 35 under 35 leaders making an impact on Chicago. She has a B.A. from Northwestern University in English, Legal Studies, and Asian American Studies, and will earn her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley Law School beginning in fall 2017.


Neha Surender

Inclusive Diversity Team Consultant, Allstate

Presenting: Elevating Corporate D&I: Advancing Diversity Work Through a Millennial Social Justice Lens

Neha Surender is program participant of the Allstate Leadership Development Program. She is currently in her final year as a consultant on the Inclusive Diversity Team, where she supports the communication and branding initiatives, launched the inaugural annual report, and chairs the Intercultural Competence Committee.

Outside of Allstate, Neha is a freelance event planner that has organized 4 national conferences focused on the intersection of arts and social justice. She received her B.A from Trinity College in International Studies: Sustainable development, Human rights, and Studio Arts.


Chris Caras

Islamic Education Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Missouri Branch (CAIR-MO)

Presenting: Candid Conversation with Muslims

Chris Caras, 32, converted to Islam as a high school junior, in October, 2001 in Peoria, IL. He studied Islam formally in Saudi Arabia (‘07 – ‘13) and Malaysia (’14 – ’16), earning degrees in Arabic, Islamic theology, history and legal theory, all in the Arabic medium. He has since moved to West County St Louis, Missouri with his wife (Pakistani-American) and two daughters where he works as Islamic Education Director with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Missouri branch (CAIR-MO).


Alaa Kamel

Strategic Researcher, Service Employees International Union, Local 1

Panel Member: Candid Conversation with Muslims

Alaa is currently a Strategic Researcher at Service Employees International Union, Local 1. Previously, she was an Organizer with SEIU L1 in Missouri and California. She received her M.S. from George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution with a focus on labor studies. Some of her previous experiences include Interning at the Solidarity Center of the AFL-CIO, working for USA for UNHCR, and taking on many leadership roles in her community. Alaa was born into a Muslim family in Los Angeles California, and lived there most of her life. She worked closely with the Council for American Islamic Relations in the Greater Los Angeles Area and has focused much of her activism on issues facing the Muslim community in the U.S. She is Egyptian, a rock climber, an artist, and a fellow human being.


Mohamed Alhalabi

Senior Mechanical Design Engineer

Panel Member: Candid Conversation with Muslims

Born in Sidon, Lebanon, came to the USA in September 1976 to go to engineering school, graduated from Tulsa University in May 1981, became a Registered Professional Mechanical Engineer in 1987, married to Brenda Alhalabi, with two boys, Hussam and Abraham and one girl, Laila Alhalabi, moved to St. Louis, MO. 1981 and have been in St. Louis since then.


Kenneth Pruitt

Director of Diversity Training, Diversity Awareness Partnership

Presenting: Inclusive Leadership: Dialogue and Tools for Understanding Privilege and Unconscious Bias in the Workplace

As Director of Diversity Training, Kenneth is responsible for the Diversity Awareness Partnership’s training and consultation for a variety of organizations on topics of diversity and inclusion. Additionally, he oversees DAP’s education efforts via its interfaith work, as well as an assortment of panels, forums, and discussions. After receiving his master’s in education from St. John’s University, Kenneth became a classroom teacher for several years before taking this passion into nonprofit settings. Just previous to his work with DAP, he developed a model for contextualizing the group volunteer experience with education and advocacy on issues of poverty, diversity, and religion.

With the exception of a four-year stint in New York City, Kenneth has spent the last 20 years in St. Louis, having grown up in Nashville, Tennessee. He loves asking hard questions about the intersection of social justice and religion, and can frequently be found jogging a few miles on the sidewalks of South City.


Nikki McGruderNikki McGruder_30

Regional Manager, DAP–Columbia, Diversity Awareness Partnership

Presenting: Creating Culturally Inclusive Schools

Prior to joining DAP, Nikki worked with leading recruitment process outsourcing firm, Cielo, in the recruiting and hiring of top candidates for technology, pharmaceutical and finance positions. The bulk of her professional experience has been with Edward Jones Investments where Nikki served in various capacities over a 10 year time frame.

In her time with Edward Jones, Nikki was afforded the opportunity to work closely with the Inclusion initiative serving as a trainer and coach for minority advisors in the firm’s Cross Cultural Development five-day training program as well as with a team of professionals working diligently to improve the inclusion initiative for the recruitment and hiring of minority advisors.

Nikki received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business from Columbia College in Columbia, MO, and her MBA and Master of Arts in Human Resource Development from Webster University.


Megan St. John

Research Department, Edward Jones

Panel Member: Sharing Best Practices in Corporate Employee Resource Groups

Megan began her career at Edward Jones in the summer of 2005 as in intern in the Equity Trading department. Upon graduating, she was hired as an equity trader for the firm. In 2008, she became the Best Execution Analyst for the firm, and in 2010, she became a member of the Research department.

Megan graduated summa cum laude from St. Louis University in 2005 with dual Bachelor’s degrees in finance and economics. In addition, she holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation and is a member of the CFA Institute and the CFA Society of St. Louis.

She serves on the St. Louis Human Rights Campaign Steering Committee, the Women In Investment Management Committee of the CFA Society of St. Louis, and on the Ignites Theater Board of Directors. She currently is the chairperson of the LGBT & Allies Business Resource Group at Edward Jones.


Mike Eggleston

Senior Community Development Specialist, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Moderating: Sharing Best Practices in Corporate Employee Resource Groups

Mike is a Senior Community Development Specialist with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. He provides financial institutions, community organizations and government entities tools to address community development issues affecting economically vulnerable individuals and communities. His past experience includes housing, mortgage lending, and asset management. Mike serves on the Board at the Incarnate Word Foundation. 


Melanie Moore

Director of North America Talent Acquisition at Monsanto Company

Panel Member: Sharing Best Practices in Corporate Employee Resource Groups

Melanie Moore is currently Director of North America Talent Acquisition at Monsanto Company.  She is from St. Louis, Missouri, and received her BS in Marketing Education from the University of Missouri – Columbia, and MS in Human Resource Management & Development from Webster University.  She is the Co-President for NAAAHR – St. Louis Chapter, serves on the Leadership Team for African and African Americans in Monsanto, Board Member for Annie Malone Children and Family Services, participates on the United Way Allocations Panel, is a member of the Leadership 100 Cohort of the Regional Business Council Young Professionals Network and is Director on the ALPFA Board.  Melanie was recognized in February 2016 by the St. Louis American as a Young Leader and in November 2016 as a Distinguished Honoree for the 2016 Power100 List by Delux Magazine. Melanie resides in St. Louis with her son.


Lester Woods, Jr.

External Civil Rights Director, Missouri Department of Transportation

Panel Member: Supplier Diversity: Trends and Resources

After completing his Master’s of Public Administration degree at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Lester started his career working with Executive Advantage, a local small consulting business that provides human resource services and consulting to businesses and organizations.  He broadened his experience in affirmative action working at the University of Missouri – Columbia as a Human Resource Specialist.

Lester went on to join the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) in 2002 as a Human Resource Specialist in the Equal Opportunity Unit, where he worked in the areas of workforce diversity.  In July of 2004 he was promoted to External Civil Rights Administrator, and in July 2008 he was promoted to External Civil Rights Director.  As Director, Lester is responsible for directing the department’s external affirmative action, equal opportunity & non-discrimination programs, which include the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program, On-the-Job Training Program, Equal Employment Opportunity, Title VI, ADA and all other non-discrimination or affirmative action programs related to federal-aid contracting activities.

In addition to his day-to-day activities, Lester is the lead administrator of the Missouri Unified Certification Program, which includes St. Louis Lambert Airport, METRO, the City of Kansas City, and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority.

Lester also navigated, along with the national president of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO), a work force utilization plan with contractors, unions and community stakeholders on two of MoDOT’s first Design Build projects.  This unique collaboration between these entities yielded measurable results in work force and business diversity, and became known as the “Missouri Model”.


Valerie Coyazo

Supplier Diversity Manager, Kansas City Power & Light

Panel Member: Supplier Diversity: Trends and Resources

Valerie Coyazo is Supplier Diversity Manager for Kansas City Power & Light.  As Manager of Supplier Diversity, she is responsible for promoting and facilitating the development of business relationships between KCP&L’s buyers and small businesses, including women-owned and certified minority-owned firms and all other vendors that do business with KCP&L.  She provides direction and leadership for the day-to-day operations of the KCP&L Supplier Diversity Program.

She serves as a member of several boards which include the Supplier Diversity Strategic Planning Team for Edison Electric Institute, she is the X-Chair Emeritus of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City, serves on the regional planning committee for FIRST Robotics and was former committee chair for KC Bizfest, the Diverse Business subcommittee of the Greater KC Chamber of Commerce, chair for the Missouri Energy Development Association Supplier Diversity Task Force.  She also served as the national fundraiser for the Hispanic Association of AT&T Employees (HISPA), Salvation Army and Harvesters, served on the Guadalupe Center’s GES Board and the Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

Valerie has received the Chairman’s Award from the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Top 25 Women in Power Impacting Diversity from Diversity, Inc. Magazine, MBE Coordinator of the Year award from the Mid America Minority Business Development Council for her work with minority suppliers, the Thomas E. Purcell Award from the Guadalupe Centers for outstanding contribution to the Guadalupe Center by a board member and was honored by the Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City for making a difference in the lives of women and girls in our community.  She also was nominated for the Woman of Achievement Award at KCP&L by one of her Peers for her outstanding contribution in the KCP&L community.

She received a Bachelor of Science in Human Resources from Park College in Kansas City, Misssouri.


Dr. Stephanie Smith 
Steph Smith

Manager of Supplier Diversity, Washington University

Panel Member: Supplier Diversity: Trends and Resources

Dr. Stephanie Smith holds a Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership. She is
currently the Manager of Supplier Diversity for Washington University. Her role is to provide contracting opportunities under the procurement of services in construction, professional services, general services, goods, technology, and medical- related goods and services.

Dr. Stephanie Smith began working with minority business enterprises, woman business enterprises, small business and veteran/ disabled veteran business enterprises while pursuing a Master of Business Administration degree. Over the course of her 18 years in Supplier Diversity, Dr. Smith has developed inclusion plans for minority and women business enterprises on multi-year capital improvement projects, ranging from $1M – $245M.


Taylor Masonunnamed (1) 

Business Development Lead, David Mason & Associates

Moderator: Supplier Diversity: Trends and Resources

Taylor Mason is the lead of Business Development at David Mason & Associates.  David Mason & Associates is an Engineering firm Headquartered in St. Louis w/ offices in Chicago and Dallas.  DMA  performs services in several markets which include but are not limited to; Power & Utility, Transportation, Higher Education, Tunnel Design, Federal, Healthcare and Private Industry.  Taylor builds client relationships and maintains these relationships through his organizations exceptional performance and reputation.  His day to day activities include team management and building, project presentations, client presentations, implementation of a strategic customer focus and networking events.

Taylor was born and raised in St. Louis, MO and currently resides in Rock Hill.  After high school he attended St. Louis Community College @ Forest Park and completed his associate’s degree in business on a full baseball scholarship.  Post Forest Park, Taylor traveled to Chicago to attend Benedictine University where he completed his degree in Business and Economics.  After college internships at IMG, Creative Artist Agency (CAA) and Anheuser-Busch Taylor accepted a job working in Special Event Marketing for Anheuser-Busch. In 2009 he joined David Mason & Associates and made it a family business.

He is currently a member of the junior advisory board for Midwest Bank Centre, Engineers Club of St. Louis, Society of Professional Military Engineers, and the Young Engineers Committee and the American Society of Engineering Companies.  Taylor grew up working with the Mathews Dickey Boys and Girls club after playing RBI baseball for the organization.  When he is not working or traveling for DMA, Taylor gives baseball lessons to youths through GameDay Academy in St. Louis. He is also an avid golfer. The son of Christine Buck and David Mason, Taylor has one younger sibling, Spencer.


Turan Mullins

Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion, Maryville University

Panel Member: Black Male Experiences: Telling a Different Story

Turan Mullins currently serves as assistant dean of Diversity and Inclusion at Maryville University helping create an inclusive campus culture. As an established diversity leader, both on and off campus, he was recently named to the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force for the National Association for Campus Activities and Board of Directors at the Diversity Awareness Partnership (DAP) of St. Louis.

Among his many St. Louis professional endeavors, Mullins is an alumni fellow of the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative leadership program, and was recently named a 2016 Focus St. Louis Impact Fellow, a highly selective program offering leaders the opportunity to work together to address a specific regional issue. His cohort will use the Ferguson Commission report as a guidepost and framework for their work. Mullins is also on the executive committee of the Friends of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater St. Louis.


F. Willis Johnson

Senior Minister, Wellspring Church

Panel Member: Black Male Experiences: Telling a Different Story

Rev. Dr. F. Willis Johnson is the senior minister of Wellspring Church in Ferguson, Missouri and author of the Holding Up Your Corner: Talking About Race in Your Community published by Abingdon Press. Johnson captured national attention for his leadership in August 2014 after an unarmed African American teenager was shot and killed Ferguson. Since that time, thousands have been influenced by his prophetic, faith-filled reflections and strategies on social justice and racial understanding.

Johnson counsels bishops, church organizations and local churches across the country, and is a frequent speaker/preacher/teacher. Through his leadership of The Center for Social Empowerment, he strives to prepare prophetic leaders who promote healing, justice and reconciliation. The Center is a hub for theologically informed reflection, investigation, and education on social and racial justice issues, and is located in Ferguson. Johnson is the Vosburgh Visiting Professor of Ministry and Social Engagement at Drew University’s Theological School in Madison, New Jersey.


Steven HillSteven Hill

Owner & Operator, FastSigns, Inc. of St. Louis

Panel Member: Black Male Experiences: Telling a Different Story

Steven Hill is the owner\operator of FastSigns, Inc of St. Louis. He manages a team of graphic artist, production specialist, and sales professionals that are focused on various forms of visual communications.

Prior to establishing his own business, Steven worked for Microsoft Corporation (1997 – 2016) in a variety of high profile leadership roles including Enterprise Sales Director and Regional Licensing Executive.

Steven is a military veteran that served the United States Air Force for nearly eight years, where he managed a critical response unit that was responsible for mobilization and air base ground defense.  

Steven earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Park University in Parkville, KS and Master’s in Business Administration from Lindenwood University.  Steven is a devoted husband of 27 years to his wife Denise and they have two daughters Aja (20) and Sierra (19).

In his spare time, Steve loves to exercise and is an avid cyclist. Steven prides himself in community outreach and is a proud supporter of the s Black Data Processor Association (BDPA), Diversity Awareness Partnership, National Sales Network and the National Urban League.


Dr. Robert McNichols, Jr.

Manager of Community Engagement and Events, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis; 2016-2017 RAC Fellowship Artist Grant Recipient

Panel Member: Black Male Experiences: Telling a Different Story 

American bass-baritone Robert McNichols Jr. has been making a name for himself as an “artist worthy of being noticed” (The Kansas City Star, 2010). He began the 2017 season as the Emcee for Opera Theatre of St. Louis’ community concert tour, Opera Tastings. and as the Narrator for The Lincoln Portraits with the St. Louis symphony. He performed as co-producer, musical director, and soloist of A Classical Cabaret: Featuring excerpts of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess with The Black Rep as part of their New Works Festival.

Mr. McNichols ended 2016 with being selected as an Regional Arts Commission Fellowship Artist Grant recipient. Another highlight of 2016 performance was singing Chucho in Lucrezia with St. Louis’ Gateway Opera, for which he was acclaimed for having a “booming bass” (Ladue News) that’s “rich and powerful” (Broadway World). He has also been proving himself to be a versatile performer through show-stopping performances as the Narrator in the Afro-punk-rock musical Passing Strange at the Edison Theatre (St. Louis) and Fred Graham/Petruchio in Kiss Me, Kate with Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre (Kansas City, MO).

In 2015, Mr. McNichols showed his versatility as a performer, portraying roles such as the title character in Phillip Hayes Dean’s two-man play Paul Robeson with the St. Louis Black Repertory Company, as well as Tonton Julian in the company’s award-winning production of Once on This Island. The success of Mr. McNichols’ performances in Paul Robeson led him to reprise the role at the University of Southern Indiana Edwardsville.

Mr. McNichols is a graduate of the Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s apprentice program, where his performances included Masetto in Don Giovanni and the dual roles of Jim and Daniel in the world premiere of the opera John Brown by Kirke Mechem.


Steve ParksSteve Parks

Director of Programs, Diversity Awareness Partnership

Moderating: Black Male Experiences: Telling a Different Story 

Steve is responsible for leading DAP’s youth engagement programs such as the Diverse-City Art Competition, EXPLORE Career Immersion Program, and the Give Respect, Get Respect Program. He is also responsible for facilitating and leading diversity and inclusion discussions with youth and adults. Prior to joining DAP in this positon, Steve was the Director of Diversity for Ameren Corporation. He has served on and chaired the board of DAP and currently chairs the board of Cultural Leadership.

Steve received his Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Management from Missouri S&T, and his MBA from Fontbonne University. Steve is a Senior Professional in Human Resources and is a graduate of the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative and the Consortium for Leadership Development programs.


Sayer Johnson

Executive Director & Co-Founder, Metro Trans Umbrella Group

Presenting: Beyond the Acronym: A Transgender Experience

Sayer Johnson is the Executive Director and co-founder of the Metro Trans Umbrella Group. Sayer is a lifelong organizer and activist for Queer rights. Sayer is a proud Husband, Papi and former foster parent.  He works to build power for Trans and GNC adults in the metro area.


Amy Hunter

Manager of Diversity and Inclusion, Children’s Hospital in St. Louis

Presenting: Being an Ally in Racial Equity Work

Recently, Amy Hunter joined Children’s Hospital in St. Louis Missouri.  As the Manager of Diversity and Inclusion her responsibilities include understanding and addressing health disparities, training, strategy and integration planning for the hospital.

Previously, Hunter was the Director of Racial Justice for the YWCA of Metro St. Louis. Her role included ensuring the mission of YWCA was embedded into every internal program and department while responding to the training, presentation and collaborative community building needs of the region. This responsibility heightened in the wake of Michael Brown’s killing in Ferguson and the ensuing racial tension

Hunter’s career includes corporate, nonprofit, education and now healthcare.  Her strategic lens along with her messages of truth and transformation are balanced with the recognition of the reality and harm of oppression and the need for organizations and communities to heal.

These messages resonated far beyond the St. Louis area. Hunter has been seen on CNN, ABC, NBC, PBS, and interviewed by NPR and a host of print media publications.  She has published works and presented on issues of race and social justice throughout the United States and globally.

“Lucky Zip Codes”, Amy Hunter’s TEDx Talk, incorporates the tenets of her beliefs. While working to improve social justice Hunter is also pursuing a PhD in Education from the University of Missouri St. Louis.