Shereka Barnes

Shereka Barnes has various experiences working for several Nonprofit Healthcare Organizations and is a former educator. She holds two Bachelors of Science Degrees: the first in Public Relations and the second in in Human Relations from Missouri Western State University. Shereka serves on the Park Hill School District School Board, and she is a Kansas City Missouri Wellness Ambassador. Shereka has received numerous awards and recognitions including 2024 Lift Her UP Honoree, Proclamations from the City of Parkville, MO and the City of Kansas City, MO. Shereka has two daughters. She is active in diverse organizations in her community as an Election Judge and working with Suburban Balance and the Banneker School Foundation Historic Site.

Dana Carroll

Dana Carroll serves as Springfield’s Child Advocate for the Every Child Promise. Dana has been with the Community Partnership of the Ozarks for nearly 15 years. She has experience with child care, early childhood education, and parent education particularly teen parents, at-risk parents, and families who are homeless. Dana is married and has five children. She and her husband have experience with children with special needs, children with challenging behaviors and fostering and adoption of children.

Amanda Coleman

Amanda Coleman earned her bachelor’s in social work from Missouri State University in 2005. For the past 18 years, Amanda has focused on working with families in a variety of ways, most notably with Community Partnership of the Ozarks (CPO) for 11 of those years. Amanda is now the VP of the Early Childhood and Family Development division at CPO, where she focuses on supporting and growing programs designed to help and support families prenatally to age 5.

Halley French

Halley French serves as the executive director of Systems of Care Initiative (SOCI) in Kansas City, an organization aiming to increase access to high-quality early education opportunities for working families with young children. She has more than a decade of experience in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors, previously leading the early childhood investment strategy at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Halley also previously worked for a nonprofit college access program and taught middle school and high school in Kansas City’s largest urban school district. She is the mother of three young children and is active in her community as the board president of the Berkley Family Involvement Program and as a Girl Scouts troop leader. Halley holds a master’s degree in education and a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

Ellie Glenn Harmon

Ellie Glenn Harmon has worked in public policy for over sixteen years. She currently is the Director of Government Relations for St. Louis Children’s Hospital. In this role, she advocates for children’s health care issues on behalf of the hospital, their providers and staff, and their patients and families in Washington, D.C. and in the Missouri and Illinois Legislatures. Prior to joining St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Harmon had served as the Director of the Office of Governmental Policy and Legislation for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, as well as the legislative director for a Missouri state senator. Aside from Kids Win, Harmon sits on the boards of Lydia’s House and Citizens for Modern Transit. She also serves as a Legislative School teacher at Missouri Boys State and is a founding member of the Missouri Women’s Policy Network. Harmon graduated from Truman State University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and received her Master of Public Affairs degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2011. She currently lives in south St. Louis City with her husband, Eric, and their adopted toy poodle, Gus.

Ken Hussey

Ken Hussey serves as the Director of Leadership and Civic Engagement for the Missouri State Alliance of YMCAs. In this role, he provides leadership to the YMCA Youth and Government programs in Missouri and Kansas, while also assisting with national YMCA youth leadership programs. With the Alliance, he works with Missouri YMCAs to advance their policy priorities at the local, state, and federal levels. Prior to his current role, Ken served as the Executive Director of the Missouri Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a statewide association comprised of over 1,100 pediatricians and residents in Missouri. He served as the lobbyist for the chapter, advocating for children’s health issues at the State Capitol. Since 2013, Ken has served as a councilman on the Jefferson City Council. He currently chairs the Public Works and Planning Council Committee. He is active in the community, and involved with organizations such as Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, and Serve Jeff City.

Melia Neal

Melia Neal is the Director of Children, Youth, & Family Services at Community Partnership of Southeast Missouri. She is a driven, innovative leader that provides supervision and programming oversight for multiple programs. Programming includes THRIVE Youth Development, Community Mentoring with Division of Youth Services, Future Leaders, Cape Afterschool Program, Missouri Mentoring Partnership, Golden Angels, CommUnity RX, SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery, and Everyday Dad. Prior to her current position, Melia served as a Children’s Service Worker for the State of Missouri and as Director for Head Start. Melia is also the author of the children’s book Jory The Terror, which focuses on a child dealing with an adverse approach.   

Anissa Parra-Grooms

Anissa Parra-Grooms serves a nonprofit professional in the Kansas City community, where she also resides with her husband Brent and daughter Elvira. She first and foremost became an early childhood education advocate by living the journey and finding that ECE was not abundant in Missouri. Knowing that humans who have access to early childhood education have stronger outcomes as an adult, she vowed to help be a part of the change in hopes that other families do not have to experience the frustration she did looking for quality, affordable and safe childcare.

Amanda Schneider

Amanda J. Schneider (she/her) has served as the Managing Attorney of Legal Services of Eastern Missouri’s Health Justice Initiative and Education Justice Program since approximately 2019. Amanda previously supervised LSEM’s Medical Legal Partnership from 2015-2019 where her work focused on addressing social determinants of health in the areas of Medicaid access, housing and homelessness, and education. Amanda’s expertise is in issues of education equity and attacking the school-to-prison pipeline in particular on the issues of school enrollment for students experiencing homelessness under McKinney Vento and exclusionary school discipline. Amanda began her career as the first William G. Guerri Chair Attorney in the Children’s Legal Alliance, practicing in education law by providing direct legal representation to students in the areas of school enrollment, discipline, and special education. She graduated magna cum laude from Indiana University-Bloomington with bachelor’s degrees in English Literature and Sociology, and a minor in Communication in 2001 and from Indiana University-Bloomington’s School of Law in 2006. She is a first-generation college graduate and the first in her family to graduate from law school.

Stef Seger

With over a decade of experience in child health policy, lobbying, government and community relations, Stef Seger has established herself as a well-versed and passionate advocate for children. Currently serving as the Community Development Manager for Meta’s Midwest Region, she is responsible for fostering strong relationships with key stakeholders, including businesses, educational institutions, and community organizations, that contribute to the economic development and long-term vitality of the community. Prior to her role at Meta, she held the position of Director of Government Relations at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. Stef is actively involved in various chambers of commerce and non-profit organizations within the region. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from The Ohio State University. She resides in Kansas City’s historic Hyde Park neighborhood with her husband, two children, and dog.

Jessica Seitz

Jessica Seitz is the Executive Director of the Missouri Network Against Child Abuse (MO-NACA). As Executive Director, Jessica is responsible for implementing the overall mission and policies set by the Board of Directors, including overseeing operations, developing and maintaining a strong funding base, increasing public awareness and representing the organization on a local, state and national level. Prior to her role as Executive Director, Seitz served as the agency’s Director of Public Policy for four years where she successfully advocated for an improved response to child abuse across the state and for policies promoting the prevention of child abuse. Among her legislative achievements are the passage of a requirement to provide sexual abuse prevention education in schools and the historic “Residential Care Facility Notification Act” which created safeguards for children living in unlicensed boarding schools. Jessica joined MO-NACA after spending more than six years in federal government relations in Washington, DC with YMCA of the USA and the National PTA. Jessica has BA in Politics from Brandeis University and a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs from the University of Missouri. She lives in St. Louis with her husband, Ryan, and her daughter Rosalyn.

Sanaria Sulaiman

Sanaria Sulaiman is the Executive Director of Vision for Children at Risk. She joined the organization in 2013 as director of Project LAUNCH, a federally funded program to improve young child wellness in the 63106 and 63107 ZIP codes of north St. Louis. Previously, she served for over five years with Child Care Aware of Missouri, most recently as director of training and inclusion services. She has been in the early childhood field for 15 years, and has 10 years of statewide and regional management experience in the area of social and emotional well‐being of children, families and communities, training and educating service providers, with focus on inclusive practices. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and is working toward a master’s in business from Webster University.