The Community Advisory Board (CAB) was established to help bridge the gap between university researchers and local communities. The CAB is comprised of a diverse group of individuals with strong ties to local communities within St. Louis and its surrounding counties.

The CAB serves community-academic partnerships in several ways, including advising community-engaged research and activities.

Community Advisory Board members and Center for Community Health Partnership & Research leadership gather for a monthly meeting. Not pictured: Ben Zeno, Serena Blank and Bishop Luther Baker

Reactive Barometer Sessions

Reactive Barometer Sessions are a service of the Center’s Community Advisory Board (CAB). Faculty and research teams seeking initial community feedback on a research project or idea may request to schedule a Reactive Barometer Session during a bi-monthly CAB meeting. Researchers consulting with the CAB will receive input on research materials, recruitment, community engagement activities, and more from a diverse group of individuals with strong ties to local communities in St. Louis and its surrounding counties.

Contact Hilary Broughton at to schedule a Reactive Barometer Session.

Learn more about session expectations.

Current CAB Members

Co-Chair: Nancy D. Spargo, AM, LCSW

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Ms. Nancy Spargo was formerly the Chief Innovation Officer at Operation Food Search. In this role, she led efforts to intervene with food insecurity “upstream”, including the intersection of mental health and food insecurity.

She is a graduate of the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago and excels at systems integration and program development for marginalized populations with a focus on trauma. Her career is characterized by a collaborative approach, innovative program design, quality service delivery, professional development, and advocacy.

Ms. Spargo’s commitment to mitigating the impact of trauma and working to strengthen families and their communities has led her to serve a variety of populations, including immigrants and refugees; foster and adoptive families; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations; and the homeless.

Co-Chair: Kelley Vollmar

Director, Jefferson County Health Department

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Ms. Kelley Vollmar has served in public health for over 20 years and is now the Director of the Jefferson County Health Department. Ms. Vollmar holds Bachelor’s degrees in Environmental Science specializing in the social impact of government regulation of environmental issues and in conflict resolution specializing in multicultural conflict. She also hold a master’s degree in dispute resolution with a dual emphasis on corporate and environmental conflict.

Ms. Vollmar is the Chair of the Missouri Association of Local Public Health Agencies (MOALPHA) and serves as a member of the #HealthierMO – Transforming the Future of Public Health in Missouri Advisory Council and Hillsboro Rotary, and as a Board Member of the Missouri Institute for Community Health (MICH), Missouri Center for Public Health Excellence (MOCPHE), Jefferson County Health Network, Jefferson County Public Safety Commission, Jefferson County Community Partnership, and Get Healthy DeSoto.

Bishop Luther D. Baker

CEO/Co-founder, Man of Valor, Inc.

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With over 30 years of ministry experience, Bishop Luther Baker preaches the gospel and is dedicated to the restoration of men in church, family and community. His passion is seeing youth experience the power of God in their lives as a reality. Luther Baker Ministries mentors and empowers men who are struggling. Alongside his ministry, Bishop Baker is the President and CEO of Man of Valor, Inc., a faith-based nonprofit with a mission to foster the social, emotional and academic development of youth. He received the Superintendent Choice Award in 2015 and PaceSetter Award in 2016 from the University City School District for his work with students. In addition, Bishop has received recognitions for his work in restorative justice and improving financial wellbeing of families in the St. Louis region. 

Bishop Baker is married to Sebrenia and together, they have a blended family.

Serena Blank, MOT, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist, St. Patrick Center

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Ms. Serena Blank is an occupational therapist at the St. Patrick Center, an organization that works to increase access to sustainable housing, employment, and healthcare in the St. Louis region. In prior roles, she completed a Fellowship in psychosocial rehabilitation at the VA in Durham, NC. The program assisted Veterans experiencing serious mental illness. Upon returning to St. Louis, she worked for Saint Louis University’s Transformative Justice Initiative. She provided occupational therapy services to people incarcerated and supported their reentry back into the community. Her unique lens of occupations in marginalized populations helps her advocate for change in health and human service systems.

Ms. Blank holds two degrees from Saint Louis University including a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Science and Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy.

Kathy Gardner

Senior Consultant, EMD Consulting

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Ms. Kathy Gardner is a senior consultant with EMD Consulting focused on helping nonprofits strengthen their organizational performance. She was previously a Senior Vice President at United Way for over 30 years, leading the Community Investment Division that distributed the funds raised in the annual campaign, provided agency training, and helped organizations implement sound volunteer management practices.

Ms. Gardner is regarded as a candid, results-driven community leader with strong interpersonal skills. She serves on several nonprofit boards and was named one of the 2011 Most Influential Business Women by the St. Louis Business Journal.

Sherrill Jackson, CPNP

President, The Breakfast Club, Inc.

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Ms. Sherrill Jackson is the founding president of The Breakfast Club, Inc., an organization dedicated to providing  education, awareness, resources and support for breast health and cancer prevention to medically underserved and uninsured populations in North St. Louis City and County.

As a 20+ year breast cancer survivor, Ms. Jackson has worked tirelessly as an advocate to reduce cancer disparities. She has a track record of bringing together university and community partners to help facilitate communication and meaningful partnerships to support medically underserved and uninsured women in the St. Louis community. In addition to her role with The Breakfast Club, Inc., Ms. Jackson worked for nearly four decades as a primary care provider for children in medically underserved St. Louis communities.

Rose Jackson-Beavers

Director of Faith Initiatives
The Behavioral Health Network

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Rose Jackson-Beavers is the Director of Faith Initiatives for The Behavioral Health Network. She oversees the Bridges to Care and Recovery program. In addition, Rose is a mental health advocate, speaker, and writer. She is a former social services administrator and adult educator. She has more than 25 years of experience working with families and their children in five federal programs, including Head Start, CCDP, Healthy Families and Healthy Start, and the Triple P Program. She also has thirteen years of work experience in Settlement Houses.

Ms. Jackson-Beavers grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois, and received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Illinois State and Southern Illinois Universities. Both in her personal and professional life, Ms. Jackson-Beavers enjoys actively engaging and volunteering in the faith community and volunteering her time to local organizations by sharing her voice and ideas to help reduce the stigma on mental health.

In her spare time, she loves to write. Ms. Jackson-Beavers is a bestselling author of several books and has received numerous awards for her work as a writer and for working with youth and children. She lives in Florissant, MO, with her husband Cedric and has one daughter, Adeesha, and a grandson, Isaiah.

Melba Hale, MBA

Former Director, BJC Home Care Services

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Melba Hale is a career health care clinician and leader who focuses on a comprehensive approach to healthcare. She promotes collaboration across health care continuums of care and community organizations to achieve optimal outcomes for those being served. Advocating for health equity and promoting overall health and wellness in the community is her passion.

Ms. Hale’s prior board experience steeped her in mission-driven work geared to help people with developmental disabilities and autism become an integral part of the community. She continues to work to empower and support older adults, persons with disabilities, and caregivers in her volunteer activities and private consulting.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from Washington University and an MBA from Webster University. Melba is currently working to complete a graduate certificate in gerontology at the University of Wisconsin in 2024.

Allison Kemner, MPH

Senior Vice President and Chief Research Officer
Parents as Teachers National Center

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Allison Kemner serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Research Officer for Parents as Teachers National Center. She also serves as adjunct professor for Saint Louis University in the College of Public Health and Social Justice. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from Saint Louis University with a focus on Epidemiology and Behavioral Science.

At Parents as Teachers National Center, Ms. Kemner oversees the research and learning activities for the organization, and she collaborates with a research network to advance the organizations research and learning agenda. For 15 years, she has supported national, state, and local research and evaluation projects in the areas of maternal and child health, childhood obesity, child abuse and neglect, family support, child development, and social determinants of health.

Ms. Kemner serves on several advisory groups including the Home Visiting Expert Consensus Panel through Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health, the National Advisory Committee for the Home Visiting Applied Research Collaborative, the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting COVID Health Equity Research project, Home Visiting Evaluation Advisory Council with Tufts University, and the Public Health Advisory Committee for Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice.

Doug Lindsay

Keynote Speaker, Workshop Designer, and Personal Medical Consultant

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Beginning at age 21, Mr. Lindsay suffered an 11-year illness that kept him bedbound during which time he worked with 35 senior faculty at 28 institutions to help resolve his illness. He won the first national court case protecting patients’ rights, and developed the concept for the two successful, innovative adrenal surgeries used to treat his case. Once fully recovered, Lindsay returned to Rockhurst University and finished his biology degree. Today he is a nationally-recognized speaker appearing at TEDx, Stanford Medicine X and the American Healthcare Association, among others.

Mr. Lindsay also provides an in-depth Personal Medical Consultant service to a small number of rare disease and complex condition patients who’ve found themselves trapped in the medical system.

Simone T. Minner, MSW

School Social Worker, Hazelwood School District

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Simone T. Minner, a native of St. Louis, is a graduate of Roosevelt High School and earned her Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work from University of MO-St. Louis (UMSL). She currently serves as a school social worker in the Hazelwood School District. For the past 17 years she has worked with middle school students, but will be working with high school students beginning in the 2023-24 school year. She also serves as the Bright Futures Coordinator for the district’s community partnership initiative and is a community consultant with Washington University’s Our Community, Our Health-STL public health vaccine program.

Ms. Minner’s passion for her community is deep and whenever she is given an opportunity to be a voice or advocate, she eagerly accept the challenge. This passion was ignited as a sophomore in high school when she became a teenage health consultant with City of St. Louis Department of Health. She spent three years educating her peers on health-related topics. Later she learned of consultant opportunities throughout various networks such as UMSL School of Nursing, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, and St. Louis County Library. These networks introduced her to the Community Research Fellows Training, where she graduated in 2017.

Ms. Minner married her husband of almost 25 years right out of undergraduate studies. They blended their families and added two for a total of five children (four sons and one daughter).

Brandy S. Peoples, PhD

Psychologist, Minister, Author, Consultant

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Brandy S. Peoples, PhD, is a licensed psychologist who is currently on staff at the St. Louis County Family Court where she works with juvenile offenders. A helper by nature, Dr. Peoples is also an ordained minister who firmly believes physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being is the key to experiencing “wholeness.” With these interests, Dr. Peoples frequently assists church leaders who are interested in mental health training for their congregants. She also serves on the advisory board and helps train churches that are affiliated with Bridges to Care and Recovery, a program designed to reduce mental health stigma in faith-based organizations through training. As a mental health advocate, Dr. Peoples serves as a volunteer, speaks to community organizations, engages in panel discussions, and offers consultation on mental health issues. 

Overall, Dr. Peoples is considered to be a highly-informed and engaging speaker who is extremely passionate about mental health awareness. She loves to inspire others to live a full and purposeful life which she does through writing as she is a self-published author and blogger.

Dr. Peoples holds a doctoral degree in counseling psychology from the University of Missouri – Kansas City.

Ben Zeno

Strategist, Missouri Foundation for Health

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Ben Zeno currently works at Missouri Foundation for Health as a Strategist supporting the elimination of health inequities throughout Missouri. In his prior role, he helped to launch and grow the Mental Health Collaborative at Casa de Salud. Mr. Zeno collaborated with a diverse team of organizations to ensure access to quality mental healthcare for Casa patients—mostly Spanish-speaking immigrants—in the St. Louis region. During his tenure, the Collaborative quickly grew from four to eighteen partners.

Mr. Zeno came to St. Louis from Seattle to study Latin American Studies and Chemistry at Washington University. He loves St. Louis, but misses the mountains and, yes, the Seattle rain.