Community Builders Network Staff
Dr. Todd Swanstrom
As the Des Lee Professor of Community Collaboration and Public Policy Administration at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL), Todd Swanstrom has used the resources of his endowment to support the Community Builders Network (CBN). He has a master’s degree from Washington University and a Ph.D. from Princeton. He is the co-author of Place Matters: Metropolitics for the Twenty-First Century, 3rd ed. (2014) and is co-editor of Justice and the American Metropolis (2011). Presently, Todd is doing research on neighborhood change in older industrial cities and the challenges of equity planning in fragmented suburbs.
Community Development Specialist
Karl Guenther helped to organize and launch CBN in 2011. He joined the Public Policy Research Center (PPRC) at UMSL in June 2011 as a Community Development Specialist to facilitate and staff a network of community development organizations in the St. Louis region. Before joining the PPRC, Karl worked at the Incarnate Word Foundation on their strategic initiatives in North St. Louis. He received a Master of Social Work from the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, where he concentrated on social and economic development and research. He also holds a B.S. in Psychology and a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion from Truman State University.
Community Development Specialist
Gary Newcomer is the newest addition to the CBN team. As a native of South St. Louis City, Gary has always held a passion for exploring and strengthening the rich fabric of neighborhoods in the St. Louis region. He graduated from Boston College and later received a master’s degree from Saint Louis University in Urban Planning and Development with a research focus on alleys in St. Louis City. Before starting at CBN, Gary worked on historic redevelopment projects in St. Louis and Davenport, Iowa and specialized in the historic tax credit program. His background in urban planning and historic real estate development have informed his approach to community development and made him a strong believer in place-based solutions for promoting vibrant and inclusive neighborhoods.
Graduate Research Assistant
Jenny Connelly-Bowen joined CBN as a Graduate Research Assistant in May 2016. She is a graduate student in UMSL’s Master of Public Policy Administration program. She plans to pursue work in community development. In 2016, Jenny served as a Rising Stars program intern for Rise Community Development, where she coordinated a quarterly group training session on health equity and worked with Northside Community Housing, Inc. on their marketing, fundraising, and community engagement initiatives. Prior to starting at UMSL in 2015, Jenny spent over five years working in distribution, buying, and pricing at Save-A-Lot Food Stores. Jenny has been an active volunteer in St. Louis for several years and is committed to cultivating a sense of place and purpose in her work.
Constance Siu is a Master of Social Work candidate at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis concentrating in Social and Economic Development (Domestic). Prior to attending the Brown School in 2015, she lived in Kansas City and worked at a child development center. Constance graduated from Beloit College in Wisconsin with a B.S. in Biochemistry and a minor in Philosophy. Upon graduation, she plans to pursue a career in community development in St. Louis.
Brendan East is a first-year Master of Social Work candidate at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University. He studies domestic social and economic development, and currently works as a Graduate Fellow at an undergraduate Residential College on Washington University’s campus building community. Prior to moving to St. Louis, Brendan received his B.S.W. at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. There, he interned and worked at a local homeless shelter as a case manager. Brendan is committed to learning about the unique needs of each community within the St. Louis region and exploring ways to approach community development.
Elisabeth Coats is a first-year Master of Social Work candidate at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University. Her concentration is domestic social and economic development, and she looks to specialize in policy. Elisabeth received her undergraduate degree from Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota with a double major in Psychology and Political Science and a minor in Dance. Elisabeth looks forward to gaining practical experience and insight with CBN as she learns how to effectively contribute toward community development in St. Louis.