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Open Call for Board Members — Forward Through Ferguson

Overview | Who We’re Looking For | How to Apply | Selection Timeline | FAQ

“The board table is not complete without the leadership of Black men, members of the law enforcement community, and youth.”

Forward Through Ferguson is the non-profit organization formed to carry on the work of the Ferguson Commission. Its focus is moving the region along a path toward Racial Equity (a Saint Louis where outcomes are no longer predictable by race) by:

  • Helping to develop a regional understanding of Racial Equity, why it matters, and how it differs from diversity, inclusion, and equality;
  • Serving as a catalyst to bring key regional players to shared tables;
  • Challenging institutions to support Racial Equity and to use their influence to do so;
  • Connecting those institutions and others doing this work with the partners and resources they need to affect change;
  • Shining a light on racial inequity, and amplifying the efforts of those institutions addressing it;
  • Monitoring and reporting on the region’s progress in implementing the Calls to Action outlined in the Ferguson Commission report; and
  • Remaining accountable to underrepresented communities, people of color, and the thousands of St. Louisans who participated in the development of the report.

(Learn more at

In September, Forward Though Ferguson concluded its initial call for “unusual” board members, adding 7 unflinching leaders to the board. But among the 27 Saint Louisans who stepped forward, there were choruses of voices missing:Black men, the law enforcement community, and youth (24 and under). This work cannot be done — we cannot achieve the goals outlined above — without those and other voices at the table. So the call remains open to all, with an intentional invitation to Black men, law enforcement, and youth. (Read more about the thought process behind this decision here.)

Through the Ferguson Commission process, Forward Through Ferguson learned that trusted relationships take time. Therefore this open call for board members will remain open and ongoing in quarterly cycles through the end of 2017, allowing space for an intentional process. The current bylaws state that the board can be made up of up to 17 members.

Forward Through Ferguson is an unusual organization. Its aim is to be a catalyst that empowers existing entities and builds capacity in the region for the work toward Racial Equity. We will build sustainable change by engaging existing resources and helping individuals and organizations develop the understanding, skills, capacity, and confidence needed to take ownership of Racial Equity in the region.

We are looking for people who recognize that business as usual is not the way forward. Forward Through Ferguson exists to address Racial Equity, which has fallen between the cracks of the existing infrastructure. That means we need new thinking. We need new voices, new mindsets, new viewpoints. We need to tap into new networks. We need to forge new alliances.

We need something different.

We’re looking for you if you:

  • Are a Black man, current or former law enforcement, or age 24 or under. All are, of course, welcome to apply, but we are modeling Racial Equity, radical listening, and collaboration by being intentional about the need for Black men, members of the law enforcement community, and youth leadership at the table. It is that intersection that brought us to the table and that continues to make the table a necessity;
  • Have no board experience, but are an engaged member of a community organization who feels your voice and perspective is often missing in board or executive-level deliberations and decision-making;
  • Have board experience (either non-profit or for-profit) and can see clearly how the board structure can be leveraged to support experimentation, risk, and unproven strategies;
  • Recognize that we are fighting uphill if we continue to address our region’s biggest issues by doing more of the same and hoping for a different outcome, and are willing to try things that might not work, to learn from mistakes, and to try again;
  • Are willing and eager to collaborate and communicate with partners in all sectors of the community, including those who have historically been left out of these discussions;
  • Understand there is great value in listening, questioning, digesting, discussing, theorizing, and trying;
  • Have a deep interest in the future of the St. Louis region, whether you are a St. Louis native who knows and understands our complicated history around race, or someone who moved here who questions why things are as they are and can bring ideas and perspectives from other places you’ve lived;
  • Don’t want or need another line on your resume, don’t expect much praise or glory, and don’t need this work to feed your ego, but deeply, passionately give a damn about your neighbors, about your community, and about the long-term well-being of St. Louis, and know that this work would feed your soul;
  • Are excited and unintimidated by the prospect of serving on a board where your involvement will be thought-provoking, invigorating, challenging, rewarding, and at times, a little scary;
  • Are prepared to be unflinching in learning about, speaking out on behalf of, and embodying Racial Equity.

If you’ve been on a board before, this will be unlike any board you’ve been a part of, and if you’ve never been a part of one, it will spoil you for other board work.

Interested? Here’s what we need to know:

  1. Why does this matter to you?
  2. Who vouches for you as a great fit and why? (in their own words)
  3. The core principles of this work are Racial Equity, Radical Listening, Policy and Systemic Focus, and Collaboration. What do each mean to you and/or to the St. Louis region—specifically?

Your submission can take whatever form you feel expresses you best—from the traditional cover letter, resume and letters of recommendation, to a manifesto, a vision board and 10 of your friends recreating a number from Hamilton with the lyrics re-written for St. Louis.

Whatever the format, cover all the bases and submit everything to (for #2, have them submit their thoughts to you to deliver with the rest of your answers or have them send directly to us on your behalf using this address).

If you would like to nominate someone for this board, please submit their contact information at

Selection Timeline:

November 7, 2016

Nominations open

November 30, 2016

Applications due

Applications will be reviewed by a multi-sector panel of citizens who have been involved with the Commission’s work. Selected candidates may be invited to interview with the panel.

Mid-December, 2016

Additional Forward Through Ferguson board members announced.

January 2017

Nominations re-open for next round of candidates.


If you have questions that are not answered here, please submit them to and we’ll add the answers to this list.

You single out Black men, the law enforcement community and youth. Does that mean that you are not seeking other candidates from other groups?

All are welcome to apply, and one of the key ways in which our region will be successful is through people from all backgrounds working together intentionally toward change. In our initial call for board members this summer, the groups listed above were the ones who were missing from the applicant pool. It is that intersection that brought us to the table and that continues to make the table a necessity, so in modeling Racial Equity, radical listening, and collaboration Forward Through Ferguson is being intentional about the need for Black men, law enforcement, and youth voice at the board table.

Why is this an open process? You’re a non profit, can’t you just hand-select your board?

One of the main reasons the community and the Commission asked for Forward Through Ferguson to be created was to carry on the way in which the Commission did its work. An open and equitable leadership selection process is in keeping with that directive.

How much time will board members be asked to give?

Forward Through Ferguson is a new organization taking on unflinching and unprecedented work. The founding board members will initially have a heavy lift. In addition to at least monthly meetings, this group will need to dedicate time to strategy, relationship building, and participating in Racial Equity training. While it’s difficult to estimate the number of hours per week or per month at this point, founding board members should be prepared to make a serious time commitment.

Will there be committees, an advisory board and/or additional board seats?

The board has committed to an advisory council structure that will build accountability into the governance of Forward Through Ferguson. These committees will be designed in relationship with the groups they represent (community, youth, faith, others?) beginning in 2107.

Will any Ferguson Commissioners be on the board?

Commissioners Kevin Ahlbrand, Brittany Packnett, Felicia Pulliam and Rose Windmiller are currently serving as interim board members and have agreed to stay on through the end of 2017.