FERGUSON – Charli Cooksey has been named interim Lead Catalyst of Forward Through Ferguson, effective Monday, June 5. She fills the role vacated by Nicole Hudson, who was tapped by St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson to serve as Deputy Mayor for Racial Equity and Priority Initiatives.
A native St. Louisan and proud resident of our city’s north side, Cooksey’s personal and professional background, rooted in education and equity work, make her an excellent fit to lead Forward Through Ferguson, and support its systemic, community-centered work toward Racial Equity.
“Although Charli Cooksey is a young leader, she has a long history of visionary, impactful service to the St. Louis community,” said Forward Through Ferguson co-chair Rebeccah Bennett. “Growing up on our city’s north side, Charli has experienced firsthand the devastation of structural oppression and systemic community divestment. Her response has been to work tirelessly to transform educational, political and community structures that undermine the well-being and mobility of our region’s most vulnerable children and their families.”
Cooksey’s experience includes serving as a Teach For America Corp member; co-founding and serving as Executive Director of inspireSTL, which created college prep opportunities for students from underserved backgrounds; serving as an Executive in Residence at the United Way; and serving on the St. Louis City Board of Education, to which she was elected in 2015.
“We are thrilled and delighted to have her join us in our efforts to elevate Racial Equity as a regional imperative,” added Forward Through Ferguson co-chair Zachary Boyers. “We believe that she is the right person to help us center community in our work and governance, plan for the future, broaden our base of support, and partner with regional and community stakeholders to advance implementation of the Ferguson Commission’s 189 calls to action and 47 signature priorities.”
Cooksey said, “I am thrilled about the opportunity to dive deeper into the work of empowering communities plagued by inequity. While I am excited, I am also humbled by the challenges that await. The Ferguson Commission Report demands transformative change. It calls on us to drastically disrupt our usual way of doing things in this region. Change will not happen overnight or without opposition. But through vigorous debate, leaning into discomfort, and a steadfast love for our city, I am hopeful that we will become stronger as a collective. I am ready for the community-driven victories that lie ahead.”
With Cooksey installed in the interim Lead Catalyst role, the Forward Through Ferguson board will launch its strategic planning process, and “continue work on designing community engagement into the bones of Forward Through Ferguson,” said Bennett.
To learn more about Forward Through Ferguson, visit forwardthroughferguson.org.