A New Year’s Tour Through Transition

Faith SandlerLeadership, Words of Faith

These days, the offices of The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis feel a bit like an airport terminal does in the depths of a stubborn pandemic.  Assuming you are boosted and wearing a good mask properly, I invite you to take a walk with me.


In the distance, we’re waving a gentle goodbye to colleagues of longstanding who are returning home in one way or another.

  • Karissa Anderson (founding Advocacy Director) resigned in May and holds a national post with Children’s Defense Fund, taking her across the United States on a regular basis.
  • Karin McElwain-West (former External Relations Director) resigned in November to tend to family matters in California and Utah.
  • Félipe Martínez (former Senior Student Advisor) relocated to Los Angeles in June and worked their last day of seven years with the Foundation yesterday.
  • Robert Sagastume (former Student Advisor) is packed and enroute to Kansas City to live among family and work with Hispanic Development Fund.
  • Beth Andrews (Office Administrator) is “at the gate” and ready to board, having accepted a position with a healthcare system in Tacoma, where she will rejoin her Washington state family.

In a relatively small staff that has survived nearly two years of separation, distance, illness, student crises, family emergencies, and untold challenges to meeting mission, five departures feels difficult and unsettling. The feeling is not unlike the challenges of meeting or boarding a flight in the midst of gate changes, mechanical issues, cancellations for weather, and flight delays originating in another part of the country days ago.

Collectively, we are sad to say goodbye and concerned about how all the good work will get done.


At another set of gates, we await new colleagues, with signs bearing their names (or titles) and balloons in the colors of The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis.

  • Two Student Advisors will be announced next week and will each be met at the gate in January by Advising Director Teresa Steinkamp and Senior Student Advisor Dominesha Newton.
  • Director of Development is a newly titled leadership position and a search is underway, with final interviews scheduled next week (imagine the plane approaching). You can read more in this posting. The Director of Development will be supported by Stewardship Coordinator Jamie Wilger and a new position entitled Communications Specialist (to be filled in the spring).
  • Senior Director of Programs is a newly created leadership position and a competitive search is underway. You can read more here. Initial interviews will begin in two weeks and the flight is already almost full, with a strong field of very interested candidates. Awaiting the Senior Director of Programs is a capable program staff, including Awards Manager Thurman Young, Program Coordinator Cortasha Thomas, an advising team led by Advising Director Teresa Steinkamp, and a new position titled Repayment Manager (to be filled in the spring).

As exciting as it is to welcome new members to the team, we are also grateful for those who are akin to the grounds crew and TSA of The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis.  Keeping things running smoothly and our people and information safe as we transition to a new era are: Advocacy Director Karina Arango and an awesome crew of Policy Fellows; Director of Information Technology Rob Foley and Data Specialist Laura Keeton; Director of Finance and Controller Catherine Hill and Accountant Kim Howse.

By the way, I am the Executive Director and I am grounded, on the no-flight list for the time being! While I’m glad you’re comforted by my continued presence at The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, you should know that I’m here with the full support of an unparalleled Board of Directors and great consultants from Collaborative Strategies, Inc. who are helping me and the organization staff up for exciting years and new destinations to come.

Perhaps you’ll join us in the airport lounge for a toast to 2022?!

– Faith Sandler