Little Homie Leaves the Nest (That She Helped Build)

Faith Sandler Words of Faith

I once thought I could keep separate the personal from the professional, and to work I would go with the right tone, attire, and boundaries. I can’t remember how and when that began to shift, but I’m quite certain that the day that Karissa Anderson referred to me as Big Homie made the transition complete. Today, it is my heartache and my joy to announce that Karissa has accepted a position of great responsibility and potential with Children’s Defense Fund and her last official day as a member of our staff is just three weeks away.

On behalf of the students, staff, and board that worked alongside Karissa over these years, I can guarantee we will miss her spirit, her commitment, her clarity about what is right and what is not, her unwaivering commitment to young people, and her capacity to tell the truth aloud. She has provoked us, taught us, humored us, and kept us connected in so many ways. For a while, we will be lost without her.  And above all, we are so incredibly proud to see her take flight.

Here are her words, to me and to all of you.

– Faith Sandler

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Dear Faith,

I am writing to formally submit my resignation from the role of Advocacy Director with The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis. My last full day with the organization will be June 11, 2021. Although this was not an easy decision to make, I have accepted the position of National Organizer, Students and Youth with the Children’s Defense Fund. I am excited to help build out this new division with such a historical organization, not unlike the task of building out the advocacy work of the Foundation.

Since 2008, when I was a high school senior accepting my first scholarship, I have been extremely proud of the unique ways the Foundation supports students. Since 2013, when I sat in my first Education Policy Internship meeting, I have been continuously sharpened by the Foundation’s work of expanding college access for those of us so easily disregarded by our state and country. Since becoming a full-time member of the staff in 2015, leading and growing the organization’s advocacy work, I have been in awe at all of the ways the Foundation leads the field of college access and scholarships forward.

I hold unwavering and deep esteem and gratitude for you, personally, Faith. Thank you for shepherding me into this work, holding me through the difficulties and the celebrations, through tears of both joy and righteous anger. Your constant belief in me, your investment of time, wisdom, love, and many other things, have fostered in me a sense of belonging I’ve felt in few other places. I extend much love and appreciation to Felipe Martinez, Teresa Steinkamp, Karina Arango, Thurman Young, and Robert Sagastume as well. It is so important to name those specifically who have helped shape and mold me both personally and professionally.

The body of work that we’ve built together means so much to me. Growing the fellowship program into the force that it is today alongside you and under your guidance has not only changed my life but the life of each young person that has gone through the program. Codifying and institutionalizing advocacy and power building among students within The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis is by far my proudest accomplishment. It has been a pleasure to work alongside incoming President Lauren Ming and incoming Advocacy Chair Karen Drake. I am confident that the work will continue under their leadership.

I am committed to making this transition as smooth as possible. Though my last day of employment will be June 11th, I am available on an ongoing basis to support the hiring, training, and integration of my replacement.

The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis has been and always will be my home. I’m thankful for all of the ways I’ve learned and grown within the organization and look forward to supporting the work in new and different ways in the future.

With love and appreciation,

Karissa Anderson