Elected Board Members - St. Louis Elected Board
President - Dorothy Rohde-Collins
Dorothy Rohde-Collins is a graduate of Butler University (B.S. Chemistry) and the University of Missouri - Columbia (M.Ed. Mental Health Practices in Schools). As a certified teacher in Mathematics, General Science, and Chemistry, Dorothy taught at Northwest Academy in SLPS from 2006 to 2012. During her time with the district, Dorothy served as a Science Department Chair and Advanced Placement Coordinator as well as led district-level professional development workshops.
Dorothy is employed as a test tutor and instructor. She lives in the 8th Ward with her family and serves on the St. Louis Family Court Neighborhood Accountability Board and the Shaw Conversations planning committee.
Vice President - Charli Cooksey
Charli Cooksey, a north St. Louis city native, lives in Ward 21, the neighborhood where she was born and raised. She serves as the Director of inspireSTL, a nonprofit she co-founded in 2011 to educate and empower the next generation of transformational leaders committed to St. Louis city. Charli earned her bachelor’s degree from Prairie View A&M, where she led campus and city-based activism initiatives to address voter disenfranchisement among college students and African American residents. She also ran for a local school board position in Waller County, Texas while in college. Charli joined Teach For America - St. Louis in 2009 and completed her two-year commitment at Compton-Drew Middle School teaching English. While in the classroom, Charli emerged as a leader in Teach For America and helped to grow a new branch of Teach For America-St. Louis called STAI which led to increasing diversity among the corps and creating a culture of inclusion among staff and the corps. During her second year as a teacher, along with three other Corps Members, she founded inspireSTL. inspireSTL educates and empowers the future leaders of St. Louis by providing them access to premier college-prep high schools and four-year colleges, social justice training, and mentorship.
Under Charli’s leadership, brilliant, yet underserved scholars have been placed at high schools including Metro, MICDS, Whitfield, SLU High, Collegiate and Villa. inspireSTL serves approximately 140 scholars ranging from eighth grade through freshmen year in college. 100% of the first graduating class have been accepted to four-year colleges and universities and secured over $1.5 million in scholarship and financial aid. High school scholars have consistently maintained a collective B grade point average at their rigorous high schools and have secured over $1,000,000 in scholarships and financial aid fund their tuition-based high school education. The most exciting part of Charli’s work at inspireSTL is the opportunity to empower scholars to emerge as leaders in their schools and communities. Scholars have founded their own student groups, serve as class president, advocated for a more inclusive school communities, led initiatives to address Ferguson, among other things. Charli has served on the executive committee of St. Louis’ Young Democrats and been president of the O’Fallon Community Organization. Recently, Charli played a leading role in the formation of the Young Citizens Council of St. Louis in response to the killing of unarmed Mike Brown. Charli is thrilled to serve on the Saint Louis Public Schools Board of Education.
Secretary - Natalie Vowell
Natalie Vowell studied computer science and music theory at the University of Arkansas and served as the university's youngest and first female computer lab manager. She remains an advocate for young women entering STEM careers.
Natalie moved to St. Louis in 2010 and continued her dedication to technology education as Development Director and Board Member for North City nonprofit WITS Inc., rebuilding unwanted electronics into computers for students and schools and leading workshops teaching families to assemble their own computers from recycled parts. Natalie has provided more than 1,000 free computers for families in need.
In 2013, Natalie founded Project Raise The Roof, an organization that helps northside citizens stop the seizure of owner-occupied homes at City Sheriff’s auctions and keeps houses on the tax rolls—generating school funding and preventing vacant properties. She’s helped more than 70 northside citizens retain their family homes.
Natalie has earned her Advanced and Master Certifications from the Missouri School Boards’ Association. She served as a 2016 Democratic National Convention delegate, has registered more than 200 high school seniors to vote, and is passionate about guiding our youth toward becoming innovators and community activists.
Donna R. Jones
Elected to the SLPS School Board in 2006, Donna is the parent of seven children, all of whom attended Saint Louis Public Schools. She has been active in the Saint Louis Public Schools since the 1980s. Donna is a community activist in many capacities and is someone who truly cares about the students of SLPS. Some of the issues Donna has worked on as a Board Member include lead removal, transportation, classroom size and school violence. Donna is a lifelong resident of the 27th Ward and also attended SLPS as a student.
Susan Jones draws upon experience as a concerned citizen, community activist, SLPS graduate, and parent of a child attending Saint Louis Public Schools. She is the Director of Marketing and Supplier Diversity for Emed Medical Company. While serving her community through various acts of service, she received her undergraduate education from the University Missouri - St. Louis (UMSL) in Political Science. During her years of study at UMSL, Susan served as a lobbyist for the UM-System as an intern in Jefferson City, Legislative Intern for the Board of Alderman, a member of Helping Hands, Student Government Association, Political Science Academy, Intern for the Sue Shear Leadership Academy, and President of the Associated Students of the University Missouri. Susan has also completed a Masters degree in Leadership and Management and a Masters in Business Administration from Webster University. Susan was originally elected to the Board in 2013. She served as Board Secretary from 2013-2015 and then took on the role as President from 2015-2018. Susan continues to take a grassroots approach to create positive results for the students and families in Saint Louis Public Schools.
Dr. Joyce Roberts
Dr. Joyce Roberts’ lived experience as a teacher, principal and central office administrator (Director of Middle Schools, Assistant Superintendent of Low-performing Schools and Assistant Superintendent of Professional Development) brings a unique historical perspective and an in-depth experience from every level of SLPS to the Board of Education.
Joyce has a track record of excellence and a demonstrated willingness to build relationships among all stakeholders. She possesses certifications in early childhood, reading, parent-educator, principalship and superintendency. As the principal of Pierre Laclede Elementary, Joyce was recognized as a Gold Star (state) and Blue Ribbon (federal) awardee for consistent student academic achievement.
Joyce is committed to student academic achievement, accountability, equity, transparency, community engagement and a seamless school district.
Katherine Wessling was elected to the St. Louis Board of Education in 2007. She is the Managing Attorney for the Crime Victims Advocacy Center–Legal Advocates for Abused Women project. She is a graduate of Washington University School of Law and Truman State University. She lives in the the 12th ward with her husband and two daughters; one attends Humboldt Academy of Higher Learning; and now has one in the district who attends Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience. She is a Girl Scout leader, FIRST FLL robotics coach, has served as a PTO officer for numerous years, and has been active in district affairs and parent initiatives within the district since 2005.