Samantha Babb hired to serve as program director of Coro Fellows

Samantha Babb will serve as program director for the St. Louis Coro Fellows Program. Babb will help usher in the new cohort of Fellows who will begin their leadership development training in the program in August. (Photo by August Jennewein)

The St. Louis Coro Fellows Program has found Samantha Babb as a full-time director after a nationwide search.

Babb takes over the lead of the program, which was restarted last fall after a two-year hiatus. It is now run by the University of Missouri – St. Louis’ Community Innovation and Action Center, a non-academic division that, like the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs, is dedicated to building powerful leaders, promoting effective institutions, supporting community Partners and the development of common infrastructures and strategies.

In her new role, Babb will help usher in the new cohort of Fellows who will begin their leadership development training in the program later this year.

“We are excited to welcome Samantha back home to the St. Louis area to drive the revitalization of the Coro Fellows program,” said Paul Sorenson, co-director of the Community Innovation and Action Center. “We look forward to bringing you back into contact with old partners and establishing new ones who can help us to offer a new generation of committed managers experience training.

“These young people, in turn, will help us create a stronger, livelier and more just region.”

Babb was raised right across the Mississippi in Belleville, Illinois. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Bradley University and a master’s degree from Clemson University. For the past five years she has been a full-time associate at Duke University, providing vision and oversight to the largest community of freshmen on campus.

During her time at Duke, Babb also helped found Just Space, an initiative to research the intersection of places, spaces and social justice at Duke and in the Durham, North Carolina area, by educating and implementing fair and equitable distribution of socially valued resources and ways of using them.

She was drawn to the chance to play a role in these issues, which are closer to where she was born.

“I worked a lot on space and place, especially on socio-economic status and racial justice, but then I came home, flew to Lambert and drove to the east side through mass inequality,” Babb said. “I really started to think about what it would mean to be back here and do this job in a place I love, in a region that I want to see it heal, grow and thrive. That is what drew me to this position. “

Babb wants to hire fellows who will invest just as much in addressing some of St. Louis’ greatest challenges, particularly those related to inequality.

Part of her role will be to help a group of Fellows build relationships with one another while learning by working with partner organizations in the St. Louis area.

“One of the core components of the Fellowship is the internships, which look like mini-internships,” said Matt Menietti, a graduate of the St. Louis Coro Fellows program who now serves on his steering committee. “Coro Fellows deliver high impact projects in six different sectors in the St. Louis area: government, nonprofits, corporations and workers, and a group and an independent agency.

“The logic behind the placement structure is that cities function like complex systems. Take the youngest mayor race and involvement in the government sector. The incoming administration must work with the police union. It will have to work with small businesses helping COVID and nonprofits in healthcare or basic needs. Coro wants to give the Fellows a holistic picture of how our region and our community work, and give them the tools and the language to drive change. “

Formal offers will be sent later this month to approximately 12 fellows who will form the cohort in St. Louis 2021-22. They will start in August.

The Coro scholarship lasts nine months, with participants spending around 12,000 hours together on running high impact projects across dozen of organizations in the region. They receive additional training – in areas such as general semantics and project management – that is woven into their on-site experience.

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