At a ceremony at the Missouri History Museum today, Gov. Jay Nixon swore in the sixteen members of theFerguson Commission and charged them with studying the underlying issues raised by events in Ferguson and issuing a report with specific policy recommendations no later than September 15, 2015. The Governor announced that the Commission would be led by co-chairs Rev. Starsky Wilson and Rich McClure.
“These sixteen men and women bring to the table a rich diversity of life experience and points of view –business owners and not-for-profit leaders; teachers and lawyers; police officers and activists; pastors and public servants,” said Gov. Nixon. “But while they are clearly a diverse group, they are united by their shared passion to promote understanding, to hasten healing, to ensure equal opportunities in education and employment, and to safeguard the civil rights of all our citizens.”
The Governor appointed the following St. Louis-area residents to serve on the Ferguson Commission out of more than 300 applications and nominations that were received:
Rev. Starsky Wilson, CEO of the Deaconess Foundation;
Rich McClure, former president and COO of Unigroup;
Reverend Traci Blackmon, Pastor of Christ the King United Church of Christ;
Dan Isom II, Director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety;
Scott Negwer, President of Negwer Materials in Ferguson;
Bethany Johnson-Javois, CEO of the St. Louis Integrated Health Network;
Gabriel E. Gore, attorney and partner at the law firm of Dowd Bennett LLC;
Brittany Packnett, Executive Director of Teach For America;
Rose Windmiller, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Government & Community Relations at Washington University.
Rasheen Aldridge, Jr., community organizer and Director of Young Activists United;
Grayling Tobias, Superintendent of the Hazelwood School District;
Becky James-Hatter, President and CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri;
Felicia Pulliam, Director of Development for FOCUS St. Louis and Ferguson resident;
Kevin Ahlbrand, Detective Sergeant with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and President of the Missouri State Fraternal Order of Police;
Patrick Sly, Executive Vice-President, Emerson;
T.R. Carr, Jr., Professor of Public Administration at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville;
“The members of the Ferguson Commission are tough, they are smart, they are empowered, and they are independent,” said Gov. Nixon. “Their most important work will not be what is written on sheets of paper or on a website. Their most important work will be the changes we see in our institutions and our work places, in our communities and in our interactions with one another. Change of this magnitude is hard; but maintaining the status quo is simply not acceptable.”
Under the Governor’s executive order, the Ferguson Commission will be responsible for issuing a report with policy recommendations in the following areas: citizen-law enforcement interaction and relations; racial and ethnic relations; municipal government organization and the municipal court system; and disparities in areas including education, economic opportunity, housing, transportation, health care, child care, business ownership, and family and community stability.
“I am called and have been blessed to serve children and youth of our region through engagement at the grass tops and grassroots of civic leadership,” said Ferguson Commission Co-Chair Rev. Starsky Wilson. Effective investigation, assessment and response to the multiple structural challenges that led to and have been exposed by the August 9th shooting and its aftermath will require the perspective and credibility of both worlds. The work of this commission aligns with the work of Deaconess Foundation, which I lead, to advance the health of the region and its people through effective alignment of philanthropic, social service and governmental resources and policies. We envision a region that values the health and well-being of all children and prioritizes the most vulnerable.”
“I am deeply committed to making St. Louis a stronger and fairer place for all, and am honored to be asked to serve on the Ferguson Commission as co-chair with Starsky Wilson,” said Ferguson Commission Co-Chair Richard McClure. “The significant challenges we face as a region have been vividly exposed by events in Ferguson. Committed and thoughtful citizens must identify necessary actions to take and polices that have to change. Then, our state and our region must pursue their implementation vigorously. I am passionate about addressing these very complex and serious issues, working with a diverse and committed Commission.”
The Commission has until September 15, 2015 to issue its report, but the Governor made clear that he would welcome any interim recommendations for positive steps that can be taken prior to the completion of its final report.
Today, the Missouri Development Finance Board approved $100,000 to support the Commission’s operating costs, research and other expenses. Additional funding is being identified from private sources to ensure the Commission has the resources necessary to carry out its charge. Ferguson Commission will operate out of space provided by Washington University.
More information on the members of the Ferguson Commission can be found on the commission’s website:www.stlpositivechange.org.