Gephardt News

Allen and Caldie drive civic engagement through creative communication 

Left, Marketing and Communications Manager Scott Allen shoots photos at last year’s Party at the Polls with a level of consternation normally reserved for complex mathematics; right, Digital Communications Specialist Lara Caldie shares her Gephardt experiences (but not her cookies) with Civic Scholars while taking photos at last year’s Camp Civic event. 

Behind the Gephardt Institute newsletters, website, social media, flyers, and more, there are two individuals ensuring that you know what we are about: Our mission and possibilities. Meet Scott Allen and Lara Caldie, the Subaru-driving, cat owning, Hoosier State hailing creative minds—along with a team of part-time staff and student interns—leading Gephardt marketing and communication. 

Allen joined the institute in May 2022 as Marketing and Communications Manager. He spearheads efforts to promote the institute’s programs and events and works closely across our staff to advance our vision of educating WashU students for lifelong engaged citizenship. Allen graduated from Washington University’s University College (now the School of Continuing & Professional Studies) with a degree in journalism and an emphasis on political science. Prior to joining the institute, he served as a communications specialist in Student Affairs for five years. Allen confessed to a love of making things and finds joy in creating impactful content, such as a well-composed photo, a compelling video, or a unique angle to communicate the institute’s impact. 

His move to the Gephardt Institute represents the merger of Allen’s creative talents with his love for civic and community engagement. 

“Especially as I started seeing and recognizing more of the issues in our society and inequity in different St. Louis communities,” he said, “I was just looking for a role that would help fulfill both those areas of interest–supporting students in a non-academic role and also doing something that is supporting the community and hopefully making a difference on this kind of scale.” 

Caldie’s role as the institute’s Digital Communications Specialist similarly combines her creative affinities with experience and passion for civic engagement. She joined the institute in January 2022 and is responsible for content creation, digital communications, and storytelling. 

Caldie holds a bachelor’s degree in Telecommunications and Environmental Documentary from Indiana University, as a graduate of the Individualized Major Program. Her background also includes marketing for social impact, small businesses, and grassroots non-profits. 

Caldie’s dedication to community engagement and passion for issues such as food justice, environmental sustainability, and racial justice drives her pursuit of creative change-making. She moved to the St. Louis region for an AmeriCorps position at EarthDance Organic Farm School almost a decade ago, and the city is her home ever since. She reflects that both her community engagement experience in college and the Ferguson uprisings of 2014 were formative to the journey that led to her role at the Gephardt Institute.  

Searching for the intersection of creative practice and civic and community engagement brought both Allen and Caldie to the Gephardt Institute. They cite the mission-driven work with students and community partners, variety of creative tasks, and collaborative, supportive team environment as highlights of the job. 

“We have a lot of fun on our staff, we have a lot of laughs, and we also get a lot done,” Allen said.  

“People here are really passionate about different issues. So you can always learn something about someone else’s passions just by spending time in our space. I think that’s something that I enjoy a lot about being here—we’re all very mission-driven professionals and students,” Caldie added. 

When asked about his hopes for the audience’s experience with the Gephardt Institute, Allen emphasized the importance of knowledge and engagement. He wants people to come away with a well-informed understanding of what the institute does, why we do it, and who we serve. Above all, he hopes that students feel included at the Gephardt Institute and recognize it as a place where they can learn how to make a meaningful impact on society.  

“I hope that particularly our students come away with the knowledge that they are welcome at Gephardt Institute, that there is a place for everybody here, and that we can provide them an outlet to benefit society,” he said. 

Caldie envisions marketing materials that connect with individuals on an emotional level, making the ideas of civic and community engagement approachable. She emphasizes the importance of illustrating various touchpoints and making it easy for students to connect with the St. Louis community in different ways.  

“I want them to  not only see what we’re about, but really feel and get a sense of collective impact and feel inspired to  be involved in social change work, whether it’s here or elsewhere,” she said. 

Outside of work, both Allen and Caldie share a passion for creative hobbies. Allen enjoys engaging in DIY projects, woodworking and building projects, and using his die cutter machine and a heat press to create custom T-shirts and stickers. Caldie is an avid gardener and house plant cultivator, and enjoys crafting, clothing alteration, biking, and roller skating.  

Allen and Caldie bring their dedication, creativity, and wide-ranging skills to the Gephardt Institute through a collaborative approach that reaches everyone engaged with the Gephardt Institute and those who are just becoming connected.  

“I really couldn’t ask for a better colleague on the marketing team,” Allen said.