Casey Knotts Bridges Theory & Practice to Strengthen the Health of Communities

Casey Knotts is a passionate and action-oriented civic leader dedicated to empowering women and reducing health inequities in communities. She demonstrates leadership through her involvement in organizations such as the Girl Scouts of America, the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, and most recently as a program leader for the Metro St. Louis YWCA’s Future Leaders Academy.

Casey is also an astute scholar-practitioner. She is pursuing dual master’s degrees in social work (health concentration/management specialization) and public health at Washington University’s Brown School. For her practicum project, Casey has partnered with Social Innovation STL at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. She supports the organization’s Thread STL program, a peer learning community that builds and sustains the skills and passion of partnership leaders. “I have been helping to document, synthesize, and share the learning and skill building of Thread STL’s learning cohorts as they come together to problem solve around a particular topic,” Casey shared. “This includes evaluation, data, and facilitation.”

In spring 2018, Casey was named a Newman Civic Fellow. The Newman Civic Fellowship, sponsored by Campus Compact, is a selective program that recognizes and supports students with a deep investment in finding solutions for community challenges throughout the country. It will enable Casey to expand her network of like-minded individuals beyond the St. Louis region and provide her with rich learning and training opportunities. “I appreciate the combined focus on developing relationship building skills,” she said, “as well as the opportunity to learn about specific tools like asset mapping. As a future practitioner at the community and public policy level, I think these skillsets are invaluable to effectively impacting lives at a systems level.”

Casey has further combined her personal and professional goals through her role as a Master’s Research Fellow at the Gephardt Institute. In this role, Casey collaborates with Dr. Jillian Martin, Assistant Director for Strategy and Evaluation, to develop evaluation protocols, instruments, and analyses for a number of the institute’s programs, including Each One Teach One, Leadership Through Service, Arts as Civic Engagement, and Goldman Fellows. When asked what she enjoys most about working at the institute, Casey highlighted the community that is fostered by professional staff. “It was clear from my first day that they truly care about the student staff,” she explained. “Prior to working at the Gephardt Institute,” she added, I had no experience with evaluation… I’ve loved forming relationships with my supervisors and learning about the ins and outs of the field.”

In her final year at WashU, Casey is excited to learn more about benchmarking and continue to develop an institute-wide evaluation plan in coordination with Dr. Martin. She also looks forward to attending the Newman Civic Fellowship’s national conference in her hometown of Boston this November. Casey encourages fellow students who are interested in civic and community engagement to find a peer group or organization doing the work they are passionate about. “Engage with them in whatever way that makes sense for you – whether as a volunteer, through a gift, or as an advocate,” she summed. “Civic engagement means being involved with the people and institutions around you, and supporting each other to effect change.”