Gephardt News Press Releases

New Staff at the Gephardt Institute

We are delighted to announce three new staff members who will be joining the Gephardt Institute this summer, each of whom will advance our mission to cultivate informed and actively engaged citizens.

Cara Johnson 2

Cara Johnson will serve as Assistant Director for Student Engagement and Service, beginning July 5. Cara completed her graduate work at Stanford University, with a master’s in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership Studies in K-12 Education. She received her undergraduate degree in English Literature from Washington University. Cara has recently returned to her hometown of St. Louis after spending ten years in Oakland, California, where she was a public high school teacher, Community Programs Director with Alternatives in Action, and Managing Director of Oakland Kids First.

Stefani Weeden-Smith

Stefani Weeden-Smith will serve as Assistant Director for Campus & Community Partnerships, beginning August 1. Stefani completed her graduate work at Pratt Institute, with a master’s in Creative Arts Therapy and Creative Development. She received her undergraduate degree in Business Administration (Marketing) from Rockhurst University. A St. Louis native, Stefani brings over 20 years of nonprofit leadership experience, with local organizations including Washington University’s Project ARK / SPOT Youth Center, the Regional Arts Commission’s Community Arts Training Institute, St. Louis Science Center, St. Louis Art Museum, and Art St. Louis. Most recently, she has served as Program Director for NCCJ-STL, the National Conference for Community and Justice.


Cassie Klosterman will serve as Voter Engagement Fellow until December 1. Cassie is a 2016 graduate of Washington University with a bachelor’s degree from the College of Arts & Sciences. She majored in the Interdisciplinary Project in the Humanities and minored in Russian Language and Literature. Cassie brings work experience with Alumni Relations, Student Union, and the Regional Arts Commission, and leadership experience with WashU International Relations Council.


With these shifts, Jenni Harpring will assume a new role as Assistant Director for Civic Engagement, effective August 1. Jenni will lead our signature cohort initiatives, including the expanded Civic Scholars program and the launch of St. Louis Urban Fellows program. She will also serve as a consultant and trainer for students, faculty, and staff seeking to incorporate civic engagement in their curricular and co-curricular initiatives.