Gephardt News Goldman Fellows

St. Louis Initiative Partners with Goldman Fellows

In 2021, the Goldman Fellows Program will support its largest cohort to date. Fourteen fellows have been selected to participate in the 14th cycle of the program. The expanded capacity for the program is thanks to a successful proposal to pilot fellowships with Washington University’s St. Louis Initiative in which fellows will work with the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor for Civic Affairs and Strategic Planning and the Office of Supplier Diversity. Their work within these offices will support university strategic planning to advance Chancellor Martin’s vision that Washington University be “In St. Louis, For St. Louis.”[1]

When internships begin in June, four fellows – Christian Monzón (AB ’22), Kemi Akinfenwa (’24), Madison Dugar (BS ’23), and Spencer Chrein (AB ’23) – will start work with the St. Louis Initiative. Fellows will be overseen by Richard Payton, Chief of Staff in the university’s new Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor for Civic Affairs and Strategic Planning, who said:

“When Stephanie and Nichole approached our office, we jumped at this opportunity! For starters, this strategic planning effort is going to require a lot of work, so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to [include] passionate, talented students to the team. We also saw this as an important opportunity to broaden perspectives. As undergraduate students, the Goldman Fellows will bring unique perspectives to our planning efforts, and we’re hopeful that they will learn how a large anchor institution like WashU approaches community engagement and involvement.”

Richard Payton, Chief of Staff in the university’s new Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor for Civic Affairs and Strategic Planning

These sentiments were echoed by both Christian and Kemi. When deciding to participate in this new opportunity, Christian expressed “[thinking] about WashU’s influence and impact on the St. Louis region, and how WashU could improve it.” Kemi spoke of “making WashU a university for St. Louis.” Like Kemi, Christian is also excited for the “opportunity to fully engage with WashU’s commitment to St. Louis, and actively contribute to ways that WashU can be for St. Louis, rather than just in St. Louis.” He is particularly interested in learning how “WashU can support the immigrant community in St. Louis.”

Program leaders are hopeful that integrating these pilot fellowship positions into the program structure will create an opportunity to further explore the role of universities in community engagement and the importance of maintaining mutually beneficial partnerships with communities and community organizations. As Kemi said after speaking with Richard, “[she] knew this program [the St. Louis Initiative] was actively taking steps to build community with the [St. Louis] community.”

Bringing the pilot fellows’ experience into the program discussions will ground conversations that center the Gephardt Institute’s values, specifically collaboration, as they will be able to witness and potentially participate in community-university partnerships and collaborations. As with all Goldman Fellows, the institute looks forward to witnessing and contributing to the students’ growth as they seek to impact the St. Louis community.

Recently, the Gephardt Institute finalized a strategic plan that outlines the institute’s focus on community engagement, specifically within the St. Louis context. This Goldman Fellows Pilot Expansion aligns with a coordinated effort to develop a scalable St. Louis Summer Fellowship Program. As a pillar of the institute’s St. Louis Engagement strategy, enhancing the summer fellowship program increases opportunities to partner with community organizations to foster greater impact in the St. Louis region and to support students seeking professional development and deeper connections to St. Louis.  

[1] To read or watch the Chancellor’s Inaugural address visit: