Board of Directors

Meet Our Board

Carl Reed, Board Chair

Carl Reed is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Lion Forge Comics, an award-winning graphic literature publisher.

In addition to his work on the publishing side of Lion Forge, he runs the creative services side of the company, Lion Forge Labs, where he directs the company’s efforts at exploring new industries and markets with an eye toward understanding the technology and business needs of each project and client.

Bill Kent, Vice Chair

“I view the importance of educational innovation through two lenses.  First, the rapid rate of global change dictates that educational institutions must evolve to remain relevant to their customers. Secondly, educational innovation can serve as a critical means to help schools create equitable opportunities for all children, especially those residing in under-resourced and under-represented communities.”

Bill Kent Jr., President and CEO, has led Youth Learning Center (YLC) since its inception. Recognizing that so many of the boys he grew up with did not have the family support he enjoyed and that many of those boys ended up in prison, Mr. Kent was moved to leave his business career and dedicate his professional life to improving academic and life outcomes of youth from under-resourced backgrounds. He applied his background in business management to directing the original YLC building project in 2010 and the 2015 renovation. He has also overseen the development of programming from an all-volunteer organization to the current organization providing STEAM education through outreach programs and eventually the founding of The Biome School in 2015. The Biome School is a new kind of K-8 school for the next generation – one that offers customized, project based and student-centered learning opportunities with an emphasis on growth mindset and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) education. The Biome charter school creates a balanced learning ecosystem in which teachers work together with students to cultivate a growth mindset as they discover their unique gifts, talents and interests. Mr. Kent earned his Bachelor of Science in Information Technology from Lindenwood University and joined Youth Learning Center after serving as a manager and career insurance underwriter with Reliable Insurance Company for 13 years.

Sherita Haigler

“Innovation in elementary education helps to foster and grow the next generation of innovators and creators. That’s why it’s critically important that we as a community ensure the educational and technological gaps are removed, and all students can flourish and thrive equitably.”

Sherita Haigler serves as the Vice President, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at United Way of Greater St. Louis, where the mission is to: “Help People Live Their Best Possible Lives.” Sherita’s primary responsibility is to lead the internal Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts and ensure they align with the strategic plan of the organization. Sherita works in partnership with leadership and Human Resources to create an inclusive organizational environment where employees, volunteers, and investors of all genders, ethnicities, backgrounds, and orientations feel welcome and can flourish and contribute to United Way’s mission. Before joining UWGSL, Sherita served as the Director of STEMSTL, a non-profit STEM Learning Ecosystem that aims to ensure that all St. Louis area learners have equitable access to high-quality STEM learning and career opportunities.

Sherita also works as a facilitator for Diversity Awareness Partnership in its Give Respect Get Respect Program. Sherita holds a Masters and Bachelors of Business Administration from Fontbonne University, where she was an adjunct faculty member for the Options Program for many years. She has a vast amount of experience in Client Services, Account and Client Relationship Management, and Program/Project Management in the Telecommunications and Health Care industries. Sherita is a native of St. Louis.

Jere Hochman

“Math was the proverbial ‘great equalizer’ for all students of the 20th century. ‘Technology’ is the great equalizer of the 21st.  And “equalizing” must guarantee equitable access for all children to state-of-the-art resources, innovative educators, and filling opportunity gaps of all students. Anything less is unjust. Consequently, more than ever, we must leverage systemic change to unleash innovation, creativity, and technology in combination with what we know about learning, pedagogy, and leading in our schools.”

Dr. Hochman is a career learner and educator and knows the power of teaching. Since elementary school, he had teachers who modeled innovative teaching, utilized experiential learning, and addressed the events and issues of the day; and they inspired him. During his first year teaching, Dr. Hochman’s 8th grade students built a geodesic dome in the classroom and met Buckminster Fuller! That was just the start of implementing and supporting innovative and technology endeavors.

Dr. Hochman is a former public school teacher, principal, and district administrator.  He served as Superintendent of Schools in three school districts and most recently as a network superintendent in St. Louis.

Throughout his career, Dr. Hochman has been active in state and national associations including the National Middle School Association, the American Association of School Administrators, and the Minority Student Achievement Network.  Currently he contributes to the work of advocacy groups in educational policy and practice.

Joseph P. Komos

Mr. Komos is Vice President, Administration of St. Louis University High School. Mr. Komos joined SLUH in 2011. In addition to his administrative duties, Mr. Komos volunteers as moderator of the school’s student Fishing Club. Prior to joining SLUH, Mr. Komos served in a variety of financial and technology leadership positions with several privately held companies in the St. Louis area. Mr. Komos is a certified public accountant, a chartered global management accountant, a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants. Mr. Komos is a 1981 graduate of St. Louis University and holds a B.S.-B.A. with an emphasis in accounting.

Mr. Komos resides in Ballwin, Missouri with his wife Elaine. Their daughter Megan is an Industrial Engineer employed by 3M. Their son Will is a Federal Attorney with the National Labor Relations Board. Mr. Komos enjoys Ice Hockey, Fishing, and History.

Grace Lee

Dr. Grace Lee (she/her) is the Dean of Faculty at Mary Institute St. Louis Country Day School (MICDS), an independent school in St. Louis, Missouri. She is also the director of the Equity and Justice Academy in Character Education for Character Plus. Previously, she served as a school social worker, ELA teacher, assistant principal and principal in the Jennings, Parkway, Webster Groves and University City School Districts.  In every aspect of school leadership, Dr. Lee brings her social work lens to her role as an educator.  She works to create systems to ensure equity and access. The core of her beliefs centers on elevating student and teacher voices to leverage leadership to shift the educational landscape for change.  Her work focuses on moving away from incentive based and punitive consequences that only perpetuate the school to prison pipeline but truly engage children as active, equal partners in upholding a school community that fosters a sense of belonging, purpose and recognition of self-worth.

Dr. Lee has presented across the region and country at various conferences around character education, restorative practices and racial equity. She has shared the outcome of her work and what a school looks like when students and teachers feel seen, heard and loved. She continues to reimagine school for children in her current educational home, empowering and supporting students and teachers. She hopes that everyone understands their worth and encourages people to walk unapologetically in their purpose.

Maren Mellem

Maren Mellem is the executive director of the WGSD Foundation and an advocate for public education. Maren practiced law for many years, championing children, families, and veterans with disabilities. She then transitioned to the non-profit sector, working for the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition as their director of community relations. After receiving a Master in Social Work, Maren became the manager of forensic services for the St. Louis area child advocacy center, leading the St. Louis City and St. Louis County multi-disciplinary child abuse case review teams and serving on the child fatality review boards for both the city and the county.

Maren has conducted many local and national trainings on trauma-informed, evidence-based child welfare investigations. Her experience working directly with those who have experienced trauma combined with her years of studying and navigating complex systems instilled in her a passion for creating more equitable and just policies and systems. Maren believes that trauma-informed, evidence-based policy around education is essential to a healthy, prosperous society and that technology can be a powerful tool to create and more easily disseminate innovative educational practices, leading to more inspired, accessible, and equitable learning.

Adam Scimone

“Finding new ways to use technology is part of what makes us human, but it doesn’t happen all on its own. Educators and children need support to ensure they have the creative space to be curious and discover how technology can facilitate learning that prepares us all for what’s next.”

Adam Scimone has been working in education since 2010. He began his work as a naturalist, focused on creating emotional connections with natural resources and later transitioned to science education in a classroom. Most recently he ran a middle school gifted program where he differentiated for the needs of unique learners that require more than a one-size-fits-all approach. He is a former Kirkwood School District Teacher of the Year, a Missouri Regional Teacher of the Year, and a recipient of the Emerson Excellence in Education Award among others accolades. Adam has a BS in biology and chemistry from the University of Illinois and an M.Ed. in Science Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Missouri. He is passionate about empowering children and nurturing curiosity.

Kendall Ware

“Settling for being good gets in the way of being great!”

Dr. Kendall Ware is an educator from St. Louis, MO, who has been in the field for 14 years. He has a bachelor’s in Mathematics, a master’s in Teaching with an emphasis in mathematics, a master’s in Christian Ministry, and a doctorate in Higher Education Leadership from Maryville University, where his dissertation explored the effects that Black educators have on their Black students in the discipline of Mathematics. He is a Mathematics Education professor and has taught Mathematics at the middle school and high school levels. He has been the director for multiple student success programs for low-income, first generation students and thrives in designing and implementing educational programs. He started his own non-profit entitled the African American Male Mathematics Fraternity (AAMMF) in 2016 where the goal is to increase the success of Black students in the field of Mathematics. Dr. Ware is married to his lovely wife Erika, and they have 2 daughters and a son. Ware’s hobbies include reading, playing golf, finding new music of all genres, and networking.