Dawn T. Christoffersen – President
Dawn is an estate planning, business and tax attorney in St. Louis, Missouri and is licensed to practice law in Missouri, Illinois and Colorado. She founded her own firm, DTC Advisors, LLC in 2011 after practicing at several large firms in St. Louis, Missouri. Dawn received her BSBA in accounting from Washington University in St. Louis, her JD from Northwestern University and her LLM in taxation from Washington University, where she taught as adjunct faculty for some time. She also passed the CPA exam and has her Masters in Sustainability from St. Louis University. Dawn has been and is involved in a variety of charitable endeavors, including chairing the Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis Major Gifts and Planned Giving Committee, as a member of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Planned Advisory Group and as a member of the Spirit of St. Louis Finance Committee, among others. In her spare time, Dawn enjoys hiking with her husband Jared and their two dogs, exploring the Colorado wilderness, and preparing international and vegan cuisine. She is passionate about altering the course of climate change, saving our national parks and creating healthy food systems for all.
Debbie Njai – Vice President
Debbie joins the MCE Board with a deep passion for the outdoors and protecting everything in it. Debbie’s love for the outdoors began after venturing out on her first hike in August of 2019. Shortly after, Debbie founded Black People Who Hike (BPWH), a St. Louis based organization that serves as a platform to empower, educate and expose black people to the outdoors. Debbie believes spending time outdoors is fundamental to our health and that a healthy lifestyle includes a proper balance of nutrition, exercise and adequate time in nature. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Business Finance and Management from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and has spent the last 10 years working with people in all aspects of management operations including, sales, hiring, training, recruiting and marketing. Debbie has experience blogging, creating and managing global social media campaigns and building creative content. She also enjoys hiking, running, camping, golfing, plant based cooking and spending time outdoors with her dog Brownie.
Nygel Williams – Treasurer
Nygel is a passionate servant leader who has dedicated his career to public health and health equity who is thrilled to be on the board at MCE. He is currently the Manager of Patient Accounts for the Department of Neurology at Washington University School of Medicine and a previous Executive Management Fellow. In this role, Nygel works to coordinate a positive patient experience and has been a key leader in advancing equity through the implementation of telehealth and improved self-pay programs. Prior to coming to Washington University, Nygel served as the first African-American Villers Fellow for Healthcare Justice at Families USA in Washington, DC where he worked to advance healthcare policy at a national level. He also worked at Inova Mt. Vernon Hospital where he managed a public health initiative in conjunction with the AARP to advance health education for patients. Nygel earned a Master in Healthcare Administration from the University of Maryland College Park as well as a Bachelor of Science in Health Science from Saint Louis University. Nygel is an avid cook and loves fitness and the outdoors, and (when it’s warm out) you can often catch him biking or running the stairs in Forest Park, or tackling a local trail for a weekend hike.
Deidre Griffith – Secretary
Deidre Griffith is a dedicated community health leader, collaborator and champion for health equity. Currently, Deidre serves as Regional Director of Community Health for SSM Health-St. Louis. In this role, she provides leadership on a wide range of evidence-based, data-driven initiatives focused on addressing social determinants of health, advancing health equity and strengthening community partnerships. Prior to joining SSM, Deidre served as a program director at Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH) where she provided strategic leadership on multiple health initiatives, including Childhood Obesity Prevention, Public Health Infrastructure, The Opportunity Fund and Health Care Workforce Development. Deidre also has a strong research background, developed over ten years in academia (Saint Louis University and Washington University), implementing community-based participatory research programs to improve nutrition, physical activity and health literacy in under-resourced communities. She also managed a pioneering fellowship program designed to increase the field of master and doctoral-level trained minority public health practitioners. Deidre earned a Master of Public Health from Saint Louis University and a Bachelor of Arts from Loyola University New Orleans. She is an alumna of FOCUS St. Louis’ Leadership St. Louis program (class 40), is a 2016 fellow of the Terrance Keenan Institute for Emerging Leaders in Health Philanthropy, founded by Grantmakers in Health, serves on the Regional Health Commission’s Provider Services Advisory Board and serves on multiple community coalitions. Deidre has also co-authored several manuscripts and presented her work at national conferences including the American Public Health Association and the Biennial Childhood Obesity conference.
Kally Coleman – Past President
After 3 years on MCE’s Board in the early 2000’s, Kally rejoined the board in the fall of 2015, and has served as Board President from 2019-2022. Kally brings a unique environmental experience to MCE with her legacy as co-founder of Friends of Ozark Riverways (FOR), an affiliate organization of MCE. FOR advocates for stronger enforcement of regulations on the Current and Jacks Fork Rivers, and works to foster awareness, appreciation, & respect for the history, culture, and natural splendor of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. She has served on the boards of Missouri Parks Association and The Green Center, and has been involved with the Missouri Arts Council as an advisor and grant panelist for the Missouri Folk Arts Program. Through her work at Washington University School of Medicine, Kally serves on the Steering Committee of the Neurology Office of Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Belonging. At MCE, Kally serves on the Anti-Racism Committee and Development Committee. Having lived most of her life along the Current River, she is an avid fisherman and enjoys paddling, hiking, and camping along Ozark streams.
Steve joined the board in early 2017. He has earned a BS in Social Studies and an MS in Park Administration. He has over thirty years experience in park management with Missouri State Parks, St. Louis County Parks, the city of Clayton Parks and the US Forest Service in Granby, Colorado. Steve also served in the US Army and the US Peace Corps-Afghanistan. He retired from the VA where he served as a budget analyst and finally as a national records officer. An avid canoeist, kayaker and self-acclaimed river rat.
Antonia is a part of the leadership team for the outdoor advocacy group Black People Who Hike and a first time board member of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment. An urban St. Louis native, she developed a love for adventure and outdoors with guidance from the Camp Wyman Leadership program as a teenager to adulthood 2005-2010. She has continued to express her love for nature through educating friends and family on ways to lessen their carbon footprint. Conserving water resources, protecting wilderness animal habitats and educating people on the importance of respecting nature are her lifelong goals. Her mission is to diversify the outdoors and bring people of color into spaces that were thought to be out of reach. In her free time she enjoys hiking, camping, traveling, Korean pop music, gaming and anime.
Rev. Rodrick Burton
Rodrick Burton has led the New Northside Baptist Church to be a regional leader in Environmental Justice and Sustainability issues in partnership with Green the Church, the Sierra Club of Eastern Mo and The Nature’s Conservancy. New Northside was the first African American congregation to install solar panels on their Church and Community Center. Reverend Burton advocated, along with the environmental community for St. Louis to pass Resolution 124 and was appointed to the City’s Clean Energy Advisory Board. Burton’s advocacy resulted in the EPA 2019 Publication, Supporting Healthy Houses of Worship, as well as the 2020’s webinar series: Interagency Interfaith Collaboration for Vulnerable Communities. These free Webinars were part of an education thrust to provide better access to EPA Efficiency programs and training for churches. Burton earned a Master’s in Educational Ministry from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis Mo and is currently a Visiting Instructor in Practical Theology at Covenant. Pastor Burton is married to Carlotta Burton, with adult twins, Zoe and Zarek, and resides in St. Louis, County.
David retired from the University of Missouri-St. Louis where he was Associate Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Center for Science and Technology. He co-authored the textbook, “Chemistry: Its Role in Society” and served as the first chairperson of Missouri’s Hazardous Waste Management Commission. David was a Congressional Science Fellow in 1980-81 working in Congressman Al Gore’s office on environmental issues. In October 2019, David received the first UMSL Retiree of the Year Award. He has served on MCE’s Board for more than 25 years in various roles.
Steve has a 40-year track record as an innovator and leader in the environmental, energy, and natural resource fields. He was appointed for 8 years by three successive governors as Cabinet Secretary to lead the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. During his tenure, he added over 60,000 acres to the state park system and led the development and construction of the first LEED Platinum state office. He also represented Missouri and the US by chairing the NAFTA-US Governmental Environmental Advisory Commission (GAC), serving on the EPA’s Environmental Financial Advisory Board (EFAB) for 13 years, and he received the “United States Presidential Environmental Achievement Award” in 1989. His work was also the subject of a “60 Minutes” episode because of his leadership in negotiating the first agreement in US history for a corporate buy out of the houses of Missouri citizens whose children were being exposed to lead contamination and smelter emissions. Currently, he is advising the Nature Conservancy and many influential organizations on climate change, energy, environmental, natural resource and carbon management issues. Steve holds a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Science from Rutgers University and is a graduate of the Yale University Environmental and Management Leadership.
Bryan is a 24 year Missouri resident who earned a Master of Public Health degree from St. Louis University in 2005. His studies at SLU focused on Community Health, Biostatistics and Epidemiology. He is one of the founders of Three Spring Farms in Perryville, Missouri, an MCE “Known and Grown” farm providing sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken to the St. Louis region since 2011. He serves on the faculty of the Department of Surgery in Washington University School of Medicine and has been awarded for his teaching efforts. His previous service on advisory boards includes work with Blackburn College, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. He joined the MCE Board in 2020. He is drawn to serve the MCE based on a longstanding passion for sustainability and environmental issues, catalyzed by his interactions with the Known and Grown program.
Prior to Joe’s 1989 employment with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), he was employed as a classroom instructor of science and biology at Houston High School in Houston, Missouri from 1981 through the 1989 school years. While at DNR, he worked as an Environmental Specialist, Environmental Education Specialist and Unit Chief of the Environmental Education Unit. In which, he retired with 24 years of service on February 28, 2010. On March 1, 2010 Joe became the Executive Director of the James River Basin Partnership (JRBP) in Springfield. He then moved his family to Ozark in late summer 2010, serving 5½ years until retiring again on November 1, 2015. Expressing that his time at JRBP was the most rewarding. In October 2015, the MCE recognized Joe’s career as an environmental educator and advocate by awarding him the Susan Flader Education and Advocacy Award. This was especially meaningful to Joe, as Susan is a friend of his. Joe enjoys canoeing and kayaking on the beautiful Ozark rivers and is an avid fisher. With his wife, they enjoy nature photography and traveling to hike and explore interesting outdoor spots. They are especially in love with Yellowstone Park and the surrounding area and make many trips there, as time and funds allow.
When Arlene moved to St. Louis years ago, she was shocked to learn about St. Louis’ legacy of the Atomic Age radioactive wastes. These wastes were dumped at many locations in the St. Louis metro area, and Arlene has been working toward their removal ever since. She joined MCE’s board in 1979, initially drawn to the organization to help with the ultimately successful referendum, “construction work in progress” or (CWIP), relating to the Callaway nuclear power plant. Collaborating with Kay Drey her mentor, Arlene helped write and edit fact sheets and pamphlets for the Nuclear Information and Resource Service and Beyond Nuclear. She offered her testimony for many public hearings. Arlene also remains concerned about land use and water pollution issues. Arlene was initially attracted to MCE because it was the only local environmental activist organization around in the 1970’s. She still sees MCE as the best place for her volunteer energy. Her career as a librarian gave her the opportunity and the resources to do research on environmental problems, and the governmental regulations that are supposed to protect us.
Gwendolyn completed her Ph.D. in History at Washington University in St. Louis. Her work has been recognized with an Eisenhower-Roberts Fellowship, awarded by the Eisenhower Institute to support research into the Cold War; a Haas Fellowship promoting “understanding of the chemical industries in relation to societal, environmental, health, and safety issues and in the public understanding of science” completed in residence at the Science History Institute (formerly the Chemical Heritage Foundation) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and the Rachel Carson Prize for Best Dissertation in Environmental History awarded by the American Society for Environmental History. She brings to MCE a life-long interest in education, advocacy, and preserving the environment for future generations. Her research focuses on the nuclear history of the United States, especially the implications of nuclear weapons production for human health and the environment.
Eric is an award winning Filmmaker and Media Developer at the Missouri Historical Society where he produces and creates videos, media, and interactive content for exhibits and other institutional needs. In 2017 he won an Emmy Award for his Missouri Historical Society produced documentary feature Show Me 66: Main Street Through Missouri. The film reframes the history of Route 66’s birth and places the Missouri Ozarks as a central player in this story. Also in 2017 he won two Telly Awards and two Hermes Awards for his other works for the Missouri Historical Society. In 2014 his feature film Portrait of St. Louis at 250 Years was the cornerstone presentation for the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase, screened at numerous venues, and was a key part of the Missouri History Museum’s 250 in 250 exhibit. He has a life-long passion for environmental issues and enjoys paddling, camping, hiking, and, in his younger days, rock climbing.