Meet the Board of Directors

Each June, the Board of Directors holds an annual meeting to nominate members, select officers and recognize members who are ending terms of service. The nominations and roles are effective beginning July 1.

Holston Black IIIHolston Black III, ChairHolston Black III is a new entrepreneur in North St. Louis after a 28-year career at Boeing/ McDonnell-Douglas.  He is developing a manufacturing business and a property renovation company.  In the corporate world, Holston was most recently a senior manager of learning, training and development entrusted with providing the best resources to Boeing’s international employees, customers, and stakeholders including high school and college students.  He established and managed a team in Singapore, Bangalore, Dubai, Brussels, and Seattle.  Holston had the opportunity to personally provide development solutions in twelve countries, and to support people in over twenty.  Along with the global focus, Holston was also the Deputy to the Director of Sourcing Strategy and Partnerships for Learning, and led the enterprise outsourcing of two major learning services.  Additionally, he managed the scheduling team, learning facilities, and equipment in 14 states. 
He has had leadership roles in supplier quality development, lean manufacturing, and international site startups.  Before returning home to St. Louis, Holston lived in Prague, Treviso, Venice, and Rome for a total of eight years in Europe.  He has a Bachelor of Science in mechanical aerospace engineering from Princeton University and a Master of Business Administration from the Northwestern University Kellogg School program at Wissenschaftliche Hochschule fur Unternehmensfuhrung (WHU) in Germany. Holston lives in Old North St. Louis and supports local organizations for children and housing.  Mr. Black joined the Board in June 2014.
Essence Owens, Secretary – Essence Owens is a former parent at Confluence Academy-Old North. Her interest in serving on the board represents her principles of giving back to the community and a love of learning. She is a volunteer member of the Confluence Strategic Planning Curriculum Sub-Committee. She has more than 15 years of experience in customer service, with 11 years of experience in managing, scheduling and training staff. Her management experience includes working with municipal and government agencies. Ms. Owens earned an associate degree in information systems at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park and a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Columbia College. Ms. Owens joined the Board in April 2016. 
Leona Lucas, Vice Chair and Treasurer – Leona Lucas is a senior technical director with AT&T. She has experience working for SBC and Missouri Higher Education Learning Authority. She volunteers with Big Brother Big Sister, Girls Incorporated and St. Louis Crisis Nursery. She is a member of Telephone Communication Pioneers and the AT&T Community Network Mentoring and AT&T Aspire Mentoring programs. She has a degree in business administration and a master’s degree in human resource management from Lindenwood University. Ms. Lucas joined the Board in June 2014.
Craig LarsonCraig H. Larson, Ed.D., Dr. Craig H. Larson is a retired superintendent with 38 years of experience in K-12 education in the St. Louis area. He retired from Rockwood School District as superintendent in 2010. He worked for Parkway School District and the School District of Clayton. Presently, he is an educational consultant, teaches as an adjunct professor at Maryville University and is an elected member of the Board of Trustees of St. Louis Community College. His professional memberships include the St. Louis County Educational Media Commission, St. Louis Community College Foundation Board and the Educational Leadership Council for Maryville University. He has a Bachelor of Science in education and a Master of Arts in curriculum and instruction from University of Kansas. He earned certification as a secondary principal from Washington University, completed advanced studies in school leadership at Vanderbilt University and has an educational doctorate from Saint Louis University. Dr. Larson joined the Board in June 2014.
Odis Johnson Jr., PhD – Dr. Odis Johnson Jr., Professor, Departments of Sociology and Education (Joint)
Associate Director, Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Equity (CREE) Professor, Brown School of Social Work (Courtesy), Faculty Scholar, Institute for Public Health Washington University in St. Louis. Prior to his appointments at Washington University, Dr. Johnson chaired the African American Studies Department in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the University of Maryland and was a Faculty Associate at the Maryland Population Research Center. Dr. Johnson’s research examines how neighborhoods, schools, and public policies related to social inequality, youth development and the status of African American populations. His work on these topics has earned him a National Academies Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, the first won by someone in the field of education in the history of the interdisciplinary competition, and the 2013 Outstanding Review of Research Award from the American Educational Research Association, the leading professional association of education research. Grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Spencer Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and American Educational Research Association have supported Dr. Johnson's research, leading to a better understanding of how policies have sought to influence neighborhood differences in school functioning and achievement, and of the policy and residential  dynamics related to the status of African American males in particular. His most recent work is funded by the National Institutes of Health and uses multilevel statistical methodologies to assess neighborhood risk propensity factors related to adolescents’ educational self-concept and persistence. Dr. Johnson serves on the editorial boards of the Review of Educational Research and the Urban Review makes frequent appearances in media outlets and serves as an advisor to governmental agencies and school systems to improve the lives of young people, urban neighborhoods, and social services.