Diversity Awareness Partnership

Our Team



Melanie Powell-Robinson

Executive Director

Melanie Powell-Robinson is the Executive Director of Diversity Awareness Partnership. She serves the St. Louis region through her dedication to community service and advocacy for inclusion and equity both professionally and socially.

Melanie’s dedication to community advocacy began in elementary school but took hold right after her graduation from Metro High School while attending college. As an active member of a student alliance group at St. Louis University, Melanie began to understand the true meaning of civil unrest and learned how important a community’s voice could be. In an effort to garner support and show local and national discontent with social issues around race and equity, Melanie and several classmates organized a campus candlelight vigil which was attended by hundreds. Later, along with other members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Melanie became particularly passionate about eradicating issues plaguing financially distressed communities in the city. Many Friday evenings, she and her sorors could be found in the Walnut Park community encouraging drug dealers to reconsider their profession by marching and chanting in front of their homes. She became a very vocal activist against actions and philosophies that limit the rights of minorities and began dedicating her time to advocate for the social, emotional, physical and financial health of children in the area.

Melanie continued to fight for the underserved and underrepresented by sitting on boards and committees in the St. Louis area. Major causes she has recently championed by giving time, committee membership and money include working with the St. Louis Crisis Nursery which helps provide temporary shelter for children in danger of abuse; Let’s Start whose mission is to help lower the recidivism rate of paroled women; Sista Strut Breast Cancer Walk which donates money to organizations for cancer research and Every Step Counts which provides services to victims of sexual abuse.

Previously, as the Director of Communications, Marketing and Engagement for Riverview Gardens School District, Melanie worked to create and maintain a positive perception of students in the district. By working with reporters, community groups, non-profit organizations and local business, she promoted student successes and highlighted their accomplishments and talents. Melanie created and implemented marketing strategies for internal and external stakeholder groups and was responsible for information distribution through print, social and visual media. Her goal was to make sure all community members know why “It’s a great day to be a Ram!”

Melanie Powell-Robinson has a B.S. in Psychology from St. Louis University and M.A. in Management and Leadership from Webster University. She has received several awards for her dedication to community. Melanie was recently elected as Chief Diversity Officer on the Board of Directors for the Public Relations Society of America, St. Louis. and is a member of the Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists. She has been recognized by many of the organizations she is associated with including Young Professionals Award by the 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis and the Professional of the Year by the Missouri School Public Relations Association.

She is married to Terrell Robinson and has two children, Taryn and Taj.

Nikki McGruder

Regional Manager, DAP–Columbia

nmcgruder@dapstl.org • 573-817-4354

Prior to joining DAP, Nikki worked with leading recruitment process outsourcing firm, Cielo, in the recruiting and hiring of top candidates for technology, pharmaceutical and finance positions. The bulk of her professional experience has been with Edward Jones Investments where Nikki served in various capacities over a 10 year time frame.

In her time with Edward Jones, Nikki was afforded the opportunity to work closely with the Inclusion initiative serving as a trainer and coach for minority advisors in the firm’s Cross Cultural Development five-day training program as well as with a team of professionals working diligently to improve the inclusion initiative for the recruitment and hiring of minority advisors.

Nikki received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business from Columbia College in Columbia, MO, and her MBA and Master of Arts in Human Resource Development from Webster University.

Kenneth Pruitt

Director of Diversity Training

kpruitt@dapstl.org • 314-246-3142

As Director of Diversity Training, Kenneth is responsible for the Diversity Awareness Partnership’s training and consultation for a variety of organizations on topics of diversity and inclusion. Additionally, he oversees DAP’s education efforts via its interfaith work, as well as an assortment of panels, forums, and discussions. After receiving his master’s in education from St. John’s University, Kenneth became a classroom teacher for several years before taking this passion into nonprofit settings. Just previous to his work with DAP, he developed a model for contextualizing the group volunteer experience with education and advocacy on issues of poverty, diversity, and religion.

With the exception of a four-year stint in New York City, Kenneth has spent the last 20 years in St. Louis, having grown up in Nashville, Tennessee. He loves asking hard questions about the intersection of social justice and religion, and can frequently be found jogging a few miles on the sidewalks of South City.

Catrina Salama

Education and Training Manager

csalama@dapstl.org • 314-246-3122

Catrina Salama is Diversity Awareness Partnership’s Education and Training manager, in which role she trains clients in diversity and inclusion and supports organizations in implementing diversity initiatives. Catrina holds a master’s degree in clinical adult psychology from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and an undergraduate degree in psychology from Webster University. Catrina also serves as adjunct faculty at Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville teaching about Multiculturalism and social justice at the graduate and undergraduate level. In her previous role as Multicultural counselor, she provided mental health treatment to underrepresented students and developed outreach and programing specific to the needs of underrepresented students on campus. She has also been a part of campus climate committees where she gained experience evaluating the climate of diversity in an educational setting. Catrina’s passion for diversity comes from her experience as a first generation American and her time spent traveling abroad.

Steve Parks

Steve Parks

Director of Programs

sparks@dapstl.org • 314-246-3143

Steve is responsible for leading DAP’s youth engagement programs such as the Diverse-City Art Competition, EXPLORE Career Immersion Program, and the Give Respect, Get Respect Program. He is also responsible for facilitating and leading diversity and inclusion discussions with youth and adults. Prior to joining DAP in this positon, Steve was the Director of Diversity for Ameren Corporation. He has served on and chaired the board of DAP and currently chairs the board of Cultural Leadership.

Steve received his Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Management from Missouri S&T, and his MBA from Fontbonne University. Steve is a Senior Professional in Human Resources and is a graduate of the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative and the Consortium for Leadership Development programs.

Alix Johnson

Alix Johnson

Youth Programs Manager

ajohnson@dapstl.org • 314-246-3145

Alix comes to DAP as the Youth Programs Manager with a passion for program facilitation and youth engagement. They most recently worked on the Diversity, Inclusion and Corporate Giving team at Express Scripts. During their tenure at Express Scripts they received the HR Pinnacle Award for their contributions to the implementation of the company’s first Employee Resource Groups and development of new charitable giving initiatives.

They received their Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Studies and Industrial Psychology from Saint Louis University, at which time they were recognized with the Distinguished Graduate Award. In previous roles, Alix facilitated high and low ropes courses and team building programs during a year of AmeriCorps with Outward Bound Atlanta and has led similar programs for Wyman Center and the Girl Scouts.

Alix currently serves as President of the Board at Webster Childcare Center. In their free time Alix likes to sew, play soccer, volunteer with LGBT organizations, and spend time with their family.

Jennifer Dunn Stewart

EXPLORE Coordinator

In her role as EXPLORE Coordinator, Jennifer connects high school students to industry leaders in the St. Louis region through career immersion programming. Jennifer brings to DAP over a decade of experience in the nonprofit sector, including serving five years as Program Coordinator in the office of Diversity, Recruitment and Retention for the Graduate Division of the University of California. Building on her background in the literary arts, Jennifer approaches her work in diversity and inclusion with an emphasis on self-expression and communication. She has recently completed as Graduate Certificate in Grantsmanship from the University of Missouri, Columbia, and volunteers her time writing grant proposals for community arts and social justice agencies. Jennifer holds a BA and MFA from Brown University.

Tina Mahtani

Tina Mahtani

Director of Operations

tmahtani@dapstl.org • 314-246-3146

Tina serves as the Director of Operations for Diversity Awareness Partnership. In her role, Tina manages day-to-day organizational operations including financial accounting, accounts payable, accounts receivable, database management, human resource functions, and special fundraising initiatives and annual events.  Tina also oversees the DAP Connect Program.

Prior to working at DAP, Tina worked as a business entrepreneur in the hospitality industry for over fifteen years.  She is currently on the race committee with Girls on the Run.

Maria Rodgers O’Rourke

Communications and Marketing Manager

maria@dapstl.org • 314-246-7049

Maria Rodgers O’Rourke serves Diversity Awareness Partnership as Communications and Marketing Manager. A specialist in nonprofit communications and marketing, she writes and develops high-impact image materials, websites, media kits, social media campaigns, and email marketing initiatives. Maria has over 25 years of experience in nonprofit management, and is also a freelance writer, blogger, and published author. A native of St. Louis, she’s been married to husband Steve O’Rourke of Microgrid Energy for 25 years and has two daughters.

Tanner Butler

Graphic Designer

Tanner Butler serves as the graphic designer for Diversity Awareness Partnership. He is currently finishing his bachelor’s degree in strategic communication and journalism at Maryville University. Tanner also serves as the editor-in-chief of Maryville’s online student publication, Pawprint. In his free time, Tanner likes to hike, play the piano, and write.