Newest class of Coro Fellows making an impact in St. Louis region

by | Mar 11, 2024

Ian Trapp, Molly Sheridan, Noah Pellettieri, Lauren Serfas, Rosa Parks, Cathy Zhu, Tom Byron and Maxine Gill have been working and learning in placements throughout the area since September.
2023-24 St. Louis Coro Fellows Ian Trapp, Molly Sheridan, Noah Pellettieri, Lauren Serfas, Rosa Parks, Cathy Zhu, Tom Byron and Maxine Gill

(From left) Ian Trapp, Molly Sheridan, Noah Pellettieri, Lauren Serfas, Rosa Parks, Cathy Zhu, Tom Byron and Maxine Gill make up the 2023-24 class of St. Louis Coro Fellows. (Photo by Derik Holtmann)

The St. Louis Coro Fellows Program has a history of developing emerging leaders to work and lead in government, business and nonprofits that spans five decades.

St. Louis Coro Fellows Rosa Parks, Molly Sheridan, Cathy Zhu, Lauren Serfas, Maxine Gill, Ian Trapp, Tom Byron and Noah Pellettieri with St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones

St. Louis Coro Fellows Rosa Parks, Molly Sheridan, Cathy Zhu, Lauren Serfas, Maxine Gill, Ian Trapp, Tom Byron and Noah Pellettieri met with St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones (center) in her office in City Hall. (Photo courtesy of St. Louis Coro Fellows)

It had a two-year hiatus but was revived in 2021 and has been housed in the Community Innovation and Action Center at the University of Missouri–St. Louis since then.

The eight fellows in this year’s cohort have been working and learning in placements at the Mayor’s Office, the Treasurer’s Office and the Board of Aldermen President’s Office in the City of St. Louis; the St. Louis Public Schools Foundation; the Missouri Charter Public School Association; BioSTL; the Cortex Innovation District; North County Inc.; and The SoulFisher Ministries, among others, since starting the program last September. They’re due to contribute roughly 10,000 hours combined working on different high-impact projects throughout their nine months in the program.

“It’s been very challenging for them, but ultimately, they’re growing and they’re doing some really impactful work around St. Louis,” said Coro Fellows trainer Danijela Bule, herself a Coro alum who completed the program in 2022. “Beyond just a network of really dedicated alums and opportunities out in the world, I hope they leave with a deeper sense of self and knowing what they want in this life and who they want to be.”

Meet the fellows:

Tom ByronTom Byron, Arlington, Virginia

Byron earned his degree in political science from Colorado College in 2023. He has experience in political campaign management, writing and field organizing, having worked as the campus organizing director for the Colorado Democratic Coordinated Campaign. He also served as an emerging fellow with The Roosevelt Institute in New York, where he wrote and published a policy brief on worker cooperatives in Colorado that focused on loan support programs. Through Coro, Byron is hoping to gain experience with different kinds of public service and learn about the St. Louis region.

Rosa ParksRosa Parks, St. Louis

Parks is a graduate of Agnes Scott College and earned a degree in political science in 2023. She has experience in journalism, grassroots organizing and political advocacy. She worked as an editorial intern at Ballotpedia, where she worked alongside people with differing political views to create nonpartisan news about politics. Through Coro, Parks is hoping to learn how to think critically about and engage with different sectors and different people through a social justice lens.

Lauren SerfasLauren Serfas, Edwardsville, Illinois

Serfas graduated from Santa Clara University with a degree in bioengineering in 2020. She has experience in healthcare IT, international social entrepreneurship and Catholic religious life. She’s spent time in Uruguay, where she provided support to migrants, unhoused individuals and underprivileged children, and in Rwanda, where she offered insight, support and direction to a religious congregation starting a poultry social enterprise. Through Coro, Serfas hopes to engage different perspectives to help foster a sense of unity in our country, world and the Catholic Church.

Ian TrappIan Trapp, Manhattan, Kansas

Trapp earned his degree in political science from Washburn University in 2021. He has experience in local and state politics, having worked in the offices of both Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla and Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, and has also been involved in youth outreach and education through his participation in Teach for America. Through Coro, Trapp aims to grow his knowledge of collaborating with diverse communities, shaping policy and creating positive change.

Molly SheridanMolly Sheridan, St. Louis

Sheridan earned a degree in political science and business with a minor in international studies focusing on global health at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, in 2023. She has experience in public relations, food research and education access and has completed educational opportunities abroad in Switzerland, Croatia and Uzbekistan. Through Coro, Sheridan is hoping to advocate for the right to culturally informed medical care and equitable access to food.

Noah PellettieriNoah Pellettieri, New York

Pellettieri graduated with a degree in political science and history from Macalester College in 2023. He has experience in environmental advocacy, grassroots organizing and critical writing gained through two years working as a political consultant with the Environmental Defense Fund. He worked with the national nonprofit organization to raise awareness of environmental issues throughout the Midwest. Through Coro, Pellettieri would like to learn more about the tools to make positive change in his community and gain exposure to potential future career paths and interests.

Cathy ZhuCathy Zhu, New York

Zhu is a graduate of Haverford College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and anthropology and a minor in Asian American Studies, which she earned in 2023. She has experience in youth advocacy and education, economic development and grassroots organizing. She’s worked on issues such as domestic violence, transportation and creating economic opportunity for refugees. Through Coro, Zhu hopes to gain more knowledge and experience in sectors that she is unfamiliar with and explore how her passion for mental health and racial justice can be applied in those areas.

Maxine GillMaxine Gill, San Francisco

Gill graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in environmental policy and a minor in Hebrew in 2023. She has experience in environmental justice work and political advocacy. Through Coro, Gill is hoping to gain both a broad and deep understanding of how different sectors interact in the world of public affairs, experience diverse facets of the St. Louis area and hone a variety of skills to be able to serve any community she steps into with skill and expertise.

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Steve Walentik

Steve Walentik

Eye on UMSL: Tending the gardens
Eye on UMSL: Tending the gardens

Biology student James Ott and Sustainable Energy & Environmental Coordinator Katy Mike Smaistrla pull weeds last week in the native gardens north of the Recreation Wellness Center.

Eye on UMSL: Tending the gardens

Biology student James Ott and Sustainable Energy & Environmental Coordinator Katy Mike Smaistrla pull weeds last week in the native gardens north of the Recreation Wellness Center.

Eye on UMSL: Tending the gardens

Biology student James Ott and Sustainable Energy & Environmental Coordinator Katy Mike Smaistrla pull weeds last week in the native gardens north of the Recreation Wellness Center.