Cultural Leadership Distinguished Alumni Award
The Distinguished Alumni Award was created in 2016 to acknowledge the work that our alumni are doing to create a more just and equitable community. The award honors Cultural Leadership alums who have demonstrated standing up, speaking out, and taking action on social justice issues, and embody the mission of Cultural Leadership – to create the next generation of civil rights leaders.
These alumni give a small glimpse into what the future can hold for our Cultural Leadership participants and graduates. Nominees embody Cultural Leadership’s mission, goals and cornerstones of social justice advocacy, leadership, stewardship and citizenship. The Distinguished Alumni Awards are given out annually and celebrated at our Signature Event in the fall.
Cultural Leadership’s Distinguished Alumni Award
Awardee Rachel Winston, a 2006 graduate of Cultural Leadership’s first High School Leadership Program class, has dedicated her life to the preservation of Black History. Her experience in Cultural Leadership, she says, helped her to first realize her passion “for upholding and celebrating the legacies of Black and marginalized communities.” She is a Ladue High School graduate, who then went on to earn her BA in anthropology from Davidson College, serve as a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs in St. Louis, and complete a Master of Science in Information Systems at the University of Texas at Austin (UT). She is an American Library Association Spectrum Scholar and a Society of American Archivists Harold T. Pinkett Award winner.  In 2017, Rachel was hired as the first Black Diaspora Archivist at UT.
Rachel recently co-curated a show at the George Washington Carver Museum, “Juntos/Together: Black and Brown Activism in Austin, Texas from 1970-1983.” The exhibit, shown here, embodies the mission of Cultural Leadership by bringing historic examples of cross-cultural solidarity into the present day. Winston hopes that “by showing the actions of those who came before” she can “inspire citizens today to stand against injustice and fight back against the issues facing minority communities.” Rachel has participated in Cultural Leadership alumni service projects, as well as served as Development Associate at Cultural Leadership. During the 2017 summer she volunteered to help prepare and travel with Class 12 students who received a special invitation to present at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.
Awardee Sara Swaty Roger, Kirkwood High School alum, graduated with Class 2 of Cultural Leadership’s High School Leadership Program in 2007. She has since earned a BFA in Photography from Rochester Institute of Technology and pursued a career in social impact photographic and journalistic arts. Her work explores identity, gender, and race. She seeks to expand what American society perceives as “normal,” as part of a broader mission to empower marginalized peoples. She has shown exhibitions that challenge normative identity in St. Louis, New York City, and Los Angeles. Sara’s photographs have been published by CNN, The Advocate, Conde Nast & the Women’s March Organizers, and the World Photography Organization. Currently, she has an exhibit as part of the Leslie Lohman Museum’s permanent collection.
Sara describes her experience in Cultural Leadership as formative. “Cultural Leadership showed me the power, influence, and importance that photography has over hearts and minds… it is a tool that can create empathy, record and preserve moments that represent the state of society, and share accessible stories across communities.” Her shows “Haley to Harrison: In Transition” and “Fragments of Ferguson,” shown together here, exemplify the Cultural Leadership way by capturing history as it happens and pushing the boundaries of diversity and inclusion. Over the years, Sara has volunteered her photography services to Cultural Leadership. Most notably she photographed portraits of Claudette Colvin and the late Dabney Montgomery, foot soldiers of the civil rights movement, and favorites of our students over the years.
Loren Cahill, Class 5; Maayan Simckes, Class 1
Matthew Kincaid, Class 2; Hannah Rosenthal, Class 5