The Seven COB Nominees

To see the full list of applicants and everyone’s application, click here.

Here are the seven COB nominees as described by the St. Louis American , August 7, 2015:

The members:

Ciera Simril, 27, is a U.S. Bank teller and community activist in the 27th Ward. Her alderman, Chris Carter, recommended her for the position. Simril, who is African-American, said she facilitated the neighborhood ownership model since 2011 in the North Pointe Walnut Park East and Walnut Park West neighborhoods. She also received the Neighborhood Star, an award from police and the Circuit Attorney’s Office, for acting as an intermediary between police and neighborhood residents who were afraid to speak to officers. A University of Missouri St. Louis graduate, Simril interned with The St. Louis American and has written several columns on community issues.

Jane Abbott-Morris, 64, who is African-American, has been an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) specialist and investigator for 36 years, running her own business, Human Resources Select Services. A St. Louis native, she lives in the 6th Ward. Abbott-Morris helped to write the first EEO statute for the police department. Being from the civil rights generation, she said she would probably be out marching with the Ferguson movement if she were younger.

“I have always been into civil rights and human rights,” she told The St. Louis American. “This is my time to contribute in this way, in this time of my life. It suits my skillset, and I thought I could be an asset.”

DeBorah Ahmed, 59, is co-founder of Better Family Life, Inc. (BFL) and a longtime leader of community development and the arts. She currently is serving as an executive director of the BFL Cultural, Educational and Business Center. BFL has been a bedrock for job development in the black community, along with housing development.

Lawrence Johnson, 68, is a former lawyer and a 8th Ward resident. Johnson, who is African-American but has said he rejects identification of people by race, earned his law degree from Boston College Law School in 1975. Now retired, Johnson last worked for the Illinois Department of Human Services as a contracted “impartial hearing officer.” He is past president and current board member of the Shaw Neighborhood Improvement Association and was instrumental in leading and communicating with his neighborhood during civil unrest.

Bradley T. Arteaga, 49, is the owner of Arteaga Photos. Arteaga, who is white, is a board member on the Second District Police Business Association, which provides Christmas toys and scholarships to the police officers’ children. He is also past president of the Southtown Business Association and of the St. Louis Hill Neighborhood Association. He also started Eddie’s Southtown Donuts on Kingshighway Boulevard.

Arteaga told The American that he grew up in North St. Louis in the Baden neighborhood and still stays connected to that area. Alderwoman Donna Baringer, of the South Side 16th Ward, endorsed him.

Heather Highland, 39, is a criminal defense attorney for Fredman & Fredman P.C. since 2000 and lives in Dutchtown. Highland, who is Latina, was recommended by three aldermen – Megan Ellyia Green, Shane Cohn and Cara Spencer, as well as state Rep. Michael Colona and Associate Circuit Judge Michael W. Noble. As a lawyer, she said she has deposed and cross-examined police officers, as well as represented them in cases.

Highland, who is part of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, said she lost her “little sister” to gun violence three years ago in Gravois Park. The gunman is still at large because people are afraid to come forward with information, she said. Improving the relationship between police and the community is “deeply personal,” she said.

“We are so divisive,” she told the American. “It’s not how people in the city should live.”

Stephen Rovak, 67, is a white corporate lawyer and a Harvard Law grad. He is a former Judge Advocate General officer, with 30 years commissioned service in the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army, retiring from active reserves in 2000 with the rank of colonel. He’s the co-chair of the Mediation Committee of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR). CPR’s website says it’s a nonprofit “that helps global businesses prevent and resolve commercial disputes.” Alderwoman Lyda Krewson recommended him for the position.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *