This page is under construction. Our scholars share what they are doing now and how CFPI influenced and inspired them. Meet Linde, Kaitlyn and Robert.

Linde Parcels

Health Scientist (Policy & Issues Management)

Q: Where do you work and what do you do?
A: I work at the CDC with the National Center for Environmental Health, Division of Laboratory Sciences and soon I will be transitioning to the Center for Preparedness and Response, Office of Policy, Planning, and Evaluation as a Policy Advisor. In my current position I work on a small team of 3 people to support all of the policy and partnership activities for the Division of Laboratory Sciences. The Division works to improve the detection, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of environmental, tobacco-related, nutritional, newborn, and selected chronic and infectious diseases. The laboratories work to improve the rapid and accurate detection of chemical threat agents, radiologic threat agents, and selected toxins. The Division has about 400 scientists working across 26 laboratories with an operating budget of more than $100 million per year.

I support a diverse portfolio of activities, coordinate appropriate and strategic partnerships, maintain a public facing website and develop comprehensive communication materials curated for both targeted and broad audiences. I formerly functioned as a liaison for my Division with the CDC Foundation – a mechanism for facilitating financial relationships for public health projects aligned with our objectives but unfunded by appropriations. Currently, my duties include collecting and translating annual performance metrics and accomplishments for various stakeholders as well as for use in our annual budget justification process for congress. I also recently completed the CDC Project Officer Certificate program and serve as the lead project officer for a $25 million, five-year grant with 6 state public health laboratories conducting biomonitoring (measuring environmental and chemical exposures in people in at-risk jurisdictions) to expand their capacity to investigate exposures of concern in their states.

Q: What is your favorite thing about your career?
A: I enjoy the wide variety of topics that I get to cover and the challenge of accurately communicating highly technical and scientific achievements to different audiences and conveying the public health impact of the laboratories. It’s extremely gratifying to apply the insight I gain from being close to the science and laboratory programs in a way that elevates the importance of their work to external policymakers and partners that are critical to the sustainability of their efforts. The ad hoc issues management aspect of the job is also exciting. I may draft a response to an inquiry on a group of pesticides one day and then advocate for a laboratory response network for radiologic or chemical threats the next. In a broader sense, there are opportunities for mobility, advancement, and significant responsibility as a policy professional at the CDC. I am grateful for the opportunity to gain new public health expertise under strong leaders and mentors and in multiple different centers over the course of my career in public health. The chance to have a meaningful role in major policy and strategic planning for public health at the CDC is bar none.

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?
A: I’ve produced a lot of different communication documents – 2-pagers, presentations, webpages, program summaries, etc. that are widely used by the Division and shared with CDC leadership during program reviews or updates. Seeing my products put to use is very fulfilling. This may sound mundane, but I’m also very proud of the records management practice I’ve established for our team. In the background I maintain a very organized system of our most important content and records as well as routinely updated tracking documents with valuable and frequently referenced information. These kinds of contributions may go unnoticed by many, but serve a critical role in the functionality of our team by reducing burden and improving the accuracy and responsiveness of our communications. Lastly, I’m really proud of the relationships I’ve built. I appreciate the importance of strong working relationships with my immediate team, my colleagues in the laboratories, cross agency network, and external partners. Building trust and camaraderie with these folks greatly improves the efficiency and progress towards collective goals and makes all of the work more enjoyable as well.

Q: What did you do when you were in Clark-Fox Policy Institute?
A: I had an early opportunity to play a role in the development of the Clark-Fox Policy Scholars Program, the website, policy briefs, and a campaign bootcamp just to name a few things.

Q: What lessons or wisdom from Clark-Fox Policy Institute do you still carry with you and pass on to others today?
A: I will forever be thankful for personal and professional growth I gained while working with Atia Thurman. She is a powerful, resilient, compassionate person with vision accompanied by quality delivery of programmatic and strategic outputs. She was thoughtful and creative in her efforts to build up the Clark-Fox Policy Institute in its infancy and engage key community partners and stakeholders.

On a more professional skills note – having a front row seat to the early development of CFPI and the Graduate Policy Scholars program was helpful for my learning and understanding of the kinds of foundation that needs to be established to see sustained success and I’ve carried that experience with me into many situations in my time at CDC as we are constantly evolving and creating new efforts. From a technical perspective, I gained a LOT of skills in website development (WordPress and HTML) as I helped build the first iteration of the CFPI website. Since then, I’ve created a SharePoint site for our state biomonitoring programs and expanded my software skills, something I don’t think I would have felt as empowered to do without that first experience creating the Clark-Fox Policy Institute website.

Q: Do you have any great stories from your time at Clark-Fox Policy Institute?
A: When the city of St. Louis voted on a new mayor in 2017 for the first time in 16 years, the Clark-Fox Policy Institute co-sponsored a mayoral forum that allowed concerned voters to hear directly from the candidates on issues facing the city. We were part of a group of leaders from major organizations that were “movers” in St. Louis for public health, equity, and justice. I had an opportunity to sit at that table and help facilitate and document those meetings where the questions and format of the forum was decided based on the Forward Through Ferguson report. It was incredibly inspiring and I learned a lot about community organizing, the benefits of gathering local leaders, and initiating thoughtful engagement with political leaders. https://clarkfoxpolicyinstitute.wustl.edu/st-louis-mayoral-forum-2017/

Q: What advice would you give your 18 year old self?
A: I look back and see someone who hadn’t quite figured out what they wanted to do but decided to push forward anyways and I’m proud of her for jumping at so many different experiences and jobs. But I do worry that I missed some really great learning moments in the hustle and I overlooked a lot of chances to truly be present, listen, and absorb information from highly impactful people and courses. I think I would tell her to pause every now and then and reflect on the things that were bringing the most joy and filling her cup and to prioritize and select commitments more carefully so she could be more present and soak in special learning moments. So many of my experiences then are a blur to me now, and while I believe having a huge breadth of work and internship opportunities continued to open doors for me as I pursued a career, I also missed a lot in the constant grind.

Q: What practice would you most want to see become policy in our society?
A: This is going to sound a bit nebulous, but I’d really like to see our nation improve our public health data systems. The current data landscape for health and wellness in this country is fractured and unequal. It would be great to see an increased investment in modernized data systems with a policy that allows for interconnectedness of information and real-time access to data that is harmonized across the board and that accurately collects comprehensive information from the source (e.g. full demographic data – race, SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity), income, incarcerated, without housing, etc.). While of course balancing the need to protect personal data and keep systems secure. It’s a very tall order – but you asked!

Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: Thank you for the chance to share my experiences! I look forward to reading others’ in this series and am happy to connect with emerging leaders and professionals. I am working on improving my ability to offer thoughtful insight and mentorship, not just obtuse pragmatic candor – it’s not something that comes naturally to me and I welcome the chance to practice more!

Q: Can we add a link to your company or foundation website? If so, what is it?
A: This is where I work now and have worked at since 2018: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/dls/index.html
• Here are a few documents I made on the website if anyone has interest!
o https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/dls/pdf/DLS_2020_Accomplishments-508.pdf
o https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/pdf/Biomonitoring_Factsheet.pdf
o https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/dls/pdf/306812-A_20thAnniversary.pdf
o https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/dls/pdf/306812-A.pdf
• This is program I am the lead project officer for: https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/state_grants.html
And this is where I will be transitioning to in the coming months! Center for Preparedness and Response
https://www.cdc.gov/cpr/index.htm


Robert Sagastume

MSW, MSP, Senior Family College Prep Program Advisor (he/they)

Q: Where do you work and what do you do?
Robert: I work for the Hispanic Development Fund through the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. My family and academic advising support in centered in students who are seeking opportunities in postsecondary education and alternative pathways once they have finalized their high school studies. My expertise has been solidified throughout time through my own personal and professional experiences. As a former undocumented immigrant, member of the LGBTQIA+ community, and first – generation college graduate, I provide a wealth of knowledge on systematic barriers that are faced by some of the students and families I support at the intersection of their identities and the attainment of higher education processes.

Q: What is your favorite thing about your career?
A:There is a lot to like about my profession and what I have been able to accomplish. However, the one thing that always stands out for me in the relationships I have been able to build throughout my career. These relationships have been important because through them I have been able to support one another, and this type of support continues to grow every opportunity I have to meet someone new. Often, I come across individuals with different goals, interests, and aspirations who take me on their journey and often invited to guide them as they try to maximize their own potential. I personally find beauty on the connections I have been able to make and knowingly they will last for a long time.

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?
A: My proudest accomplishment is every opportunity I get to break down systematic barriers with-and-for undocumented student and their families. When I started my own journey to get my postsecondary degree no one had a clue what to do with me or how to best support me. I know possess my own personal experiences that help me better support students and their families who might be in a similar situation I found myself when I started my program.

Q: What did you do when you were in Clark-Fox Policy Institute?
A: When I was part of their first cohort and that gave me a lot of freedom to do some of the work I was personally invested. I did a training on phone banking regarding an in-state tuition bill to allow undocumented students pay for in-state tuition. Simultaneously, I was able to secure a position with Representative Lauran Arthur in Jefferson City. I was also able to conduct small conversations within my cohort about immigration issues that affected my community.

Q: What lessons or wisdom from Clark-Fox Policy Institute do you still carry with you and pass on to others today?
A: Advocacy can be shaped through passion, evidence-based research, and most importantly someone who cares about something or someone. My work is not directly developing policy briefs or directly speaking with individuals who are making policy decisions. However, every day I show up with a student I engage in advocacy ensuring that person I am working with and for have an opportunity to voice what matter and is more important to them.

Q: Do you have any great stories from your time at Clark-Fox Policy Institute?
A: I don’t know if this makes a great story or not. However, at some point through an opportunity I had as an intern with the Clark-Fox Policy Institute I had to pause for a moment and luckily, I had Atia Thurman and Gary Parker, who sat with me and basically do an intervention and check on me. This moment changed my life because I was at the lowest in my academic journey. I was exhausted and they noticed something was different about me. They helped me realized that I cannot be performing at 100% all the time and that it is ok to make errors and be responsible for my own wellbeing. This also allowed me to reflect and think about how I would like to show up in my efforts to engage in advocacy work. Having them as mentors changed my life and I always continue to go back to that moment to reset myself when I am feeling overwhelmed.

Q8: What advice would you give your 18 year old self?
A: Be patient and kind to yourself.

Q: What practice would you most want to see become policy in our society?
A: I just want policy to serve our society in the most humane way that it can be applied to ensure the quality of live of communities who have been underserved or represented are much equitable for a prosperous life.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: The only thing that I would like to say is that I do see myself running at some point in my life first as a school board in the Kansas City metropolitan area and right after that the interest to run for state representative in Missouri is an aspiration that holds strong within my heart. I hope that one day I can get to do this – this is something that was solidified through the opportunities I had at the Clark-Fox Policy Institute and for this and many more things I will be forever thankful.

Q: Can we add a link to your company or foundation website? If so, what is it?
A: Absolutely, www.hdfkc.org


Kaitlyn Sprague

Senior Assistant Bank Examiner

Q1: What is your name and title?
A: Kaitlyn Sprague, Senior Assistant Bank Examiner

Q2: Where do you work and what do you do?
A: I work at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis as a Consumer Affairs Senior Assistant Bank Examiner. I examine banks within the district to ensure that they are complying with laws regarding consumer protection, community development, and fair lending.

Q3: What is your favorite thing about your career?
A: I love that I have ample opportunities to learn and develop a lot of expertise in specific areas. I am beginning to specialize in the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), which is the federal law that requires banks to meet the credit needs of their local communities, including those that are low- to moderate-income.

Q4: What is your proudest accomplishment?
A: My proudest accomplishment is currently in progress. The Community Reinvestment Act was enacted in the 70s and hasn’t undergone a major change since the 90s. Right now, there is a massive modernization of the law underway to reflect the seismic changes in technology, banking, and communities that have occurred since then. Right now I am analyzing the modernization proposal, while considering the needs of various stakeholders (communities, banks, regulators). The opportunity to have even the smallest influence on such an impactful law is really exciting.

Q5: What did you do when you were in Clark-Fox Policy Institute?
A: I was a Masters Research Fellow while I was pursuing my joint MSW/MBA. In that role, I conducted research on policies affecting the well-being of children and families. I would then translate that research into policy briefs and opinion editorials. I also coordinated conferences and a congressional briefing in Washington D.C. on human trafficking legislation.

Q6: What lessons or wisdom from Clark-Fox Policy Institute do you still carry with you and pass on to others today?
A: At CFPI, I learned how quickly policies and the public’s perception on them can change. If I waited an extra day to publish a policy brief, it could become outdated. It taught me to work fast with the information you have and to always be ready to adapt or pivot.

Q7: Do you have any great stories from your time at Clark-Fox Policy Institute?
A: Working with Atia and Gary was always a good time and I learned a lot about the skills needed to succeed in this career field from them. I found the events where we convened broad groups of people together to discuss specific policy issues like the opioid crisis or human trafficking to be really exciting and rewarding. The conversations were always so engaging that the time would fly by.

Q8: What advice would you give your 18 year old self?
A: As the first person in my family to go college, the question of what I was going to do post-graduation loomed heavy. I was so focused on getting myself to college, that I really had no idea what to do once I was there, which I think is common. I had a very limited understanding of what professional jobs were and how you got them. So my advice to my 18-year-old self would be: “there are so many careers that you don’t even know exist. Accept that uncertainty and focus your time and energy on developing broad skills and cultivating your interests. It will all work out if you stay motivated and open-minded.”

Q9: What practice would you most want to see become policy in our society?
A: In general, I think that policy needs to become more agile to reflect rapid technological changes.

Q10: Anything else you would like to add?
A: A career in bank examining isn’t a career that many people with a social work and policy background are familiar with, but I think it can be a great fit. Above all, we are looking for people that can think critically and work collaboratively. Those are skills I strengthened while at the Clark Fox Policy Institute.

Q11: Can we add a link to your company or foundation website? If so, what is it?
A: stlouisfed.org