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St. Louis Equity in Entrepreneurship Collective Adds Hayley Johnston as Full-Time Coordinator

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

Johnston joins the regional initiative to bring about equitable change to the ecosystem within which entrepreneurs reside and work.

The St. Louis Equity in Entrepreneurship Collective (STLEEC) announces and welcomes Hayley Johnston as the first full-time Coordinator of the Collective. In this role, Hayley will support our new Director, LaShana Lewis, with strategies to reach a vision, that in the St. Louis region, an entrepreneur’s success will not be pre-determined by their race or gender.

Hayley has been immersed in the St. Louis Innovation Ecosystem since 2017 serving as the Director of Gateway Venturing Mentoring Service, the Administrator for the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Pro Bono Program, and most recently as the Program Coordinator at ITEN. Having the experiences of starting several businesses herself and growing up with entrepreneurial parents, she understands first-hand what is needed to grow and succeed when launching a new venture. She is a board member of the Benton Park Dog Park, a nonprofit dog park she helped to establish in her neighborhood.

Hayley has a Masters of Social Work with a focus in Social and Economic Development and Policy from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis and a Bachelor in Social Work from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana.

LaShana Lewis, Director of STLEEC, said, “Hayley and I have worked together within the St. Louis entrepreneurial ecosystem in the recent past. I believe many of her skills and connections serve as a great asset, and I can't wait to work with her to continue our initiatives. Her passion for equity has been evident throughout her career, and I look forward to her bringing that same energy to the Collective." In 2016, BioSTL launched the St. Louis Equity in Entrepreneurship Collective with 11 entrepreneur support organizations to create a first-of-its-kind regional collaborative effort focused on ensuring equitable systems to support entrepreneurs who are women and/or minorities.

After receiving a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation at the end of 2016, STLEEC held The St. Louis Equity in Entrepreneurship Summit to brainstorm ecosystem solutions from 150 participants. The Summit resulted in the creation of four action committees focused on: access to resources, measuring and sharing data, diversifying networks, and ecosystem navigation.

As the initial stages of the Collective are moving to a more sustainable format, BioSTL will still actively manage finances and play a lead role among its peers and partners in ensuring success and sustainability of the Collective but will take a more ‘backstage’ approach to this leadership, empowering others to advance equity-related work in the ecosystem.

“My background in Social Work is what first inspired me to attend the Summit on Equity hosted by the Collective in 2017. From there, I volunteered with the Data Collective and eventually joined the Planning Task Force. I am so excited to be given the opportunity to do such important work alongside LaShana and the rest of the Collective supporters,” said Hayley.

About The St. Louis Equity in Entrepreneurship Collective

The St. Louis’ Equity in Entrepreneurship Collective is a regional effort working to ensure that systems built to support new entrepreneurs operate equitably, especially related to race and gender. The Collective is made up of over 300 individuals from organizations that mentor, fund and champion entrepreneurs in St. Louis. For more information and to join the initiative, visit:

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