Meet Karen and Sydney

Karen Sutherland and Sydney Thomas joined the Foundation in June. We are excited to have them on the team. Keep reading to get to know them better and find out what motivates their work at the Foundation.

What’s your name and what role are you taking on for the Foundation?

  • KS: My name is Karen Sutherland and I am the Operations Coordinator. I am responsible for managing our growing office, managing funds, and ensuring that the Foundation keeps strong relationships with our donors.
  • ST: My name is Sydney Thomas, and I am the Development and Communications Associate. I will be responsible for helping maximize the effectiveness of development team, supporting our ability to raise funds and effectively sharing about the work the Foundation is doing for all SLPS students.

What gives you energy in your day to day life & work? 

  • KS: My family. I have a three year old son and a three month old daughter who are my world. Understanding that the work of the Foundation will undoubtably impact their educational experiences one day, makes me that much more passionate.
  • ST: I didn’t know anyone when I moved to St. Louis (from Cincinnati), so meeting people is what brings me energy. I joined a group for young black professionals in the St. Louis area and hearing about their professional and personal goals energizes me to create and meet my own goals. 

Tell us one story that highlights why you care about education or why education is important to you.  

  • KS:  I have a newfound importance for education. With my oldest child, we needed to get additional services to make his classroom experiences beneficial to him. The process of going through the school district, identifying what his needs were and working with professional therapists reminded me how critical education is. I’m grateful to have the option to get support this early on.  
  • ST: I have been in the classroom as a teacher, and I’ve seen the need for the services the Foundation makes possible firsthand. This past year, two of my former second graders passed away, and I saw and experienced the need for mental health supports to help teachers, students, and families cope with grief.

Tell us one thing about yourself that isn’t on your resume: 

  • KS: I swam competitively until sophomore year of high school. My big brothers were both lifeguards so they taught me how to swim when I was pretty young. 
  • ST: I like to travel, and have been to at least twenty states.  My favorite trip was staying with a host family in Guatemala when I was in high school.  

What do you hope will be true in one year of this position? 

  • ST: I hope that we can expand our work to more students. We know the help is needed, so the more kids we reach, the better. 
  • KS: I want to help to improve systems and simplify practices at the Foundation to make it easier for Districts and school leaders to do what they do.

Karen Sutherland-Operations Coordinator

Sydney Thomas-Development and Communications Associate

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