Leadership

  • Tom Purcell

    President, Executive/Finance Committee Chair, Fundraising Committee Chair

    Tom Purcell

    President, Executive/Finance Committee Chair, Fundraising Committee Chair
    Tom Purcell has been involved in community decision making for over 50 years. Prior to these activities, he served in the Peace Corps in India, the United States Marine Corps Reserve, rising to the rank of Captain, and in America's Poverty Program. He also has received two Master degrees in Urban Affairs and Business Administration from Saint Louis University. He Led the development effort for the Laclede's Landing from 1976 to 2003, during which time over 3,000 jobs were created and over $200,000,000 of public and private capital was invested. Tom Purcell has served on more than 45 boards of government, non-profit, and business organizations. Finally, he has also been involved in the renewal of St. Louis neighborhoods, including the Riverfront, Shaw, Downtown, and Carondelet.
    As the city of St. Louis continued to change in population and economic purpose, it became obvious that education even more important if the city was to have a vibrant and meaningful future for its residents. It also became clear that a 3rd party organization could play a role in assisting the various elementary school systems active in the St. Louis community in providing a 21st century education to achieve their goals. The areas of focus of this new 3rd party organization, The Green House Venture, would be bioscience/aquaponics, urban agriculture, and nutrition and dietetics. The Venture would involve the area's universities, high schools, and elementary talent evident in existing educational institutions in a partnership framework to achieve its program goals. Saint Louis University professor and Vice President of the GHV Donald Stump and I have been involved in this unique process, him as the leader in curriculum programs, and I as the leader in organization and development process for over seven years. The Green House Venture has been very fortunate to have a sustained involvement of talented volunteers active in the board and committee levels of the organization. It has been the most challenging, enjoyable, and rewarding activity I have experienced in the St. Louis community in the last 50 years.
  • Donald Stump

    Vice President, Program/Curriculum Committee Chair

    Donald Stump

    Vice President, Program/Curriculum Committee Chair
    Donald Stump received his B.A. from Grinnell College, with concentrations in Biology and English literature. He pursued his Ph.D.in English at Cornell University. Before coming to Saint Louis University in 1992, he taught at Colgate University, Virginia Tech, and Notre Dame. Until 2017, Donald Stump directed the Micah Program at SLU, the largest undergraduate academic program and learning community in the nation focused on the study and practice of long-term approaches to urban poverty. Dr. Stump is also a Professor of English. He has served at SLU as Associate Provost for Undergraduate Affairs and as President of the Arts and Sciences Faculty Council. From 2011-2015, Dr. Stump headed up a university working group of faculty and administrators to design an education and outreach greenhouse to teach science and improve nutrition for under-served elementary-school students. He also secured funding and headed up creation of the SLU Aquaponics Lab as a firsts step in preparing to build such a facility. With shared goals and ideas in mind, he joined with Tom Purcell in founding the Green House Venture in 2015. Since then, Dr. Stump has headed up curriculum development for the Venture and has been closely involved in the process of designing its Education Center.
    "Every child we work with has a mind with more creative potential than the most powerful supercomputers on the planet. Our job is to spark curiosity and light up the imagination so that learning becomes a pleasure, delight leads to lives of investigation, and discovery brings benefits to us all."
  • Jack Connaghan

    Secretary

    Jack Connaghan

    Secretary
    Jack Connaghan is the Secretary of the Board of Directors for the Green House Venture. After graduating from Saint Louis University with a degree in Communication, Jack started out at the GHV by watering plants and picking up trash at the Terrace Garden. Before long, Jack involved himself in the creation of promotional material for the GHV's social media pages, eventually becoming the primary contributor to those platforms. When the previous Secretary for the Board stepped down, Jack was asked to contribute to the GHV Board of Directors by serving as the new Secretary. He maintains all of these services today. You can still find Jack at the Terrace Garden watering our plants!
    "The Green House Venture is special to me because of its potential to reach far beyond the confines of our little neighborhood, or maybe even our city. Through the use of online classes at our future Education Center, I hope we can reach students and classrooms that don't otherwise have access to this kind of teaching."
  • Dennis Purkis, CPA

    Treasurer

    Dennis Purkis, CPA

    Treasurer
    Dennis has over 23 years of experience providing accounting tax and advisory services to not‐for‐profits, businesses, start‐ups, and individuals. His expertise is rooted in providing accounting, auditing, and consulting services and has evolved over the past ten years to focus on financial statement review, compilation, and preparation services; individual, business, and exempt entity tax services; QuickBooks implementation, training, and advising; outsourced accounting; and on‐site and remote controllership services. He is passionate about assisting clients with their accounting, reporting, and compliance needs and enjoys advising clients on recent developments, process controls and efficiencies.

    PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS

    • Member, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
    • Member, Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants (MOCPA)
    • Former Board Member, St. Louis Chapter President, and Accounting and Auditing Committee Chair  Recurring author of articles in The Asset, the official publication of the MOCPA. COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT Cornerstone Center for Early Learning – Finance Committee Former Board Member,
    • American Lung Association – Missouri
    • Former Chair, Fight For Air Climb Committee

    EDUCATION & CERTIFICATION -B.S., Business Administration – Accounting, SE Missouri State University Certified Public Accountant (CPA), State of Missouri

    The Green House Venture recently added another exceptional member to our Board of Directors. He’s Dennis Purkis, who also now serves as the Venture’s new Treasurer. Dennis has over 23 years of experience providing accounting tax and advisory services to not‐for‐profits, businesses, start‐ups, and individuals. His expertise is rooted in accounting, auditing, and consulting services that have grown and evolved over the years to support his clients in virtually every aspect of financial management, as well as process controls and operating efficiencies.
    “I am excited to be part of a very unique and interesting concept that brings collaboration and scale to schools and students in the community,” says Dennis about the Green House Venture. “Much effort has been made to establish this outstanding program, and I am honored to be afforded the opportunity to contribute as the GHV pursues the vision of a STEM Education Center in the heart of the City.”

Finance

  • Tom Purcell

    President, Executive/Finance Committee Chair, Fundraising Committee Chair

    Tom Purcell

    President, Executive/Finance Committee Chair, Fundraising Committee Chair
    Tom Purcell has been involved in community decision making for over 50 years. Prior to these activities, he served in the Peace Corps in India, the United States Marine Corps Reserve, rising to the rank of Captain, and in America's Poverty Program. He also has received two Master degrees in Urban Affairs and Business Administration from Saint Louis University. He Led the development effort for the Laclede's Landing from 1976 to 2003, during which time over 3,000 jobs were created and over $200,000,000 of public and private capital was invested. Tom Purcell has served on more than 45 boards of government, non-profit, and business organizations. Finally, he has also been involved in the renewal of St. Louis neighborhoods, including the Riverfront, Shaw, Downtown, and Carondelet.
    As the city of St. Louis continued to change in population and economic purpose, it became obvious that education even more important if the city was to have a vibrant and meaningful future for its residents. It also became clear that a 3rd party organization could play a role in assisting the various elementary school systems active in the St. Louis community in providing a 21st century education to achieve their goals. The areas of focus of this new 3rd party organization, The Green House Venture, would be bioscience/aquaponics, urban agriculture, and nutrition and dietetics. The Venture would involve the area's universities, high schools, and elementary talent evident in existing educational institutions in a partnership framework to achieve its program goals. Saint Louis University professor and Vice President of the GHV Donald Stump and I have been involved in this unique process, him as the leader in curriculum programs, and I as the leader in organization and development process for over seven years. The Green House Venture has been very fortunate to have a sustained involvement of talented volunteers active in the board and committee levels of the organization. It has been the most challenging, enjoyable, and rewarding activity I have experienced in the St. Louis community in the last 50 years.
  • Dennis Purkis, CPA

    Treasurer

    Dennis Purkis, CPA

    Treasurer
    Dennis has over 23 years of experience providing accounting tax and advisory services to not‐for‐profits, businesses, start‐ups, and individuals. His expertise is rooted in providing accounting, auditing, and consulting services and has evolved over the past ten years to focus on financial statement review, compilation, and preparation services; individual, business, and exempt entity tax services; QuickBooks implementation, training, and advising; outsourced accounting; and on‐site and remote controllership services. He is passionate about assisting clients with their accounting, reporting, and compliance needs and enjoys advising clients on recent developments, process controls and efficiencies.

    PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS

    • Member, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
    • Member, Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants (MOCPA)
    • Former Board Member, St. Louis Chapter President, and Accounting and Auditing Committee Chair  Recurring author of articles in The Asset, the official publication of the MOCPA. COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT Cornerstone Center for Early Learning – Finance Committee Former Board Member,
    • American Lung Association – Missouri
    • Former Chair, Fight For Air Climb Committee

    EDUCATION & CERTIFICATION -B.S., Business Administration – Accounting, SE Missouri State University Certified Public Accountant (CPA), State of Missouri

    The Green House Venture recently added another exceptional member to our Board of Directors. He’s Dennis Purkis, who also now serves as the Venture’s new Treasurer. Dennis has over 23 years of experience providing accounting tax and advisory services to not‐for‐profits, businesses, start‐ups, and individuals. His expertise is rooted in accounting, auditing, and consulting services that have grown and evolved over the years to support his clients in virtually every aspect of financial management, as well as process controls and operating efficiencies.
    “I am excited to be part of a very unique and interesting concept that brings collaboration and scale to schools and students in the community,” says Dennis about the Green House Venture. “Much effort has been made to establish this outstanding program, and I am honored to be afforded the opportunity to contribute as the GHV pursues the vision of a STEM Education Center in the heart of the City.”

Education

  • Bill Anderson

    Director

    Bill Anderson

    Director
    I have been teaching chemistry and environmental science at St. Louis University High School for 35 years. I am also the Garden Director and serve on the Sustainability Committee at SLUH. I serve on the Advisory Committee to the Grow Exhibit at the St. Louis Science Center. I am currently serving on the St. Louis University 2018 Climate Summit Planning Committee on the Education and Outreach Subcommittee. I am a past chair of Science Department at St. Louis U. High. In 2016 I was awarded a grant from the Toshiba America Foundation to establish a multiyear study of the atmosphere using biannual weather balloon launches to gather data. I have been involved for several years with the International Jesuit Ecology Project and Loyola University of Chicago in the development, testing, and promotion of the Healing Earth text book. The Green House Venture is one of the most exciting educational endeavors that I have seen and I am delighted to be be able to be a part of this program. Too many students lose interest in science at an early age and we need to do everything we can to insure that all of our youth have a positive experience with science that keeps them interest, enthused, and excited about pursing science. This enthusiasm for and understanding of science may open educational and career opportunities for these students as well as helping them grow as informed participants in their communities in a world that is more and more science and technology driven. The Green House Venture gets the students actively engaged in doing quality, real world science as well as exposing them to older students and adults involved in science related careers at all levels.
  • Sanjiv Bhatia

    Director

    Sanjiv Bhatia

    Director
    Dr. Sanjiv Bhatia works as Professor of Computer Science in the University of Missouri -- St. Louis. His primary areas of research include Computer Vision, Image Databases, Digital Image Processing, Satellite Imagery Analysis, and Algorithms. He has published a number of articles in those areas. He has consulted extensively with industry for commercial and military applications of computer vision, and built complex products and systems. He is also an expert in system programming and has worked on a few real-time and embedded applications. He serves on the organizing committee of a number of conferences and on the editorial board of a few journals. He has taught a broad range of courses in computer science at both undergraduate and graduate levels, and has been the recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. He is a senior member of ACM.
    I am excited to be part of the GHV program to generate excitement about STEM in the next generation.
  • Elizabeth Boedeker

    Director

    Elizabeth Boedeker

    Director
    Ms. Boedeker is a molecular biologist with nearly 33 years of laboratory experience in both academic and industry settings. She started teaching as an adjunct faculty member in the biotechnology program of St. Louis Community College in 2004, initially designing and teaching a specialized topics course in forensics. She joined St. Louis Community College full time as the Coordinator of the BioBench Contract Research Organization initiated there in 2009. In mid-2019, she moved into the District Directorship of the Center for Plant and Life Science. She developed one of the more popular advanced topics courses for the Biotechnology program called Quantitative PCR methods, which includes training on droplet digital technologies along with expression analysis using qPCR. Program students along with industry scientists seeking training take this course side by side and learn many of the nuances associated qPCR, including proper experimental controls and data analysis concepts. The course cumulates with a gene expression-based study with lab work, a project paper and short presentation on the findings. Additionally, she is the P.I. on a current NSF grant, where she and her team are generating relevant curriculum in genome editing with extensive input from the local industry. She remains adjunct faculty and enjoys teaching various program courses and interacting with the biotechnology students. By her interactive relationship with industry in the St. Louis region, she can place the majority of students with companies for their workplace learning experience, and is delighted that about 30% of the time, this leads to full time employment directly from that placement. She continues to work with many industry and economic development partners to address equity and workforce needs of the region.
    In education at the college level, I realize how essential it is to ignite interest and love of science at an early age.  The only way to do that is to provide exposure.  Not everyone will love science, but allowing student exploration at a young age can capture those who will and allow them to flourish.  GHV provided much needed outreach around agriculture and plants, and the new center underway will teach so many more kids about science, plants and their importance in our world!  I am honored to be a part of this project and team.
  • Christine Burke

    Director

    Christine Burke

    Director
    Interim Principal St. Margaret of Scotland School After 17 years of teaching at St. Margaret of Scotland School, I transitioned to assistant principal in 2020. As interim principal, I’m looking forward to taking an active role in the Green House Venture. I see it as not only an opportunity to bring our communities together but as a way to educate and explore science in a more real-world environment. My hope is that through promoting the Green House Venture program, we can help create future leaders, problem-solvers, and scientists. Our vision is to expand the educational experiences of students in the St. Louis City area and empower them, teach them, and have them share that knowledge and passion with others.
    "The Green House Venture is a unique collaborative partnership aimed to bring together diverse schools and provide educational opportunities for students. The main purpose is to grow our students' knowledge of urban agriculture with real-world, hands-on, engaging activities while helping them develop a love of Science."
  • Kelli Casper

    Director

    Kelli Casper

    Director
    Mrs. Kelli Casper is the newly appointed Principal at Mullanphy - Botanical Garden ILC. She has worked in the St. Louis Public School district since 2004 as a teacher, instructional coach and administrator. Mrs. Casper is passionate about creating a learning environment to help students feel valued and successful. Outside of school, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Darren, of 24 years, and their two teenage sons. In addition, she and her husband volunteer with refugee families in the south city area through their church.
  • Michael Gregory

    Director, Urban Education Alliance Committee Chair

    Michael Gregory

    Director, Urban Education Alliance Committee Chair
    Mike Gregory is a passionate educator and minister for Tower Grove Christian Academy located in the historical Shaw community of St. Louis MO. He believes through equipping students in truth and rigorous academics the city and the world will be changed. Mike received his MBA from Roosevelt University in Chicago, and has served in many leading roles of fortune 100 companies. He served as a board of trustee for the Missouri Baptist University, served as Board member STL Ambassadors
    • President of NACBA, St Louis Chapter
    • Vice President of NACBA, Chicago Chapter
    • Served as Chaplain NACBA, St Louis Chapter
    • Vice President of SNIA
    • Lead two mission trips; one to Kenya and another to Kyrgyzstan Directed the capital campaign and Board member of The Green House Venture for Bio-Science.
    Mike enjoys running, playing basketball, reading and being a grandpa.
    The GHV is changing the landscape of our city by educating our elementary students in  bio-science that lays a foundation for each to become Scientists.
  • Dr. Meghan Hill

    Director

    Dr. Meghan Hill

    Director
    Dr. Hill has been a member of the SLLIS team since 2011. She taught multiple grades in The French School, then served as a SLLIS principal from 2016 to 2018 before stepping into her role as SLLIS Superintendent in June 2018. A Teach for America alum, Dr. Hill is a dedicated educator with a passion for serving the families of St. Louis City. Dr. Hill holds a Doctorate and Master’s of Education in Educational Leadership from Saint Louis University and a Master’s degree in French from Washington University in St. Louis. She is a certified teacher in the areas of elementary education, Spanish, and French and holds a Principal and Superintendent license for the state of Missouri.
    My current quote is "SLLIS works with the Greenhouse Venture as a community partner. We are interested in community connections and how we can work across St. Louis City from early childhood all the way to post-secondary education in order to improve the educational landscape for all St. Louis City students and families."
  • Molly Schaller

    Director

    Molly Schaller

    Director
    Molly Schaller is the Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Higher Education Administration in the School of Education at Saint Louis University. Dr. Schaller joined the Greenhouse Board in 2017 when she joined the faculty at SLU. Prior to arriving at SLU, Dr. Schaller worked for 28 years at the University of Dayton. Dr. Schaller is particularly interested in connecting the Greenhouse Venture activities to the SLU experience to feed children’s interests in learning, science and the college opportunities in the greater St. Louis Region. Schaller holds a B.A. in Psychology from the Ohio State University, an M.A. from Miami University, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Ohio University.
    I am so proud to be a member of the Board of Directors for the GHV. Children in our community deserve the opportunity to grow in their understanding of themselves as scientists and through the GHV, they come to see themselves as scientists.
  • Dr. Freddie E. Wills

    Director

    Dr. Freddie E. Wills

    Director
    Freddie E. Wills, Jr., Ph.D. is a higher education professional knowledgeable about theories and practices that meet at the intersection of secondary and post-secondary education. Dr. Wills serves as the Vice President for STEM Initiatives and Research Partnerships and he leads the Missouri Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (MOLSAMP) as its Principal Investigator. In his role, Dr. Wills works to develop and implement institutional partnerships that advance HSSU’s STEM agenda and supports student success. In addition, serving as a Principal Investigator of MOLSAMP, Dr. Wills provides leadership for the operation of two other National Science Foundation grants awarded to the HSSU. Dr. Wills is a visionary leader, who is passionate about student development, organizational culture and structure, and excellence in academics. Dr. Wills, holds a Bachelors of Art degree in Communications (Southwest Baptist University), a Masters of Arts degree in Media Communications (Webster University), and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Saint Louis University.

Directors

  • Tom Purcell

    President, Executive/Finance Committee Chair, Fundraising Committee Chair

    Tom Purcell

    President, Executive/Finance Committee Chair, Fundraising Committee Chair
    Tom Purcell has been involved in community decision making for over 50 years. Prior to these activities, he served in the Peace Corps in India, the United States Marine Corps Reserve, rising to the rank of Captain, and in America's Poverty Program. He also has received two Master degrees in Urban Affairs and Business Administration from Saint Louis University. He Led the development effort for the Laclede's Landing from 1976 to 2003, during which time over 3,000 jobs were created and over $200,000,000 of public and private capital was invested. Tom Purcell has served on more than 45 boards of government, non-profit, and business organizations. Finally, he has also been involved in the renewal of St. Louis neighborhoods, including the Riverfront, Shaw, Downtown, and Carondelet.
    As the city of St. Louis continued to change in population and economic purpose, it became obvious that education even more important if the city was to have a vibrant and meaningful future for its residents. It also became clear that a 3rd party organization could play a role in assisting the various elementary school systems active in the St. Louis community in providing a 21st century education to achieve their goals. The areas of focus of this new 3rd party organization, The Green House Venture, would be bioscience/aquaponics, urban agriculture, and nutrition and dietetics. The Venture would involve the area's universities, high schools, and elementary talent evident in existing educational institutions in a partnership framework to achieve its program goals. Saint Louis University professor and Vice President of the GHV Donald Stump and I have been involved in this unique process, him as the leader in curriculum programs, and I as the leader in organization and development process for over seven years. The Green House Venture has been very fortunate to have a sustained involvement of talented volunteers active in the board and committee levels of the organization. It has been the most challenging, enjoyable, and rewarding activity I have experienced in the St. Louis community in the last 50 years.
  • Donald Stump

    Vice President, Program/Curriculum Committee Chair

    Donald Stump

    Vice President, Program/Curriculum Committee Chair
    Donald Stump received his B.A. from Grinnell College, with concentrations in Biology and English literature. He pursued his Ph.D.in English at Cornell University. Before coming to Saint Louis University in 1992, he taught at Colgate University, Virginia Tech, and Notre Dame. Until 2017, Donald Stump directed the Micah Program at SLU, the largest undergraduate academic program and learning community in the nation focused on the study and practice of long-term approaches to urban poverty. Dr. Stump is also a Professor of English. He has served at SLU as Associate Provost for Undergraduate Affairs and as President of the Arts and Sciences Faculty Council. From 2011-2015, Dr. Stump headed up a university working group of faculty and administrators to design an education and outreach greenhouse to teach science and improve nutrition for under-served elementary-school students. He also secured funding and headed up creation of the SLU Aquaponics Lab as a firsts step in preparing to build such a facility. With shared goals and ideas in mind, he joined with Tom Purcell in founding the Green House Venture in 2015. Since then, Dr. Stump has headed up curriculum development for the Venture and has been closely involved in the process of designing its Education Center.
    "Every child we work with has a mind with more creative potential than the most powerful supercomputers on the planet. Our job is to spark curiosity and light up the imagination so that learning becomes a pleasure, delight leads to lives of investigation, and discovery brings benefits to us all."
  • Bill Anderson

    Director

    Bill Anderson

    Director
    I have been teaching chemistry and environmental science at St. Louis University High School for 35 years. I am also the Garden Director and serve on the Sustainability Committee at SLUH. I serve on the Advisory Committee to the Grow Exhibit at the St. Louis Science Center. I am currently serving on the St. Louis University 2018 Climate Summit Planning Committee on the Education and Outreach Subcommittee. I am a past chair of Science Department at St. Louis U. High. In 2016 I was awarded a grant from the Toshiba America Foundation to establish a multiyear study of the atmosphere using biannual weather balloon launches to gather data. I have been involved for several years with the International Jesuit Ecology Project and Loyola University of Chicago in the development, testing, and promotion of the Healing Earth text book. The Green House Venture is one of the most exciting educational endeavors that I have seen and I am delighted to be be able to be a part of this program. Too many students lose interest in science at an early age and we need to do everything we can to insure that all of our youth have a positive experience with science that keeps them interest, enthused, and excited about pursing science. This enthusiasm for and understanding of science may open educational and career opportunities for these students as well as helping them grow as informed participants in their communities in a world that is more and more science and technology driven. The Green House Venture gets the students actively engaged in doing quality, real world science as well as exposing them to older students and adults involved in science related careers at all levels.
  • Sanjiv Bhatia

    Director

    Sanjiv Bhatia

    Director
    Dr. Sanjiv Bhatia works as Professor of Computer Science in the University of Missouri -- St. Louis. His primary areas of research include Computer Vision, Image Databases, Digital Image Processing, Satellite Imagery Analysis, and Algorithms. He has published a number of articles in those areas. He has consulted extensively with industry for commercial and military applications of computer vision, and built complex products and systems. He is also an expert in system programming and has worked on a few real-time and embedded applications. He serves on the organizing committee of a number of conferences and on the editorial board of a few journals. He has taught a broad range of courses in computer science at both undergraduate and graduate levels, and has been the recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. He is a senior member of ACM.
    I am excited to be part of the GHV program to generate excitement about STEM in the next generation.
  • Elizabeth Boedeker

    Director

    Elizabeth Boedeker

    Director
    Ms. Boedeker is a molecular biologist with nearly 33 years of laboratory experience in both academic and industry settings. She started teaching as an adjunct faculty member in the biotechnology program of St. Louis Community College in 2004, initially designing and teaching a specialized topics course in forensics. She joined St. Louis Community College full time as the Coordinator of the BioBench Contract Research Organization initiated there in 2009. In mid-2019, she moved into the District Directorship of the Center for Plant and Life Science. She developed one of the more popular advanced topics courses for the Biotechnology program called Quantitative PCR methods, which includes training on droplet digital technologies along with expression analysis using qPCR. Program students along with industry scientists seeking training take this course side by side and learn many of the nuances associated qPCR, including proper experimental controls and data analysis concepts. The course cumulates with a gene expression-based study with lab work, a project paper and short presentation on the findings. Additionally, she is the P.I. on a current NSF grant, where she and her team are generating relevant curriculum in genome editing with extensive input from the local industry. She remains adjunct faculty and enjoys teaching various program courses and interacting with the biotechnology students. By her interactive relationship with industry in the St. Louis region, she can place the majority of students with companies for their workplace learning experience, and is delighted that about 30% of the time, this leads to full time employment directly from that placement. She continues to work with many industry and economic development partners to address equity and workforce needs of the region.
    In education at the college level, I realize how essential it is to ignite interest and love of science at an early age.  The only way to do that is to provide exposure.  Not everyone will love science, but allowing student exploration at a young age can capture those who will and allow them to flourish.  GHV provided much needed outreach around agriculture and plants, and the new center underway will teach so many more kids about science, plants and their importance in our world!  I am honored to be a part of this project and team.
  • Christine Burke

    Director

    Christine Burke

    Director
    Interim Principal St. Margaret of Scotland School After 17 years of teaching at St. Margaret of Scotland School, I transitioned to assistant principal in 2020. As interim principal, I’m looking forward to taking an active role in the Green House Venture. I see it as not only an opportunity to bring our communities together but as a way to educate and explore science in a more real-world environment. My hope is that through promoting the Green House Venture program, we can help create future leaders, problem-solvers, and scientists. Our vision is to expand the educational experiences of students in the St. Louis City area and empower them, teach them, and have them share that knowledge and passion with others.
    "The Green House Venture is a unique collaborative partnership aimed to bring together diverse schools and provide educational opportunities for students. The main purpose is to grow our students' knowledge of urban agriculture with real-world, hands-on, engaging activities while helping them develop a love of Science."
  • Kelli Casper

    Director

    Kelli Casper

    Director
    Mrs. Kelli Casper is the newly appointed Principal at Mullanphy - Botanical Garden ILC. She has worked in the St. Louis Public School district since 2004 as a teacher, instructional coach and administrator. Mrs. Casper is passionate about creating a learning environment to help students feel valued and successful. Outside of school, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Darren, of 24 years, and their two teenage sons. In addition, she and her husband volunteer with refugee families in the south city area through their church.
  • Jack Connaghan

    Secretary

    Jack Connaghan

    Secretary
    Jack Connaghan is the Secretary of the Board of Directors for the Green House Venture. After graduating from Saint Louis University with a degree in Communication, Jack started out at the GHV by watering plants and picking up trash at the Terrace Garden. Before long, Jack involved himself in the creation of promotional material for the GHV's social media pages, eventually becoming the primary contributor to those platforms. When the previous Secretary for the Board stepped down, Jack was asked to contribute to the GHV Board of Directors by serving as the new Secretary. He maintains all of these services today. You can still find Jack at the Terrace Garden watering our plants!
    "The Green House Venture is special to me because of its potential to reach far beyond the confines of our little neighborhood, or maybe even our city. Through the use of online classes at our future Education Center, I hope we can reach students and classrooms that don't otherwise have access to this kind of teaching."
  • Jacqueline Davis-Wellington

    Director

    Jacqueline Davis-Wellington

    Director
    Jacqueline Davis-Wellington serves as Managing Partner of CED Solutions, responsible for overall coordination of all projects and staff. She brings extensive project management experience in all aspects of major redevelopment/construction and strategic planning activities. Her expertise includes securing and managing federal, state, local foundation and private grant funds to support redevelopment activities, development financing and property acquisition. Ms. Wellington previously served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. She was directly responsible for oversight of the Real Estate and Community Development, Legal, Human Resources, Accounting, and Marketing and Communications divisions. She was also responsible for the negotiation of property acquisition, public private partnerships, intergovernmental agreements and CDBG Administration and Grant Compliance. She led the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority of St. Louis County, St. Louis County Port Authority, Lambert Airport Eastern Perimeter Joint Development Commission, and Wellston Redevelopment Corporation. Previously, Ms. Wellington held positions in the construction industry, overseeing environmental remediation and commercial construction projects. She was a Community Development Specialist for the City of St. Louis, monitoring compliance with HUD CDBG rules and regulations, and was an Academic Counselor at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. She has served on a wide range of nonprofit boards and advisory committees for state and local governments and civic organizations, including a 10-year term on the Missouri State Board of Education. The many awards she has received include EDA “Women in Leadership,” Winning Women’s “Women Influencing Now,” St. Louis Business Journal’s “Most Influential Minority Business Leader,” and Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri’s “Women of Distinction.
    "The GHV is providing elementary school students an opportunity to learn about bio-science and the environment, providing them with the knowledge of and exposure to potential future career opportunities."
  • Michele Duffe

    Director

    Michele Duffe

    Director
    ND&S Management Company, President I am the co-founder of ND Consulting, ND&S Management Co. and Duffe-Nuernberger Realty, now know as Tower Real Estate Group. These firms are involved in the development of real estate, its management and brokerage. Using these tools , our firms have improved neighborhoods and provided better living and work environments for residents. I am the founder and president of LinkStl, a not-for-profit whose mission is to better connect the residents of Hyde Park and Old North St. Louis to opportunities and resources. I like the challenge of working with others to change neighborhoods in distress. I learned those skills working on issues in the Shaw Neighborhood and the Gate District; I now apply that knowledge to Hyde Park, Old North and College Hill neighborhoods. The Green House Venture is an effort to tie many of the institutional strengths of the central City of St. Louis, like 4 grade schools, St. Louis University, Washington University, Tower Grove Park, Gateway Greening etc., into an educational program for the area children.
    "As a long-time Shaw Neighborhood resident, I have loved that the Botanical Garden, Tower Grove Park and Reservoir Park border the neighborhood. The north border is I-44, which until the Green House Venture (GHV), was a weedy embankment; now it is an attractive, educational, research classroom. The GHV is currently raising funds to build and operate the greenhouse, which will complete the educational facilities. The entire site will provide a hands-on, science-based curriculum for St. Louis region’s youth."
  • Michael Gregory

    Director, Urban Education Alliance Committee Chair

    Michael Gregory

    Director, Urban Education Alliance Committee Chair
    Mike Gregory is a passionate educator and minister for Tower Grove Christian Academy located in the historical Shaw community of St. Louis MO. He believes through equipping students in truth and rigorous academics the city and the world will be changed. Mike received his MBA from Roosevelt University in Chicago, and has served in many leading roles of fortune 100 companies. He served as a board of trustee for the Missouri Baptist University, served as Board member STL Ambassadors
    • President of NACBA, St Louis Chapter
    • Vice President of NACBA, Chicago Chapter
    • Served as Chaplain NACBA, St Louis Chapter
    • Vice President of SNIA
    • Lead two mission trips; one to Kenya and another to Kyrgyzstan Directed the capital campaign and Board member of The Green House Venture for Bio-Science.
    Mike enjoys running, playing basketball, reading and being a grandpa.
    The GHV is changing the landscape of our city by educating our elementary students in  bio-science that lays a foundation for each to become Scientists.
  • Dr. Meghan Hill

    Director

    Dr. Meghan Hill

    Director
    Dr. Hill has been a member of the SLLIS team since 2011. She taught multiple grades in The French School, then served as a SLLIS principal from 2016 to 2018 before stepping into her role as SLLIS Superintendent in June 2018. A Teach for America alum, Dr. Hill is a dedicated educator with a passion for serving the families of St. Louis City. Dr. Hill holds a Doctorate and Master’s of Education in Educational Leadership from Saint Louis University and a Master’s degree in French from Washington University in St. Louis. She is a certified teacher in the areas of elementary education, Spanish, and French and holds a Principal and Superintendent license for the state of Missouri.
    My current quote is "SLLIS works with the Greenhouse Venture as a community partner. We are interested in community connections and how we can work across St. Louis City from early childhood all the way to post-secondary education in order to improve the educational landscape for all St. Louis City students and families."
  • Ben Johnson

    Director

    Ben Johnson

    Director
    Ben Johnson is the Vice President, Programs at BioSTL, where he leads its innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem building initiatives, including state and federal public policy, diversity/equity/inclusion initiatives, and regional talent & workforce development. Since 2001, BioSTL has transformed St. Louis' innovation economy through a comprehensive programming that leverages the region’s medical and plant science strengths. Ben currently serves as Chairman of the national Innovation Advocacy Council (IAC), which informs and educates policymakers and elected officials to modernize federal innovation & entrepreneurship policy, and a Board member of IAC’s parent organization, SSTI. Ben is also co-founder/President of NEXT Missouri, a grassroots advocacy group promoting pro-entrepreneur policy in Missouri. In addition to Green House Venture, he is a Board member of the Missouri Biotechnology Association, Missouri’s statewide biotechnology trade association; Board Chair for St. Louis Makes, a nonprofit dedicated to reshaping St. Louis’ manufacturing future; and a founding Board Member of The Education Equity Center of St. Louis, which fosters a regional approach to racial equity in education through convening, capacity building, and systems change. Prior to BioSTL, Ben moved to St. Louis to complete the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs and previously led creation of a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in Indiana. Ben received his M.B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis and his B.A. from Northwestern University, majoring in Economics and Political Science with a minor in Business German.
    “Spaces like The Green House Venture, and the outreach and activities surrounding it, are critical to promoting equitable access to career opportunities in the region's growingagtech industry and to helping ensure a diverse pipeline of talent to fuel the growth of St. Louis' world-class ag and plant science economy.”
  • Nicole Mohler

    Marketing/Communications Chair

    Nicole Mohler

    Marketing/Communications Chair
    My association with the Green House Venture began in the fall of 2018 when I was asked to take pictures by my neighbor, Board President Tom Purcell. My degree was in Photography and Design and I had been working as a photographer for the past 30-years. My artistic journey started in Chicago at Ray College of design where I graduated with a BFA in Photography and a minor in Graphic Design. Upon graduation, I decided to head west so I moved to California with equipment in tow, to capture everything and anything that moved me and my camera artistically.  I became comfortable in my craft by concentrating primarily on fashion photography during my time in California. As luck would have it, my husband was from St. Louis, and he eventually dragged me back to the mid-west to raise our family and I've worked as a self-employed photographer ever since. My camera has documented a little bit of everything throughout my life, but it's always focused on people and trying to capture their story. Photography has allowed me to pursue and grow in many directions from graphic design, marketing, social media curation, event design and more. I have always been driven to volunteer which has led me to meet many interesting people and to learn new things along the way. In one of my favorite volunteer roles, I served as a middle school yearbook moderator, teaching students' photography and layout design. I have also taught art and have lead art auctions from concept through auction ready artworks for bidding. The GHV has allowed me to expand even further through video production with Arbor Group, expansion of social media platforms and our campus newsletters.
    “My favorite thing about the Venture is always the kids. Watching them enjoy little slices of nature and science right here in the neighborhood. They are curious and want to learn especially when it comes to lessons around nature in the middle of the city.”
  • Dennis Purkis, CPA

    Treasurer

    Dennis Purkis, CPA

    Treasurer
    Dennis has over 23 years of experience providing accounting tax and advisory services to not‐for‐profits, businesses, start‐ups, and individuals. His expertise is rooted in providing accounting, auditing, and consulting services and has evolved over the past ten years to focus on financial statement review, compilation, and preparation services; individual, business, and exempt entity tax services; QuickBooks implementation, training, and advising; outsourced accounting; and on‐site and remote controllership services. He is passionate about assisting clients with their accounting, reporting, and compliance needs and enjoys advising clients on recent developments, process controls and efficiencies.

    PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS

    • Member, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
    • Member, Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants (MOCPA)
    • Former Board Member, St. Louis Chapter President, and Accounting and Auditing Committee Chair  Recurring author of articles in The Asset, the official publication of the MOCPA. COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT Cornerstone Center for Early Learning – Finance Committee Former Board Member,
    • American Lung Association – Missouri
    • Former Chair, Fight For Air Climb Committee

    EDUCATION & CERTIFICATION -B.S., Business Administration – Accounting, SE Missouri State University Certified Public Accountant (CPA), State of Missouri

    The Green House Venture recently added another exceptional member to our Board of Directors. He’s Dennis Purkis, who also now serves as the Venture’s new Treasurer. Dennis has over 23 years of experience providing accounting tax and advisory services to not‐for‐profits, businesses, start‐ups, and individuals. His expertise is rooted in accounting, auditing, and consulting services that have grown and evolved over the years to support his clients in virtually every aspect of financial management, as well as process controls and operating efficiencies.
    “I am excited to be part of a very unique and interesting concept that brings collaboration and scale to schools and students in the community,” says Dennis about the Green House Venture. “Much effort has been made to establish this outstanding program, and I am honored to be afforded the opportunity to contribute as the GHV pursues the vision of a STEM Education Center in the heart of the City.”
  • Molly Schaller

    Director

    Molly Schaller

    Director
    Molly Schaller is the Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Higher Education Administration in the School of Education at Saint Louis University. Dr. Schaller joined the Greenhouse Board in 2017 when she joined the faculty at SLU. Prior to arriving at SLU, Dr. Schaller worked for 28 years at the University of Dayton. Dr. Schaller is particularly interested in connecting the Greenhouse Venture activities to the SLU experience to feed children’s interests in learning, science and the college opportunities in the greater St. Louis Region. Schaller holds a B.A. in Psychology from the Ohio State University, an M.A. from Miami University, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Ohio University.
    I am so proud to be a member of the Board of Directors for the GHV. Children in our community deserve the opportunity to grow in their understanding of themselves as scientists and through the GHV, they come to see themselves as scientists.
  • Dr. Freddie E. Wills

    Director

    Dr. Freddie E. Wills

    Director
    Freddie E. Wills, Jr., Ph.D. is a higher education professional knowledgeable about theories and practices that meet at the intersection of secondary and post-secondary education. Dr. Wills serves as the Vice President for STEM Initiatives and Research Partnerships and he leads the Missouri Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (MOLSAMP) as its Principal Investigator. In his role, Dr. Wills works to develop and implement institutional partnerships that advance HSSU’s STEM agenda and supports student success. In addition, serving as a Principal Investigator of MOLSAMP, Dr. Wills provides leadership for the operation of two other National Science Foundation grants awarded to the HSSU. Dr. Wills is a visionary leader, who is passionate about student development, organizational culture and structure, and excellence in academics. Dr. Wills, holds a Bachelors of Art degree in Communications (Southwest Baptist University), a Masters of Arts degree in Media Communications (Webster University), and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Saint Louis University.

Chairs

  • Tom Purcell

    President, Executive/Finance Committee Chair, Fundraising Committee Chair

    Tom Purcell

    President, Executive/Finance Committee Chair, Fundraising Committee Chair
    Tom Purcell has been involved in community decision making for over 50 years. Prior to these activities, he served in the Peace Corps in India, the United States Marine Corps Reserve, rising to the rank of Captain, and in America's Poverty Program. He also has received two Master degrees in Urban Affairs and Business Administration from Saint Louis University. He Led the development effort for the Laclede's Landing from 1976 to 2003, during which time over 3,000 jobs were created and over $200,000,000 of public and private capital was invested. Tom Purcell has served on more than 45 boards of government, non-profit, and business organizations. Finally, he has also been involved in the renewal of St. Louis neighborhoods, including the Riverfront, Shaw, Downtown, and Carondelet.
    As the city of St. Louis continued to change in population and economic purpose, it became obvious that education even more important if the city was to have a vibrant and meaningful future for its residents. It also became clear that a 3rd party organization could play a role in assisting the various elementary school systems active in the St. Louis community in providing a 21st century education to achieve their goals. The areas of focus of this new 3rd party organization, The Green House Venture, would be bioscience/aquaponics, urban agriculture, and nutrition and dietetics. The Venture would involve the area's universities, high schools, and elementary talent evident in existing educational institutions in a partnership framework to achieve its program goals. Saint Louis University professor and Vice President of the GHV Donald Stump and I have been involved in this unique process, him as the leader in curriculum programs, and I as the leader in organization and development process for over seven years. The Green House Venture has been very fortunate to have a sustained involvement of talented volunteers active in the board and committee levels of the organization. It has been the most challenging, enjoyable, and rewarding activity I have experienced in the St. Louis community in the last 50 years.
  • Donald Stump

    Vice President, Program/Curriculum Committee Chair

    Donald Stump

    Vice President, Program/Curriculum Committee Chair
    Donald Stump received his B.A. from Grinnell College, with concentrations in Biology and English literature. He pursued his Ph.D.in English at Cornell University. Before coming to Saint Louis University in 1992, he taught at Colgate University, Virginia Tech, and Notre Dame. Until 2017, Donald Stump directed the Micah Program at SLU, the largest undergraduate academic program and learning community in the nation focused on the study and practice of long-term approaches to urban poverty. Dr. Stump is also a Professor of English. He has served at SLU as Associate Provost for Undergraduate Affairs and as President of the Arts and Sciences Faculty Council. From 2011-2015, Dr. Stump headed up a university working group of faculty and administrators to design an education and outreach greenhouse to teach science and improve nutrition for under-served elementary-school students. He also secured funding and headed up creation of the SLU Aquaponics Lab as a firsts step in preparing to build such a facility. With shared goals and ideas in mind, he joined with Tom Purcell in founding the Green House Venture in 2015. Since then, Dr. Stump has headed up curriculum development for the Venture and has been closely involved in the process of designing its Education Center.
    "Every child we work with has a mind with more creative potential than the most powerful supercomputers on the planet. Our job is to spark curiosity and light up the imagination so that learning becomes a pleasure, delight leads to lives of investigation, and discovery brings benefits to us all."
  • Peter H. Benoist

    Site/Design Chair

    Peter H. Benoist

    Site/Design Chair

    EDUCATION

    Regis College- Bachelor of Arts (1970) Washington University University of Missouri, St. Louis

    EXPERIENCE

    • HERCULES CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT COMPANY President 7/1/94 - Present
    • KLOSTER COMPANY Vice President 1/1/1992 – 7/1/1994
    • HERCULES DIVISION OF TURNER CONSTRUCTION COMPANY Manager, St. Louis Office 1986 - 1992
    • HERCULES CONSTRUCTION OF NORTH CAROLINA President 1984 - 1986
    • HERCULES CONSTRUCTION OF ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI Project Manager 1971 - 1984

    MEMBERSHIP/ ACTIVITIES

    • Past President Associated General Contractors of St. Louis
    • Past Member of the Executive Committee St. Louis Ambassadors
    • Past Member of the Board of Trustees St. Louis University High School Past Member Board of Trustees De Smet Jesuit High School
    • Past Member Board of Directors Father Dunne’s Boys Home
    • Past Member Board of Trustees Marian Middle School
    • Past President Board of Trustees White House Retreat
    With the retirement of David Reid, Peter Benoist has been appointed Chair of the Site Committee for the Green House Venture. Peter has served on the Committee for the last four years, and he is taking on the leadership role at a pivotal time as we move into high gear with our initiative to build the new Education Center. Peter’s credentials make him ideally suited for the role. Having spent his entire career in the construction industry, he has been the President of Hercules Construction Management Company since 1994.
    “I got involved to the GHV some 6 years ago through a relationship with Tom Purcell who I have known for a number of years.  Some described what he was trying to put together for primary age school children in the Shaw area.  In would include a range of different schools all interested in science and particular a sustainable world through a hands-on program in bio-science and urban agriculture.  I was hooked!!  What a way to bring to elementary inter city children the future of sustainable living.  My role is the chairman of the site committee.  Our job is to bring to fruition the embankment garden and the new educational center and Greenhouse facility.”
  • Michael Gregory

    Director, Urban Education Alliance Committee Chair

    Michael Gregory

    Director, Urban Education Alliance Committee Chair
    Mike Gregory is a passionate educator and minister for Tower Grove Christian Academy located in the historical Shaw community of St. Louis MO. He believes through equipping students in truth and rigorous academics the city and the world will be changed. Mike received his MBA from Roosevelt University in Chicago, and has served in many leading roles of fortune 100 companies. He served as a board of trustee for the Missouri Baptist University, served as Board member STL Ambassadors
    • President of NACBA, St Louis Chapter
    • Vice President of NACBA, Chicago Chapter
    • Served as Chaplain NACBA, St Louis Chapter
    • Vice President of SNIA
    • Lead two mission trips; one to Kenya and another to Kyrgyzstan Directed the capital campaign and Board member of The Green House Venture for Bio-Science.
    Mike enjoys running, playing basketball, reading and being a grandpa.
    The GHV is changing the landscape of our city by educating our elementary students in  bio-science that lays a foundation for each to become Scientists.
  • Nicole Mohler

    Marketing/Communications Chair

    Nicole Mohler

    Marketing/Communications Chair
    My association with the Green House Venture began in the fall of 2018 when I was asked to take pictures by my neighbor, Board President Tom Purcell. My degree was in Photography and Design and I had been working as a photographer for the past 30-years. My artistic journey started in Chicago at Ray College of design where I graduated with a BFA in Photography and a minor in Graphic Design. Upon graduation, I decided to head west so I moved to California with equipment in tow, to capture everything and anything that moved me and my camera artistically.  I became comfortable in my craft by concentrating primarily on fashion photography during my time in California. As luck would have it, my husband was from St. Louis, and he eventually dragged me back to the mid-west to raise our family and I've worked as a self-employed photographer ever since. My camera has documented a little bit of everything throughout my life, but it's always focused on people and trying to capture their story. Photography has allowed me to pursue and grow in many directions from graphic design, marketing, social media curation, event design and more. I have always been driven to volunteer which has led me to meet many interesting people and to learn new things along the way. In one of my favorite volunteer roles, I served as a middle school yearbook moderator, teaching students' photography and layout design. I have also taught art and have lead art auctions from concept through auction ready artworks for bidding. The GHV has allowed me to expand even further through video production with Arbor Group, expansion of social media platforms and our campus newsletters.
    “My favorite thing about the Venture is always the kids. Watching them enjoy little slices of nature and science right here in the neighborhood. They are curious and want to learn especially when it comes to lessons around nature in the middle of the city.”