Category: Vote (page 1 of 4)

DNA 2019 Residential Board Candidates

We are excited to introduce your residential candidates for the 2019 Board Elections, which will be held at 6pm on January 14th at the Central Library during our Town Hall Meeting. Please come vote with us!


Ray L. Alexander

1) Why do you want to run for a seat on the DNA Board of Directors?


Residing within our Central Business District for the past (almost) 2 years, I’ve grown attached to its citizens and gained an affinity for the small business community.  So, it will be goal to continue DNAs vision of increasing the individual & corporate camaraderie…while sharing global culture previously garnered.

2) What strengths and assets would you bring to the DNA Board of Directors?


A majority of experience stems from Department of Defense (Military & Civilian Service) Security-related accomplishments and tasks.

These qualifications may not directly correlate to the Business-end of the spectrum.  Yet the endless thirst for knowledge is the leading attribute which would aid in any potential learning curve of becoming a resident board member.  A strong philosophy of mine is that “Time is humanity’s greatest commodity”, as such, this position seems to require both time and dedication.  Both of which are some of my foremost assets.

3) What upcoming opportunities for DNA excite you the most?


The future event I am most excited about is the Taste of Downtown.  I’m a part-time glutton for great food.


Jamie Austin

1) Why do you want to run for a seat on the DNA Board of Directors? 


I’ve watched downtown evolve and grow over the past 10 years. Now that I live/work downtown I would love to be a part of an association that brings the community together and is pushing for the city to thrive.


2) What strengths and assets would you bring to the DNA Board of Directors? 


As a small business owner I am good with people, management and thinking outside of the box. As a downtown resident I like to keep an eye on new business ventures that are opening and patron existing businesses giving me a keen sense of the downtown area.


3) What upcoming opportunities for DNA excite you the most? 


With the continuous growth and changes happening in the area, I would like the opportunity to engage new and existing members to feel vested in downtown as we work to create a dynamic and sustainable region that serves the diverse residents and small businesses that call Downtown St. Louis home.


Melanie Fries

1) Why do you want to run for a seat on the DNA Board of Directors?


My interest in becoming a DNA board member stems from my wanting to represent my neighbors and neighborhood at the board level, insuring the continued viability, residential involvement and vibrancy of Downtown through DNA’s decision making process. Having representation from the Development committee on the board (3 years co-chair) will promote growth and success of funding opportunities and sustainability.

I enjoy living, shopping, dining and visiting Downtown with friends, whether local or from out of town. My experience and talents, I feel, will help contribute to the ongoing process of having the Downtown Neighborhood Association represent all the best in residents and small business.  After all, we live, work and play here!


2) What strengths and assets would you bring to the DNA Board of Directors?


Chris and I have enjoyed St Louis for 7 ½ years choosing The Marquette as our home for retirement in 2011. I have served as Marquette’s treasurer for 5 years with an $800k+ budget and am about to resign after 2019 budgets are completed.

I have a BA in Education, an MA in Music and am, for the most part, a retired professor.  While also a musician, I reported as a Sole Proprietor (IRS Schedule C) for 25 years and wrote and developed a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit corporation serving as president for 5 years managing funds, writing reports and having special events. I have also successfully written grants to help fund some projects.

I have served for many years on several not-for-profit boards (primarily arts organizations) as a committee member (“worker bee”), committee chair on Board or executive of Board with budgets over $100,000.  During a 2-year term as VP of a YMCA board in Illinois, I oversaw a $200,000 programming budget. I also had a short tenure “administrating” donations of funds from my family’s corporate foundation, which held real estate and other investments. I’ve been co-chair of the DNA’s Development Committee for 3 years.


3) What upcoming opportunities for DNA excite you the most?


I have regularly taken the time to attend most all of the DNA Town hall meetings and events and actively participate in many, as well as the Development Committee meetings.  You’ve seen me pulling beer at Taste of Downtown Weekend, chatting at Fall Fires (no so much this year as the weather and calendars are conflicted). Hanging out at Happy Hours. I was part of the past 2 years’ Spark teams, primarily focused on the Silent Auction, was part of the Neighborhood Tour committee, but sadly 2017’s was cancelled.  I think it important to develop a broader base of membership at both the individual and small business levels by confident outreach. Making certain the events are sustainable is very important to the community and the DNA.  Most of all, developing DNA’s voice through it’s membership and board team is very beneficial to us all.


Alexander Hurst

1) Why do you want to run for a seat on the DNA Board of Directors? 


I am new to DNA but have lived and worked downtown for a few years and would like to use my experience and skill set to get involved with my neighborhood and have the opportunity to weigh in on issues that affect the residents and businesses who make downtown a great place to live and work.

2) What strengths and assets would you bring to the DNA Board of Directors? 


I am a business lawyer and MBA who has experience working with organizations of all types, both as a board member and as an outside advisor. My career has given me a lot of insight into organizational governance and connections within the community that may prove helpful.

3) What upcoming opportunities for DNA excite you the most? 


This is an exciting time for downtown in terms of new developments, businesses, and community amenities, which follow an influx of new residents and affect our neighborhood in ways both seen and unseen. I’m excited for the opportunity to work with like-minded individuals to help downtown continue to grow and thrive as a community and to strive to attract our next wave of neighbors, who will ensure downtown prospers for years to come.


Taylor Jackson

1) Why do you want to run for a seat on the DNA Board of Directors?


I love this city. I also believe that we can do even better than we are currently. The DNA Board of Directors has the ability to influence the direction of St. Louis City. I wish to be a member of the DNA Board in order to support existing efforts to improve downtown and to include more community voices in these efforts. I believe that if you love something, you work hard to make it the best it can be. That’s how I feel about our community.


2) What strengths and assets would you bring to the DNA Board of Directors?


My background is in community organizing (healthcare, union, and political) and political campaigns. I am well-versed in how to engage a variety of viewpoints, resolve conflicts, and build community all while working towards a common goal. In the next two years, Downtown St. Louis is going to see a variety of policy proposals that impact residents and business owners. While members of DNA may disagree on exactly how to respond to these proposals, we all are committed to creating a positive future for our community. I know how to create community, organize outreach opportunities, resolve differences, and advocate for change–all of which are key to creating the best future for our community.


 3) What upcoming opportunities for DNA excite you the most?


For me, the most exciting upcoming opportunities for DNA are those where residents and businesses can engage in community building and advocacy. The next two years are going to be an exciting time in downtown. With a wave of strong development coming in, as well as various proposals (city-county merger, soccer stadium, ward reduction) that directly impact the downtown community, DNA has a unique opportunity to engage neighborhood members in advocacy. When these proposals are heard and decisions are made, it is key that the voices of downtown residents and business owners are heard.


LaShana Lewis

1) Why do you want to run for a seat on the DNA Board of Directors? 


I missed a lot of late this year building up my business that I started in April 2018.  Now that I have a firmer grip on things and it’s been a few months since establishment, I’m looking to take on a bigger mantle.  I’ve already been involved with some St. Louis efforts to bring bigger visibility to the city of St. Louis (CREA/BetterTogether), and hope to solidify the Downtown regions (including Downtown West) within those plans.

2) What strengths and assets would you bring to the DNA Board of Directors? 


To bring a more diverse perspective of downtown living and working and well as tech experience.  Namely, I have a background as both a software and systems engineer, as well as some website design and development experience (and some cloud).  I’ve been involved in the local St. Louis LGBT community for many years (decades, even), and have started to be more involved with the people of color community (also writing freelance for the St. Louis American paper).

3) What upcoming opportunities for DNA excite you the most? 

I do like the the Happy Hours.  It gives me to a chance to view new and different businesses in the area, as well as getting to know my fellow downtown neighbors.


Vanessa North

1) Why do you want to run for a seat on the DNA Board of Directors?


I want to run for the board so that I can give back to the community that has enriched my life so much.


2) What strengths and assets would you bring to the DNA Board of Directors?


I’ve had a lot of experience in the past with even planning, merchandising, marketing, and sales with my previous career that I feel would be an asset to the board.  I am now a stay at home wife and have the extra time to give to the DNA Board which I believe to be not only important but essential to our downtown community’s growth and vitality.


3) What upcoming opportunities for DNA excite you the most?


I am currently a building captain and I am excited to see this group grow.  I am also excited about all of the upcoming events and activities.  And as an avid Cardinals baseball fan I look forward to our game there.


James Page

1)  Why do you want to run for a seat on the DNA Board of Directors?


As current DNA Executive Director and current DNA Treasurer, I’m keenly interested in continuing to build DNA as a grassroots organization that contributes to Saint Louis as an ideal community in which to live, work, and play.


2) What strengths and assets would you bring to the DNA Board of Directors?


I bring a wealth of IT, Finance, and Accounting experience to DNA from my 38 year corporate career. I also bring a wealth of grassroots community organizing experience from my work with a number of local, regional, and national political campaigns. Lastly, I led a number of DNA’s 2018 special events to profitable conclusions.


3) What upcoming opportunities for DNA excite you the most?


The opportunity to help engage more members of Downtown Saint Louis’ residential and business communities excites me most of all. That engagement includes ensuring that every resident is registered to vote and volunteers as their knowledge, skills, abilities, and interests indicate.


Dan Pistor

1) Why you are seeking a seat on the Board of Directors?


I have been a downtown resident for 11 years and have worked downtown in Finance for the past 9 years, so I am sincerely committed to the downtown neighborhood. I have served as a Board Member for the past 3 years, been chair of the Safety Committee for 3 years, have been a member of the Urban Spaces committee for 4 years, and have provided assistance to the Development Committee when needed. I want to continue being a voice for residents and ensure the Safety Committee continues to have a voice on the Board to help advance its goals and objectives.


2) What strengths and assets can you bring to assist DNA’s mission?


I bring experience and knowledge to the board. I have a strong understanding of the challenges facing downtown and the city. I have built positive relationships with other downtown stakeholders, elected officials, city departments, business owners, and law enforcement. I have knowledge of how city government functions and how we can navigate that process to accomplish certain initiatives, while maintaining a positive reputation for the organization. I am able to listen to both sides of an issue and craft a solution that is in the best interest for downtown and DNA. I am a major advocate for downtown to outsiders often highlighting the positive events and changes taking place. I am very reliable in attending board meetings and neighborhood events.


3) What upcoming opportunities for DNA excite you the most?


My priorities are to utilize my board position to ensure that DNA remains focused on the quality of life for downtown residents through safety, cleanliness, downtown infrastructure, and providing support for downtown businesses. In addition, downtown has experienced very strong residential growth downtown, however residents and businesses are often not heard during the decision making process. I would like to utilize DNA’s positive reputation and sizable membership numbers to ensure DNA has a presence when decisions are made and advocate for strategies that will improve the downtown neighborhood. I will listen to feedback and bring members together through neighborhood meetings and events while supporting local businesses. I also want to help advance the efforts of funding and membership growth for DNA.


2019 Board Elections – DNA Needs YOU!

It’s time to step up.

On January 14, 2019 our general membership will gather at the Central Library at 6pm to elect our new Board Members for the Board of Directors.

This is your most significant opportunity to influence the future of our organization.

The DNA Board of Directors is responsible for determining our agenda throughout the year, engaging volunteers, leading our various projects, building organizational support, communicating vision, and doing the bulk of our operational labor.

As you consider the candidates, I want to encourage you to look for and support people who are willing to work hard on behalf of our organization, who are willing to give significantly of their time, who will listen well to our membership, and who will make DNA look good when representing us publicly.

Even more importantly, I would ask you to consider whether or not you fit that description. 


Board Member Duties.

Our board is a little different than that of many organizations. We view our board as our primary work team for accomplishing the tasks that give DNA life, and the means by which we delegate efforts throughout the organization.

Here is the list of expectations for our Residential Board Members:

  • Attendance and Participation at our Monthly Board Meetings (held on the first Monday evening of each month)
  • Attendance and Participation at our Semi-Monthly Town Hall Meetings
  • Attendance at our monthly Happy Hour events
  • Participation in one Committee at any level
  • Volunteer Participation at Taste of Downtown STL and other special events
  • Participation in DNA Operations management – including management of our website, social media, finances, public relations, email communications, and various other tasks that may arise.

This commitment can range from 3-10 hours a week on average, depending on officer duties and tasks at hand.

Here is the list of expectations for our Small Business Board Members:

  • Attendance and Participation at our Monthly Board Meetings (held on the first Monday evening of each month)
  • Attendance and Participation at our Semi-Monthly Town Hall Meetings
  • Active Participation in the DNA Small Business Collaborative

Additionally all Board Members are required to attend the DNA Board Retreat from 10a-3p on Saturday, February 9th, 2019.

Make a Difference.

DNA needs YOU to run for the 2019 Board of Directors. We will be electing four new Residential members and two Small Business members to the Board to serve alongside Directors Mike Willis, Bob Ray, and Denis Beganovic.

If you are interested in running for a seat on the Board, please send an email with you name as you want it to appear on the ballot, a photograph of yourself, and a brief answer to the following questions:

  • Why do you want to run for a seat on the DNA Board of Directors?
  • What strengths and assets would you bring to the DNA Board of Directors?
  • What upcoming opportunities for DNA excite you the most?

2018 DNA Board Election Results

Jan. 25, 2018 — We are pleased to announce the election results for the Downtown Neighborhood Association Board of Directors. Please welcome to the board:

  • Denis Beganovic (resident candidate) – 55
  • Tavon Brooks (resident candidate) – 66
  • Dan Pistor (resident candidate) – 46
  • Mary Wolf (resident candidate) – 64
  • Brenton Brown (small business candidate) – 21
  • Kristen Linares (small business candidate) – 18

The vote totals of the other resident candidates were:  Bryan King – 19, Ed Kretzler – 29, James Page – 36, Bob Ray – 44, Josh Restivo – 37, Les Sterman – 29

The vote totals of the other small business candidates were:  Gregg Sharpe – 4, Spencer Talbott – 6, Brad Waldrop – 15

These new board members will join Jonathan Andrus (current Chairperson), Dana Kay Goddard (current Vice-chairperson), and Zach McMichael in their work to further DNA’s mission of community building and organizing in order to connect people, create change, and positively impact the historic and economic nucleus of our city and region. We thank everyone who participated in the election both as candidates and voting members, and we continue to be motivated and inspired by your interest in our neighborhood. You can help the new board by completing this community survey.

The new board will hit the ground running at an all-day work session on February 3, and they will have a few large projects to tackle in the coming year.

  1. Taste of Downtown STL expands to two days this year on June 16 and 17 with the help of a new partner, Listen Live Entertainment — the producers of LouFest. Together, we plan to implement exciting new event programming and increase attendance to a projected 20,000.
  2. Our efforts to improve the Gateway Mall Parks west of Tucker will enter a new phase of planning. Designs and budget estimates created with the input you provided via surveys and public meetings, will be released in March, at which time we will seek further guidance from the community. Once the final plan has been approved, we will apply for funding with the Gateway Foundation. In addition to those efforts, we have received commitments from 7th Ward Alderman Jack Coatar and 6th Ward Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia to provide funding for this project.
  3. We will be applying for funding to expand our voter engagement efforts in the neighborhood to include activities around voter registration, voter education, and voter turnout. If funding is secured, this work will be conducted in a non-partisan and unbiased manner consistent with our past efforts. Our goal is to increase civic engagement in our neighborhood regardless of people’s political views.
  4. We are working to increase awareness around the complex issue of homelessness and to advocate for solutions and resources for the unhoused. We have many neighbors in our community who do not currently have homes, and we plan to do our part to ensure housing is available to them. We will continue to engage with the St. Louis City Continuum of Care to improve the provider network and lend the perspectives of our communities to its actions. We will be exploring opportunities to raise funds specifically for programs working to end homelessness.
  5. We plan to put energy and resources into increasing diversity in our membership and leadership by engaging with minority-owned businesses to ensure they are included in existing programming, and making a more intentional effort to better engage all of our neighbors.
  6. Continuing and strengthening our partnerships with the City of St. Louis Continuum of Care, City Hall, Downtown STL, Inc., Downtown St. Louis Community Improvement District, Forward Through Ferguson, Locust Central Business District, St. Louis Development Corporation, and other organizations working to improve our community.

We hope you will join us at an upcoming happy hour, coffee event, or town hall, and we encourage those of you who are interested in getting more involved to consider joining a committee or special project team. To learn more, contact our Executive Director, Jared Opsal, at We look forward to working together to continue to make Downtown a safe, thriving, and welcoming neighborhood.

Regarding our 2018 board elections, please let the new board know how you think we can streamline future elections and prevent confusion in the future by filling out this short survey.


Ballot counting following the board elections on Monday, January 8 was delayed as we worked through questions regarding some small business and resident applicants and eventually decided to work with a legal team at Husch Blackwell. They provided clarity and oversight to the process to ensure we were consistent and fair in our determinations concerning the large influx of small business member applications and resident applications prior to and on election day. With regard to small business applicants, they took into account our emphasis on owner-operated street-level businesses, which began with our three-year grant agreement with the Downtown St. Louis Community Improvement District in 2015. In that agreement we agreed to focus on the first floor merchants of Downtown St. Louis, and we have been consistent in that effort. Furthermore, we allow others to be voting members who have an owner-operated establishment open to the public in an office building, such as an owner-operated business open to the public offering tax services. All other entities are welcome to join the association as non-voting members if they wish to support our mission and remain engaged with our association.

In light of these questions, the DNA Board felt it necessary to re-certify all previously approved small business members to ensure we are treating everyone equally and they lived up to standard we have used in the past of them being an owner-operated business that is open to the public. This is easy to measure for a business such as a restaurant or shop that someone can walk into and patronize, but much more difficult for an entity with no discernible storefront or office. In order to gather as much empirical information as possible about the more difficult to determine entities the following was gathered about each those kind of applicants:

Business Name, Business Address, Other Applicants/Members with this Address, Billing Address, Email Address, Website, Phone Number, Is it a Street-Level Storefront/Office, Is it a Storefront/Office Not on the Street-level, Is it Open to the Public, Is it Owner-operated, What Goods/Services are Sold/Provided, Who is the Registered Agent for the Business, Is the Entity Listed on the City of St. Louis’ Assessor’s Office, Does it Have a City of St. Louis Business License, Is it Registered with the State of Missouri, When Did it Apply for Membership

The team at Husch Blackwell has reviewed our determinations and believe they are in compliance with our bylaws and in agreement with past practices. Furthermore, we will be asking the denied resident and small business member applicants to provide further information that can be taken into consideration for purposes of establishing membership in the future and for future voting.

Board Election Update

Jan. 16, 2018 — This year’s election for the DNA Board of Directors has garnered unprecedented interest. An influx of new resident and small business membership applications received in the days prior to and on the day of the election are causing a delay in determining and announcing election results. Once all new applications have been verified, we will proceed. In the interim, all ballots from the January 8 Annual Town Hall meeting are being held by the City of St. Louis Board of Elections.

Residential Members may vote for resident board candidates, of which four will be elected this cycle, while Small Business Members are able to vote for small business board candidates, of which two will be elected. The two membership groups heard from candidates and voted separately at the Annual Town Hall meeting on Monday, January 8. Prior to the meeting, it came to the attention of DNA Executive Director Jared Opsal and DNA Board of Directors that several of the new small business applicants were not eligible for DNA Small Business Membership. A determination was made that these applicants were, therefore, not eligible to vote, per the process and criteria outlined in the DNA Bylaws. After alerting these applicants of their ineligibility in advance of the meeting, a Small Business Member and board candidate threatened litigation if this original determination were to be upheld. Furthermore, DNA received a large amount of residential membership applications accompanied by proxy forms to vote during January 8th’s election.

A discussion amongst DNA leadership followed, and it was decided that in order to maintain transparency around the voting process and preserve the confidence of the DNA membership, as well as protect the organization from any potential legal attacks, the process of qualifying small business and residential applicants and counting eligible votes for this election would be delayed until the following day in order to allow for the DNA Board of Directors to thoroughly review the DNA Bylaws and all recent Small Business and Residential Member applicants. Before the January 8 Annual Town Hall meeting concluded, an announcement of the delay was made to all present board candidates and members.

The following day the DNA Chairman discussed the issue further with the DNA Executive Director and decided to postpone the January 9th Board Meeting. This was done to investigate the issue further and to pursue guidance from outside legal counsel, and the board met on Friday, January 12 to approve of this action. DNA Board Members, with guidance from counsel, will provide a thorough review of the membership definitions in the DNA Bylaws to ensure they are being interpreted correctly and ethically. The board intends to meet on Thursday, January 18 to take outside counsel’s guidance to verify membership applications, count ballots, and announce election results. DNA leadership takes this situation seriously, and plans to provide transparency around the process and findings that will follow. It should also be noted that any revisions made to the DNA Bylaws must be approved by membership.

DNA is a grassroots non-profit that undertakes community building and organizing in order to connect people, create change, and positively impact the historic and economic nucleus of our city and region. Our organization is made up of passionate volunteers and guided by our Executive Director, Jared Opsal. We consistently strive to represent the best interest of our members and to improve our community. As an organization, we will continue to grow and improve over the weeks, months, and years ahead.

As of December 31, 2017, the Saint Louis Downtown Neighborhood Association had approximately 750 Residential Members and 50 Small Business Members.

All inquiries should be directed to Jared Opsal, 314-669-4534,


2018 DNA Board Nominees

Below are the 2018 Nominees for the DNA Board of Directors listed in alphabetical order. We will elect 2 Small Business Members and 4 Resident Members to the board during our annual town hall meeting on January 8, 2018 at 6pm in the auditorium of the Downtown Central Library. You must be at the meeting in order to vote or fill out this proxy form to designate someone as your proxy to vote on your behalf during the election and have that person present the signed and completed form to us to receive a ballot.

As a reminder, small business members will elect the small business member board seats and resident members will elect the resident member board seats.

Click on each nominee’s name to view a picture of them and their responses to the following questions:  

  1. Why you are seeking a seat on the Board of Directors?
  2. What are your top priorities for DNA to work on?
  3. What are the assets you can bring to assist DNA’s mission?

Resident Member Nominees

Denis Beganovic

Tavon Brooks

Bryan King

Ed Kretzler

James Page

Dan Pistor

Bob Ray

Josh Restivo

Les Sterman

Mary Wolf

Small Business Member Nominees

Brenton Brown

Kristen Linares

Gregg Sharpe

Spencer Talbott

Brad Waldrop

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