Forward Through Ferguson Storyteller to Keynote Brown School Recognition Ceremony

Policy; Public Health; Social Work; Students

Jia Lian Yang (she/they), a Brown School alum, MSW ’16, and director of storytelling and communications for Forward Through Ferguson​, will be the featured speaker for the Brown School Recognition Ceremony on Saturday, May 13. ​Additionally, the Brown School ceremony will include a student speaker –​ MSW candidate Kasey Springsteen (she/they), who was selected after submission of a topic essay and an interview with a School community committee. 

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​About the Speakers

Jia Lian Yang, Storytelling & Communications, Forward Through Ferguson​​

​In a world where stories are essential to shaping our perspectives, Jia Lian Yang (she/they) is amplifying voices working towards Racial Equity and the stories of people most impacted by racism. Yang currently serves as the Director of Storytelling & Communications at Forward Through Ferguson​, an anti-racist systems change organization that is charting a path toward racial equity across the St. Louis region.

At Forward Through Ferguson, Yang’s work includes managing data storytelling initiatives such as #Transforming911, which aims to reimagine public safety services, and crafting narratives around grassroots efforts to advance Justice For All.

Born and raised in San Jose, California, Yang received a Master of Social Work from the Brown School in 2016. Additionally, they hold a Master of Divinity from Eden Theological Seminary.

Before joining Forward Through Ferguson, Yang served as co-host and lead producer of St. Louis Public Radio’s We Live Here podcast, which explores issues of race and class in the St. Louis region. She also co-founded and co-hosted Who Raised You? Podcast, a show that focused on issues of culture, family, and intersecting identities.

Yang is committed to building real and trusting relationships, which they believe are the first step toward building power for systemic change.

Kasey Springsteen, MSW Candidate​ ’23 ​​

For Kasey Springsteen​ (she/they), growing up in Iowa – the first state to caucus every four years – made for a unique upbringing. Springsteen grew up talking politics and running into presidential hopefuls at the local coffee shop. Naturally, this experience led Springsteen to be interested in how people are affected by the systems they inhabit and empowering people to change them.

While earning a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Political Communication and English from Drake University in Des Moines, Springsteen worked for The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement. Springsteen volunteered on political campaigns, and was a sexual assault and domestic violence peer advocate for Drake University through Polk County.

Since arriving at the Brown School, Springsteen has worked with undergraduate students as a graduate fellow in the Annika Rodriguez Scholars Program. In that role, Springsteen has found a love for working with young people – empowering them to succeed in their academic and professional careers and challenging them to be well, kind, and compassionate people.

Springsteen completed three practicums – one with the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, one with the Office of Scholar Programs at WashU, and the other with A Red Circle​, a Black-owned nonprofit urban farming organization. Outside of their academic pursuits, Springsteen is in leadership at Trader Joe’s and has enjoyed learning more about St. Louis outside of the context of her education. Springsteen appreciates leading people from all backgrounds and learning new things about food and community every day.

Springsteen is an avid music, book, and food lover. Their personal mission centers on empowering people to reflect and share their own stories to build a community that celebrates individuality. They are committed to joy as a practice and rebuilding our capacity to play.​

​​​​About the Student Marshals​

The marshals, who carry the banners of their respective programs during the Brown School Recognition processional and recessional, were selected according to their commitment to scholarship and the Brown School community. ​

Marshals for 2023 will be:

  • Faculty Marshal: Melissa Jonson-Reid
  • MSW Marshal: Connie Flachs
  • MPH Marshal: Tremayne Watterson
  • MSW/MPH Marshal: Mara McKown
  • MSP Marshal: Jin Lyu

Learn more about the 2023 student marshals​.​​​​

The Brown School Recognition Ceremony will be held Saturday, May 13, at 5:00 p.m. at the Field House within the Athletic Complex of Washington University. It precedes the University’s 162th Commencement Ceremony, which will begin at 9:00 a.m. Monday, May 15, on Francis Olympic Field on the Danforth Campus. 

Learn more about Commencement 2023 at the Brown School.