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150 Missouri Organizations Oppose DEI Budget Language

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Today a letter was delivered to the officies of every Missouri senator in regards to the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) language added into the house budget by Rep. Doug Richey from over 150 Missouri business and non-profit leaders asking them to remove it from the final version of the budget.

The letter is as follows:

April 2023
To Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee:

We are writing to share concerns about language the House of Representatives added to the Fiscal Year 2024 budget bills. Specifically, the language of concern would prohibit funding from being used for staffing, programs and vendors associated with diversity, equity and inclusion. We believe this language will result in wide-ranging consequences that would undermine lawmakers’ economic and workforce priorities and urge you to remove it from the budget bills.

The broad language added to the bills raises questions about its practical application and how it would impact an array of services and programs that the state provides – including those critical to lawmakers’ economic and workforce priorities.

The language reads:

No funds shall be expended for staffing, vendors, consultants, or programs associated with “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion,” or “Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging,” or any other initiative which similarly promotes: 1) the preferential treatment of any individual or group of individuals based upon race, color, religion, sex, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, national origin, or ancestry; 2) the concept that disparities are necessarily tied to oppression; 3) collective guilt ideologies; 4) intersectional or divisive identity activism; or, 5) the limiting of freedom of conscience, thought, or speech. This does not prohibit the department from following federal and state employment and anti-discrimination laws.

However, multiple programs and services offered in Missouri are either required by their accrediting bodies to incorporate the concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion into their programs, or are specifically designed to ameliorate longstanding disparities in health and economic outcomes. The budget language would jeopardize licensing and accreditation of programs critical to both the wellbeing of Missourians and our state’s economic competitiveness. For instance:


  • Many nonprofit child welfare organizations, health and mental health service providers, and others with whom Missouri contracts to provide services are required through their national accrediting organizations to provide programming that incorporates diversity, equity and inclusion. In addition to risks to accreditation, failure to meet those standards could result in the loss of federal funding as well as private funding from foundations.
  • Similarly, the national bodies accrediting professional education programs like those for teachers, social workers, psychiatrists, nurses and other health professionals are also required to incorporate training in diversity, equity and inclusion. Not only would the added budget language jeopardize the accreditation of these programs at Missouri’s public colleges and universities, but the licensure of new professionals could be at risk.Moreover, we recognize that Missourians continue to face deep disparities in their health and economic outcomes based on race. While white workers in Missouri earn an average of $65,820 per year, Hispanic workers earn $53,178 and Black workers earn just $41,132 annually. While 33% of white Missourians have a college degree, only 21% of Black Missourians and 23% of Hispanic Missourians complete college. Missouri has one of the highest rates in the nation of premature death among Black residents, and Black moms in Missouri face a maternal mortality rate that is three times that of white moms. As long as these disparities exist in Missouri, we should not dampen efforts that would seek to understand and address them.

    Unfortunately, the added budget language would likely conflict with several existing efforts, threatening:

  • Targeted workforce and economic development programs,
  • State contracts with vendors to provide services, including minority-owned businessesand other private companies,
  • Department of Health programs targeted based on demographic factors, and
  • Missouri Department of Public Safety’s continuing education for law enforcement thatincludes education in racial profiling and implicit bias.

    There are likely additional consequences related to state contracts with private companies, hiring and employment standards that are not mentioned here, but which could also have far- reaching implications.

    The added budget language would severely hamper Missouri’s workforce development and economic competitiveness, and we again encourage you to remove the concerning language from all of the budget bills.

    We oppose any efforts that would put language aimed at dampening diversity, equity and inclusion into state law.


Jay Hardenbrook, Advocacy Director AARP Missouri
Kansas City, MO

Dr. Kendra Holmes, President & CEO Affinia Healthcare
St. Louis, MO

Erma Berry
AKA Omicron Theta Omega Chapter Bridgeton, MO

Jennifer Brinkmann, President Alive and Well Communities
St. Louis, MO

Dr. Maya Moody D.O., President American Academy of Pediatrics – Missouri Chapter
Jefferson City, MO

Daniel Goodenberger, MD, Governor American College of Physicians – Missouri Chapter
Jefferson City, MO

Starla Brennan, Executive Director Amethyst Place, Inc.
Kansas City, MO

Keisha Lee, CEO
Annie Malone Children and Family Service Center
St. Louis, MO

Paula Howell
Springfield, MO

Sara Ruiz, Executive Director Ashrei Foundation
St. Louis, MO

Fred Rottnek, MD, Medical Director Assisted Recovery Centers of America St. Louis, MO

Chris Krehmeyer, President & CEO Beyond Housing
St., Louis, MO

Richard Liekweg, President & CEO BJC HealthCare
St. Louis, MO

Lakshmi Komatreddy, Project Manager Black & Veatch

Emily Kohring, Executive Director Bread and Roses Missouri
Saint Louis, MO

Eric Williams, Executive Director Calvary Community Outreach Network Kansas City, MO

Angela Clabon, President & CEO CareSTL Health
St.Louis, MO

Barbara Wright, Executive Director Carthage Area United Way Cathage, MO

Puneet Leekha, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel
Chestnut Health Systems
Hillsboro, MO

Rochelle Parker, President & CEO Child Abuse Prevention Association Independence, MO

Lisa Mizell, President & CEO Child Protection Center, Inc. Kansas City, MO

Lori Jones, Development Children’s Center of SWMO Joplin, MO

Rob Whitten, Chief Executive Officer Children’s Services Fund of Jackson County Kansas City, MO

Emily van Schenkhof, Executive Director Children’s Trust Fund
Jefferson City, MO

Maggie Hourd-Bryant, Executive Director Communities First
St Louis, MO

Bruce A. Eddy PhD, Executive Director Community Mental Health Fund Kansas City,

Janet Dankert, President & CEO David Cook, Board Member Community Partnership of the Ozarks Springfield,

Charlie OReilly, Concerned Citizen Nixa, MO

David O’Reilly, Concerned Citizen Springfield, MO

Maxine Clark, Concerned Citizen St. Louis, MO

Ellie Richter
Connections Speech and Language Therapy St. Charles, MO

Sandra Padgett, Executive Director Consumers Council of Missouri
St Louis, MO

Monique Thomas, Executive Director Cornerstone Corporation
St. Louis, MO

Merideth Rose, President and CEO Cornerstones of Care
Kansas City, MO

Audrey Ellermann
Covenant Blu Grand Center Neighborhood St. Louis, MO

Kimberly Shinn-Brown Creekside Farm Republic, MO

Constance Harper, Vice President of Policy, Advocacy, & Strategic Initiatives Deaconess Foundation
St. Louis, MO

Donna Smith-Pupillo Deaconess Nurse Ministry Bridgeton, MO

Jim Ruedin, Executive Director Delta Center
St. Peters, MO

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Ronika Moody, CEO
Distinct Consulting Services, LLC. St. Louis, MO

Douglas Aaron Freeman, Owner Douglas A. Freeman Consulting Chesterfield, MO

Shelley Moore
ECH Every Child’s Hope – Saint Louis, MO St. Louis, MO

Mallory Rusch, Executive Director and Holly Honig, Policy Director
Empower Missouri
Jefferson City, MO

Rev. Emma Holley
Faith Des Peres Presbyterian Church Frontenac, MO

Cheri Tillis, CEO
Fathers & Families Support Center St. Louis, MO

Julie Lock
Food Outreach
St. Louis, MO

Lori Ross, CEO FosterAdopt Connect Independence, MO

Katie Rahn, Executive Director Gateway Early Childhood Alliance St. Louis, MO

Cynthia Duffe, Executive Director Gateway Housing First
St. Louis, MO

Kendra Copanas
Generate Health STL
St. Louis, MO

Dionne Ferguson, Executive Director Good Journey Development Foundation St. Louis, MO

McClain Bryant Macklin,
Vice President of Policy and Impact Health Forward Foundation
Kansas City, MO

Sarah Starnes
Heartland Alliance for Progress Kansas City, MO

Tom Lally, President & CEO
Hillcrest Ministries of MidAmerica, Inc. Kansas City, MO

Rachel Pozzo, Adult Program Coordinator Immigrant Home English Learning Program
St. Louis, MO

Gabby Eissner, Community Organizer Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America St. Louis, MO

Angie Blumel, President & CEO Jackson County CASA
Kansas City, MO

Ellen Scholten, Site Director JCC Jewish Community Center
St. Louis, MO

Jane Callahan, Executive Director JF Roblee Foundation
St. Louis, MO

Crystal Faris, Deputy Director Youth & Family Engagement
Kansas City Public Library
Kansas City, MO

Wil Franklin, CEO
KC CARE Health Center Kansas City, MO

Brian Schmidt, Executive Director Kids Win Missouri
Ballwin, MO

Susana Elizarraraz, Deputy Director Latinx Education Collaborative Kansas City, MO

Karina Arango, Director of Advocacy League of Student Advocates
St. Louis, MO

Marilyn McLeod, President
League of Women Voters of Missouri St. Louis, MO

Eston Mayfield, Director
Little Whitewater Baptist Church Food Pantry
Patton, MO

Anna Jordan-Douglass Owner Makefully, LLC
Kansas City, MO

Erin Coppenbarger, Manager Maternal & Infant Health Initiatives March of Dimes
Saint Peters, MO

Emily Stuart
Marillac Mission Fund St. Louis, MO

John Fierro, President & CEO Mattie Rhodes Center
Kansas City, MO

Lora McDonald, Executive Director Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity
Kansas City, MO

Rev. David Gerth, Executive Director Metropolitan Congregations United St Louis, MO

Scott Meier – National Sales Manager Mid-West Family Broadcasting Springfield, MO

Kathy Pabst, Executive Director Missouri Academy of Family Physicians Jefferson City, MO

Jake Hummel, President Missouri AFL-CIO Jefferson City, MO

Hong Chartrand, AHEC Program Director Missouri AHEC Network
Kirksville, MO

Phyllis Pasley, Executive Director and Andrea Branstetter
Missouri Alliance for Arts Education Maryland Heights, MO

Karrie Snider, President Missouri Association for the Education of Young Children Lee’s Summit,

Julie Peetz, Executive Director Missouri Association of Area Agencies on Aging
Jefferson City, MO

Mario Millsap, MSOT, OTR/L, President Missouri Black Occupational Therapy Caucus

Amy Blouin, President & CEO Missouri Budget Project
St. Louis, MO

Cheryl Robb-Welch, CEO
Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (MOCADSV)
Jefferson City, MO

Mary Chant, Executive Director Missouri Coalition for Children Jefferson City,

Vicky Davidson, Executive Director Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council
Jefferson City, MO

Tracey Bloch, Legislative Director Missouri Disability Empowerment Foundation
Rolla, MO

Mandy Hagseth
Director of Policy and External Affairs Missouri Family Health Council Jefferson City, MO

KJ McDonald, Organizing Director Missouri Health Care for All
St. Louis, MO

Richard von Glahn, Political Director Missouri Jobs with Justice
St. Louis, MO

Jessica Seitz, Executive Director Missouri KidsFirst
Jefferson City, MO

DeeAnn Aull, Executive Director Missouri NEA
Jefferson City, MO

Heidi N. Lucas, Executive Director Missouri Nurses Association Jefferson City, MO

Missouri Occupational Therapy Association (MOTA)
Columbia, MO

Nikole J Cronk, PhD, President Missouri Psychological Association Columbia, MO

Carla Wiese, President Missouri PTA Columbia, MO

Sandra Boeckman, Executive Director Missouri Public Health Association Jefferson City, MO

Tim Shryack, Board President Missouri Rural Health Association Jefferson City, MO

Karen Gridley, Executive Director Missouri Statewide Independent Living Council
Kansas City, MO

Julie Donelon, President & CEO MOCSA
Kansas City, MO

Angel McDonald, Executive Director Mother’s Refuge
Independence, MO

Christina Gesmundo Simon NAMI St. Louis
St. Louis, MO

Rev. Jenn Simmons
National Avenue Christian Church Springfield, MO

Amy Kuo Hammerman,
State Policy Advocacy Chair
National Council of Jewish Women – St. Louis
St. Louis, MO

Anna Meyer, Senior Manager of Grassroots Advocacy
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Creve Coeur, MO

Courtney Thomas Newhouse
Kansas City, MO

Melinda Monroe, CEO
Nurses for Newborns
Saint Louis, MO

Tracy Russell, Executive Director Nurture KC
Kansas City, MO

Mary Esselman, President & CEO Operation Breakthrough
Kansas City, MO

Tim O’Reilly, CEO
O’Reilly Hospitality Management, LLC Springfield, Missouri

Velta Smith
Organization for Black Struggle St. Louis, MO

Jennifer Olson, Executive Director
Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation Springfield, MO

Aimee Wehmeier, President Paraquad, Inc.
St. Louis, MO

Alison Gee, Vice President
Government & Community Engagement Parents as Teachers
St. Louis, MO

Demaris Ridgell Patient Advisory Board St Ann, MO

Leslie Peck
Pecks Insurance and Financial Services, Inc Springfield, MO

Mark Sanford, Executive Director People’s Community Action Corporation St. Louis, MO

Ed Weisbart, MD
Physicians for a National Health Program – MO Chapter
Olivette, MO

Vanessa Wellbery
Planned Parenthood Advocates of the
St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri St. Louis, MO

Kourtney Vincent-Woodbury
VP of Equity and Community Relations Planned Parenthood Great Plains Voteskourtney.vincentwoodbury@ppgreatplains. org

Terry Flowers
Independence, MO

LJ Punch, Executive Director Power4STL
St. Louis, MO

Maggie Olivia
Pro Choice Missouri
St. Louis, MO

Anne Kraus,
Manager of Public Policy and Advocacy PROMO
Saint Louis, MO

Katie Heiden-Rootes, PhD
Queer & Trans Wellness Clinic Saint Louis, MO

Brenda Sharpe, President & CEO REACH Healthcare Foundation

Bre-Ann Slay, Licensed Clinical Psychologist Reflect to Connect Psychology, LLC
Kansas City, MO

Emily Macdonald, Executive Director Regional Family Crisis Center Perryville, MO

Christy Moreno
Chief Community Advocacy & Impact Officer
Revolución Educativa
Kansas City, MO

LaDonna Williams, Executive Director Rural Advocates For Independent Living Kirksville, MO

Jessica Hill, Executive Director Safe House of Southeast Missouri Cape Girardeau,

Dr. Kanika Cunningham
Saint Louis County Department of Public Health
Berkeley, MO

Dede Coughlin
St. Cronan Church St. Louis, MO

Mark A. Keeley, President/CEO St. Louis Arc
St. Louis, MO

Muriel Smith, Executive Director St. Louis Area Diaper Bank
St. Louis, MO

St. Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute St. Louis, MO

Elizabeth George,
Director of Community Investment St. Louis Community Foundation St. Louis, MO

Luka Cai, Executive Director
St. Louis Queer+ Support Helpline St. Louis, MO

Angela Brown, CEO
St. Louis Regional Health Commission St. Louis, MO

Dr. Jumesha Wade
Start at Zero
Kansas City MO, MO

Robin Winner, Co-Executive Director Synergy Services, Inc
Parkville, MO

Paula Neth, President and CEO The Family Conservancy
Kansas City, MO

Brian Herstig, President & CEO The Jewish Federation of St. Louis St. Louis, MO

Dave Almeida
Regional Director- State Government Affairs
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Will Jordan, Executive Director
Marissa Cohen Director of Education, Outreach, and Advocacy

The Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing & Opportunity Council
St. Louis, MO

Michele Utt
The Missouri Association for Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health (MOAIMH-EC)
Kansas City, MO

Emily Stuckey
The National Peer Recovery Alliance Lake Saint Louis, MO

Dayna M. Stock, CEO
The Rome Group
St. Louis, MO

Faith Sandler, Executive Director
The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis St. Louis, MO

Tonya Lewis Executive Director Tri-County Center for Independent Living Rolla, MO

Elizabeth Shelton, Executive Director Robin Koetting, Read to Succeed Program Manager
United Way of Southeast Missouri
Cape Girardeau, MO

Greg Burris, President & CEO United Way of the Ozarks Springfield, MO

Darlene Sowell President & CEO Unleashing Potential
St Louis, MO

Alexandra Rankin
Associate Director of State Policy Upstream USA

Matt Pagnotti, State & Local Government Relations Director
Vivent Health

Alleigh Emmendorfer Voices for Children Cape Girardeau, MO

Sharon Hileman, Executive Director Voices for Children/CASA of Southeast Missouri
Cape Girardeau, MO

Marjorie Moore, Executive Director VOYCE
St. Louis, MO

Sabrina Davis APRN-PMHNP, MSN Executive Director
Saint Louis, MO

Rev. Dr. Mark R. Miller Westminster Presbyterian Church Saint Louis, MO

Christina Donald, Senior Vice President Programs and Advocacy
Eureka, MO

Pat Holterman-Hommes, CEO Youth In Need, Inc.
Saint Charles, MO

Danielle Stewart
YWCA Head Start
Saint Louis, MO