Richard Patton, MA
Executive Director

Rich has been director of Vision for Children at Risk since it was established as an independent agency in 1998, and has led the agency’s operations since its start in 1991. He was involved in this and many community activities as a senior research associate and fellow with the Center for Metropolitan Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis from 1997 to 2002. Over the past 25 years, he has been a tireless advocate for the needs of disadvantaged children in the St. Louis area. His leadership has brought together hundreds of diverse stakeholders in collaborative strategic action addressing the needs of children. Besides his work with Vision for Children at Risk, he has served as board president of Cardinal Ritter College Prep, the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition, the Family Support Council and the Maternal, Child and Family Health Coalition, and as a board member of Access Academies, the St. Louis Council of Community Organizations and the City of St. Louis Board of Adult Welfare Services. He has served on the leadership team for Ready by 21 St. Louis, and committees for the United Way of Greater St. Louis, FOCUS St. Louis and many other organizations. He has been recognized with awards including the Missouri Child Advocate Award from the Missouri Alliance of Children, Youth and Families, and the James A. Braun Champion of Children Award presented by Youth in Need. He holds a master’s degree in urban affairs from Saint Louis University.

Ruth Ehresman, MSW
Advocacy Coordinator and St. Louis Family & Community Partnership Coordinator

Ruth provides staff coordination for the Missouri Children’s Leadership Council and the St. Louis Family & Community Partnership. A Vision for Children at Risk staff member since 2013, Ruth has spent the last 15 years advocating in the public interest for policies in Jefferson City. She was the policy director of Citizens for Missouri’s Children for 11 years and the director of health and budget policy at the Missouri Budget Project for six years. Ruth has participated in the development of public policy at the state level on issues relating to the budget and revenue, health care, welfare reform, child welfare, nutrition, livable wages and child care. Ruth is currently a member of the board of directors of the Missouri Family Health Council and Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice, and is co-chair of the Jobs With Justice Workers’ Rights Board. She is a member of the Catholic Charities Advocacy Advisory Council. Ruth was selected as a Health Care Hero in Policy by the St. Louis Business Journal in 2007, and as a Distinguished Alumni by the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University, 2008. She has received the Child Advocate of the Year award from the Council on Child Abuse and Neglect, the Dr. James Kimmey Lifetime Achievement Award from the Missouri Health Advocacy Alliance, and The Mickey Rosen Community Advocate Award from the Missouri Association of Social Welfare. She holds a master’s degree in social work from the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University.

Liz Hoester
Research Coordinator and Project Coordinator, St. Louis Regional Early Childhood Council

Liz provides staff coordination for the St. Louis Regional Early Childhood Council and the St. Louis Mayor’s Commission on Children, Youth and Families. She also compiles child well-being community assessment data for the Vision for Children at Risk website, the Children of Metropolitan St. Louis report, and special reports. Liz has been with Vision for Children at Risk since 2008 and holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Washington University.

Sanaria Sulaiman
Project LAUNCH Director and Young Child Wellness Coordinator

Sanaria directs the operations of Project LAUNCH, a five-year federal grant to improve young child wellness in the 63106 and 63107 ZIP codes. She joined Vision for Children at Risk in 2013 after serving for over five years with Child Care Aware of Missouri, most recently as director of training and inclusion services.  She has been in the early childhood field for 15 years, and has 10 years of statewide and regional management experience in the area of social and emotional well-being of children, families and communities, training and educating service providers, with focus on inclusive practices. In addition to her work, she has served on the following committees: Early Childhood Mental Health Workgroup (Co-Chair); Missouri Leadership Team – Special Quest (Head Start/ Hilton Foundation Training Program for Professional Development on Inclusion of Birth-Five Children with Special Needs); Missouri Professional Development System; St. Louis Regional Early Childhood Council Governing Committee; The Refugee & Immigrant Community Coalition for Health-St. Louis; and Missouri Training Institute (Trainer for Cultural and Linguistic Competency). She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Jim Braibish, APR
Financial Development/Communications

Jim handles financial development and communications functions for Vision for Children at Risk, including grantwriting, special events, individual giving, newsletters, media publicity, website and social media. He has been working with Vision for Children at Risk since 2002. With over 30 years of experience in communications, he has held senior management positions at the American Red Cross and Optimist International. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism and the APR accreditation from the Public Relations Society of America.

Sam Blue
Project LAUNCH Community Engagement Specialist

Sam utilizes his background and visibility in the community to help engage parents and families with Project LAUNCH activities to promote young child health and wellness. A Project LAUNCH staff member since 2013, Sam is a supportive husband of 26 years and the father of nine children (seven daughters and two sons). At Grace Hill Head Start, he served as the chair of the Magnolia Center’s Parent Committee as well as the vice chair of the Policy Council. He has been an AmeriCorps member for two years serving as the male involvement specialist. Sam was selected as the Missouri Head Start Association’s 2011 Father of the Year. In addition, he has also been named the Region VII Head Association’s 2011 Father of the Year. In 2015, he was appointed to the national FRIENDS Advisory Council for the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention program of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. He holds an associate degree in applied science and human services from St. Louis Community College.

Nancy Rubin, MSN
Project LAUNCH Health Coordinator

Nancy brings 31 years of experience as a nurse for children with mental health issues. Besides her part-time work at Project LAUNCH and Vision for Children at Risk, she is a nurse at Center Pointe Hospital in St. Charles and an adjunct faculty member at Maryville University. Nancy joined Project LAUNCH in 2014 and holds a master’s degree in nursing from Loyola University of New Orleans.

Breann Schubert, MSW
Project LAUNCH Activities Coordinator

Breann carries out Project LAUNCH activities that integrate services, enhance the expertise of providers, increase public awareness and more. She joined Project LAUNCH in January 2015. Previously, as a research assistant with Washington University, she generated an evaluation plan to measure utilization of vacant land in Old North St. Louis. As a student intern at Grace Hill Settlement House, she co-led the implementation of an early childhood care and education study. From 2011-2013, she spent a year and a half in Zambia as a volunteer with an orphanage. She holds a master’s degree in social work from the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University.