Opening Ceremony and Welcome “Setting the Stage” (1pm-2pm)

The National Walking Summit- St. Louis will explore how walking and walkability connects communities to overcome barriers, bridge divides, and address inequities that exist because of the legacies of injustices. In order to do that, we need to set the stage for the conversations, workshops, and learning we hope to take place by taking a look back at some of the history of St. Louis and surrounding areas and how that informs who (and where) we are today.

About the Keynote Speakers

Michael R. Allen works as an academic researcher, historian, teacher, design critic, public artist, critical spatial tour guide, and heritage conservationist in private practice. He is Senior Lecturer in Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. Allen also directs the Preservation Research Office, a historic preservation and urban history consulting firm that he founded in 2009. In 2018, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Allen as one of its “40 Under 40” preservation practitioners. Allen’s writing on urban design and history has appeared in CityLabNext CityDisegno and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


Vetta Sanders Thompson is the E. Desmond Lee Professor of Racial and Ethnic Studies at the Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis and currently serves as the School’s Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Dr. Sanders Thompson received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Social Relations from Harvard University in 1981. She received her master’s degree and doctorate in psychology from Duke University in 1984 and 1988, where she also completed the Clinical Training program. Dr. Sanders Thompson serves as co-director of the Center for Community Health Partnership and Research at the Institute for Public Health at Washington University, is an associate member of the Siteman Cancer Center, and a faculty affiliate of the Department of African and African-American Studies, as well as the Interdisciplinary Program in Urban Studies. Dr. Thompson is a licensed psychologist and health service provider in the state of Missouri.

Dr. Sanders Thompson’s research is focused on the health and well-being of ethnic and racial minority communities, particularly the African-American community. She is a noted researcher in the areas of racial identity, psychosocial implications of race and ethnicity in health behavior and socio-cultural determinants of health and mental health disparities. Her goal is to empower members of the community to improve their health and well-being. She teaches courses in human diversity, health disparities, and evidence based treatments in mental health. Dr. Thompson has a history of funded research addressing promotion of cancer screening among African Americans and community engagement, including her current PCORI funded project to develop a measure of the quality of community and patient engaged research.

A licensed clinical psychologist, Sanders Thompson is active in numerous professional associations including the American Psychological Association, having served as an associate editor for the journal PsycCritiques: Contemporary Psychology and is a member of the Missouri Psychological Association. Dr. Thompson is a past Chair of the State Committee of Psychologist and a past President of the Missouri Psychological Association. Over the years she has been honored by the St. Louis community, as well as her professional colleagues. Among others, Dr. Thompson has received the 2018 Terry Leet Researcher of the Year Award from Generate Health, the 2017 Missouri Psychological Association Dr. Richard R. Wilkerson Lifetime Achievement Award and Mental Health America of Eastern Region Missouri Silver Key Award.