The Bottom Line

Walking is good for your health and the health of your community. Explore ways that investment into walkable communiites is changing the shape and livability of our places.

About the Panel

DARA ESKRIDGE, LEED AP ND, is the Executive Director of Invest STL, a regional initiative to prioritize and support equitable community development in St. Louis. Leading Invest STL, Eskridge directs grantmaking to support neighborhood-based, resident-driven community change. Working with the local philanthropic network, government, banks and universities, she seeks to build a broad coalition of community partners to re-establish the community development ecosystem in St. Louis, centered on policy creation that advances racial equity, civic participation and economic mobility.

Prior to Invest STL, Dara served as Director of Operations for Urban Strategies, a national nonprofit that works with residents, grassroots organizations, local governments and developers to re-build distressed urban core communities into vibrant residential neighborhoods. In addition to overseeing USI’s St. Louis portfolio and team, she led economic development and community engagement for the $30M federal Near North Side Choice Neighborhood initiative in St. Louis. Additionally, Ms. Eskridge formerly served as Senior Planner for the St. Louis County Executive’s Office of Strategy + Innovation where she helped direct regional strategic initiatives, community strategy development and performance measurement for government operations. Previous roles also include serving as a community planner, policy specialist and urban designer with St. Louis County Planning, City of St. Louis Homeless Services and the Bridgeport Housing Authority in Connecticut.

Eskridge earned her graduate degree in Urban Planning from Columbia University in New York and her Bachelor of Architecture from Tuskegee University in Alabama. She is a LEED Accredited Professional for Neighborhood Development.

John O’Gorman leads the ambitious fundraising operations for Forest Park Forever. Since joining Forest Park Forever in January 2012, O’Gorman has overseen the growth of the conservancy’s annual fundraising from $2.2 million to more than $3.2 million, as well as the successful completion of a $130 million capital and endowment campaign, the most ambitious in Forest Park history.

Prior to this role, O’Gorman was an executive with a national fundraising consultant firm. He served as counsel to civic, cultural, educational, healthcare and religious organizations throughout the Midwest and East Coast, managing transformational campaigns that raised more than $600 million for the firm’s clients.

O’Gorman is a member of the St. Louis Chapter of the Association for Fundraising Professionals and has served on its Programming board.