top of page
Quite possibly the hottest topic today. Join us as we talk to ordinary   folks working hard to be extraordinarily good people for the world.  


Erika Niles

Principal | Green Trails Elementary School

St. Louis, Missouri


Erika is the Principal of Green Trails Elementary in the Parkway School District in St. Louis, Missouri. She began her career over two decades ago as an elementary classroom teacher, serving in both Rockwood and Hazelwood schools. In addition, Erika was previously a middle school gifted social studies teacher, literacy coach, and elementary math specialist in the Ladue School District, and the building leader and instructional coordinator at Captain Elementary in the Clayton School District. Erika holds a Master's in Education Administration from Southwest Baptist University, a Master's in Education from Lindenwood University, and a Bachelor’s in Education from Maryville University. She is currently a character education and servant leadership doctoral student at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.


Erika is also an education social media influencer with over 25,000 Twitter followers. How can you not love someone whose social media header image reads "this beautiful mess." Her one-phrase tweet perspectives are cited, retweeted, and discussed by the likes of Education Week and Edutopia. For a refreshing yet pointed take on education, life, and everything in between, you can't go wrong joining her on Twitter @flyingmonkey13



Marvin Anderson

Senior Vice President | Private Client Advisor  Bank of America Private Bank

St. Louis, Missouri


A city of St. Louis native, Marvin Anderson is Senior Vice President and Private Client Advisor with U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management, in St. Louis. Marvin leads the design and development of tailored financial strategies for individuals, families, and institutions. He works closely with business owners, senior executives of public and private companies, and endowments and foundations to identify their long-term goals and pursue those objectives with forethought and care.


Marvin believes in treating clients as he would like to be treated. Before joining Bank of America Private Bank, Marvin was a Banker with J.P. Morgan’s Private Bank. Previously, he spent most of his nearly 30-year career as an investment banker with A.G. Edwards and Wachovia. He holds an M.B.A. and a Master’s degree in Public Policy (M.P.P.) from The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and a B.S.B.A. from Rockhurst University.


Marvin serves as a Board Member of the St. Louis Community Foundation, the Christian Church Foundation, The Interfaith Partnership, Missouri Historical Society, Oasis, and Webster University. In addition, Marvin serves on the CharacterPlus Executive Committee as Secretary. 



Missouri State Senator Karla Eslinger


Committee Examples Include:   

Interim Committee on Education, Chairwoman

Missouri Education Program Board

Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment

Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect

Joint Committee on Public Assistance


Gubernatorial Appointments


Senator Karla Eslinger is a lifelong educator with more than 30 years of experience in a variety of educational settings. She most recently served as a senior analyst for education services with the AEM Corporation and provided technical assistance to the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C. Previously, she served as an assistant commissioner of education for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. She began her career as an elementary school teacher and went on to work as a building principal and a superintendent of schools in Ava and West Plains.

A graduate of Gainesville High School, Sen. Eslinger holds a bachelor degree in elementary education from The College of the Ozarks. She also earned a master’s degree in education administration and a specialist degree in superintendency and educational system administration from Missouri State University. Senator Eslinger received her doctorate in educational leadership and policy analysis from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Prior to her election to the Missouri Senate in 2020, Sen. Eslinger represented District 155 in the Missouri House of Representatives from 2019 through 2020.


Senator Eslinger is a long-term resident of Wasola, where she and her husband David reside on the family farm. They have also owned and operated a small business for over 35 years. They have two daughters and three grandchildren.



Senior Director of CharacterPlus Programming Kristen Pelster, Ed.S. &

Sanford N. McDonnell Professor of Character Education & UM System Thomas Jefferson Fellow Marvin W Berkowitz, Ph.D.


Dr. Marvin Berkowitz and Kristen Pelster discuss the “Why” behind character education and practical steps you can take within your character leadership journey personally and professionally.


In 1999 Dr. Marvin Berkowitz was the inaugural Ambassador H.H. Coors Professor of Character Development at the US Air Force Academy. He served as Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for Ethics Studies at Marquette University. He was also the founder and Associate Director of the Center for Addiction and Behavioral Health Research in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He earned his BA degree from the State University of NY at Buffalo in 1972. He earned his Ph.D. in Life-span Developmental Psychology at Wayne State University in 1977. He served as a Research Associate at the Center for Moral Development and Education at Harvard University from 1977-79. He has also served as a Visiting Professor at the 

Max-Planck-Institute for Human Development and Education in Berlin (1987-88), as a Visiting Scholar for the Gordon Cook Foundation in Scotland (1995), and as an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at the University of Birmingham, England (2019-2021).


He is joined by Kristen Pelster. She’s spent over two decades as an educator and then administrator. She’s a National School of Character recipient and a St. Louis Region Middle School Principal of the Year. For nearly a decade, Kristen served as the district leader for character education. Not satisfied with her school becoming a National School of Character, her work throughout Fox C-6 was recognized as a National District of Character.


That incredible journey took Kristen before the Senate in Washington, D.C., testifying on the positive impact of “social, emotional and character development.” Kristin is currently studying for an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership at the University of Missouri - St. Louis (UMSL). Her educational achievements at UMSL include an Ed.S. in Education Administration, M.A. in Education Administration, and she is a graduate of the Leadership Academy in Character Education. Kristen received a B.A. in Music Education from Missouri Baptist University.

bottom of page