For more than two decades, the UMSL Trailblazers Award has honored, celebrated and uplifted the achievements of exceptional women who have paved the way for others on campus and beyond. The annual awards are part of the university’s Women’s History Month programming, and this year’s theme was “Womyn’s Lives: Paths to Healing, Hope, and Empowerment.”
This year’s awardees included Sheila Grigsby and Melissa Douglas. Here’s more about them:
Sheila Grigsby received her doctorate from the University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Nursing. In addition to working on her degree and teaching, she has spent much of the last year focusing on a project funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. This study, in collaboration with organizations, seeks to reduce health disparities in the St. Louis region by engaging community members through focus groups and other activities to address asthma and other issues among youth. A longtime member of the UMSL teaching faculty, Dr. Grigsby has worked extensively in the St. Louis region as a community organizer and health coalition builder. She is interested in teen pregnancy prevention, sexual and reproductive health and preventing chronic disease in the African American community using participatory research methods.
Melissa Douglass is a trailblazing social entrepreneur who is known in professional spaces as “The Virtual Clinician.” She is a licensed clinical social worker and the founder/clinical director of Goal Driven Counseling, one of the first Black-owned, virtual mental health counseling practices in the U.S. Her work and passion meet at the intersection of modern tech utilization and trauma-informed wellness strategies, and she serves as a professional development trainer and consultant on mental health literacy topics and trauma-informed systems of care. Douglass values impactful change and enjoys partnering with organizations to guide actionable, solution-focused strategies that center equitable approaches through a person-centered lens. She is equally invested in the development of future social workers as an adjunct professor and has shared mental health and tech-related knowledge on nationwide platforms such as National Public Radio, Blackdoctor.org, KPLR News Channel 11, the National Association of Social Workers Conference as the Plenary speaker, and at conferences, organizations and universities.