Principal investigator 

Lyle Foster graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, before earning graduate degrees at Brown and Yale University. He is faculty at Missouri State University, where he teaches classes in sociology, social problems, multicultural education, poverty, diversity training and counseling. Foster's research focuses on community, empowerment and inclusion. In 2015, he implemented the Tough Talks initiative at Missouri State to provide conversation threads on issues of diversity and inclusion for students and staff. Living up to their name, Tough Talks were instituted at a time when many students were wrestling with issues of diversity and inclusion and provided a much-needed platform for honest, healthy conversation.

Foster's interests also include entrepreneurial initiatives and the role of small businesses in community. As a small business owner in Springfield, he has cultivated a network of community leaders. His longtime commitment to fostering understanding and inclusion between diverse groups combined with interview skills that have been refined by his work in sociology and counseling make Foster an ideal director for this project. As an active board member of numerous community organizations, Foster also brings his deep connections within the Springfield community, which are invaluable for identifying and cultivating interview subjects.


Tim Knapp is a professor of sociology at Missouri State University. He earned a PhD in sociology from the University of Kansas in 1990, and he has taught at Missouri State University for 27 years. Knapp has taught social inequality (racial group, class and gender stratification) for over a quarter of a century, and he has been heavily involved in public research with community partners over the past decade. Most of his research focuses on disadvantaged youth, poverty, homelessness, education and underserved populations. Knapp is the author of two peer-reviewed publications on the history of Springfield, which were based on surveys, interviews and archival research. He brings experience in various forms of interviewing and in archival historical methods to this project.

Lucie Amberg coordinates communications for Missouri State's College of Arts and Letters, where she promotes COAL programs, events and initiatives through websites, blogs, videos, social media and traditional publications. She also teaches courses on new media theory and production, interactive web design and multimedia journalism in Missouri State's department of media, journalism and film and is currently completing her Master of Professional Studies with an emphasis in writing and producing for new media. Amberg brings expertise in web development, new media, project management and multimedia storytelling to this project.