Denise DeCou has been a leading figure in diversity awareness and anti-bias efforts in the non-profit sector of the St. Louis community for over 25 years. Since joining Washington University nearly two years ago, she has conducted highly popular diversity training sessions with more than 7,500 employees and supports efforts to improve the school’s workforce diversity.
Originally from New York, DeCou was drawn to the paradox of St. Louis’ warm and friendly yet culturally divided environment; she has dedicated her professional life to healing these divides as an effective administrator and anti-bias educator. She was executive director of the National Conference for Community and Justice of Metropolitan St. Louis, ran the largest training program of the Anti-Defamation League—St. Louis for 10 years, and held positions with the United Way and East-West Gateway Coordinating Council. She founded and still runs the consulting firm Loretta’s Work, aimed at developing young leaders.
As a nationally certified diversity trainer, DeCou has facilitated anti-bias/anti-oppression trainings for children, youth, community-based organizations, community leaders, the workplace, law enforcement, and institutions of higher education here in the United States and abroad. Over the course of her career, she has trained thousands of adults, including professors at Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv, Israel, and youth, and has managed more than 100 employees and 200 volunteers over the last fifteen years.
DeCou serves on the Governing Board of stl250 and as the co-chair of its History Committee. Her other community roles include service on the Regional Arts Commission Operating Support Panel II and the A World of Difference Institute Advisory Board. She has served on numerous boards over the past 25 years including the Diversity Awareness Partnership; Redevelopment Opportunities for Women, Interfaith Partnership, and member of the Council for the Holocaust & Museum Learning Center.
DeCou graduated from Fordham University, Rosehill Campus in New York with degrees in modern languages and is tri-lingual.