WLCSRF was the vision of retired Congressman William L. “Bill” Clay, Sr.
The first African American elected from Missouri to the U.S. House of  Representatives. 

Our Founder

William L. Clay, Sr.

William L. “Bill” Clay Sr. was born April 30, 1931 in St. Louis MO. He and his 8 brothers and sisters were raised in a tenement apartment with no indoor plumbing or hot water. By the age of 13 he was working as a janitor in a clothing store to help support his family. By 18 Bill was a salesman. Through his savings and scholarships he was able to attend college, graduating (as one of four blacks in a class of 1,100) from St. Louis University in 1953 with a B.A. in history and political science.

In a major election upset in 1959, Bill was elected to the St. Louis Board of Alderman to represent the Twenty-Sixth Ward. In 1968 he was elected to Congress from Missouri’s 1st District, beating 5 primary opponents and a strong challenger in the General Election.

As a Congressman, Bill immediately made his mark as a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1971. 

Bill used his experience as a civil rights activist and labor union representative in St. Louis to promote legislation to help minorities and American workers, particularly organized labor. An advocate of improving the education of underserved students, Bill passed significant federal legislation to reduce class sizes, increase the number of college grants for disadvantaged students, and boost federal funding for historically black colleges.

Bill zealously represented his constituents with a strong voice in Congress. Never one to avoid confrontation, the fiery dean of the Missouri delegation observed:

“I didn’t get so tied to the job that it stopped me from speaking out.”

Bill retired in 2001 having passed more than 100 pieces of legislation and as the third most senior member of the House of Representatives.


Angie Clay Thomas

Executive Director

Angie is the eldest grandchild of WLCSRF founder, William L. “Bill” Clay, Sr. Angie grew up and attended public schools in Silver Spring, MD. She went on to earn her Bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Miami and a Master’s in Business Administration from American University. An activist at heart Angie has focused her professional and civic work on empowering people and motivating change through effective communication, strategic partnerships, and principled determination.

Angie brings a breadth of non-profit, private sector and public service experience to lead WLCSRF into its 4th decade of services, Next to being the first African American woman elected to the Kane County Board (IL’s 5th largest county) one of Angie’s most rewarding experiences was as a full-time substitute teacher.

“As I was teaching them the students were teaching me! Working to spark students’ interest in learning and seeing so many grow academically and personally was a privilege.”

Our Board

Reverend Willie E. Kilpatrick

Prince of Peace Church

Sgt. Misty Dobynes

(Vice President)
St. Louis Public Schools

Edward M. Blake

Bank of America

Stacy Lyles

Hazelwood School District

The Honoraable Lacy Clay


Carol A. Clay


Gwen Reed

Retired, Hazelwood School District

Dr. Carol Clay

Central State Hospital

The Honorable Bill Clay

Retired, U.S. Congress

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