About the Center

The Mississippi Center for Justice opened its doors in 2003 with a simple mission: dismantling the policies that keep Mississippi at the bottom of nearly every indicator of human well-being and deny African-American and lower-income Mississippians the opportunity to advance themselves.

Today, progress is being made. As a home-grown public interest law firm, the Center is advancing racial and economic justice through an approach that combines legal services with policy advocacy, community education and media outreach. The Center partners with national, regional and community organizations to develop and implement campaigns designed to create better futures for low-income Mississippians and communities of color in the areas of educational opportunity, financial security, healthcare, affordable housing and other vital issues.

Our Mission

Mississippi Center for Justice is a nonprofit, public interest law firm committed to advancing racial and economic justice.

Supported and staffed by attorneys and other professionals, the Center develops and pursues strategies to combat discrimination and poverty statewide.

Mississippi Center for Justice was organized to address the urgent need to re-establish in-state advocacy on behalf of low-income people and communities of color. Since its beginnings, the Center has advanced social and economic justice in Mississippi by:

  • Negotiating a $172 million settlement with Mississippi and federal officials for the reconstruction and repair of over 5,000 low-income homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina, following a lawsuit over Mississippi’s diversion of housing disaster funds to expand a state-owned port.
  • Protecting fair housing for hundreds of low-income residents in the Mississippi Delta by securing lower rents and better maintenance as the result of a lawsuit against the South Delta Regional Housing Authority.
  • Organizing a regional pro bono response to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico to help ensure equitable claims settlements for low-income persons.
  • Preventing 65,000 poverty-level, aged and disabled Mississippians (PLADS) from losing healthcare.
  • Dismantling a Jim Crow-era school board election system in the Mississippi Delta.
  • Ending the torture of juveniles in the state’s training schools, successfully fighting for their right to counsel, and helping pass sweeping juvenile justice reform.
  • Attacking predatory lending practices in the migrant poultry worker community and defeating legislation that would raise the rates on low-dollar loans statewide.
  • Preventing the funneling of children from the schoolhouse to the jailhouse by teaching grassroots community organizers and defense attorneys to navigate the state’s convoluted juvenile justice system.
  • Facilitating development of a comprehensive strategy to eliminate poverty by economic justice advocates from across the Deep South.

Our Staff

Vangela M. Wade – President and CEO


Attorney Vangela M. Wade has a long-standing connection to Mississippi Center for Justice, having joined the Board of Directors in 2016 and served as Secretary/Treasurer, Chair of the Audit Committee, and Chair of the Board of Directors. She currently serves as MCJ’s president and CEO. Vangela began The Wade Law Firm, PLLC, after building a diverse and distinguished résumé as a lawyer. Her background also includes working as a law clerk with the Mississippi Court of Appeals, a special prosecutor with the Madison/Rankin County District Attorney’s Office, and as a corporate defense attorney with local and national employment law firms. She has also served as an adjunct law professor at the University of Mississippi School of Law. In addition to her legal experience, she advised public and private employers and organizations as a consultant in matters involving diversity and fair employment practices. Vangela currently serves on the board of Mississippi Today. She is a member of the International Women’s Forum – Mississippi Forum and of the Land Title Association of Mississippi. Previously, she served on the board of trustees of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School for eight years. She earned her BA from Mississippi State University and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Mississippi School of Law. With over 23 years of experience in Mississippi Law, Vangela is dedicated to the fight against Mississippi’s culture of injustice by seeking systemic solutions to ensure equity in the lives of all Mississippians.

Martha Bergmark – Founder / Senior Counsel


Martha serves as founder/senior counsel at the Center. Prior to founding MCJ, she was a national advocate for equal justice under law in Washington, DC, serving tenures as president and executive vice president of the Legal Services Corporation, which administers federal funding for legal aid programs, and as senior vice president for programs at the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, where she directed the NLADA/Center for Law and Social Policy’s Project for the Future of Equal Justice. For the first 14 years of her legal career, Martha practiced civil rights and poverty law in Hattiesburg, MS, where she was the founding executive director of Southeast Mississippi Legal Services (now Mississippi Center for Legal Services). Martha is a former Reginald Heber Smith Fellow and the 1990 recipient of the Kutak-Dodds Prize for her civil rights and legal aid work in her home state of Mississippi. In 2003, she was named the Stern Family Fund’s Public Interest Pioneer, an honor which came with a $200,000 grant to launch Mississippi Center for Justice. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Oberlin College, earned her law degree cum laude at the University of Michigan Law School, and holds an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service from Millsaps College.

Reilly Morse – General Counsel


Reilly serves as general counsel of MCJ. His past roles include president/CEO (2013-20), policy director (2011-13), and housing co-director (2006-11). As President, Reilly created the George Riley Impact Litigation Initiative. As housing co-director, he secured a $132 million settlement to solve Hurricane Katrina housing needs that grew to $212 million. He was an Equal Justice Works Katrina legal fellow. He has published, advised, and lectured on disaster law and environmental justice in the United States, Japan, and Puerto Rico. Prior to co-founding MCJ’s Biloxi office in 2005, he spent 11 years in insurance and commercial litigation, followed by nine years as a solo and public interest attorney, including three as Gulfport Municipal Judge. He received the 2006 Edwin Wolf Public Interest Lawyer award from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. He is a magna cum laude graduate of Millsaps College and received his J.D. from the University of Mississippi School of Law. He appeared in HBO’s “If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise,” a Spike Lee Joint.  He is a member of the board of directors of Healthy Gulf and the Highlander Research and Education Center. He resides with his wife Christina in Gulfport.

Beth L. Orlansky – Advocacy Director


Beth serves as advocacy director with the Mississippi Center for Justice. In this capacity, Beth manages the Center’s policy campaigns and oversees the work of the staff attorneys. Beth also assists families in cleaning up titles to family property in heirship situations. She holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Stanford University and a law degree from the University of Tennessee. Prior to joining the Center, Beth practiced law with Butler Snow, Ott & Purdy, and McGlinchey Stafford law firms in Jackson, and she has been involved as a volunteer with a wide variety of organizations. She and her husband Steve, also an attorney, have raised three sons, Abram, Jonathan, and Benjamin.

Robert B. McDuff – Director of the George Riley Impact Litigation Initiative


Rob McDuff is director of the George Riley Impact Litigation Initiative. The Initiative was launched by MCJ in 2017 to pursue litigation around issues affecting large numbers of Mississippians. It has filed cases relating to voting and election issues, racial discrimination, discrimination based on sexual orientation, reproductive freedom, police misconduct, consumer protection, and prisoners’ rights. Its work includes the representation of Curtis Flowers, the charges against whom were dismissed after Flowers endured six trials and 23 years in prison despite significant evidence of his innocence and the prosecutor’s discriminatory pattern of striking African-American jurors. Rob is a graduate of Millsaps College and Harvard Law.

Linda Dixon – Director of Health Law and Public Benefits


Linda Dixon serves as the health law director at the Mississippi Center for Justice, a position she has held since November 2008. Prior to joining the Center, she was the assistant secretary of state for elections for the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office, where she previously held the position of senior attorney and director of elections training and education. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Southern University at New Orleans and her law degree from Mississippi College School of Law. Linda’s work focuses on access to health care and HIV discrimination and stigma. Linda is a member of the Mississippi Bar and the Magnolia Bar Associations. Linda currently serves on the Southern Black HIV/AIDS Advisory Council, Mississippi HIV Planning Council, and the Access Care & Engagement TA Center Advisory Council. She serves on the Mississippi College School of Law Alumni Association Board. Linda previously served on the Southern AIDS Coalition Board of Directors, the Mississippi Sickle Cell Foundation, and the steering committee of the Southern HIV/AIDS Strategy Initiative.

John Jopling – Director of Housing Law / Biloxi Managing Attorney


John serves as the managing attorney for the Mississippi Center for Justice office in Biloxi, MS and also serves as housing law director. He is a founding staff member of the Center’s Katrina Recovery Office, which opened its doors in October 2005 to provide legal advocacy to tens of thousands of residents whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. In 2006, he received the President’s Award from the Mississippi Bar Young Lawyers Division for his legal work on behalf of renters in the immediate aftermath of Katrina. John’s pre-Katrina solo practice in Ocean Springs focused on consumer housing, employment discrimination, and personal injury law. He previously served on the pro bono panel of the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project and was project manager of the Fair Housing Education Outreach Project funded by HUD at South Mississippi Legal Services. During his 10 years with Southeast Mississippi Legal Services in Hattiesburg, he was a housing and consumer law specialist and served as litigation director. From 1994-95, John was a clinical professor in the University of Mississippi School of Law Housing Law Clinic. A graduate of Louisiana State University and the University of Mississippi School of Law, he began his legal career as a law clerk to Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Lenore Prather. He is the author of “Two Years After The Storm: The State Of Katrina Housing Recovery On The Mississippi Gulf Coast,” 77 Miss. L. J. 873 (2008).

Amelia McGowan – Director of Immigration Law


Amelia Steadman McGowan serves as director of immigration law. Amelia is also an adjunct professor at Mississippi College School of Law, where she teaches Immigration Law and has directed the school’s Immigration Clinic since its founding in 2015. Amelia comes to MCJ from Catholic Charities of Jackson, where she served as the Program Director of the agency’s immigration legal services program. As an immigration attorney, Amelia has focused her practice on asylum representation (affirmative and defensive claims) and immigration appeals, representing clients before the Board of Immigration Appeals as well as the Fifth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits. In addition to her direct client representation, Amelia has also worked to coordinate and mentor pro bono attorneys to represent Mississippi immigrants in removal proceedings as well as organize community outreach and education sessions on immigration-related topics throughout the state. Amelia is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi Honors College, where she earned her BA in history and Spanish and participated in study abroad/cultural exchange programs in Vietnam and Panama, as well as Tulane University, where she received her JD and MA in Latin American Studies. Amelia is fluent in Spanish and proficient in Brazilian Portuguese.

Max Meyers – Director of Consumer Protection


Max leads the economic justice work as consumer protection director, overseeing MCJ’s work in predatory lending, foreclosure prevention, expungements, and justice court access. Max moved to Mississippi in 2010 and lived in the Delta for five years where he taught fourth and fifth grade in Sunflower County Public Schools and trained new teachers across several Delta counties. Max began at MCJ as a legal fellow after graduating from the UC Davis School of Law. He joined MCJ staff in 2019, first serving as an attorney on the immigration team.

Paloma Wu – Deputy Director of Impact Litigation


Paloma Wu is the Deputy Director of the George Riley Impact Litigation Initiative. With a focus on systemic reform and class actions, she has litigated civil rights and civil liberties matters challenging racial bias in policing, the indefinite detention of persons with disabilities, racial discrimination in police hiring, conditions of confinement in detention facilities, lifetime voting bans, and matters upholding free speech and LGBT equality. Paloma has served as the Acting Senior Supervising Attorney for Criminal Justice Reform for the Southern Poverty Law Center and as the Legal Director of the ACLU of Mississippi. At Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, an international law firm, Paloma represented corporate clients in antitrust and securities matters and pro bono clients in civil rights and asylum matters. Prior to becoming an attorney, Paloma was a capital defense investigator in California’s state habeas unit and was a member of the litigation team representing a class of all California prisoners with mental illness. She presents nationally on constitutional law and criminal justice reform.

Will Bedwell – Housing Attorney


Will serves as a staff attorney in the Center’s Biloxi office. Will reports to the housing law director and supports two related projects: (1) A Fair Housing Act Education and outreach project designed to inform Mississippians about their rights under the Fair Housing Act; and (2) A Fair Housing Act enforcement project designed to investigate and prosecute claims of housing discrimination in Mississippi. Will is originally from Hattiesburg, MS. He graduated cum laude from the University of Mississippi with a BA in public policy leadership and graduated cum laude from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 2018. He immediately joined the Center after graduation. With help from the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi and the Gulf Restoration Network, Will first partnered with the Center during the summer of 2016 and drafted a white paper detailing Clean Water Act violations by publicly-owned treatment works in the Mississippi delta. Will had previously provided consultation to the United States Forest Service. During law school, Will served as an advanced student in the Low-Income Housing Clinic. He also interned for Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Dawn H. Beam and the National Sea Grant Law Center.

Alecia Reed-Owens – Health Law Attorney


Alecia Reed-Owens serves as an attorney in the health law and public benefits campaign, overseeing the Center’s medical-legal partnership. She attended Jackson State University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Mississippi School of Law. After graduation, Alecia returned to her hometown of Greenwood, Mississippi and served as a law clerk for the Fourth Circuit Court. She later served as the Chief Administrative Officer for the city. Alecia has previously served as prosecutor for the City of Tchula, Mississippi, and staff attorney for the Legal Assistance Clinic at Catholic Charities. She is married to Mark Owens and they have five children.

Ty Pinkins – Consumer Protection Associate


Ty Pinkins was born and raised in the Mississippi Delta. A veteran of the U.S. Army and a dedicated public servant, after retiring from the Army he co-founded The Pyramid Project, a nonprofit organization serving youth from low-income communities by providing career and academic related resources and mentorship opportunities. Ty is an Equal Justice Works fellow advocating on behalf of individuals in some of Mississippi’s most underserved communities by helping litigants navigate the court system. Mr. Pinkins is the author of 23 Miles & Running: My American Journey from Chopping Cotton in the Mississippi Delta to Sleeping in the White House.He is a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center where he earned his J.D, as well as his LL.M in National Security Law.

Charity Bruce – Consumer Protection Attorney


Charity Bruce serves as the staff attorney for MCJ’s consumer protection campaign, overseeing the Center’s expungement matters. She also oversees the Hinds County Justice Court Navigator Program, helping individuals involved in civil cases understand and navigate the Justice Court system. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Tougaloo College and her Juris Doctorate from Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston, Texas. Upon graduation, she immediately returned to Mississippi and served as a law clerk for the Honorable Denise S. Owens of the Hinds County Chancery Court. Charity is a member of the Magnolia Bar Association, the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Society, and the Thurgood Marshall Mentorship program.

Andrea’ Barnes – Director of the Heirs’ Property Project


Andrea’ Barnes is director of the Heirs’ Property Project, which provides legal assistance to families to clear title to their land in heirship situations, establishes current ownership to property, and educates communities around the state explaining what heirs’ property is and what one can do to protect it. Prior to joining the Center, Andrea’ practiced family law, estate and probate administration, and personal injury litigation. Andrea’s background also includes working as a law clerk with the Circuit Court of Hinds County, Mississippi, a prosecutor with the Hinds County Attorney’s Office, and as an attorney with the Mississippi Department of Corrections.  Andrea’ has also served as an adjunct professor at Tougaloo College. Previously, she served on the Spencer Perkins Center Board of Directors. Andrea’ earned a Bachelor of Arts from Tougaloo College, a Master of Business Administration from Jackson State University, and received her doctorate of jurisprudence from Thurgood Marshall School of Law.

Chauncey Spears – Education Policy Analyst


Chauncey Spears is MCJ’s education policy analystPrior to this appointment, Chauncey spent over 16 years with the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) in various roles including director of Social Studies, director of Advanced Learning and Gifted Programs, and director of the Office of Textbook Procurement, Adoptions and High Quality Instructional Materials (HQIM). With a passion for educational equity, specifically helping students in various communities leverage their public education for social mobility, Chauncey has sought opportunities in various professional and volunteer capacities to highlight areas of educational disparity and how to remedy these disparities with resources present in various contexts. In his time at the MDE, he was instrumental in incorporating civil rights education into all Social Studies instruction in grades K-12 as a part of the MS Code § 37-13-193 (2013). Along with the Civil Rights Education Commission, he was able to help revise state Social Studies standards to include standards on Civil Rights/Human Rights in every required Social Studies course. As director oAdvanced Learning and Gifted Programs, he was able to expand identification policies and practices to center on individual and diverse strengths of students, not just the scores received on the I.Q. tests. Through the development of the Emerging Potential for Gifted policy, students can be identified and accepted into gifted programs in grades 2-6 based on indicators other than I.Q. score.  With the HQIM initiative, he was instrumental in helping districts see the impacts quality instructional materials can have in alleviating the academic achievement gaps among students. He holds a BA in Sociology from the University of Memphis with graduate work in Sociology from the University of Missouri. Currently, he is completing a Master’s in Public Administration and Public Policy from Jackson State University.  He is a married father of 2 and a resident of Byram, MS.  

Kim Robinson – Community Engagement and Policy Coordinator


Kim Robinson serves as community engagement and policy coordinator for MCJ’s health law and public benefits campaign. Before joining MCJ, Kim worked as a policy and project management consultant for various organizations throughout the Southeast. Prior to moving into the world of consulting in 2018, Kim worked for over a decade with the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) in their Southern Regional office in various program management, advocacy, and policy roles. While at CDF, Kim worked and lobbied extensively with American Association of School Administrators (AASA) and their school district Superintendent members, the University Of Mississippi School Of Nursing, the American Academy of Pediatrics, health care providers, and Congressional leaders on passage/reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIPRA) and worked to expand CDF’s Freedom Schools programs across the Southeast. Kim has and continues to serve on various state and national steering committees focused on education and access to healthcare while working in coalition with advocacy groups that connect marginalized populations to safety net programs that improve their overall quality of life. She is a former board member of Planned Parenthood Southeast and currently serves on the board of MS Capital City Pride and the City of Jackson Planning & Development Board as a Commissioner. Kim is the proud mother of two adult daughters, Ashlee and Alexa. Kim studied Finance at Louisiana State University.

Stephanie Davidson – Health Community and Digital Organizer


Stephanie serves as health community and digital organizer for the health law and public benefits campaign. She is a graduate of the University of West Alabama with a degree in history and completed graduate studies at Mississippi State University as a Master of Public Policy and Administration. Stephanie has worked in the areas of health, education, and nonprofits serving as Community Impact Director for United Way of East Mississippi and Adjunct Instructor in American Government at East Mississippi Community College. She was Director of Wesley House Free Clinic and has served on various nonprofit boards.  She taught World History and Advanced Geography in the Kemper County and Canton School Districts.  Stephanie is a native of Meridian, MS, and has a daughter, Madison, and son-in-law, Garrett, currently serving overseas with the United States Air Force. She is also the proud daughter of Gary and Toni Davidson of Meridian.

Nancy Sanchez Vazquez – Immigration Community Organizer


Nancy Sanchez is the community organizer for MCJ’s Immigration Department. She is working with the communities affected by the August 7, 2019 ICE raids in Central Mississippi. She came to MCJ from Catholic Charities of Jackson, where she served as the Cultural Specialist and outreach person for the agency’s Migrant Support Center.

Brittney A. Perkins – Justice Court Access Program Manager


Brittney serves as the program manager for the Justice Court Access Program at the Mississippi Center for Justice. In this role, she provides self-help tools to assist self-represented litigants and provides recommendations for the future processes in Justice Courts across the state. Prior to joining MCJ, Brittney gained experience in program management while working at Fair Count, a non-profit organization connected with the 2020 Census and the John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development at Mississippi State University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications and a Master of Public Policy and Administration from Mississippi State University. She is also currently pursuing her Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy and Administration at Mississippi State University. Brittney resides in Starkville with her dog Maslow.

Clarence Williams – Fair Housing Test Coordinator


Clarence serves as the Fair Housing Test Coordinator for the Mississippi Center for Justice. In this capacity, he recruits, trains, and assigns Fair Housing testers. Clarence has a B.A. from Dillard University in New Orleans. Prior to joining MCJ, Clarence was the Community Development Manager for the City of Hattiesburg. In that capacity he administered all HUD grants, including CDBG and HOME Program grants. Clarence has served in similar capacities for cities in California and Alabama. He also served four years as the Director of Human Capital Development for the Hinds County Board of Supervisors. He has extensive experience in Fair Housing advocacy and involvement. He served eight years as a board member with the Long Beach Fair Housing Foundation in Long Beach, California. From 2004-07, he was the Fair Housing Test Coordinator for the Mississippi Legal Services.

Denise Antoine – Office Manager / Legal Assistant


Denise serves as a legal assistant with the Mississippi Center for Justice, a position she has held since August 2006. In her capacity with the Center, Denise provides critical organizational support for clinic outreach, client in-take and processing, and general case management. Denise has a long history of providing support to non-profit organizations, including experience with Back Bay Mission, South Mississippi Legal Services Corp., the South Mississippi AIDS Task Force, and Moore Community House in Biloxi, MS. Prior to joining the Center, Denise also gained valuable legal experience working with Gillespie & Blessey Law Firm on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Denise is also an active volunteer with numerous organizations that promote healthy choices for teens and youths.

Yumekia Jones – Office Manager / Legal Assistant


Yumekia serves as a legal assistant in the Center’s Indianola office. Prior to joining the Center, she worked as an employment interviewer and MS STEPS representative with the Mississippi Department of Employment Security at the Indianola WIN Job Center. In this role, she negotiated contracts with businesses to place unemployed people back into the workforce. Yumekia also worked as the fiscal officer for the Delta Housing Development Corporation, an organization dedicated to providing safe and affordable housing to low-income families. She gained experience in office management through years of implementing administrative operations for various organizations. Yumekia obtained a bachelor of arts in general business administration from Delta State University on scholarship from Phi Theta Kappa and recently obtained a master of business administration at Delta State University. She spends her spare time with her children, Sakita, V’Deshion, and Yujaira, and volunteers for several Delta area organizations working to foster healthier communities.

Francis Vaughn – Housing Paralegal / Administrative Assistant


Francis Vaughn serves in the Jackson office as administrative assistant to the president and CEO and paralegal for the Housing Campaign’s heirs’ property initiative. Prior to joining MCJ, Francis served as office manager and paralegal for The Wade Law Firm. Francis was born and raised in the Mississippi Delta and holds an associate of arts degree in pre-med from Coahoma Community College and a bachelor of arts degree in biology/pre-med from the University of Mississippi. Francis has a history of serving the community through nonprofit organizations, having done so in Indiana and North Carolina before returning to her home state of Mississippi. Francis is married and the mother of four children.

Monica Spires – Donor Relations Coordinator


Monica Spires serves as the donor relations coordinator for the Center. She joined the Center in February of 2020 as the administrative assistant to the President and CEO and the office coordinator of the Jackson office. Before joining MCJ, Monica served as a legal assistant and special programs coordinator for The Wade Law Firm. Monica is a junior at Jackson State University, where she is studying at the School of Business for a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Monica holds an associate of arts degree in health care administration and a certificate in health and wellness from the University of Phoenix. Monica has served as a member specialist for Humana, office lead and customer service representative for Lineage Logistics, and customer retention specialist for Comcast. Monica has over 10 years of administrative, customer service, and office experience and is a member of the American Society for Administrative Professionals.

Tonisha Smith – Accounting and Grants Manager


Tonisha serves as MCJ’s accounting clerk. She moved to Mississippi from Milwaukee, WI, in 2004 to pursue her college education, earning her Bachelor’s in Accounting from Millsaps College. After working in the automotive industry as an accountant, she received her MBA from Belhaven University in 2015. She then worked in the field of public education as a grants accountant for Hinds Community College. Tonisha has a passion for math and making sure things add up. She lives in Jackson with her husband, daughter, and two dogs.

Shakyra Graves – Administrative Assistant / Office Coordinator


Shakyra serves as the administrative assistant to the President and CEO.  Prior to joining MCJ, Shakyra served as a deputy city clerk for the City of Yazoo City. She holds an associate of arts degree in pre-radiologic sciences from Holmes Community College and a bachelor of science degree in healthcare administration from Jackson State University. Shakyra resides in Clinton, MS.

Patrick Taylor – Senior Communications and Donor Outreach Specialist


Patrick Taylor serves as MCJ’s senior communications and donor outreach specialist. Patrick has been working in various communications and marketing roles since 2001, first for St. Andrew’s Episcopal School and later for ACLU of Mississippi. Patrick has a BA in philosophy and film from Colorado College and an MA in international relations from St. John’s University. He also holds a Certificate in Marketing Strategy from Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business and a Certificate in International Law and Diplomacy from St. John’s University. Patrick lives in Jackson with his wife and two daughters.

Board of Directors

Walter Boone

Walter H. Boone


Jackson, MS – Balch & Bingham

Gordon Greenwood

Gordon D. Greenwood

Vice Chair

Oakland, CA – Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood

Matthew Bergman

Matthew P. Bergman

Seattle, WA – Bergman Draper Oslund Udo


Martha Bergmark

Founder / Senior Counsel

Washington, DC – Voices for Civil Justice

espy square

Mike Espy

Jackson, MS – Mike Espy, PLLC, and AE Agritrade, Inc.

Judith Lichtman

Judith L. Lichtman

Washington, DC – National Partnership for Women & Families

David Lipman

David M. Lipman

Miami, FL – The Lipman Law Firm

ivy snider square 300p

Ivy Parker-Snider

Edmond, OK – The Southwestern Companies

William Ray

William A. Ray

Jackson, MS – BankPlus

James Rudolph

James Rudolph

Pittsburgh, PA – McKnight Realty Partners

Temika Simmons

Dr. Temika Simmons

Secretary / Treasurer

Greenville, MS – Delta State University

Donald Verrilli

Donald B. Verrilli, Jr.

Washington, DC – Munger, Tolles & Olson

Employment Opportunities

Director of Finance and Accounting

 The Mississippi Center for Justice seeks a talented professional to lead our finance and accounting functions, including overseeing internal controls, preparing budgets, and monitoring MCJ cash flows.

The Director of Finance and Accounting will be responsible for setting financial targets, implementing fund-raising strategies, engaging with investors, conducting feasibility studies, monitoring expenditure, supervising accounting staff, overseeing annual insurance, evaluating investments, and managing tax compliance. Your skills in sound financial planning coupled with your ability to direct financial assets will assist our organization in implementing effective financial strategies, managing debt, improving revenue, maintaining a healthy financial position, and enhancing stakeholder confidence. 

Director of Philanthropy

 The Mississippi Center for Justice seeks a talented professional to lead our development and fundraising program, to include our annual giving program, special events, and to increase overall contributions from individuals, corporations, and law firms. 

Grants Manager

The Mississippi Center for Justice seeks an experienced Grants Manager to support MCJ’s robust legal advocacy and direct services programs. The Grants Manager’s duties will include developing, writing, administering, and monitoring financial activities of grant-funding opportunities to derive additional sources of income from local, state, and federal agencies or from private/philanthropic resources in support of MCJ’s legal and policy advocacy.  

Experienced Attorney – Fair Housing Campaign

The Mississippi Center for Justice seeks to hire an experienced housing attorney for our Gulf Coast office in Biloxi. The Center seeks an individual whose substantive experience includes, but is not limited to, a working knowledge of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the Mississippi Residential Landlord-Tenant Act. 

Investigator/Paralegal – Impact Litigation Campaign

The Mississippi Center for Justice (MCJ) seeks to hire an experienced paralegal for its George Riley Impact Litigation Initiative. The position will entail the full range of paralegal skills as well as investigative work to support various federal and state civil and criminal cases.  This is a full-time position. The position will be based in Jackson, Mississippi. 

Project Manager – Health Law and Public Benefits Campaign

The Mississippi Center for Justice seeks an experienced project manager whose substantive focus will be upholding the rights of Black gay, bisexual, queer, transgender, and other men who are same gender loving through education and the creation of safe spaces to eradicate HIV stigma and discrimination.

Community Organizer – Health Law and Public Benefits Campaign

The Mississippi Center for Justice seeks a community organizer. The community organizer will collaborate with attorneys, communications personnel, and other community organizers to work across the Center’s campaigns to advance racial and economic justice. The Center seeks an experienced organizer whose substantive organizing focus will address HIV stigma. 

2022-24 Legal Fellowships

Mississippi Center for Justice seeks current 3L law students or recent graduates interested in working with us to develop fellowship applications such as those offered by Skadden, Equal Justice Works, New Voices, and other law school-based fellowship opportunities. The Center is especially interested in developing projects having to do with community economic development and/or housing on the Gulf Coast; consumer protection, public benefits, immigration and health issues in Jackson; and/or educational advocacy anywhere.