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.

Harya Tarekegn – Director of Advocacy and Policy


Harya Tarekegn is the Director of Advocacy and Policy. Harya brings with her a very diverse slate of experiences and perspectives shaped by representing indigent defendants in New York City, conducting bail reform in Nairobi, Kenya, and supporting incarcerated teens in Santa Clara Juvenile Hall.  Harya joins us directly from her position as the former Senior Counsel to the Executive Director and Director of Policy and Advocacy for the nation’s largest independent police oversight agency, the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB).  In her role, she was responsible for managing special projects for the Agency with the goal of improving the civilian oversight of the nation’s largest police force, while building an oversight model to be replicated across the nation. Harya specialized in strategic advocacy to find innovative ways to improve the lives of the most vulnerable.  Harya also focused on connecting with community advocates and elected officials to increase police accountability and advance the Agency’s legislative agenda.

Prior to joining the CCRB, Harya worked as the Executive Director and Partner of Moreno Ocampo, LLC, a global consulting firm where she managed a team of global attorneys and communications experts focused on developing tailored strategies to manage complex conflicts including addressing the human rights violations perpetrated against Yazidi women and girls in Iraq.  Harya’s commitment to public service is also evidenced by her work as a Founder and Strategy Director for Rising Leaders, Inc. a non-profit providing low-income or underserved students with high-quality mentorship and leadership development training.

Harya holds a Juris Doctor from the New York University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Stanford University.

Stacey Moore Buchanan– Director of Operations/ General Counsel 


Attorney Stacey Moore Buchanan serves as the Director of Operations and General Counsel for the Mississippi Center for Justice. Originally hailing from the Nation’s Capital, Stacey is now a committed Mississippian. After law school, Stacey clerked for the Honorable Henry T. Wingate of the U.S. District Court for the S.D. of Mississippi. Following her clerkship, Stacey practiced at an international firm in New York. Most immediately, Stacey was an attorney at a regional law firm, where her work focused on commercial litigation and bankruptcy. She is admitted to practice in both Mississippi and New York. 


A recipient of the 2020 “Top 50 Under 40” Award by the Mississippi Business Journal, Stacey has always remained civic-minded. Her efforts in the legal arena are not limited to the confines of her office—she has been appointed to several committees and is active with several bar associations. The chance to do the work of MCJ and help positively affect the lives of fellow Mississippians is not one Stacey takes lightly. To now get to do such work in her dad’s hometown brings Stacey full circle. Stacey earned her Bachelor of Arts cum laude from the University of Maryland and her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School. She and her husband are the proud parents of three boys who keep them busy.

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


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).

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.

Keri Henley – Director of Philanthropy


Keri Sullivan Henley serves as director of philanthropy, overseeing fundraising efforts to support the Center’s mission.  She gained a decade of legal experience as an associate with Henley, Lotterhos, and Henley, PLLC.  Her experience in fundraising includes serving as Director of Planned Giving and Associate Executive Director of Development for the University of Mississippi Medical Center, as well as Executive Director for the Mississippi Kidney Foundation.  Keri holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Juris Doctorate from the University of Mississippi.

Paloma Wu – Deputy Director of the George Riley Impact Litigation


Paloma Wu is the Deputy Director of Impact Litigation at the Mississippi Center for Justice. She has litigated cases challenging racial bias in policing and police hiring, discrimination against persons with disabilities, youth jail and prison conditions, and laws targeting LGBTQ equality, free speech, and the right to vote. She represents protesters and children in adult criminal proceedings, and she runs a statewide protester legal support network. Paloma was previously Acting Senior Supervising Attorney for Criminal Justice Reform at the Southern Poverty Law Center; Legal Director of the ACLU of Mississippi; and an associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, where she litigated international securities and antitrust matters. Before becoming a lawyer, she was an investigator for death-sentenced people at a capital habeas unit and was on a legal team representing all people with mental illness in California prisons.

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.

Stephanie Davidson- Health Law Associate


Stephanie serves as Program Associate for the Health Law and Public Benefits Division.  She is a graduate of the University of West Alabama with a degree in History and completed graduate studies at Mississippi State University with a Masters 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 MS and adjunct instructor in American Government at East MS 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.

Mark Payton- Health Law Project Manager


Mark Payton is a proud native of West Monroe, Louisiana. Mr. Payton currently serves as the Program Associate for the Health Law Division at the Mississippi Center for Justice. In December of 2017, he received his Bachelor of Music with a concentration in Vocal Performance from the Dear School of Creative and Performing Arts at Northwestern State University of Louisiana in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Mr. Payton began diversity, equity, and inclusion work for both the LGBTQIA+ and HIV communities in Jackson, MS in 2019. In May of 2022, he received his Master of Music in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from the School of Christian Studies and the Arts at Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi. Mark has participated in masterclasses and performances with Grammy and Emmy award-winning choral ensembles and Metropolitan Opera principals. Mr. Payton has served on the Alumni Diversity Relations Panel for Mississippi College, the inaugural planning committee for Mississippi Capital City Pride, and is a member of the Northwestern State University Black Alumni Alliance, The Phoenix Club of Jackson, the African American Leadership Program, American Cancer Society’s Real Men Wear Pink Central Mississippi, and actively sings in the St. James’ Episcopal Church choir.

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.

Kim Robinson – Senior 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.

Kim Wiley- Education Policy Analyst


Kim L. Wiley serves as the Education Policy Analyst for MCJ. She is a former Educator who served for ten years in secondary and higher education. She later transitioned from education to research development across various fields. Kim served for four years as a Medical Writer at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in the Department of Geriatrics as part of the NHLBI (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) ARIC (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities) Study. She later served as a Program Evaluator with Professional Associates, Inc. evaluating state agencies and local programs across Mississippi who were part of the Mississippi Justice and Assistance Grant for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. Before joining MCJ, Kim served as a Proposal Writer for YoungWilliams developing expansive bid proposals for privatized child support services for multiple government contracts across the U.S. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Belhaven College, a Master of Education from Mississippi College, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction from Mississippi State University.


Blake Feldman- Impact Project Coordinator and Policy Analyst


Blake Feldman is the Project Coordinator and Policy Analyst for the George Riley Impact Litigation Initiative. Prior to joining MCJ, Blake served as Advocacy Fellow for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mississippi office and Advocacy Coordinator for Criminal Justice Reform at the ACLU of Mississippi. Blake is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Georgia School of Law.

Chandra Calhoun Gayten- Senior Fair Housing Attorney


Chandra Calhoun Gayten earned a B.S. in Business, magna cum laude, from Jackson State University.  Later, after obtaining a degree in Public Policy and Administration, with a concentration in Personnel Management, Chandra earned a J.D. from the University of Mississippi School of Law, where she served as a member of the law review, the Honors Council, and President of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA).

Before becoming a Senior Deputy City Attorney for the City of Jackson, Chandra was an adjunct professor at Jackson State University in the School of Business.  She has also previously served as Staff Attorney and the Director of Legal Compliance for the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority and as a judicial law clerk to Justice Fred Banks, Jr., of the Mississippi Supreme Court, and for Judge Leslie King, Mississippi Court of Appeals.

Chandra is married to Hilton Gayten, Jr., and they share homes in Jackson and Gulfport.

Ashley Richardson-  Fair Housing Attorney


Ashley Richardson received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Rust College. She then attended the University of Mississippi where she received her Master of Criminal Justice and served as a graduate assistant for the Department of Legal Studies. Upon graduation, Ashley moved to Nashville, TN where she worked for the State of Tennessee and Monroe Harding, a non-profit organization. Ashley returned to Mississippi and earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi School of Law. During law school, Ashley served as President and Treasurer for the Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF), Social Action Director for the Southern Region of the Black Law Students Association (SRBLSA), and Undergraduate Relations Committee Chair for BLSA. She interned with the Southern Center for Human Rights, Nashville Public Defenders, Shelby County District Attorney’s Office, The Washington Law Firm, PLLC, and served as a student attorney for the MacArthur Justice Clinic. Upon graduation, Ashley served as a judicial law clerk for the Fourth Circuit Court District of Mississippi for Judge Carol White-Richard. Ashley is a member of the Mississippi Bar, Young Lawyers Division of the Mississippi Bar, Magnolia Bar Association, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and she also serves as a TN Achieves Mentor.

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 / Project Manager/ Student Coordinator


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 – Program Director of Special Projects


Yumekia serves as Program Director of Special Projects at the Center. 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 – Heirs’ Property Paralegal


Francis Vaughn serves in the Jackson office as 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.

Bradley Poore- Fair Housing Paralegal


Bradley Poore serves as a paralegal for the Fair Housing Campaign housed in the Biloxi office. He is from Biloxi and attended Boston University for his first two years of college and the University of Southern Mississippi. He then graduated 23rd in his class from Mississippi College School of Law.  He passed the Mississippi Bar exam and worked under former MS Supreme Court Judge Chuck McRae. He is happy to be working for MCJ and helping those in our community that has historically been unrepresented to find a voice.

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.

Alexis Griffin- General Office Clerk


Alexis Griffin serves as MCJ’s office clerk. She is originally from the Mississippi Delta but relocated to Madison, MS. She received her associate of arts in Pre-Physical Therapy from Holmes Community College and a Bachelor of Science in Therapeutic Recreation from the University of Southern Mississippi. During this time, she learned and practiced her education by facilitating programs for diverse populations such as youth at risk, individuals with disabilities, and geriatrics in Hattiesburg, MS. After Graduating, Alexis accepted a job opportunity at her intern site where she served as a Therapy Unit Manager at Brandon Nursing and Rehab. Which is one of the largest nursing and rehab facilities in Mississippi. In Alexis’ downtime, she loves cooking and doing volunteer work at her church. She currently lives in Ridgeland, MS.

Shakyra Graves – Executive Assistant / HR Coordinator


Shakyra serves as the HR Coordinator and Executive 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.

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


Washington, DC – Voices for Civil Justice

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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

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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

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.  

Consumer Legal Assistant

The Mississippi Center for Justice (‘MCJ”) seeks an experienced legal assistant to support MCJ’s robust legal advocacy and direct services programs. The duties will include client communication and case support, in addition to research and writing in support of MCJ’s legal and policy advocacy.

Entry Level Housing Attorney – Fair Housing Campaign

The Mississippi Center for Justice seeks to hire an entry level 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. 

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. 

Communications and Donor Outreach Specialist

The Mississippi Center for Justice seeks to hire a talented Communications and Donor Outreach Specialist (CDOS) to join our racial and economic justice work. The CDOS will develop, lead, and implement our internal and external communications and branding strategy. The CDOS is responsible for developing and implementing all marketing strategies, strategic communications, and public relations activities.

The CDOS will report to the President/CEO. Working closely with the key organizational leaders in development, and advocacy, the CDOS will help promote the activities of MCJ and design and execute a strategic communications plan and organizational messaging to advance MCJ’s mission, advocacy, and image outreach to stakeholders and the media.

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.

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