Mississippi Center for Justice Founding President and CEO Martha Bergmark

On Thursday, October 13, 2011, Mississippi Center for Justice’s founding president and CEO Martha Bergmark will be honored as part of President Barack Obama’s Winning the Future Initiative. The award will honor Bergmark and other leaders who have dedicated their lives to closing the justice gap in the United States. The Center is the only honoree from Mississippi.

At Thursday’s event, Bergmark will participate in a roundtable discussion including other honorees, United States Attorney General Eric Holder, Senior Counselor for Access to Justice Mark Childress and other White House representatives. The discussion will focus on amplifying the work of the Center and other organizations dedicated to securing racial and economic justice. This discussion will also be streamed live to law students at more than 100 law schools across the nation.

The award comes at a particularly apt time for the Center, which has built a solid foundation as a vocal advocate for access to justice in Mississippi on a diverse range of issues including foreclosure, disaster recovery, educational opportunity and access to healthcare. An example of the Center’s success in reforming policies and making it possible for disadvantaged people to gain access to the justice system is a landmark settlement that recently restored $132 million in Hurricane Katrina-related aid to poor and minority homeowners who were unjustly denied help that would have allowed them to repair or rebuild their homes.

“While Mississippi was at the heart of the civil rights movement, its promises were never fully realized,” said Bergmark. “Mississippi remains mired in poverty and registers at the bottom of every national measure of well-being. For this reason, the Center was founded, and it is why we continue our work to advance racial and economic justice in our state.”

Bergmark was also a 2010 recipient of the ABA Section of Litigation’s John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and Oberlin College and holds an honorary doctorate of public service from Millsaps College.