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Albert Sykes

Albert Sykes is the Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA). This native son of Mississippi has a powerful personal story, one that is rooted in the struggles and search for quality education through community organizing and youth advocacy. The proud father of three sons, Albert grew up in the Shady Oaks community one street way from where NAACP member and civil rights activist Medgar Evers lived and died. Evers has been one of Albert’s guiding lights in doing the work needed to move Mississippi and our nation forward.

A’Lelia Bundles

A’Lelia Bundles is the author of On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker, a biography of her entrepreneurial great-great-grandmother. A four-part Netflix series inspired by this New York Times Notable Book premieres in March 2020.

Karla L. McCullough

Dr. Karla L. McCullough was raised in Jackson, MS. and serves as Executive Director of the Juanita Sims Doty Foundation where she is the executor of its goals and objectives and provides direction and leadership applicable to the realization of the organization’s philosophy. The Foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of life for children of color and the overall health and wellness of the family through youth development, mentorship, education and advocacy.

Stephanie Dreher

Stephanie Dreher is a professional civil engineer and Senior Project Manager with the City of New Orleans Sustainable Infrastructure Group who currently manages storm water management and green infrastructure projects as part of their National Disaster Resilience Program. She has over 25 years consulting experience in civil engineering design, environmental permitting, extensive policy and technical knowledge in program management and federal contract procurement law. She has managed federal grants for many dedicated leaders of state agencies, local governments and private organizations in Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida and Texas.

Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas headshot

Angie Thomas was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included.

Arielle Hudson

A native of Tunica, Miss., Arielle Hudson is a 22-year-old senior at the University of Mississippi majoring in Secondary English Education with endorsements in history and special education. In 2017, Arielle created her personal platform, Literacy L.I.G.H.T.S, which stands for Literacy Lets Individuals Gain Height to Success, to help combat the illiteracy rate in the state of Mississippi by hosting resourceful workshops for parents and providing literacy materials and books to underprivileged youth. Arielle has volunteered and advocated for literacy programs such as JumpStart, the Lafayette Literacy Council and the Marks Education Project.

Ellen Ann Fentress

Ellen Ann Fentress, a lifelong Mississippian, is a journalist, filmmaker and teacher in Jackson. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Oxford American, The Bitter Southerner, The Baffler and on Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

Emily Maw

Emily Maw is a lawyer in the office of Chief Justice Bernette Johnson of the Louisiana Supreme Court. She previously worked for Innocence Project New Orleans (IPNO) for 16½ years, where she was director for 13 years. IPNO is a non-profit law office representing innocent prisoners serving life sentences in Louisiana and Mississippi. Emily came to New Orleans from her native Britain in 1998. She is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh and Tulane Law School. She lives in New Orleans with her husband (veteran Mississippi civil rights attorney Rob McDuff), their two daughters, and too many chickens.

Jennifer H. Gunter

Jennifer H. Gunter, Ph.D., is the director of the South Carolina Collaborative on Race and Reconciliation at the University of South Carolina. She is a facilitator for the Welcome Table process, a tested community trust-building process that began in Mississippi in 2004.She is a historian who specializes in the intersections of region, gender, race, health, law and activism. Originally from Jackson, Miss., she and her husband now proudly call South Carolina home.