Board of Directors

Board of Directors

Echo board members are selected on the basis of their continuing involvement in grassroots community work and that they have committed to working to support and build the capacity of Southern Echo to implement its program of work.

Echo board members have the responsibility to set policy parameters for the organization, the Management Team sets the program of work within policy parameters, and the program of work is implemented by the staff of the organization. Board members participate on two levels: to provide training and assistance to others, and to learn from participating in the process. In addition, board members assist in meeting and working with funders and other visitors when they come to Mississippi to observe, meet and discuss their concerns with community people.

Echo’s board members span seven decades from teens to the seventies and are about evenly divided as to gender. The board has been entirely African American since the early days of the organization because it has been drawn from community people across the state actively engaged in the work to empower African American communities.

Southern Echo, Inc. Board Members

Ms. Joyce Parker, Chairperson, Greenville, MS

Ms. Parker is the founder and Director of Concerned Citizens for a Better Greenville, a grassroots organizing group in the largest city in the Mississippi Delta, and the fifth largest city in the state. Her work has focused on public education and civic engagement and the organization actively involves young people together with older people in the training process and the organizing work. Through her work the Greenville Public Schools initiated its first experiments with a student-led Conflict Resolution program in its high schools and other parent-initiated, parent-led programs to support the students. These programs were instituted as official policies of the school district. Ms. Parker is also actively involved at the national and state level in the Dignity in Schools Campaign, is a board member of the national Pushback Network, and is on the Steering Committee of the South x Southwest Experiment. Ms. Parker is African American.

Mr. Jerry Wilson , Treasurer, Redan, GA

Mr. Wilson is a renowned attorney in north Georgia who is one of the leading redistricting attorneys in the nation. 2011 is his 4th redistricting season in the past 30 years. He is engaged in private law practice, specializing in voting and election law, political redistricting and litigation. Mr. Wilson is an expert witness in federal voting rights cases and is a political redistricting consultant to local and state legislative officials in post-census redistricting projects in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, New York and North Carolina. He conducts public hearings and community education meetings. Mr. Wilson also drafts and submits district election plans to the US Dept. of Justice for preclearance pursuant to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. He also litigates voting rights cases. He has published numerous articles on reapportionment and testified in many redistricting litigation cases. Mr. Wilson is an African American.

Ms. Kameisha Smith, Lexington, MS

Ms. Smith is a high school teenager who works with Nollie Jenkins Family Center in Lexington, Holmes County, MS. She began participating in youth leadership development workshops and community work as a small child. Ms. Smith is now a member of the South x Southwest Experiment Steering Committee, has a leadership role on the Youth Leadership Development Committee of the South x Southwest Experiment, and played a leadership role in 2010 in the organization of the multi-state youth caravans from New Mexico, Texas and Mississippi to the US Social Forum in Detroit. Ms. Smith’s passion is to become an attorney so that she can combine her organizing experience with legal skills to start her own organization to bring long overdue transformation to Mississippi culture. Ms. Smith is African American.

Ms. Lavina Grandon, Everton, AR

Lavina Grandon is a retired teacher with 32 years of experience teaching in public schools. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in English from College of the Ozarks in 1970 and a Master’s degree from the University of Central Arkansas in 1996. In 2000 she qualified as a National Board Certified Teacher by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. She was named Teacher of the Year by her school and in the Northwest region of Arkansas in 1998, High School Teacher of the Year by Phi Delta Kappa in 2002, Arkansas Rural Teacher of the Year by the Arkansas Rural Education Association in 2004, Arkansas Rural Person of the Year by the Arkansas Times in 2004, and finalist for National Rural Teacher of the Year in 2004. She is a past board member of the Rural School and Community Trust and a past member of the Valley Springs School Board. After retiring from teaching in 2007, Grandon became the President and Policy and Education Director of Rural Community Alliance. Grandon is married with two grown children (one of whom has followed her into the work) and three grandchildren. Ms. Grandon is European American.

Mr. Michael Montoya, Albuquerque, NM

Michael Montoya is a long-time member of SouthWest Organizing Project and served as the board chair for a year. He has been the Mass Base Political Organizer at SWOP for four years and currently runs SWOP’s civic engagement programs. He also sits on the steering committee of the South by SouthWest Experiment. Michael chaired the 2011 Redistricting Committee for the City of Albuquerque and has consulted for other partisan and non-partisan campaigns. Michael earned a BA degree in Languages at the University of New Mexico. He enjoys connecting with people though technology and social media. He was born and raised in Albuquerque and is proud of his family roots from Mexico to northern New Mexico. Michael is an avid biker and runner, having completed both a half and full marathon in recent years. Outside of work, he also enjoys travelling, especially when he gets to speak a language he has studied. Mr. Montoya is Latino.

Mr. Gregory Johnson, Harlem, NY

Gregory Johnson is a co-founder and executive director of Progress Mississippi. Greg also writes weekly for emPower Magazine. Prior to starting Progress Mississippi, Greg served as Director of Development and Communications with Southern Echo, Inc., a liaison to the SSDI between the US Department of Education and US Department of Justice, Federal Field Organizer with the Campaign for Youth Justice, a model code consultant with the Dignity in Schools Campaign, as well as worked with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Advancement Project on issues impacting public education, voting rights, census and redistricting, and judicial nominations. Gregory is a 2004 graduate (B.A. English) of Tougaloo College, a private historically black college in Mississippi, and a graduate (Juris Doctor) of the George Washington University Law School. He has studied critical race theory at the University of Cape Town, South Africa and in several indigenous parts of Brazil. He is a former Mellon Fellow.

Mr. Alfonzo White, Duck Hill, MS

Mr. White is an elected member and former President of the Montgomery County School Board. He has been actively involved as a community organizer in the growth and development of several local organizations, including Action Communication and Education Reform, where he is now Director, Concerned Citizens of Montgomery County, and YIMS, and is an active participant in the work of the Mississippi Education Working Group. Mr. White formerly was a full time multi-media documentarian for the Algebra Project, based in Jackson, MS. In addition, he has worked with Southern Echo since its first redistricting work in 1991 documenting the public hearing negotiation process at the city, county and state level. Mr. White also has produced short videos for Southern Echo. Mr. White is African American.

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