Alumni Applause

Michael Gater

August 28th, 2019 by alumni

Michael A. Gater, PHR, SHRM-CP is a native of Jackson, Mississippi.  He is a proud 1984 honors graduate of Jackson State University and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management.

In July 2019, Gater was named the Director of Human Resources for the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority (JMAA), which is the governing entity for the Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport (JAN) and Hawkins Field (General Aviation) Airport (HKS). He is responsible for managing and integrating broad, comprehensive human resource management programs and safety for the Authority at JAN and HKS.

For over twenty-one years, Gater dedicated his career to enhancing the management of resources related to employees.   Prior to joining the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority, he served as the Regional Site Human Resources Manager at Faurecia Automotive Seating for its Madison and Cleveland, Mississippi plants.  His experience spans several industries (Auto Manufacturing, Cable and Entertainment, Waste Services and Retailing), where he has held corporate, division, and regional/field HR leadership roles. 

Committed to giving back to the HR industry and to his community, Gater is a life-long member and Past President of the Rho Xi Lambda Chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated. He is the former Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated Director of National Programs for the District of Mississippi and serves on the Mississippi Alpha Network Executive Board as the Area Director for Jackson, Brookhaven, and Canton. Gater also serves on the March of Dimes Central Mississippi Board of Directors.

Gater has held previous board positions with Anderson United Methodist Church, Capital Area HR Association, and United Way of the Capital Area, Jackson Council PTA, Mississippi PTA and Mississippi Children’s Home Services (Canopy Children’s Solutions). 

He resides in Jackson, Mississippi, with his wife Ada. 

Posted in Alumni Applause

Dr. John A. Peoples, Jr.

August 25th, 2019 by alumni

Dr. John A. Peoples, Jr., is a native of Starkville, Mississippi, where he attended elementary and secondary schools.  After graduating from high school, he was drafted into the United States Marine Corps and was Honor Man in his recruit training platoon and sharpshooter rifleman. He was number one in his noncommissioned officers class and spent 2 ½ years in the United States Marine Corps attaining the rank of Sergeant. He served as a Drill Instructor at Montfort Point, the recruit training camp for Black marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, during World War II. He also attended Radio Technicians class at the Tracked Vehicle Battalion, Camp Pendleton, California, where he subsequently served as a radio technician.

In July 2012, Dr. Peoples was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, as one of the African–American Marines of World War II who were trained at the racially segregated Montford Point Camp of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

After discharge from the Marine Corps, Dr. Peoples entered Jackson State University in September 1947 where he earned the Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics. While attending Jackson State University, he was on the varsity football and track teams and was elected president of the Student Government Association for two consecutive years. After graduating number one in his class in 1950, he attended the University of Chicago, where he earned the Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy Degrees.

After serving 13 years in the public school system of Gary, Indiana, as a teacher and school principal, Dr. Peoples was employed at Jackson State University as a Professor of Mathematics and Vice President in 1964. He was elected President of Jackson State University in 1967.

Dr. Peoples served as President of Jackson State University from 1967 to 1984. During his 17-year tenure as President, the University experienced dramatic growth in enrollment, program, and physical plant that was unparalleled by any period in its history. The student enrollment grew from 2,200 to 7,800. The academic program developed from the baccalaureate level in essentially teacher education to a five – school professional program up to the doctoral level. Accreditation grew from the general regional accrediting associations, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), to nine national departmental accreditations. The physical plant of the University increased fivefold in classroom space, administrative space, and land.

The administration of Dr. Peoples included the dramatic years of the Black Student Revolution in which African–American college students in both white and black colleges were in the vanguard of the civil rights movement. During this period, Jackson State University experienced four consecutive years of student upheavals. The most tragic year was 1970 when on May 14th, city and state law officers fired on students in a Women’s dormitory killing two students and wounding 22.

In 1974, the landmark Ayers v Waller desegregation suit was filed in Mississippi. As president of Jackson State University, Dr. Peoples played a strategic role in support of the plaintiff’s efforts against the State College Board to eliminate the dual system of higher education. In his book, To Survive and Thrive, Dr. Peoples poignantly treats these two critical periods of his administration.

Dr. Peoples has been active in the academic world, serving on the boards and commissions of virtually all of the major national and southern regional associations. He was one of the pioneers in the establishment of the National Association for Equal Opportunity (NAFEO) in the early seventies and was the first African–American to serve as Chairman of the Board of the American Council on Education.

The Jackson State University Athletic Program, under the presidency of Dr. Peoples, produced six Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championships in football, seven in baseball, thirteen in men’s track, five in women’s track, and six in men’s basketball.

Dr. Peoples is active in community and civic affairs. He has served ten years as a commissioner on the Jackson Airport Authority, four years on the Board of Directors of the Jackson Zoological Park and six years on the Board of Directors of Goodwill Industries. He served twenty–five years on the Board of Directors of The Piney Woods Country Life School. He served for 20 years on the Board of Directors of Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center. He served for seven years on the Civil Service Commission for the City of Jackson, Mississippi, two years of which as Chairman.

He serves on the Board of Directors of Jackson Hinds Comprehensive Health Center, the Board of Directors of The Jackson State University National Alumni Association, he serves on the executive committee of the Governor’s Commission to Establish a National Civil Rights Museum in Mississippi. In 2009, he was a recipient of the Mississippi Medal of Service from Governor Haley Reeves Barbour.

He has served on the Board of Directors Mississippi Ballet International, the Andrew Jackson Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He served as Chairman of the National Blue Ribbon Advisory Commission to the 11th President of Jackson State University, Dr. Ronald Mason, Jr.

Dr. Peoples is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., and Sigma Pi Phi Boule Fraternity. He is a 33rd Degree Mason and a life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The Mississippi Conference of the NAACP conferred on him the Medgar Evers Award in 1983. He has been elected to the Jackson State University Sports Hall of Fame, The Jackson State University Hall of Fame, and the Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame. In 1993, the National Black College Hall of Fame conferred on Dr. Peoples, the National Black College Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award. He was also given the Distinguished Alumni award by the National Association for Equal Opportunity (NAFEO) in 1993.

Dr. Peoples is the author of two books; To Survive and Thrive, published by Town Square Books, Inc. 1995; and How We Got Over published by John A. Peoples, Jr., Ph.D., 2008.   Dr. Peoples is married to the former Mary E. Galloway. They are the parents of two adult children, Dr. Kathleen Peoples, Ph.D., a United States Department Embassy Administrator, and Mark A. Peoples, Esq., Attorney, City of New Orleans.

Posted in Alumni Applause

Frances Nelson

August 15th, 2019 by alumni

Frances Jones Nelson, of Madison, was recently elected and installed as the 34th National President of the National Federation of Music Clubs. Founded 1898, NFMC has become the largest nonprofit organization in America to promote and support American music, performers and music education. As a grassroots organization working in communities throughout America, NFMC provides musical opportunities for all ages: professional and amateur musicians, benefactors, volunteers, music lovers, music teachers, music students, and supportive parents. With over 121,000 members, the National Federation of Music Clubs sponsors Festival programs, competitive events, Summer Music Centers, American Music Month, and National Music week, to name a few of its many worthwhile activities.

Mrs. Nelson holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Mississippi College and received a Master of Music Education from Jackson State in 2015. "I came to Jackson State as a mature student. I had always wanted an advanced degree and finally decided to take the plunge and do it. I loved my time at JSU. I learned so much from the wonderful music faculty and enjoyed my time with the students. I was a little bit nervous about going to back to school and being so much older than my classmates, but the everyone made me feel welcome and it was truly a great experience."

She serves as Music Director and Organist at the Cathedral of Saint Peter the Apostle in Jackson MS and is also chapel organist for Sebrell Funeral Home in Ridgeland MS. She enjoys singing with the Jackson Choral Society and is active in her neighborhood garden club and the cathedral flower guild.

"I came to Jackson State as a mature student. I had always wanted an advanced degree and finally decided to take the plunge and do it. I loved my time at JSU. I learned so much from the wonderful music faculty and enjoyed my time with the students. I was a little bit nervous about going to school and being so much older than my classmates, but the students made me feel welcome and it was Truly a great experience."

Posted in Alumni Applause

Darion Warren

August 12th, 2019 by alumni

Mr. Darion Warren, CFM, is a proud alumnus of Jackson State University where he received a Bachelors of Science Degree in Business Administration in 2005. Two years later, Warren obtained a Geographical Information System Technical Certificate from Hinds Community College. His thirst for learning continued at Belhaven University where he received a Master of Science Degree in Management in 2010.

A true pillar of the community, he is a graduate of the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership’s Leadership Jackson Program class of 2011-2012 and a member of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) and the Airports Council International (ACI). He is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and Free & Accepted Mason Prince Hall Affiliation. He is also a member of Progressive M.B. Church where he serves as a Deacon. In 2011, Warren was named Jackson Free Press “Person of the Day.”

With over 19 years of government experience Darion’s successful career began in Public Works, as he served as the Infrastructure Manager for the City of Jackson and Hinds County, and Director of Public Works for the City of Brandon. While working in the Public Works field, he assisted with and managed several Public Works capital improvement projects and routine maintenance tasks such as street and drainage improvements, water and sewer improvements, and compliance with state and federal regulations. In 2010, he received Honorary Mention in the Association of Watershed and Storm Water Professionals (AWSP) Magazine.

Warren’s tenure with Jackson Municipal Airport Authority (JMAA) began in August 2016 as the Director of Capital Programming. His role as Director of Capital Programming has allowed him the opportunity to direct and oversee the planning, design, and construction of Capital Improvement Program projects in support of the JMAA Strategic Plan 2021. This included forecasting a 5-year Capital Improvement Program for implementation. He was featured in the November 2018 edition of CE (Construction Executive) Magazine on improvements and expansions to airports due to increasing growth and aging infrastructure.

Recently appointed as the JMAA Chief Operating Officer, Warren was responsible for assisting the CEO in the day-to-day administration of the airport while overseeing the work of the Operations Department to include Airport Operations, Capital Programming, Custodial Services, Hawkins Field, Maintenance, and Police.

Now serving as the JMAA Interim Chief Executive Officer, Warren is the primary liaison between the JMAA Board of Commissioners and the JMAA staff. He is greatly responsible for providing leadership and support to establish and implement goals, objectives, and strategies of the organization.

His success is also attributed to his extensive training in several areas such as Airport Security Coordinator, Airport Landside and Terminal Management, storm water management, FEMA National Incident Management Systems, asphalt maintenance, and drainage maintenance, to name a few. He also has a Class D Certified Water Operator certification and Certified Floodplain Manager certification.

Warren is the son of James and Barbara Warren. He was born and raised in Brandon, Mississippi, where he resides with his wife ShaTerria.

Posted in Alumni Applause

John Perry, III

August 1st, 2019 by alumni

John H. Perry III was born in New Orleans, to Roslyn Johnson-Perry and John H. Perry, Jr.  He was a student of Eleanor McMain Secondary High School and had his higher education at Jackson State University.  In the year 2008, he earned his business degree in marketing and then went on to earn a general MBA in 2011.

In Alexandria, Louisiana, he worked for Union Pacific Railroad as the manager of yard operations. It was during that time that he found an extreme passion for teaching, community involvement and youth empowerment.

This is what led him to move back to New Orleans, set with the goal to provide quality instructions for students in that state. He has had the experience of teaching math and science, working with students from elementary to high school levels. John H. Perry III is a certified instructor in math, social studies, science and special education. He is also a holder of a level three Louisiana State education license.

After the realization that there was a connection between the crimes in the city and the educational system, he turned his attention to education in alternative settings such as juvenile and adult detention centers.

He is currently coordinating the therapeutic program for students, with specific Individualized Education Programs within special education. He is the father of two boys; John H. Perry IV, Jonah C. Perry, and Josiah-Mack, the family dog. The author of two books, “Any Time You Fall,” and “The 5 Senses of Love,” he has written about love within the African American community. He is working on a non-profit organization to help strengthen poverty-stricken neighborhoods, using the educational system as a major tool to achieve that. A proud member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated, he is also a member of the Third Rose of Sharon Missionary Baptist Church where he served as an usher.

During his spare time, when he isn’t working with students and being actively involved in the community, he can be seen reading, writing, meditating, or playing with his boys, and he strongly believes that anything worth having is always worth working for. Go JSU Tigers!


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Paul Williams

July 24th, 2019 by alumni

Paul Williams

Delmarva (Milton, DE) – Draper Media announced today the addition of Paul Williams as Chief Meteorologist for WRDE-TV and Spanish-language Telemundo Delmarva. “People on Delmarva can count on Paul for an accurate and interesting weather forecast. His three decades of forecasting experience, combined with his ability to communicate in both English and Spanish will serve audiences for both our NBC and Telemundo affiliates,” said Craig Jahelka, president of Draper Media. Mr. Williams holds the American Meteorological Society Seal of Approval. Most recently he was Senior Meteorologist for AccuWeather, based in State College, PA. There he organized and directed weather coverage for The Accuweather Network, seen in more than 60 markets and on ABC’s World News Now. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and Mass Communications from Jackson State University. He also holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Bible/Counseling from Magnolia Bible College.

"I'm thrilled to be a part of the WRDE/Telemundo team! For me, being here means that I am not only a member of the community, but a servant, eager to put my years of experience at the community's disposal,” said Williams. “I look forward to meeting and connecting with the team and community at large."

Paul Williams joins co-anchors Madeline Overturf and Matt Pencek on the anchor desk at WRDE-TV this fall with Coverage You Can Count On. He’ll also work closely with WBOC’s Storm Tracker Weather Team to provide life-saving emergency weather information when events warrant.Draper Media, based in Salisbury, Maryland consists of WBOC-TV, FOX21, WRDE-TV, Telemundo Delmarva, Antenna TV, MyCozi TV, WBOC Digital, WBOC-FM, WAAI-FM, WTDK-FM, WCEM-FM and WCEM-AM with additional studios in Cambridge, Maryland, Dover and Milton, Delaware.


Posted in Alumni Applause

Eric Barnes

July 22nd, 2019 by alumni

Eric Barnes is an experienced educator that is passionate about positively impacting communities and scholar success.   As a dedicated, instructional leader with 13 years of educational service, including 7 years at the administrative level, he has a diverse background in working with scholars in both suburban and urban areas in every K-12 setting.  He believes that an inspiring educator ignites a passion for learning in which ordinary scholars become extraordinary. What motivates him as an educator is being able to serve as a role model in helping young people transition into well-rounded adults who are lifelong learners with hearts for service.

He started his educational career as a 4th grade instructor at Bradley Elementary School in Jackson, MS.  After teaching at that location for 2 years, he transitioned to Texas where he would teach an additional 4 years.  At the completion of the 6th year in the classroom, he had an opportunity to transition into administration at DeSoto High School where he remained for 6 years. In 2018, he was welcomed into the Longhorn family as the Vice-Chancellor at Cedar Hill Collegiate Academy & High School.  Currently, this is his first year as the principal of Bray Elementary School in Cedar Hill ISD.

Eric, a 2006 JSU alumnus, possesses a BBA in Business Management from Jackson State University and an M.Ed. in Elementary Education from Mississippi College. He is married to the love of his life, Kristen, and they have four beautiful godchildren. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with family, sports (Go Cowboys!), cooking, and traveling.

Posted in Alumni Applause

Erica Webber

July 15th, 2019 by alumni

A dynamic scholar, transformative leader, and forward-thinking visionary, President Jones is committed to building upon MAE’s historical legacy while advancing the organization’s mission and achieving new levels of excellence. Her focus will be on strengthening the teaching profession, growing and engaging membership, increasing the organization’s presence, and better equipping educators with skills and resources that will allow them to compete in the globalized 21st century educational setting.

Previously, President Jones served as an instructional coach and teacher in the Hinds County School District for four years. While there, she improved her students’ passage rate on district-level assessments and saw profound academic growth in her pupils. Because of her effective instructional practices, she was named Teacher of the Year for Gary Road Elementary. It didn’t take long before district leadership took notice of her superb performance in the classroom. Jones was named Hinds County’s District Teacher of the Year and her class became a model classroom for teachers to visit.

In 2018, she was also selected by the NEA Foundation to serve as a Global Learning Fellow. Later this summer she will travel to South Africa where she will share educational experiences from the United States. Jones has served as a local president for the Jackson Association of Educators and been an advocate for educators in Mississippi for eighteen years. She has served on MAE’s state leadership team as Mississippi’s national education director and, most recently, as the organization’s secretary-treasurer. Jones is also a prolific Praxis trainer and has helped to place dozens of teachers in Mississippi classrooms.

A native of Houston, Mississippi, Jones earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Elementary Education from Jackson State University in May 2000.  She also holds certifications in English (7-12), Math (7-12), and Library Media.

President Jones is a member of several professional organizations, including the Mississippi Association of Educators and the National Education Association, The Byram-Terry JSU Alumni Association, Byram-Terry Junior Auxiliary, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. In her leisure time, Jones enjoys Jackson State University sports, reading, and traveling. She is married to Arthur Jones and is the proud mother of two children, Nicholas and Kenley Grace.

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Otis Gaines, II

July 8th, 2019 by alumni

Mr. Gaines is a native of Jackson, MS. He graduated from Jackson State University in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Science & Technology. He is an advocate for education and a firm believer in “the more you know”. His educational journey also led to stops at William Carey University, where he received a Master of Education in the Art of Teaching, and the University of Southern Mississippi, where he received a Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership.

Mr. Gaines began his professional career with the Jackson Public School District in 2004 as the Tech Prep teacher at Hardy Middle School. He also taught and coached basketball on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.- at Long Beach High School. While on the Coast, he had the unique opportunity to coach the Mississippi Blues, a member of the American Basketball Association. In 2011, he returned home to his alma mater and was named the head boys' basketball coach and health teacher at Provine High.

In 2019, Mr. Gaines entered the administrative arena by completing the Mississippi Alternate Path to Quality School Leadership (MAPSQSL) program. He brings over 14 years of experience as an accomplished educator/athletic professional who is dedicated to the educational success of all students.
Mr. Gaines' passion for youth and basketball opened doors for him to give back to the community. He has done charitable work with the Mo Williams Foundation basketball camp and the Mississippi Drills and Skills Academy. In 2012, he started the O.G. II Camp Evolution: Books & Basketball, where good student-athletes evolve into great leaders.

Mr. Gaines is the son of Otis Sr. and E. Louise Gaines. He is the eldest of his two siblings: Caleb and Danielle Gaines.

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Patrease Edwards

July 2nd, 2019 by alumni

Patrease Edwards is a native of East St. Louis, IL and the youngest child of Flousel and Shirley Coleman Jr. She graduated from Lincoln Sr. High School in 1995 and was recruited to Jackson State University to play volleyball. Patrease is an Assistant Principal at Lanier High School in the Jackson Public School District. She is a doctoral candidate and has an Education Specialist in Educational Leadership from Mississippi College, a Master of Science in Education degree in Special Education and Bachelor of Science in Education degree in Social Science from Jackson State University. 

After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Jackson State University, Patrease moved to Daytona Beach, FL where she taught and coached volleyball, basketball, cheerleading and track and field at Deland High School. She returned to Jackson, MS in 2005 and began teaching at Jim Hill High School and served as Department Chair of Exceptional Education before being promoted to central office as a Transition Program Specialist in the Office of Exceptional Education Services in 2012.

  Patrease has been an active member of the Jackson State University National Alumni Association since graduating in 1999. She helped charter the Greater Orlando Chapter in 2004 and served as the chapter’s first president. In 2010 she helped charter the Byram-Terry Chapter and served as the chapter’s first president until 2017. She became a life member of the alumni association in 2014. She has served on the Executive Board of the Alumni Association as secretary and is currently the Regional Vice President for Mississippi. Her focus areas are to increase alumni giving and involvement. Under her leadership, the MS Region has grown from twenty one active chapters to now twenty six active chapters and has given more than $30,000 to JSU.  Three chapters have initiated endowments and she recently initiated an annual scholarship for students residing in Mississippi. 

Patrease is very active in her community and is a member of the Junior Auxiliary of Byram-Terry, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, and Jennie O. Johnson Chapter #360 Order of the Eastern Star.  

Posted in Alumni Applause