Alumni Applause

V. Lynn Evans

March 6th, 2017 by giving

Memphis accountant V. Lynn Evans was elected Thursday to chair the Tennessee Valley Authority this year as the utility's board transitions from all Democrats to a majority of Republican directors under incoming President Donald Trump.

Evans, who was appointed to the TVA board four years ago after serving as chairwoman of TVA's biggest customer, is the first African-American to serve as chairperson of TVA in its 83-year history. She is also the first female and first Memphis resident to chair the board.

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Kristy Johnson

November 30th, 2016 by giving


Mississippi winner Kristy Johnson, alumna of Jackson State University, proves beauty queens are more than a pretty face as she prepares to represent the state in the Miss Black USA National Scholarship Pageant.

Her platform, “Be Empowered,” focuses on reprogramming youth into believing in themselves, their communities and surroundings. During her reign, she will host summits, service projects and other community activities throughout Mississippi. “Because service is near and dear to my heart, this great state needs to see more activism within our younger populations. Each of us has a skill that we can use for the greater good of our communities,” Johnson said.

Johnson will represent Mississippi in the national pageant Aug. 2-7, 2017, in D.C. She will vie for a $5,000 academic scholarship, a trip to Africa, wardrobe by Liliana Shoes and ORS Olive Oil Hair products. As well, the winner will serve as a celebrity advocate for the Heart Truth campaign, which raises awareness about heart disease, the leading cause of death of women in the U.S.

Miss Black USA is the nation’s premier pageant for women of color. To date, the nonprofit organization, headquartered in Maryland, has awarded more than $450,000 in scholarships to its participants.


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Katina Rankin

July 27th, 2016 by giving

Katina Rankin Book Release Photograph 2

New Children's Book Addresses Similarities and Minor Differences That Still Exists Among Southerners and Northerners In A Colorful and Kid Friendly Way!

"Up North, Down South", is a new children's book by Television Anchor Katina Rankin  that addresses still-too-common misconceptions about the south.

"Up North, Down South: City Folk Meet Country Folk", is a book that shows young people it doesn't matter your geographical area, we are more alike albeit southern or northern.

9-year-old McKennley and his 7-year-old sister Kendall are growing up in New York City. They are about to go on a summer vacation to Mississippi where they've heard several rumors about the rural state.

Rumors like "Folks from the south talk funny. They say y'all and wave at everybody they pass on the street. They don't have regular pets like cats and dogs. They only have cows, goats and chickens. And, sometimes they act like cavemen."

But, once the children spend some time in the country they soon realize there are very few differences between city folk and country folk.

"This book takes children on a journey across Mississippi, while addressing still-too-common misconceptions about the state in an age-appropriate manner. This book entertains the reader while showing that Mississippi is a wonderful state with wonderful people. I believe this book will instill pride in Mississippi’s children, as well as help the children outside of our state gain an appreciation for Mississippi." – Marcus L. Thompson, Chief Administrative Officer at the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning

"Up North, Down South" is a chapter book for children Pre-K through 5th grade with global themes and relevance.

"Up North, Down South" is available online at

About The Author: Katina Rankin is an Emmy-nominated television news anchor.

Katina is a native of Magee, Mississippi. She received her bachelor's degree in Mass Communications from Alcorn State University and her master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from Jackson State University.

Rankin is the recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award, the Athletes for Progress Award and has been honored by many other prestigious organizations. Rankin has also been named Mississippi Woman of the Year.

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Joi L. Owens

July 20th, 2016 by giving

joi oJoi L. Owens's, 2016 National Juvenile Justice Fellow, advocacy project will focus on education in the juvenile justice system. Owens is the Managing Attorney and Legislative Liaison for Disability Rights Mississippi. She focuses on systemic reform related to people with disabilities in facilities and institution across the state of Mississippi. Joi advocates for juvenile justice reform, education reform, and criminal justice reform and represents incarcerated children and adults to address unconstitutional and abusive conditions in jails and juvenile detention centers. Youth with disabilities enter juvenile correctional facilities with educational, mental health, medical, and social needs. Owens will work with facilities in Mississippi to develop policies and procedures to ensure kids receive appropriate services. She received her Speech Communication from Jackson State University and her law degree from Mississippi College School of Law.

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Coach Robert Braddy

July 7th, 2016 by giving


Former Jackson State head baseball coach Robert Braddy was one of seven new inductees to enter the National College Baseball Hall of Fame (NCBHOF) at its annual Night of Champions in Lubbock, Texas, on Saturday.

Braddy is the winningest baseball coach in Southwestern Athletic Conference history, compiling an 824-546 record in 28 years at JSU.

His teams advanced to the NCAA tournament three times, and he was named NAIA District Coach of the Year twice and SWAC Coach of the Year eight times. He was the first African-American to be inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2003 and also was inducted into the JSU Sports Hall of Fame in 1985 and the SWAC Hall of Fame in 2005.

“I’m a country boy from Florence, Mississippi, so it’s an awesome honor,” Braddy said of his induction. “I coached baseball eight years at the high school level. I got a scholarship to go to Jackson State. I was eventually offered the job after eight years at the high school level. It was an awesome experience. I just can’t thank Jackson State enough, and my family, who are here from all over the place. Jackson State was a blessing in disguise. It was an awesome experience for me.”

Between 1973 and 2001, Braddy’s teams won 12 conference championships, more than any other coach in league history. He led the Tigers to three NCAA Tournament appearances, two NCAA play-in games and four NAIA Tournaments. He was named SWAC Coach of the Year nine times. During his 28-year coaching career, 52 of his players reached the professional ranks, producing two first-round draft picks in David Clark (1983) and Earl Sanders (1986).

In 1978, his Tigers celebrated a 52-12 season, which is a SWAC and JSU record. Braddy also played baseball for the Tigers under head coach Joe Gilliam Sr. and was named an All-Conference selection in 1962, and 1963 as a pitcher.

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Gwendolyn Caples

July 7th, 2016 by giving


Jackson State University has named Gwendolyn Caples assistant vice president for Institutional Advancement effective June 16. She will assist Sandra Hodge, interim vice president for Institutional Advancement, with managing day-to-day operations of the division. Since 2003, Caples has worked solely in the Division of Institutional Advancement in several positions, including events coordinator, director of Alumni and Constituency Relations, and director of the JSU Welcome Center.

Prior to her employment at Jackson State, she worked as public relations director at Mississippi Public Broadcasting for 11 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from JSU and a master’s degree in mass communications from Mississippi College.

“I am delighted to have Ms. Caples as my assistant vice president,” said Hodge. “Along with her experience in management, leadership, fundraising and public relations, she sincerely loves JSU and has knowledge of the work of the departments within the division. She will provide much needed support with managing the daily operations so I can focus on strengthening the entire unit that is vital to the success and growth of the University.”

Caples will continue to manage the JSU Welcome Center and will also provide oversight to the following departments: Alumni and Constituency Relations, Development, Events and University Communications; and will work in collaboration with the division’s budget manager.

“Making sure the Division of Institutional Advancement operates smoothly on a daily basis is an essential task,” said Caples. “I am honored to continue my service to Jackson State within the division and in my new role as assistant vice president. I look forward to working with vice president Hodge to strengthen daily operations and increase engagement among students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends, and in alignment with her vision for the unit and the University’s mission.”

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Abe McGlothin Jr.

July 7th, 2016 by giving


Abe McGlothin Jr. is a prosecuting attorney with the Federal Government, where he focuses on the prosecution of federal felony cases.

Before beginning work as a federal attorney, Attorney McGlothin worked as an Assistant District Attorney where he prosecuted an array of cases involving violations of state criminal laws. 

Before joining the District Attorney's Office, Attorney McGlothin worked as a staff attorney/court administrator for a Senior Chancery Court Judge, where he gained experience in the areas of family law, will and estates, property claims, and other matters including but not limited to divorce, child custody, conservatorships, powers of attorney, and more.

Abe is truly passionate about the work he does and is always eager to learn new things and meet new professionals. While Abe enjoys almost all aspects of his job, his favorite part is working with victims of violent crimes to assist them in understanding the judicial process and ensuring that they are satisfied with the outcome of their case.

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Dionne Jones Woody

May 5th, 2016 by giving

Dionne Woody

Upon walking through the large doors and entering into the corridors of Key Elementary School where Dionne Woody is the principal, you might be pleasantly surprised to hear the tune You Are My Sunshine that is being sung to the scholars and school’s staff or see her  tutoring a group of students her office.  Mrs. Woody can be heard saying Key is the “School Where Everybody Is Somebody & AEIOU:  Academic Excellence IS Our Ultimate GOAL”.  Surely these occurrences may initially appear to be a bit unorthodoxed, but to know her  is to know that she often take an unconventional approach in serving the scholars, staff, and community of any school where she has served as administrator.

Mrs. Woody practices her motherly instincts far beyond the realm of her Ridgeland (Madison) home.  She takes enormous pride in knowing all 400 scholars and their parents by name.  She always endeavors to educate the whole child rather than merely focusing on strictly academics.    Mrs. Woody often says…..“I treat all children as though they’re my own biological children”.  Mrs. Woody believes she is well respected by her staff, colleagues, and superiors for exhibiting a very hands-on, compassionate, and approachable demeanor with the scholars, their families, and staff members. While quite simple in words, her mantra is “we not me,” has profound meaning to those who she work alongside.  

Mrs. Woody’s compassion and devotion to others can be traced back to her upbringing in Columbus, Mississippi.  Both her parents, Henry and Linda Jones served as educators in the Columbus (MS) Public School District for a combined 65 years.  In addition to following in her parents’ professional footsteps, she is a contributing member of the communities in which she work and live.  Mrs. Woody is a product of the Columbus Public School District and received both a Bachelor of Education and Masters of Education Leadership from Jackson State University.

Mrs. Woody is an active member of Pilgrim Rest M. B. Church and the Madison County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, where she is involved with numerous community service oriented projects and partnerships. Mrs. Woody was named Administrator of the Year for Jackson Public Schools in February 2016, she has been featured in the “Jackson Free Press News”, educational magazines, numerous times she has been featured on the news for her success in schools she has been the administrator, WJTV News Channel recently broadcast a Success Story for Key Elementary for being an integral part with scholars academically.

When she is not wearing her principal’s hat or working in the community, She and her husband (James) can be very easily heard cheering for their boys (James and Jarvis) with basketball, baseball and football.  Should you see two other women looking identical to Mrs. Woody, do not become alarmed; it’s not an April fool’s Day joke!  Even though she was born on a national day of practical jokes, April 1st, she is one-third of a set of triplets. Her sisters are Dewanda Jones Nelson and Denise Jones Gregory who both live in Birmingham, AL and members of Delta Sigma Theta and also careers are  in education.

Working with children is part of Mrs. Woody’s daily life.  She says …children are a gift!  It makes her feel proud knowing she has reached a child.  She is a strong advocate for children being treated fairly, academically and socially.  Also, she believes in the old African Proverb: “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child”.  



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Dr. Rhea C. Williams-Bishop

May 5th, 2016 by giving

Rhea Bishop

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – Dr. Rhea C. Williams-Bishop has been named the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s (WKKF) new director of Mississippi and New Orleans Programs, effective May 16, 2016.

Currently, Williams-Bishop serves as the director of the Center for Education Innovation in Jackson, Mississippi, a nonprofit education intermediary focused on impacting and transforming education through engagement and innovation.

“We are delighted that Rhea will now be a part of the WKKF team,” said Joe Scantlebury, the foundation’s vice president for program strategy. “Rhea brings tremendous knowledge of Mississippi and New Orleans as well as a proven track record of partnering with community residents and organizations to improve the lives of all children. We couldn’t feel better about the newest member of our team.”

Prior to her work at the Center for Education Innovation, Williams-Bishop held many positions at the Children’s Defense Fund, including: the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) administrator, executive director of Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids (SPARK) and the deputy director of Southern Regional Office.

“After spending over 15 years in my career as a child and family advocate, I am very excited about my new role with the foundation and looking forward to leading its efforts in Mississippi and New Orleans, working to improve the conditions for children and families,” Williams-Bishop said. “I hope to build on the rich legacy of support and commitment that the Kellogg Foundation has provided to communities all across this region.”  

Williams-Bishop obtained her Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership from Jackson State University, where she earned a Master of Public Policy & Administration degree and a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Affairs.

About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation 
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti.

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Alferdteen Brown Harrison

May 5th, 2016 by giving


Alferdteen Brown Harrison built a prominent, decades-long career as an academic leader in history on a foundation laid at McPherson College.

Brown Harrison, a 1961 history graduate of McPherson College now living in Jackson, Miss., was recently honored for her career achievements with her induction to the University of Kansas Women’s Hall of Fame.

“It lifted my spirits for sure,” Brown Harrison said. “I had no idea that I would ever be considered for such an honor.”

Since 1970, the Emily Taylor Center for Women and Gender Equity has selected a few outstanding women with a connection to the University of Kansas by inducting them to the Hall of Fame.

“These women are exemplary members of society in both overall impact and outstanding character,” said Kathy Rose-Mockry, the center’s director. “Many inductees accomplished feats in their respective fields at times when it was practically unheard of for a female to make such progress. The influence of their numerous contributions and achievements is immeasurable, and these women serve as awe-inspiring role models.”

After her graduation from McPherson College, she received a master’s degree from Wichita State University. She later became the first African American to earn a doctorate in history from KU and helped to establish what, today, is the African and African American Studies department at KU.

She was also a professor of history and the director of the Margaret Walker Alexander National Research Center at Jackson State University. She also co-founded the first museum in Mississippi to focus on African Americans in the state – the Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center. She is author of multiple books and continues as a prominent advocate for the documentation and preservation of African American History.

She has also returned to serve her alma mater at McPherson College in recent years in leadership roles on the college’s Board of Trustees from 2002 to 2011. McPherson College has been a lifelong influence on her, Brown Harrison said, because of her teachers’ mentorship and MC’s strong foundation in Christian ethics.

“I think that I had great role models there in all of my teachers, and it was a very nurturing environment,” Brown Harrison said. “McPherson College helped develop the moral compass for my life – a God-centered lifestyle.”

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