JSU Women’s History Month

Courtney Rutledge, ‘07

March 21st, 2017 by giving

“Conviction and commitment to service and advocacy for those who are on the periphery of mainstream society” is the central mission of Courtney S.V. Rutledge. Cultivated through decades of perseverance, hope, and spirituality, Ms. Rutledge, a generational A.M.E, is a life member of Greater Allen A.M.E Church & she is the daughter of Rev. Albert and Mrs. Nona Rutledge of Dayton, OH & scholarship recruit of Dr. Jimmie James, Chair of JSU Dept. of Music. She is a graduate of the Brad Tillson National School of Excellence, The Stivers School of the Arts Jr. & Sr. High School. Committed to excellence, education, and service, Ms. Rutledge has served her hometown of Dayton, Ohio acting as the President of the Dayton Public Schools Superintendents Student Senate followed by her election as the youngest member of the Dayton Board of Education representing 20,000+ students of the Dayton Public School System.

Ms. Rutledge, a “2007” Summa Cum Laude Speech Communication Studies Major/ Vocal Music Minor of Jackson State University (JSU), achieved the highest departmental G.P.A of Speech Comm. Studies Graduates in “2007” and has obtained such honors as The A.E.A.N.O.M.S International Miss Shrine of North & South America and its Jurisdictions & The SCLC Women’s Coalition Princess Nefertiti Service Award, the Centennial Miss Black & Gold for the Delta Phi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., The District of Mississippi, & Talent and Interview Recipient Alpha South. In that same year she became elected Miss Jackson State University and placed as a finalist for the Miss National Black College Hall of Fame, she is distinguished as JSU’s first and only student 2 page feature in Ebony Magazine, and Co-Host of BET’s The Student Center.

As a Communication & Discourse scholar and protégé of Dr. Janice K. Neal- Vincent and her lifelong Academic Advisor, Dr. Mark G. Henderson, Ms. Rutledge has presented culturally relevant research on the history of African American Rhetoric of the early twentieth century. Her innate ability in public speech and scholarly research has led her to present her findings at academic research symposiums, national conferences, and competitions which led her to ultimately become the 1st place National Extemporaneous winner at the Black Academy of Arts and Letters in Dallas, TX.  A “2006” initiate of the Gamma Rho Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the service to which Ms. Rutledge is committed seeks to increase educational opportunities, increase economic advantages, and promote cultural expression through the arts, evident through her pursuit of transforming research into real life application as she became the President & Founder of For My People Org. Ms. Rutledge successfully established the nation’s first branch of the Feed the Children Network on a college campus at JSU which under her student leadership contributed $5,000.00 to the Abandoned Baby Center in Kenya, Africa which now carries the sponsorship name of Jackson State University. She furthered her commitment to the service of JSU, through The Campaign for Violence Prevention against College Students, conducting legal research and investigating safety provisions, sexual assault policies, laws, and police response to violence committed on college campuses. Her project as a scholar resulted in 1 million dollars allocated to campus safety improvements at Jackson State University. Her most recent service to JSU is as the President of “Thrive JSU,” the upcoming official Young Alumni Division of the JSUNAA.

 As a legal and political communication scholar, she is “2011” graduate of Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. where her interest in legal research and writing targeted legislative deficiencies surrounding the communicative branding of minority populations and urban centers. Ms. Rutledge has served, The DCI Political Communication Firm, producing relative grassroots statistical research portfolios for lobbyist in the war room during the “2008” and “2012” Presidential election cycle, The Executive Office of the Mayor, Adrian Fenty of Washington, DC working on grassroots volunteerism, communication and legal advocacy for constituents coordinating the Mayors official service agenda, the District of Columbia Public Schools & the 110th Congress of the U.S. House of Representatives House Committee on Homeland Security and the Congressional office of Congressman Bennie G. Thompson, (D-MS) while furthering her legal studies at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Ms. Rutledge reflects a strong track record as a communicative implementer and academician who thrives on managing a variety of key initiatives concurrently.

All of her experiences have solidified her commitment to use strategic communication, analysis and legal research to provide greater solutions on her path advocating for minority populations at all levels of government and education, namely Historically Black Colleges. To accomplish this end, Ms. Rutledge has recently returned to the “College of her Heart” conducting independent Ethnography in Speech Communication Studies as an abroad Minority Urban Researcher and Graduate guest lecturer in Communication Studies, while continuing her scholarship in Communication as a minority scholar of The Purdue University Brian Lamb School of Communication. As an avid scholar most recently, she has given her time as a fellow to the Mississippi Bar Associations’ Volunteer Lawyers Project and Thee Institute of Government as a December “2016” Public Management and Leadership Co-Hort Graduate. As Ethnographer, she is mastering her leadership development, conducting research, analyzing policy, and being trained in theoretical organizational management to communicatively assist governmental bodies and urban institutions as a thinker who delivers effective and efficient leadership that meets needs and enhances stability, growth, and sustainability of urban communities. Her motto is “What God can’t do, cannot be done, if I have the faith, God’s got the power”.

Chauncey Citchens, ‘08

March 20th, 2017 by giving

Chauncey Citchens, a native of Jackson, MS is the daughter of Claude and Linda Wilson. She is happily married to Christopher, a fellow JSU alum. If you ask Chauncey about her tenure at JSU, she will quickly tell you that it was four of the best years of her life. While on campus Chauncey was very active. She served in many leadership roles including class president, homecoming chair, and National Pan-Hellenic representative for the Gamma Rho chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She was also initiated into several honor societies and received the Jacksonian Award.

After graduating Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Marketing, Chauncey received her MBA from Clark Atlanta University. During her professional career, Chauncey has worked in marketing, communications, and product development for companies including Clear Channel, H&R Block, and C Spire. She recently relocated to Nashville, TN where she is now a Senior Digital Marketing Specialist for The General®. In her new role, Chauncey oversees external digital marketing and communications including the email program, texting program, and digital paid media.

While growing professionally, Chauncey has also found time for personal development. She recently joined the Urban League Young Professionals of Middle Tennessee and is also pursuing her first love of writing. Her new blog chronicles her journey to self-publishing her first children’s book targeted at black girls. You can follow along at www.chaunceycitchens.com.

Andrea Williams, ‘97

March 20th, 2017 by giving

Andrea Williams is a very proud 1997 honors graduate of Jackson State University. The Smith County, Mississippi native and Raleigh High School graduate bleeds true “Tiger Blue!”

For almost the past 17 ½ years Andrea has worked as an anchor/reporter at WTOK-TV in Meridian, Mississippi.

Over the years, she has received a number of associated press and local awards. With a lifelong goal of simply having a positive impact on society, Andrea thanks JSU for helping to equip her with important skills that were needed to truly make this dream become an ever evolving reality.

Gwendolyn Caples, ‘77

March 18th, 2017 by giving

Gwendolyn Caples was named the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Advancement in June 2016. She manages day-to-day operations for 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.

Caples continues to manage the JSU Welcome Center and also provides oversight to Alumni and Constituency Relations, Development and University Events.

AVP Caples has received many awards and recognitions throughout her career, including an award from the JSU National Alumni Association for chairing the Biennial Conference, the “Hero Award” from the Jackson Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and the Thurgood Marshall Award for Excellence in Alumni Affairs. She was also honored as one of “50 Leading Business Women in Mississippi” by the Mississippi Business Journal and has received the “One JSU Excellence Award” from Jackson State University.

Diane Delaware, ‘71

March 17th, 2017 by giving

The Honorable Diane Delaware is a native of Yazoo City, Mississippi and graduated from N. D. Taylor High School. She received her undergraduate degree from Jackson State University and her Master’s degree from the University of Missouri.  

Diane began her professional career in Jackson, Mississippi with the Xerox Corporation as a Collection Correspondent, where she quickly moved to sales covering the major accounts in the financial, government and manufacturing sector.  After her promotion to Sales Manager, Diane went on to run the Xerox Offices in Dallas and Houston, Texas as Marketing Operations Manager and Branch Marketing Manager respectively.  Being recognized as the top Marketing Manager across a 10-state Region; Diane was selected to assist in the transformation of the Company and was promoted to Director of Quality and Knowledge Management at the Xerox National Headquarters.  There she pioneered and deployed the leading edge Six Sigma Process company-wide which resulted in a profitable revenue growth and millions in cost cutting savings.

Following this success, Diane was promoted to Director of Major Account Negotiations where she was responsible for major account revenues totaling in excess of Three Billion Dollars in U.S. revenues annually.  Diane's career spans all areas of business operations for the Xerox Corporation.  She also managed the Latin American and European Manufacturing Operations Quality for the Company.  Furthering her education while at Xerox, Diane attended the Insead University (known as the Harvard of Europe) in Fontainebleau, just outside of Paris, France.  She completed the Executive Business Management Program and went on to complete the Marketing Executive Program at the Columbia University School of Marketing in New York City.  The CEO selected Diane to lead the transformation of the world-wide manufacturing organization and with that success; the organization awarded Diane Delaware with the Malcolm Baldrige Award for Excellence by the United States Government.

As the Global Vice President of Marketing Operations for the Xerox Corporation covering marketing for the United States, Europe, Middle East, Africa and South America; Diane launched a new line of products that we all use today in our everyday lives: multifunctional printers and copiers.  During her career, Diane served as Senior Vice President of Knowledge Management and Quality for the Xerox Corporation where she resided in England and traversed the globe to build talent and capital in the new international markets of Russia, China, India, Dubai, Brazil, and throughout the European countries.  In her last role at Xerox, Diane was Senior Vice President of Emerging Markets leading operations for the countries noted here.

Diane has consulted for Lockheed Martin, Credit Suisse, American Express, Frito-Lay, IBM, and the Stamford Connecticut Public Schools, creating its first Bullying Program, as well as many other international organizations.  Diane Delaware has received national and international honors and awards from the National Association of Black Engineers, the NAACP, The Urban League, the Executive Leadership Council, the Russian Marketing Association, The National Sales Association, Athena, The National Association of Quality Control and, of course, numerous awards from the Xerox Corporation. In 2011, Diane was honored for her contributions to the advancement of women in American business by the Black Women's Leadership Council, the national organization representing Black women in Corporate America.  Diane is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.  In 2014, she became the first female, African American mayor of Yazoo City.



Jessica Catchings, J.D., ‘09

March 16th, 2017 by giving

Attorney Jessica Catchings, a native of Ridgeland, Mississippi, graduated summa cum laude from Jackson State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History in 2009. From there she received a Juris Doctorate from the University Of Mississippi School Of Law and passed the Mississippi Bar in 2012.

While in law school she studied abroad at Downing College of Cambridge University in Cambridge, England. She also interned with former United States Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander of the Northern District of Mississippi, worked at the Public Defender Service of the District of Columbia and assisted Mississippi Innocence Project attorneys in petitioning the Mississippi Supreme Court to overturn the convictions of wrongfully incarcerated prisoners.

For the past four years, Attorney Catchings has served as a staff attorney at the Mississippi Center for Justice working in their Consumer Protection and Housing Divisions. There she has saved over one hundred homes by representing homeowners facing foreclosure.  Moreover, she has filed Fair Housing complaints to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development against local apartment complexes. She was among a team of attorneys who represented tenants who filed a lawsuit against the City of Ridgeland regarding a zoning ordinance that would have eliminated five apartment complexes in the City. While at the center, she also served as staff attorney at a legal clinic at Hinds Community College. 

Attorney Catchings is an adjunct professor at Belhaven University and she recently accepted a full-time position as an attorney in the Government Services division at Horne, LLP. She is a member of the Women in the Profession Committee of the Mississippi Bar. She serves as a member of Jackson State University's School of Business Community Ambassadors and Advisory Board and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Center for Social Entrepreneurship, a non-profit located in West Jackson.


Dr. Andrea Michelle Jossell

March 15th, 2017 by giving

Dr. Andrea Michelle Jossell, a native of Marks, MS, is the daughter of Rev. Michael Jossell Sr. and Dr. Evelyn Wilkerson-Jossell. After becoming the salutatorian of her 2008 High School graduating class from Madison S. Palmer High School in Marks, Dr. Andrea Jossell was awarded a full scholarship to Jackson State University where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology with a Minor in Chemistry.

As an undergraduate student at JSU, Jossell served as her class’ Parliamentarian with the Student Government Association her senior year. She was a member of the Pre-Health Society, Tiger P.R.I.D.E., recipient of the prestigious Jacksonian award, and was selected as a Thurgood Marshall Leadership Fellow. Dr. Jossell was initiated into the Gamma Rho Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., through which she was involved in numerous community service projects and served as Doorkeeper while on campus. While maintaining a 3.7 GPA throughout her matriculation at Jackson State University, Jossell was inducted into Alpha Lambda Delta and Alpha Chi Honor Societies, and graduated as Magna Cum Laude.

Early on, Dr. Jossell knew that her purpose in life was to help people, she just needed an avenue. In 2016, Dr. Jossell received her Doctorate of Chiropractic from Life University in Atlanta, Georgia. While at Life University, Dr. Jossell was a Student Ambassador and part of the Student American Black Chiropractor’s Association. Jossell also received many honor accolades and graduated Cum Laude. Currently, Dr. Jossell is an associate doctor at Cannon Chiropractic and resides in Memphis, TN. Within this practice, Dr. Jossell has helped serviced almost 500 patients in a single week!  Her future plans are to one day open her own clinic and to continue to touch the lives of people through the philosophy of Chiropractic. 

Yolanda R. Owens, ‘93

March 14th, 2017 by giving

A resident of Decatur, Georgia, Yolanda R. Owens is a life member of the Jackson State University National Alumni Association, Inc. and the Metro Atlanta Chapter. She served as President of the Metro Atlanta Chapter from 2005-2009 and was named Local Alumnus of the Year in 2006 and 2010. After serving two terms as Southeast Regional Vice President, took office as the 18th President of the Jackson State University National Alumni Association, Inc. (JSUNAA) on July 1, 2014. Yolanda is the first female elected as JSUNAA president in 20 years (Melvene Coney elected in 1992) and is also one of the youngest to serve in the position.

Enrolled in the dual-degree program, Yolanda received her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from JSU and Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Southern Polytechnic (Now Kennesaw) State University in Marietta, GA.  After 10 years in the industry as a Civil Engineer (site development), she shifted her focus to Engineering Contracts and currently works for Jacobs Engineering Group as a Procurement Officer for the Southeast Region.

When asked why she ran for president of the Alumni Association, Yolanda responded, “Serving as President of the Jackson State University National Alumni Association is the very least that I can do to give back to the university that gave me so much.” Her campaign platform was “ABC: Align, Bridge, Collaborate.” Align the Alumni Association with the university to make local, state, national and global decisions that positively affect Jackson State University. Bridge the gap between the alumni and the students of JSU. Collaborate with community, civic and educational organizations for the advancement of JSU.

In her first year as JSUNAA President, Yolanda established a broad set of goals for the Association and, with a great leadership team, is working to:

     *  develop strategies to give the Association a stronger voice with a greater presence on the local, state,
         national and global level,
     *  engage alumni from every generation and geographic location,
     *  ensure that student recruitment & retention remains a top priority at all times,
     *  establish and maintain strong lines of communication with the University,
     *  fortify governing documents,
     *  galvanize financial resources,
     *  improve record keeping and data management systems,
     *  invigorate Mississippi alumni base which represents the greatest percentage of membership,
     *  launch unique and sustaining fundraising initiatives,
     *  Polish the public image and perception of the Association.

Under her leadership, many of the goals have been accomplished and the Association continues to fulfil its mission to support the vision of JSU. The 2014 & 2016 Black Tie Galas, JSUNAA’s signature fundraiser raised about $100,000 for scholarships.  Alumni chapters across the nation donate about $150,000 per year to the university and annually participate in 150-200 recruitment fairs across the country.

Yolanda is an active member of Saint Philip African Methodist Episcopal Church in Atlanta where she a member of the Richard Allen Usher Board and is trained as a Small Group Study leader for Crown Financial Ministries. She is a Toastmaster and also a member of the Stone Mountain-Lithonia Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.  For her work with JSUNAA, she was the 2016 recipient of the Fortitude Award, given to a soror who has achieved, performed or accomplished something outstanding outside of Delta Sigma Theta.

An avid runner, Yolanda joined Black Girls RUN! In 2011 and has since completed countless 5ks and 10ks as well as 4 half-marathons. She enjoys travelling, spending time with family and finding creative ways to bond with friends.  She is not afraid of unique adventure and has been spotted zip-lining, kayaking, parasailing and even belly dancing! 


Ehidanmegbe Akharume, DDS, ‘04

March 13th, 2017 by giving

Dr. Akharume is a 2004 Magna Cum Laude graduate of Jackson State University where she received a B.S. In Biology. While pursuing her degree at JSU she was involved in several organizations. She was a member of Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society, Alpha Chi Honor Society, and a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. After completing her studies at JSU, she went on to earn her Doctorate of Dental Surgery at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN in 2010.

Dr. Akharume received a post-doctoral certification in Hospital Dentistry by completing a General Practice Residency at Meharry Medical College and Nashville General Hospital in conjunction with VA Medical Center in 2011. Dr. Akharume worked in private practice for Smiles R Us Dental Center in Memphis, TN from 2011-2012. Dr. continues to uphold the mission to serve her community by being involved in the American Dental Association, Capital City Dental Society, and American Association of Women Dentists well as the National Dental Association.

Dr. Akharume is currently working in corporate dentistry. For the past four years, she has been an Associate Dentist at Kool Smiles of Baton Rouge.

Dr. Akharume strives to live up to her motto of her alma mater to improve the healthcare of the community.

V. Lynn Evans, ’75

March 11th, 2017 by giving

V. Lynn Evans is chair of the board of directors for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).  The TVA is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power distributors serving more than 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. Evans is the first female, the first African American, and the first Memphian to serve as chair in TVA’s 83-year history.

A native of Anguilla, Miss., Evans was nominated for the TVA board by President Obama in September 2012, and unanimously confirmed by the U S Senate in January, 2013.  She currently serves on the board’s Audit, Risk, and Regulation Committee (committee chair from 2014 – 2017), Nuclear Oversight Committee, and External Relations Committee.  She previously served on the board’s People and Performance Committee.

Evans owns V. Lynn Evans, CPA, a certified public accounting and consulting firm in Memphis, TN. Prior to joining the TVA board, she served on the Memphis Light, Gas & Water board of commissioners, the nation’s largest three-service public utility, from 2004 to 2013 (serving as board chair from 2008 to 2009). She has also served on the board of directors of First Alliance Bank in Memphis, Tennessee, since its inception in 1998.

Evans is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Tennessee Society of Certified Public Accountants, Black Business Association, and the International Women’s Forum.  She is a graduate of Leadership Memphis.

Evans holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Jackson State University, where she finished first in her class.