Staff & Board

Women’s Foundation Staff

Carol PenickCarol B. Penick Executive Director 601-326-0700

As founding Executive Director, Carol Penick led the Foundation in its growth as an independent statewide nonprofit from its start as a small program at the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson when she started in 2007. Since the launch as the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi (WFM) in 2009, Carol’s vision for helping women in Mississippi thrive has grown the grantmaking base from $68,000 in year one to approximately $1 million in 2016, and has brought $4.5 million of investment into the state.

Her work in grantmaking, social change, and equality extends beyond WFM, as Carol is immediate past-president of the Mississippi Association of Grantmakers and continues to serve as board member. Carol has a leadership role on the board of the international Women’s Funding Network. She recently represented Mississippi at the White House Council on Women and Girls summit as part of Prosperity Together – a coalition of 28 women’s foundations – which committed $100 million toward advancing women’s economic security. Carol is a member of St. Andrews Cathedral.

JamieBardwellJamie Holcomb Bardwell Deputy Director 601-326-0701

Jamie Bardwell is the Deputy Director of the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi. In this role she leads and manages the grantmaking and advocacy initiatives of the Foundation. Jamie earned a B.A. in History from Millsaps College and a Master of Public Policy from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. She is a 2012 graduate of the Business Advantage Program at Millsaps College and Leadership Greater Jackson. She is also a member of the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission and serves as a member of the Executive Board of ACOG, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Before moving back to Mississippi she worked at the United States Department of Health and Human Services as a Presidential Management Fellow. She lives in Jackson with her husband, Will, and son, James.

Lisa Jordan Communications Director 601-487-0367

Lisa Jordan recently joined the WFM team after spending her career in corporate branding and marketing strategy, most recently as Director of Brand Marketing and Growth Strategy for the largest privately-held wireless carrier in the U.S. After working as co-organizer on the team that brought the first TEDx to Jackson, she was ready to make a shift and work more directly to give back to people and communities and jumped at the chance to apply her experience in integrated marketing strategy to the mission of the Women’s Foundation. Lisa has an MBA and BBA in Marketing from the University of Mississippi and has completed the “Building New Businesses Within Existing Organizations” executive education session at Harvard Business School.

LatishaLatikerLatisha Latiker Program Officer 601-326-3002

Latisha Latiker is the Program Officer for the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi. In this role she works on grantmaking, advocacy, and engagement activities for the Foundation. A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, she earned her B.A. and M.A. in Political Science with an emphasis in public policy and public administration from Oklahoma State University. While at Oklahoma State, Latisha worked as a Political Science Instructor and received numerous awards and honors including the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship for outstanding graduate students. Prior to joining the Women’s Foundation, Latisha served as Regional Program Officer for the Children’s Defense Fund’s Southern Regional Office where she worked on advocacy initiatives that addressed the needs of children and families, paying particular interest to families living in poverty. Latisha is married to Dr. Tony Latiker and they are the proud parents of one son, Qadre; as well as aunt and uncle to numerous nieces and nephews. Latisha is active in her church and serves as a Sunday school teacher. She enjoys reading and watching football.

KathyPurserKathy B. Purser Program Associate 601-326-3001

Kathy joined the Women’s Foundation as Program Associate in March 2012 after having worked as an administrative professional in the accounting industry for more than 20 years. A native of the Byram area, Kathy and her family live in Crystal Springs and her children, Natalie and Eli, attend Copiah Academy.

Women’s Foundation Board Members

Elta Posey Johnston (Chair)  A native of Jackson, Elta is a former college English instructor, married to Jim, a retired physician turned community activist. She is the mother of two and grandmother of four. She is a long-time community activist, having headed a number of organizations over the years, including the Junior League of Jackson, the St. Andrews School Parents’ Association, the Jackson Friends of the Library, Goodwill Industries Volunteer Services, the University Press Bookfriends, and the Woodland Hills Homeowners’ Association. She and Jim are active members of Northminster Baptist Church, and they live in Fondren with their three Westies. She is extremely proud of the work of the Women’s Foundation and is excited about the year ahead!

Julieta Mendez (Chair-elect)  Julieta works as HR Service Partner for International Services at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. A native of Argentina, she has called Mississippi home since 2007. Julieta received a J.D. from Universidad de Mendoza in the year 2000. Prior to working at UMMC, she served as Program Director of the Immigration Clinic at Catholic Charities of Jackson. She has volunteered for multiple organizations, such as Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights and Legal Assistance of Olmsted County, in Rochester, Minnesota. In 2012 and 2013, she served as Advisory Board Member of The Center for Violence Prevention. Julieta lives in Brandon with her husband, Alejandro R. Chade, M.D., an Associate Professor at UMMC, and their two beautiful children, Joaquin and Camila.

Susan Anand (Secretary)  Susan received her BA in Fine Arts from Indiana University and MA in Art Therapy from New York University. She has worked in Mississippi as an art therapist with children and adults in inpatient and outpatient settings since 1982. As an instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Susan provides art therapy services and teaches psychiatry residents about the benefits of group art therapy. She frequently provides workshops and training on art therapy and use of the creative process to strengthen resilience. Susan is a board member for the Art Therapy Credentials Board. She is the mother of twin daughters, Asha and Nina.

Kim BurkeKim Burke (Treasurer)  Kimberly Gladden Burke, Ph.D. is a Professor of Accounting and Dean of the Else School of Management at Millsap’s College.  Prior to completing her Ph.D., Kim worked as an auditor for Price Waterhouse and a director of internal audit for Unigate Restaurants.  She is the author of several courses offered by the AICPA as well as several articles published in academic journals.  Kim was recognized by the Mississippi Society of CPAs as the 2014 Outstanding Educator and by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education as the 2008 Mississippi Professor of the Year.  Kim and her husband, Rick, are the proud parents of their daughter Kelsey.

Tiffany M. Graves (At-large)  A native of Winchester, Virginia, Tiffany is the Executive Director of the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission and the Interim Director of the Pro Bono Initiative at the University of Mississippi School of Law. She graduated from Hollins University with degrees in Political Science and Spanish and received her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. She began her legal career as the Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Fellow at the Mississippi Center for Justice in Jackson. She was a Litigation Associate at Watkins & Eager, PLLC and Corlew Munford & Smith, PLLC after she completed her fellowship. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi, Tiffany is a member of the Board of Directors of the Capital Area Bar Association and the Center for Violence Prevention. She is also in the inaugural fellowship class of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Community Leadership Network.


Wendy Mullins (At-large)  Wendy serves as Counsel in the Jackson office of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, where she is a member of the Corporate & Securities practice group. Her legal practice focuses on business transactions, corporate governance and assisting entrepreneurial-oriented individuals and companies as they develop, protect and commercialize their intellectual property assets. Outside of her law practice, Wendy is involved with several civic and charitable organizations, serving on the Board of Directors for the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits and the Board of Trustees for St. Andrew’s Episcopal School.  Wendy is married to Chuck Mullins and they have one son in the 6th grade at St. Andrew’s.  When not at work, volunteering or at home, she and her husband can be found cheering for their son at either a football, basketball or baseball game.

Paheadra Robinson (At-large)  Paheadra Bratton Robinson is an attorney in Jackson and is currently serving at the executive director for The Center for Asset Development (formerly the Coalition for a Prosperous Mississippi). She has formerly worked as the Director of Consumer Protection for the Mississippi Center for Justice, as a staff attorney for the Mississippi House of Representatives, created a nonprofit serving families in crisis, as well as a robust private practice.  She earned a B.A. from Tougaloo College in 1994 and a J.D. from the University Of Mississippi School Of Law in 1998.  Paheadra is the proud mother of three children, Kameron, Kristopher and Khloe.

Donna Barksdale


Marian Barksdale  Marian Barksdale is a native of Meridian, and a graduate of Meridian High School and Vanderbilt University. She has lived in Oxford since 2000. She serves on the Oxford School Board and has been active in the Mississippi School Boards Association and with various local and state education, arts and philanthropic efforts. Marian is married to Claiborne Barksdale, and they have three adult children. She is a member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.

Rhea Bishop  Rhea Williams-Bishop, M.P.P.A., Ph.D. is the Director of the Center for Education Innovation (MSCEI) in Jackson, Mississippi, a non-profit education intermediary focused on impacting and transforming education through engagement and innovation. She describes herself as a child advocate dedicated to improving the lives of vulnerable children by enhancing and improving their educational opportunities. Earlier in her career, she worked for the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) for 13 years and served as the Deputy Director of the Southern Regional Office. A graduate of Jackson State University, she was selected by the Mississippi Business Journal as one of the Top 10 Business Women in 2012. A sixth generation Mississippian, she and her husband, Bev Bishop II are the proud parents of three – Trey, Mimi, and Russ.

Hope Bynum  Hope volunteers with many community organizations, including Heartworks, Junior League of Jackson, MCM Partners, Anderson United Methodist Church Food Pantry and Pastor Parish Relations Committee, LeFleur’s Bluff Chapter of Links, Inc., Operation Shoestring, and the Mississippi Campaign for Teenage Pregnancy Prevention.

Daphne R. Chamberlain  Daphne is a native of Columbus, Mississippi.  She completed her undergraduate studies at Tougaloo College, and received her Master’s and Ph.D. in History from the University of Mississippi.  Her research, titled “‘And a Child Shall Lead the Way’: Children’s Participation in the Jackson, Mississippi, Black Freedom Struggle, 1946-1970,” examined youth activism and leadership during the civil rights era.  Upon earning her doctorate, Chamberlain worked as a Visiting Assistant Professor in History & African-American Studies at the University of Mississippi.  In 2012, she became the founding Director of the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) Civil Rights Education Center at Jackson State University.  She serves as a core faculty member with the Fannie Lou Hamer National Institute on Citizenship & Democracy, and serves on the board for the Margaret Walker Alexander National Research Center, the Mississippi Historical Society, and the Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement.  Dr. Chamberlain is currently Assistant Professor of History, Chair of the Department of History & Political Science, and Coordinator of Civil Rights & Social Justice Initiatives at historic Tougaloo College.

Inglish DeVoss  Inglish graduated with a Bachelors in Sociology and Minor in African and Diaspora studies from Tulane University. She was a gallery director in New Orleans before moving to Jackson with her husband in 2000. Inglish worked as Program Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity, as an African art consultant for Disney, and with auxiliary cooking programs for Jackson area schools. Most proudly, Inglish has volunteered with various community organizations including the Jackson AmeriCorp Board, as an extended active with the Junior League in youth/community projects and for St. Andrews School where her two young sons attend. She believes in changing the “culture of expectations” and that advocacy for the underrepresented is equal portions responsibility and reward.

Evelyn Edwards  A native of Tchula, Mississippi, Evelyn is a graduate of Rust College and a former graduate student of the University of Akron, Ohio. She is Vice President and Community Reinvestment Specialist for BancorpSouth.  She provides community development oversight for Central/Pine Belt/Coast of MS, Florida, and Louisiana.  She has 25 years’ experience in banking and finance, 16 of which with BancorpSouth. Evelyn has two daughters, Kittey and Kaelyn, who are a senior and sophomore in college. She is an active member at Jackson Revival Center Church in Jackson, MS, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of several organizations, including Operation Shoestring, Corporation for Global Community Development, MS JumpStart Coalition, Jobs for MS Graduates, Women’s Foundation of MS, and Microbusiness Network of Louisiana.

Kimberly Hilliard   Kimberly Hilliard, Ph.D., serves as the the founding Executive Director for the Office of Community Engagement at Jackson State University. Dr. Hilliard, native of Washington, DC, holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Tuskegee University, a M.S. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of New Orleans, and obtained her Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning from Jackson State University. Hilliard provides leadership in connecting the University with local, state, and federal agencies, community-based organizations, and local residents and businesses.

Susan Floyd King  Susan Floyd King is special counsel in Jones Walker LLP’s Real Estate Practice Group and a member of the Environmental team. Prior to becoming an attorney, Susan worked as an educator at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. She received her Juris Doctorate degree from Mississippi College School of Law, completed her undergraduate degree at Sewanee: The University of the South, and her Master of Education in Gifted Studies at Mississippi University for Women. Susan is member of the Governing Council of the American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources and has been recognized in “Chambers USA – America’s Leading Lawyers for Business” and Mid-South Super Lawyers. In 2014, Susan was named one of “Mississippi’s 50 Leading Business Women” by the Mississippi Business Journal.

Julie Kuklinski  Julie Kuklinski is the Program Director for the Moore Community House Women in Construction Program. She was born and raised in Wisconsin and received her Bachelors of Arts degree in sociology/anthropology at St. Norbert College. Julie came to the Gulf Coast in May of 2006 as a hurricane relief volunteer rebuilding homes affected by Hurricane Katrina. During this time, she led all female crews in mold remediation work, demolition work, and all other types of residential construction. Julie’s experiences working in east Biloxi and her experience working in construction led her, with great enthusiasm, to the Women in Construction Program in 2008. Julie has raised funds and has programmatically seen WinC through its pilot years shaping it into a solid and successful program that it is today. Julie has graduated twenty six classes totaling nearly 300 women through the Women in Construction Program and maintained a 70% graduate placement rate. She has worked on over 200 homes alongside her students, was the project manager of an all-women’s built home, and advocated to build a new and improved Women in Construction Training Center built by the hands of women in the program. She endlessly advocates alongside her students for women’s economic justice. She has been recognized for her advocacy work for women’s rights by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2010. She currently serves on the MS Women’s Economic Security Leadership Team, National Tradeswomen Taskforce and serves on the board of Directors for the Women’s Fund of Mississippi and the Faith in Women Coalition.

Ellen Leake Ellen Leake  Ellen Leake currently leads a family development business, Splinter Creek Land Co., in Taylor, MS.  Previously she had a long career with IBM in the Financial Services sector and prior to joining IBM, she was an aide to U.S. Senator, Thad Cochran.  Ellen has served on the Board of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School where she was Chair of the Board of Trustees in 2000-02. She currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Mississippi Museum of Art; a member of the Board of Chancellors of the JDRF International and member-at-large on the National Institute of Health’s Advisory Council on Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). She received a BA in economics from the University of Mississippi and an MBA from Tulane University.  She and husband, Eason, have two adult daughters.

Katie McClendon  Katie is originally from Guntersville, AL, but has proudly called Jackson home since 2006. She graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Doctor of Pharmacy in 2005. Katie teaches pharmacy students at the Jackson campus of the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy.

Diane Morse  We are proud to have Diane as a “returning” board member. She is a speech/language pathologist and manager of Diane Morse and Associates, a private practice providing SLP services to area hospitals. Diane is a member of St. Andrews Cathedral  and serves on the board of Bookfriends and also Mississippi Campaign for Teen Pregnancy Prevention.

Aisha Nyandoro  Aisha Nyandoro is the founding Executive Director of Springboard To Opportunities; a nonprofit organization focused on helping residents of affordable housing advance themselves in life, school, and work. Nyandoro has more than a decade of experience developing, implementing, and evaluating programs aimed at improving the quality of life for individuals with limited resources. Prior to Springboard To Opportunities, Aisha served as a Program Officer with the Foundation for the Mid South. During her tenure she strengthened the Foundation’s community development portfolio by executing a plan focused on five specific strategies aimed at transforming communities. Additionally, she led the Foundation’s place based initiative – Community of Opportunities. Under her leadership she helped community leaders’ leverage over $20 million in federal and private funding. In addition, she established statewide, regional, and national public-private partnerships to leverage resources and assist the Foundation in achieving its mission and goals. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Tennessee State University, a M.A. in Community Psychology and Urban Affairs and a Ph.D. in Community Psychology from Michigan State University. She is currently a Fellow with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Leadership Network. When not working to transform impoverished communities, she is mommy to the best toddler in the world.

D. Melessa (Lessa) Phillips  Lessa is the Consulting Chief Medical Officer for the United Healthcare Medicaid Community Plan of Mississippi and President of Global Family Medicine, PLLC. She teaches as Professor of Nursing and Professor Emeritus of Family Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and is Adjunct Professor of Social Studies at Tulane University (Ridgeland).

Born in Dublin, Ireland, she graduated from Newcomb College and Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was the first woman chosen to head a clinical department at the Medical Center, serving as the Chair of the Department of Family Medicine for 19 years. After retiring from the Medical Center, Lessa received her Master of Public Health degree San Jose State University in San Jose, California. During her tenure as a W. K. Kellogg Leadership Fellow, she developed a passion for health equity for the medically underserved, emphasizing excellence in the training and clinical competence of all levels of health care providers to ensure the highest quality health care for all the world’s people. Her particular interests are the social determinants of health and their effect on primary care clinicians’ ability to achieve the best health outcomes for their patients.

Vonda Reeves-Darby  Vonda Reeves Darby is a gastroenterologist practicing in the tri-county area with Gastrointestinal Associates, PA.  Prior to joining the group, she was faculty at University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. She has server as immediate past president for the Mississippi Gastroenterology Society.  She is also Chair of Administrative Board for Anderson United Methodist Church.  Her B.S. in Chemistry was from Millsaps College and Doctor of Medicine degree from Meharry Medical College in Nashville. Postgraduate work including fellowship was at UTMB in Texas. She is proud mom of four children, Galen, Royce, Jaren, and Peryn.

Erica Q. Thompson, MD, MPH, CDFS Erica is a graduate of Tougaloo College, University of Southern Mississippi and Brown University School of Medicine. Erica’s passion centers around issues involving women, children and families. She is a member of various organizations and enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with her family.


Past Board Chairs

Joan Bailey
Geraldine Kearse Brookins
Nancy Cooper Gilbert

Claudia Hauberg
 LoRose Hunter
 Susan Shands Jones

 Kathleen Shields O’Beirne
 Seetha Srinivasan
 Jan Taylor

Judy Wiener