Commander Emily Bassett is a Surface Warfare Officer with a Nuclear Engineering subspecialty. A native of Edmonds, Washington, she graduated from Boston University’s Navy ROTC program in 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts in Classical Civilizations.
Afloat, Commander Bassett was the first Commanding Officer of LCS Crew 214, and commissioned the USS MANCHESTER (LCS 14). She completed her first division officer tour aboard the Amphibious Landing Dock ship USS RUSHMORE (LSD-47) as the Combat Information Center Officer and Assistant Operations Officer. After Nuclear Power training, she completed her second division officer tour aboard the aircraft carrier USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN-72) as the Reactor Laboratories Division Officer. She completed two Department Head equivalent tours, first as Operations Officer in USS INGRAHAM (FFG-61) and then as Reactor Electrical Assistant in USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN-72). She served as Executive Officer in USS ARLINGTON (LPD 24) certifying every warfare area in the ship’s first training cycle and commencing the ship’s Maiden Deployment. She has made five deployments, to include WESTPAC, CARAT, Operations ENDURING FREEDOM, SOUTHERN WATCH and IRAQI FREEDOM.
Ashore, Commander Bassett was selected for an Olmsted Scholarship and earned a Master’s degree in Hispanic Studies, taught in Spanish, from the University of Cadiz in Spain. She served as COMNAVAIRLANT’s Force Reactor Training Assistant, and has a Master’s degree in Engineering Management from Old Dominion University. She has completed the Air Command and Staff College program for Joint Professional Military Education Phase I.
She now serves as the Reactor Officer in USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78). She is married to Will Bassett, a retired P-3 Orion pilot, and together they have two children, ages 7 and 9.
Jessica Cox is Director of Product Solutions in the Healthcare Administration IT field, where she is responsible for managing the entire product line life cycle across a health system’s suite of electronic health record products. Jessica also drives the company’s strategic vision of developing and commercializing an integrated, next generation electronic health record for the organization.
A registered nurse by trade, Jessica has worked in patient care at Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham, AL, and as a patient advocate as Health Care Services Coordinator for the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Alabama.
Jessica transitioned into healthcare information technology in 2010, when she joined SuccessEHS as a Clinical Consultant where she assisted health systems and physicians create and strengthen core values, maximize growth and efficiency, and improve outcomes related to electronic health record adoption. She later joined PharmaPoint as Corporate Director of Clinical Operations, and then as Senior Director of Product Strategy where she provided strategic oversight and direction for the development and commercialization of a medication management and optimization product.
A Birmingham, AL native, Jessica is a graduate of the University of Alabama’s School of Nursing in Birmingham, AL. Jessica and her husband David are the parents of 2-year-old triplets – two daughers, Avie and Charlotte, and son William.
Tara Dowdell is a highly accomplished marketing and communications strategist. She is the founder and President of TDG Speakers and Tara Dowdell Group, a marketing and strategic communications firm. In addition to her consulting practice, Tara is a respected television commentator and speaker. She appears regularly on MSNBC and Fox 5 News New York where she provides progressive insight and analysis on a range of political, government, and business topics.
Tara’s proven expertise, unique insight, and engaging style have also made her a sought-after speaker. She has addressed several major conferences such as the NYU Stern School of Business Women in Business Conference, Big Ideas in Higher Education Conference at Rutgers University, NYU MLK Week Commemoration, Google Solve for X, the Center for American Women and Politics “Ready to Run” conference, the National Urban League conference, and many more.
Tara has an extensive background in government having previously served as the Senior Manager of Government and Community Relations for the international shipping arm of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. In this capacity, she was responsible for directing the government and public relations strategy for the multi-billion-dollar redevelopment of the Port of New York and New Jersey. Prior to joining the Port Authority, Tara served as Director of Appointments in the Office of the New Jersey Governor. She was the youngest person and the first African American to serve in this high level role. As Director of Appointments, Tara led the office responsible for the selection, nomination, and appointment of individuals to over 550 statewide boards and commissions. She began her career in government serving as a District Representative to Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr.
Aside from her work in government, Tara has a wealth of political experience. She has served in senior positions on several high profile federal, state, and local campaigns. Additionally, she managed an issue-advocacy campaign for Emily’s List, one of the largest Political Action Committees in the nation.
Tara’s accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. In 2010, she was selected by the American Swiss Foundation to attend their prestigious Young Leaders Conference in Basel, Switzerland. Tara was only one of twenty-five Americans chosen to participate in the conference. Notably, in 2005, after being selected out of over a million applicants, she had the distinction of competing for a job on the third season NBC’s hit show, “The Apprentice.” Tara has also been honored by Rutgers Business School, Colorado Black Women for Political Action, the NAACP, and the child advocacy nonprofit organization, Project Re-Direct.
Tara is also very active in her community. She serves on the Steering Committee for the Center for American Women and Politics “Ready to Run” Conference and is a Trustee on Board of the Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey. She is also a member of Bethany Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey.
Tara is a graduate of the University of Virginia where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government.
Re-elected to a second term in 2015, Lynn Fitch is Mississippi’s 54th Treasurer.
Raised in Holly Springs, Mississippi, she earned both a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Juris Doctorate at the University of Mississippi. At 23, Lynn began practicing law as a Special Assistant Attorney General and was later in private practice as a bond lawyer.
In 2009, Lynn was selected by Governor Barbour to serve as Executive Director of the Mississippi State Personnel Board. Prior to MSPB, Lynn served as Deputy Executive Director at the Mississippi Department of Employment Security and as Counsel for the Mississippi House of Representatives Ways and Means and Local and Private Legislation Committees.
Lynn attended Harvard’s Business School of Management and Leadership Program. She has been active in the National Association of State Treasurers, where she served two terms as Vice President for the Southern Region, as well as in the State Financial Officers Foundation, where she served as 2016-17 Chair.
She was selected as Outstanding Woman Lawyer of 2012, recognized as a Woman Trailblazer by the Mississippi Bar Association, honored as a Mississippi Business Journal Leader in Finance 2016, and named a 2015 Honoree of the Women in Government Leadership Program by Governing Magazine. In 2017, Lynn was named one of Mississippi’s Top 50 Most Influential and was honored with the prestigious Susie Blue Buchanan award by the Mississippi Bar Association’s Women in the Profession Committee.
Lynn also serves on the boards of several charitable organizations, including First Responders of Mississippi and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Founder, Barbara’s Legacy; Fox News Political Analyst; Founding Board Member and National Trainer, VoteRunLead
Jehmu Greene is an evangelist for social good, award-winning media and advocacy strategist, proud Texan and former candidate for Chair of the Democratic National Committee.
As Founder of Barbara’s Legacy, Jehmu travels around the country training women to amplify their voices in the media. A Distinguished Fellow at the Athena Center for Leadership at Barnard College, she is in her ninth year as a progressive Fox News Political Analyst where she defends progressive values and policies on the network.
She co-founded Define American with Jose Vargas, an initiative that uses media and culture to elevate the immigration reform conversation and is a Founding Board Member of VoteRunLead, a non-partisan organization that has trained more than 33,000 to run for office and win.
She previously served as the U.S. president and global Chief Marketing Officer of WakaWaka, working to bring solar power to people living without access to electricity; president of Rock the Vote, where under her leadership the organization registered over 2 million young voters and youth voter turnout had the highest increase ever recorded; president of the Women’s Media Center where she designed the Name It, Change It campaign to fight sexism against women candidates and trained progressive women to amplify their voices in the media.
She has worked on over 20 political campaigns and served as an advisor for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. She splits her time between Austin, New York City and Twitter: @jehmu.
Jennifer Gregory is the Assistant Executive Director for the John C. Stennis Center for Public Service in Starkville, Mississippi. With offices in Starkville, MS, and Washington, DC, the Stennis Center is a bi-partisan, federal, legislative-branch agency created by Congress in 1988 to promote and strengthen public service leadership in America.
As Program Director, Jennifer manages the program of work for the Center’s two offices, and specifically oversees their portfolio related to women in politics and student leadership initiatives, as well as marketing and public relations.
Jennifer is also the Founding Principal of Sidewalk Strategies, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in solutions for community development, downtown revitalization, retail recruitment, non-profit board development, governmental relations, and public affairs, where she currently represents clients in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and South Carolina.
Jennifer previously served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership from 2012 – 2016, a community development umbrella organization that consists of the Starkville Area Chamber of Commerce, Starkville Visitors & Convention Council, Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority, and Starkville Main Street Association. She first joined the Partnership in 2009, where she was Vice President for Tourism Development. She held the positions of Chief Operating Officer and Interim Chief Executive Officer before assuming the CEO position fulltime in January 2013.
Jennifer was named a Top 50 under 40 professional by Mississippi Business Journal in 2016. She serves as President of Parents for Public Schools Starkville, was previously President of Sudduth Elementary PTO and is the Executive Director/Vice President of Operations for Bully Bloc, a non-partisan political action committee supporting Mississippi State University alumni in political positions within Mississippi.
Jennifer is a graduate of Mississippi State University where she received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Marketing and was honored with the inaugural Spirit of State leadership award. She was a member of the executive council of the Student Association and served as a Roadrunner student recruiter.
Jennifer is married to Bart Gregory, and they are the proud parents of 4 children where they reside in Starkville, Mississippi.
Courtney Hill is a political operative with a drive and passion for bridging electoral politics; social justice advocacy; and policy. She is the Founder and Principal Strategist for Polaris Strategies, an Arlington, Virginia based political consulting firm specializing in advancing Black candidates; Black campaign staff; and organizations seeking to better engage with diverse communities.
Courtney has a twenty-year history in virtually all facets of development; fundraising; community and civic engagement; and political campaign management. She enjoys working with groups and organizations through the process of developing skills; navigating change and reaching consensus.
Courtney has served as an Independent Consultant(in the role of Campaign Manager; Field Director; Fundraiser; and Volunteer Coordinator & Director) for several Virginia, North Carolina, and DC area political campaigns; is the former Vice Chair of African American Outreach for The Arlington County Democratic Committee; PAC Manager for AAJ formerly known as The Association of Trial Lawyers of America; Virginia General Assembly Intern for The Honorable Delegate Jean W. Cunningham; an alum of The Collective PAC’s- Black Campaign School; Liberation Logic; and IGNITE’s YoungWomenRun training program; as well as a National Trainer for VoteRunLead, which trains women to run for office.
Courtney has also served as an appointed member on the following Arlington County Commissions & Committees: Commission on the Status of Women; Community Development Citizens Advisory Committee; The CCPTA & The ACI Arts Committee for Arlington County Public Schools; and is active in several community & leadership organizations throughout The Northern Virginia region.
Courtney’s career has been unconventional to say the least, with themes of accomplishment; doubt; failure; reinvention; and a relentless drive to improve and uplift communities of color.
Davetta Cooke Lee serves as Counsel and Policy Advisor for the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi, a $30 billion retirement system made up of four defined benefit plans and two defined contribution plans. She is responsible for the system’s legislation, regulations, and policies, as well as the internal administration of the defined contribution plans. Prior to joining PERS, she was the Executive Director of the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission, where she worked to improve access to justice in civil legal proceedings for the poor in Mississippi. She is a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana and Mississippi College School of Law.
Davetta is a member of the Mississippi Bar where she serves on the Professionalism Committee and previously served as Chair of the Diversity Committee for the Young Lawyers Division. Nationally, she is active in the National Association of Public Pension Attorneys, National Association of State Retirement Administrators and the National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators.
Davetta volunteers in her local community through the LeFleur’s Bluff (MS) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, Jack and Jill of America, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, and the Junior League of Jackson. She has served on the Board of Directors for Southern Christian Services for Children and Youth and the Jackson Zoo.
She has received numerous recognitions, including Mississippi Business Journal Top 50 Under 40 Honoree and Mississippi College School of Law Young Alumni of the Year. She is married to Jonathan Lee, and they have one daughter, Morgan Elizabeth.
Dynamic. Bold. Engaging. Jil Littlejohn is a seasoned speaker with over two decades of corporate and non-profit leadership experience. Each speech and presentation is a dynamic mix of intellect, experience and raw honesty. Jil keeps crowds engaged, informed and wanting more.
As the youngest member of Greenville, South Carolina’s City Council and the first female president and CEO of the Urban League of the Upstate, Jil is breaking down barriers, creating paths in the constantly changing political landscape and enriching her community every day. Jil has addressed diverse audiences around the world ranging from CEO’s to teenagers.
Passionate and capable, Jil frequently speaks on the following topics: Women in Leadership: Fem the Future, Women In Government: Creating a Leadership Pipeline, Non-Profit Leadership: So You Want To Be A CEO, Social Justice: Woke vs. Working, Our Kids & Our Schools, Balance…..Is It Possible, and much more. Jil is also the author of Women, Wine, and Politics.
www.JilLittlejohn.com | @JilLittlejohn
Mobile County, Alabama Commissioner Merceria Ludgood has served residents of Commission District One since October,2007. She was elected President of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama in August 2014 and serves as a member of the Boards of Directors of the National Association of Counties, Association of County Commissions of AL and represented 12 southern states on the NACo Board of Directors Executive Committee.
Ludgood is a member of the NACo Community and Economic Workforce Development Steering Committee and the International Economic Development Task Force. She is also actively involved with the Gulf States Counties and Parishes Task Force which formed to address issues arising from the federal response to the Deep Water Horizon event and served as its first Chairperson.
She represents Alabama counties on the State AL Workforce Development Board, and had led efforts to strengthen the manufacturing sector throughout Southwest AL. As co-chair of the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program’s Government Networks committee she brings together elected officials in the region to develop strategies around water quality and other environmental issues. Ludgood participated in the Governing Institute’s 2017 Women in Government Leadership program which includes 25 elected women from throughout the United States
Ms. Ludgood is the recipient of many honors and awards including Leadership Mobile, Leadership Alabama and the prestigious W.K.Kellogg Foundation National Leadership Fellowship, which enabled her to explore leadership among grassroots women leaders in the African diaspora. Ms. Ludgood has been honored for her public service on behalf of many community organizations, including the Mobile Area Education Foundation, Boy Scouts of America, Dearborn YMCA, Zeta Phi Beta, Delta Sigma Theta and Southern Region of Alpha Kappa ,YWCA and NAACP and is a founding member of the Board of Directors of Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice. She was recognized by her peers in 2012 by the Mobile Bar Association Women Lawyers as a Trailblazer, in 2016 by induction into the Alabama Lawyers Association Hall of Fame, and in 2017 named a Living Legend by the Crawford Bay Area Bar Association. She is a Fellow of the AL Law Foundation and serves on the Board of Directors of Legal Services AL. Ludgood was included in the 2016 Class of Alabama Women who shape the State, was 2017 Campaign Chair for the United Way of Southwest AL and 2018 Dean of Leadership Mobile.
Ms. Ludgood is especially proud of her service as a member of the Alabama Commission on the Status of Women and Girls in the Criminal Justice System. She launched Engaging the Next Generation which promotes volunteerism among the age 22-40 demographic and was recognized in 2016 as a Young Professional Hero by al.com for her role as a mentor to young adults interested in social justice. She volunteers with Big Brother Big Sister as Big for her Little, Breanna.
Anna Mitchell Mahoney earned a B.A. from Loyola University in Mass Communications, a M.A. in Women’s Studies from the University of Alabama, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Rutgers University. She joined the Newcomb College Institute at Tulane University as an Administrative Assistant Professor of Women’s Political Leadership in August 2014. In 2016, she became Director of Research for the Institute.
Anna’s research is centered on women’s representation and gendered institutions, which is explored in her book, Women Take Their Place in State Legislatures: The Creation of Women’s Caucuses (Temple University Press, 2018). She has published articles in Politics & Gender and Legislative Studies Quarterly.
She has taught a range of courses at the university level including Introduction to Women’s Studies, American Government, Congressional Politics, American Race Relations, and Women and American Politics.
Anna is a member of several community organizations including Women United of United Way of Southeast Louisiana, American Association of University Women, the League of Women’s Voters, and was named in 2016 to the Louisiana Women’s Policy & Research Commission.
Ben Needham is the Director of Strategic Initiatives in the Policy and Political Affairs Department at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). As Director of Strategic Initiatives, Ben oversees legislative and electoral strategy across several programs and departments. Ben helped create the strategy for the HRC Rising program, which is the largest grassroots and electoral organizing program in the organization’s history, working to elect more pro-equality candidates at every level of government. In addition, Ben works with the Human Rights Campaign Governmental Affairs team to develop a strategy to pass the Equality Act, which would codify full federal equality into law for all LGBTQ Americans.
Before being promoted to manage the Human Rights Campaign’s policy and political strategic work, Ben was Director of Project One America, HRC’s comprehensive, multi-year effort to expand LGBTQ equality in the South through permanent campaigns in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi. Ben managed in-state staff and coordinated with HRC’s senior leadership in Washington, D.C. to make progress on three fronts—changing hearts and minds, advancing enduring legal protections, and building more inclusive institutions for LGBTQ Southerners from the church pew to the workplace.
Ben oversaw grassroots and grasstops campaigns on behalf of HRC in these three states, and led and implemented political strategy and public education campaigns to bring about a new era of inclusiveness and equality for LGBTQ people in the South. Ben’s work in the South has led to the passage of 5 LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinances in the following communities: Clarksdale, Jackson, and Magnolia, MS; and Birmingham and Montevallo, AL. His work has helped to provide legal protection to over 400,000 residents at work, in housing and public accommodations in Alabama and Mississippi. In addition, there are ten hospitals rated by HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index as having leader statues or rated as top performers on policies and practices dedicated to the equitable treatment and inclusion of their LGBTQ patients, visitors and employees. Ben also helped with the strategy to increase Tyson Foods score on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index from 30 to 100 in just two years, ensuring full workplace equality for LGBTQ workers at every level of the company.
Ben is a veteran political strategist with an extensive background in campaigns, issue advocacy, and providing strategy for political parties, progressive organizations, and candidates. He worked as Southern and Western Political Manager for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and on several issue advocacy campaigns such as Houston Votes and, Missouri Cures. His experience with political organizations includes working with Obama for A
Representative Martha Roby (ROH-bee) is currently in her fifth term serving the people of Alabama’s Second Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Prior to being elected to Congress, Representative Roby worked as an attorney and served as a city councilman in her hometown of Montgomery.
In the House, Representative Roby has been a forceful advocate for cutting wasteful spending and eliminating bureaucratic red tape that burdens American families and businesses.
Representative Roby serves on the House Committee on Appropriations, which has oversight on the whole range of government spending. On the Appropriations Committee, Representative Roby serves on the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, and the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science. She was the first representative from Alabama’s Second Congressional District to serve on this key congressional committee.
Representative Roby also serves on the House Judiciary Committee. She is currently Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet.
In her short tenure in Congress, Representative Roby has distinguished herself as an effective legislator and messenger for the conservative cause. She exposed abuses in the scandal-ridden Veterans Affairs health system and has worked tirelessly to improve care for veterans, both locally and nationally. A fierce advocate for the military, Representative Roby led efforts to stop devastating cuts that threaten military readiness.
Representative Roby obtained a Bachelor of Music degree from New York University in 1998 and her law degree from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in 2001. Representative Roby is married to Riley Roby and they have two children, Margaret and George. The Robys are members of Trinity Presbyterian Church, where they were married, their children were baptized and where they are involved in various ministries.
Connie is a pioneer of our time, blazing trails in her career paths advocating for her county, state, and for women. She is an activist; winner of hard-fought victories; tenacious and resilient. Connie is nimble; sees challenges through with resolve and grit. She is a visionary thinker and action-oriented doer, a natural leader. She is an influencer and connector. She is deeply caring and a serious-minded mentor who invests in her own potential and that of other. She is innovative and entrepreneurial. She wins confidence of others, and keeps it.
Connie was born in Wichita Falls, TX, at Shepard Air Force Base. Robert, her husband, is a Vietnam Marine veteran, an Electrical Engineer and is self-employed. She has lived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for over 45 years. She is widely recognized as an unwavering advocate for the people. She is known for her independence, outspokenness, and her commitment to honest, efficient, and effective government that is rational, compassionate, and sustainable. Ms. Rockco was recently elected as the first Harrison county supervisor to serve on the legislative Committee; a committee responsible for advocating county legislation. This was a unique accomplishment considering that there were only 8 female supervisors out of 410 at the time in the state of Mississippi. Connie has worked to provide Harrison county personnel with the essential technology tools to keep our county operating efficiently. Connie recognizes that city, county, state, and federal government groups must work together to achieve what is best for our Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Connie Rockco has been married for over 43 years to a wonderful man, Robert Rockco, who is an electrical engineer and contractor. Supervisor Rockco feels her greatest accomplishment is raising her three beautiful daughters to be strong, educated, successful women, who have given her six wonderful grandchildren. She and her family are members of Cedar Lake Methodist Church in Biloxi.
Patricia Russo is a nationally respected leader focused on improving the quality of life for women in the United States. For over twenty five years she has held numerous leadership positions in public, private and not for profit organizations centered on women’s rights. She has also held leadership positions on federal, state and local political campaigns.
Currently, Patricia serves as Executive Director of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University. The Women’s Campaign School at Yale is a non partisan, issue neutral political campaign training program for women interested in running for public office, and for women interested in campaign management. Based at Yale Law School, it is a leading program attracting women from the U.S. and internationally.
Currently, Patricia serves on the Women2Women Advisory Council of the Republican Main Street Partnership.
Patricia is a former member of the national leadership team of Political Parity, a bi partisan initiative founded by U.S. Ambassador Swanee Hunt and former Massachusetts Lt. Governor, Kerry Healey, dedicated to increasing the number of women in elected office.
Patricia served twenty three years as a member of Connecticut’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW), including eight years as its Chair. She is now Commissioner Emerita on behalf of the agency. She is a member of the PCSW’s Fourth Congressional District Advisory Council. She is an honorary member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women.
Patricia is the founder of the Connecticut Women’s Agenda, a state-wide advocacy coalition comprised of women leaders. She is also a co-founder of the Women’s Business Development Council of Connecticut, which assists women entrepreneurs. She is a co-founder of the Connecticut NARAL Foundation, which educates and protects women’s reproductive rights. She also served on the Board of Trustees of the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame.
Professionally, Patricia served as the Director of Southern Fairfield County’s Centers for Planned Parenthood of Connecticut. She also served as Executive Director of the Middlesex County Sexual Assault Crisis Center, and as Development Director for the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Patricia lived in Tokyo, Japan for three years. During that time she served as a member of the Executive Committee of Democrats Abroad-Japan, leading voter registration and fund raising initiatives. She also co chaired the U.S. State Department’s mentoring program for Japanese women attending graduate school in the United States.
She has received numerous awards and citations for her leadership in the area of women’s rights. She has been named “Woman of the Year” by the Connecticut Chapters of both the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and Business and Professional Women (BPW). She was also the recipient of the prestigious Hannah G. Solomon award, given by the National Council of Jewish Women. She also received the National Abortion Rights Action League of Connecticut’s Catherine Roraback Leadership award. An accomplished public speaker, she has been frequently interviewed and quoted in national, state and local newspapers and magazines. She speaks extensively on issues of importance to women before many national women’s organizations. She is a popular guest speaker at the Clinton Foundation.
Patricia holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the George Washington University and a certificate in health care and non-profit management from the Yale University School of Management.
While an undergraduate student, Patricia served as an intern to U.S. Congresswoman Bella S. Abzug (D-NY), who inspires her to this day.
7th Congressional District, Alabama
United States House of Representatives
Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell is in her fifth term representing Alabama’s 7th Congressional District. She is one of the first women elected to Congress from Alabama in her own right and is the first black woman to ever serve in the Alabama Congressional delegation.
Congresswoman Sewell sits on the exclusive House Ways and Means Committee and brings to the committee her more than 15 years of experience as a securities and public finance attorney. Currently, in the 116th Congress, she serves as Vice-Chair of the House Ways & Means Committee where she sits on three subcommittees: the Subcommittee on Health; the Subcommittee on Trade; and the Subcommittee on Worker and Family Support.
Congresswoman Sewell also serves on the distinguished House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence charged with the oversight of our national security. She is currently the Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Defense Intelligence and Warfighter Support, charged with the oversight of collection and timely dissemination of Department of Defense intelligence with respect to support of all military operations
In her short time in Congress, Sewell has held several leadership positions, including Freshman Class President in the 112th Congress. This current term, she was selected by Democratic leadership to serve as a Chief Deputy Whip, and sits on the prestigious Steering and Policy Committee which sets the policy direction of the Democratic Caucus. Congresswoman Sewell is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus where she is Co-Chair of the Voting Rights Task Force. She is a Vice Chair of the New Democrat Coalition; Co-Chair of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus; Vice-Chair of the Congressional HBCU Caucus; and Co-Chair of the Rural Caucus.
A proud product of Alabama’s rural Black Belt, Congresswoman Sewell was the first black valedictorian of Selma High School. She is an honors graduate of Princeton University and Oxford University in England and received her law degree from Harvard Law School.
Sandra is a native of Mississippi and a graduate of Mississippi State University. Her professional career was in healthcare accounting with a focus in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement and compliance. She currently serves as Alderman in the City of Starkville.
In 2000 Sandra and her husband moved back to Starkville after careers outside Mississippi. After being involved with various local groups, she decided to make an even bigger commitment to the community and ran for public office. She was elected Alderman in 2009 and served as budget chair and mayor pro tempore until 2013. Her Board made significant steps in improving operational efficiencies including establishing an Information Technology department and investing in upgrading software used for city operations. They also made a commitment to and passed the legislation necessary for building Starkville’s new City Hall, which opened in 2015.
Sandra was re-elected to the Board of Alderman in 2017 and again serves as budget chair. This term the Board’s emphasis is on infrastructure, particularly increasing funding for streets and parks maintenance and implementing a plan to replace aging water and sewer infrastructure. They are in the planning stages for adding Starkville’s first new park in over 10 years. If successful, Cornerstone Park will have tournament grade baseball facilities, walking and jogging trails, a multi-purpose building, playgrounds, and other amenities.
Both Sandra and her husband have been active in the local community. She serves as a Lay Eucharistic Minister at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection and as treasurer for Starkville Community Theatre. She has also recently served on the board of Starkville’s Bridges Out of Party and as president of the Oktibbeha County Federation of Democratic Women.
Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.
Recognized for her work for improving the lives of others Sofield was awarded the Order of the Palmetto – the State of South Carolina’s highest honor.
Deb Sofield is a visiting professor, teaching public speaking at Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, and on the faculty of the Woman’s Campaign School at Yale University, she served on the board for the Women’s Democracy Network of Washington, DC. Sofield teaches Communications and Media Training for Civil Society around the world and she served as a mentor and trainer for The Center for Liberty in the Middle East.
Sofield represents the City of Greenville as a Commissioner of Public Works for the Greenville Water System and is the first woman to hold this position since its inception in 1918. Sofield was formerly a two-term member of Greenville City Council.
To learn more about Deb visit: www.debsofield.com
Amy Tate manages the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) relationships with Mississippi’s public officials in the utility’s 36-county footprint. She maintains bipartisan working relationships with congressional staff, the state legislature, county supervisors and mayors. She also works with energy interest organizations and economic development associations. Tate served on TVA’s Media Relations staff and also worked in TVA’s Washington, DC office prior to joining the State and Local Government Relations team in 2005. Prior to TVA, Tate served as Special Assistant to Tupelo Mayor Glenn McCullough, Jr.
Amy was recently named one of Y’all Politics “Top 50 Most Influential People in Government” and has also been honored by the Mississippi Business Journal as one of their “Top 40 Under 40” in 2006 and “Top 50 Leading Business Women” in 2016. She is a graduate of Leadership Mississippi and the Community Leadership Institute. She serves on the boards of the Tupelo Redevelopment Agency, Association for Excellence in Education, and the CREATE Foundation’s Commission on the Future of Northeast Mississippi.
Tate graduated from Mississippi University for Women with a degree in Journalism/Public Relations. She was named “Outstanding Recent Graduate” by her alma mater in 2012 and is a recent Past President of the Mississippi University for Women Alumni Association. She is a 2012 graduate of Vanderbilt University’s Leadership for Accelerated Management Performance through the Owen Graduate School of Management.
She resides in Tupelo with her husband, Kevin and children Avery and Walker. They are members of Tupelo First United Methodist Church and are active in the Tupelo Public Schools.
Gwen Wisler graduated from Ohio State University in 1981 with a BSBA (summa cum laude).
Wisler worked for Price Waterhouse from 1981 through 1993 in the Auditing Department; she served numerous publicly-held and privately-held clients including Turner Broadcasting Company and Carnival Cruise Lines. From 1993 through 1999, Gwen had various senior financial roles at Cobb Partners, New World Communications and Sunbeam (later American Household).
In 1999, Wisler moved into operational roles as the President and CEO of Eastpak, First Alert and Coleman Powermate. She served as the CEO of The Coleman Company, an $800 million outdoor recreation company. Gwen worked as an operational consultant for several private companies including The Sharper Image and Cott Beverages.
Currently, Gwen owns Asheville Profits LLC; in return for operational consulting work, clients of Asheville Profits give time to local non-profits. She serves on numerous non-profits boards and one for-profit Board of Directors.
In 2013, she was elected to the Asheville City Council. In 2015, her fellow Council members elected her Vice Mayor. Gwen was re-elected to City Council and as Vice Mayor in 2017.