Dr. Portia Ballard Espy is President and CEO of the Mississippi Urban League, Incorporated, an organization with a mission to help African Americans and others in Mississippi’s historically underserved communities to gain their highest true social parity, economic self-reliance, power, and civil rights. The MS Urban League achieves its mission via programs that focus on health, justice, jobs, education, and housing.
Dr. Espy has vast executive-level experience in manufacturing, energy, aerospace, and nonprofit sectors. She has worked as an executive in human resources management, grants management, and external affairs for several companies, including Pellerin Milnor Corporation, subsidiaries of Royal Dutch Shell plc (Shell Offshore, Inc.; Shell Chemical Company; and Shell Corporation), Entergy (Entergy Corporation and Entergy Mississippi, Inc.), and Raytheon Aerospace.
She later entered the nonprofit sector to serve as Associate Director at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Mid-South Delta Initiative, Chief Administrative Officer at the Children’s Defense Fund – Southern Regional Office, and both Director of Community Building and Executive director of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation (now known as the Alluvial Collective). Dr. Espy was instrumental in the Winter Institute’s transition from its original home at the University of Mississippi and led the effort to establish the organization as an independent 501c3 located in Jackson, Mississippi.
Dr. Espy is a native of Franklinton, Louisiana, and a graduate of Franklinton High School. She obtained a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration from Jackson State University and a certificate in nonprofit management from Harvard Kennedy School in May of 2021. Dr. Espy also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and an M.B.A. from Loyola University of New Orleans.
After receiving a B.S. Degree from Mississippi State University, Mike then graduated from the Institute for Organization Management at the University of Georgia, and the National Planned Giving Institute at the College of William & Mary.
During his twenty four years as President of CREATE, over $196 Million in contributions have been made to the organization. This represents 94% of the total contributions in the organization’s 48 year history. Total assets have increased from $13.9 million to over $146 million during this same period.