Board of Directors

Rodger Wilder

Rodger Wilder is a founding member and currently serves as President & CEO of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. He is also Of Counsel with the law firm of Balch & Bingham LLP in the firm’s Gulfport, Mississippi, office, where he has practiced law for over 45 years. He earned a Bachelor of Science in …

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Marcus Ward

Marcus Ward is Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Alcorn State University and Executive Director of the ASU Foundation, Inc. where he successfully leads university advancement efforts including fundraising, alumni relations and government affairs on behalf of America’s oldest historically black land-grant university. Since 2010, he and his small team have collaborated to raise over …

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Josie Shumake

Josie Shumake returned to Columbus, MS, in 2009 after retiring from the U.S. diplomatic service where she served for 25 years promoting U.S. foreign policy.  Since coming home, she has volunteered at the national, state and community levels.  She has been a member of the National Advisory Board of the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) …

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Holly Lange

Holly Lange is an event planner, fundraiser and community organizer. Her clients have included non-profit organizations, public agencies, and businesses of all sizes. Eighteen years ago, she was asked to take over management Jubilee!JAM in Jackson. For three years, she directed that music and cultural festival in Jackson, creating a successful venue for artists’ performances …

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Sanford Johnson

Sanford Johnson is an education consultant in the Mississippi Delta. He is a native Mississippian who’s spent the past 16 years working in education. His career began as a 2003 Teach for America Delta corps member, where he taught high school Social Studies in Mississippi and Arkansas. He later co-founded Mississippi First, where he served …

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Dr. Portia Espy

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.

Jane Alexander

Jane Clover Alexander has an immense love for her community, a strong belief in the power of giving and an enduring interest in what makes people tick. She was tapped as President and CEO of the Community Foundation in August 2012. Since she began her tenure, the Foundation has grown to $60 million in assets, …

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Ivye Allen

Ivye L. Allen is President of the Foundation for the Mid South, a regional foundation serving Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The Foundation funds programs and initiatives that focus on community development, education, health and wellness, and wealth building. Since its inception in 1990, the Foundation has leveraged more than $750 million to the region. Ivye’s prior …

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