Lea, a resident of Ocean Springs, MS, has been a healthcare professional since 2001 and a passionate advocate and community organizer for dismantling exploitative systems perpetuating white supremacy, poverty and cisheteropatriarchy in Mississippi since establishing her residence in the state in 2011. She received her BA in Social Sciences from Troy University and her Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy from the University of South Alabama. Her advocacy and organizing work in Mississippi has focused on equity in healthcare access; anti-racism and anti-poverty intitiatives; removal of the Confederate emblem from the Mississippi state flag and equal civil rights protections for her LGBTQIA+ brothers and sisters. Lea also serves on the Mississippi Advisory Committee for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, is co-chair of the Mississippi Poor People’s Campaign and a member of the steering committee for the Mississippi Prison Reform Coalition. She has collaborated with other social justice organizations including the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the Womanist Alliance, Campaign for Southern Equality, Flag for All Mississippians Coalition, We Are All Mississippi Coalition and the Mississippi Immigration Coalition. Lea is also a member of the Jackson County branch of the Mississippi NAACP.
Lea states, “As a white woman in America, it is my obligation and life’s work to raise the consciousness of my fellow white brothers and sisters so that we acknowledge our collective privilege and the systems constructed which perpetuate it, then move that consciousness into action for transformation of those systems into ones that hold us accountable to the words America aspires to-- Liberty and Justice for All.”
Matt is an attorney based in Hattiesburg, MS who practices at the intersection of civil rights, prison reform, and healthcare equity. Through his work with the Coalition, he hopes to expand the use of cooperation economies and encourage localized food and other necessity production to develop sustainable and healthy communities in Mississippi. "Our lived experience and the environment that provides for us must be protected and improved. The urgency for the poor, and especially those from oppressed groups, is dire, and now is the time to organize labor movements around the most pressing issues. We live in a time of abundance and the people see less and less of the fruits of it. It is time for that to change."
Matt also is a published scholar with interests in bioethics and philosophy of law. He is a graduate of the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, where he served as co-Editor-in-Chief of the Race and Poverty Law Journal. He also holds a masters degree in philosophy from San Francisco State University and studied geography at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Morris Mock was born in Natchez, MS and attended North Natchez High School then
Calloway High School in Jackson. He attended Jackson State University where he majored in
Music. Morris is a graduate of the Mississippi Black Leadership Institute and one of the founding
members of Nissan Organized Workers (NOW). He is also an illustrious member of AF&AM and part of the Mississippi Poor People’s Campaign. Morris, whose passion is labor rights and
organizing, states, “There’s no peace without unity!”
Charlotte Ciobanu is a recent Mississippi transplant from California. She attended the University of California, Riverside, where she double-majored in philosophy and sociology and then went on to receive her Master’s in philosophy from San Francisco State University. Her interests in social justice include: bridging the wealth gap between white and BIPOC families, food sustainability and distribution, public education, and environmental justice. In her free time, you are likely to find her in her garden with her two pit bulls and bulldog.
Laronne O. Lewis, Sr. is a native of New Orleans, LA and father of 3 young men. He has called Waveland, MS his home for 32 years now and is a 1993 graduate of Bay St Louis High School. Laronne attended MS Gulf Coast Community College where he studied Industry Maintenance and Business Administration and was a member of MGCCC football team. After college, Laronne committed to a lifestyle change and pursued a career as an all Natural Professional Bodybuilder, and he still competes in Supernatural Bodybuilding and Fitness Organizations. Laronne served 2 year as the Hancock County Political Chair and 2nd Vice President of the Hancock County branch of the MS NAACP, and he currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Hancock County Boys and Girls Club. He is a 2018 graduate of Leadership Hancock County, and in his spare time, Laronne loves to mentor young men from all walks of life.
Melissa Garriga is a resident of Pascagoula, MS. She has a B.A. in Public Relations
from Tulane University. She previously served as Press Secretary for Representative Jeramey
Anderson’s 2018 campaign for US Congress, and as communication’s director for Ours to
Change Mississippi. Currently, Melissa serves as a co-chair on the steering committee for the
Mississippi Prison Reform Coalition as well as working as their media relations specialist.
Melissa volunteers her services as the ride share coordinator for Mississippi Resiste’, and she
recently joined the Mississippi Chapter of the Poor Peoples Campaign. She is also a proud card
carrying member of the Democratic Socialists of America.
She strongly advocates for public education, civil and human rights, workers’ rights, immigrant
rights, MedicareForAll, anti-imperialism, incarcerated folks, and socialist feminism. Melissa is
strongly guided by the works of Rosa Luxemburg and her quote, “The most revolutionary thing
one can do is always proclaim loudly what is happening.” She is dedicated to moving
Mississippi forward in progress and away from oppression, because she knows that a better
world is possible.
Lisa Foster is a resident of Petal, MS. She is a recent graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, receiving her Masters in War & Society (History) and a minor in Race & Ethnicity. Prior to graduate school, she spent ten years in the museum field and a total of fifteen years in non-profits. She was awarded the 2017 Mississippi Historical Society’s prize for best Mississippi History Now website article as co-author of the feature story “Jefferson Davis Soldier Home – Beauvoir.” She has also worked as a research consultant for an episode of the genealogy television show, “Who Do You Think You Are?” Her work and research interests include the Mississippi Homefront during the Civil War, the Confederate veteran, social welfare for Mississippi Confederates and their dependents (wartime aid and post-war pensions), and the Beauvoir Soldiers Home.
James Skinner is a native of Gulfport, MS and has lived along the Coast throughout his life. Following graduation from high school, Mr. Skinner worked as an industrial painter throughout the Southeast before returning to Long Beach in 2005. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he enrolled at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College then transferred to William Carey University where he earned his BS in Mass Communications in 2011. After working for the Sun Herald briefly and in TV production for four years, he decided to return to graduate school and pursue a Master’s Degree in Modern History. Mr. Skinner is passionate about studying different cultures, points of view and history as well as service to the Gulf Coast community and the state of Mississippi. Says Mr. Skinner, “I look forward to working with groups and individuals committed to making my community, state and country a better place for everyone.”
Sonia L. Davidson, a native of Michigan, has called Mississippi home for 17 years and is mother of two young men. Sonia is a graduate of Jones County Community College with a degree in Arts and earned a BA from the University of Toledo. She is very involved in her community, which is her heart's passion. She is a board member of Student Lives Matter of Mississippi, where she fights for equal rights for all students in her community, serves on the Lamar County School District Booster Club and loves working with MRC's MS Gulf Coast Mutual Aid Network and its Food Security Initiative. While serving others, she is able to be a positive role model for the youth of her community, and being a "football mom" connects her with youth from all walks of life. Sonia believes wholeheartedly in her personal motto, "Doing more than a hashtag," while fighting for equality and justice for all.