From the Civil Rights era to public education and voting gains in the 1980s to today, each generation of young Mississippian has been called upon to lead transformative change in the state. Making change in democracy is hard and requires each generation to step up and heed that call.

Based on cutting-edge data research, Ours To Change is founded on the principle that by engaging more voters aged 17-39, with shared values and a clear vision for the future, we can be empowered to vote and engage in the processes and policies that shape the future of our state.

In the coming year, we’ll work across the state to create opportunities for young voter registration, engagement, and turnout with an ultimate goal of giving young Mississippians a powerful voice in Mississippi’s governance.


Ours To Change Mississippi will increase voter engagement and turnout among 17 to 40 year olds. We will engage young voters to enthusiastically opt in to the political process by providing hopeful solutions and address shared values that bring us together.


Ours To Change envisions a Mississippi where engaged young voters vote in every election: city, state, and national. They engage with representatives to the point where politicians actively court young votes by creating policies that improve the quality of life for the young population. This will in turn improve the attractiveness for modern business, improved education, and a more vibrant economy to support young people to stay and contribute to Mississippi’s quality of life.


Terry Hunt

Executive Director
As a lifetime public school educator, I know the impact that education has in determining the future of both individuals and the community. The only long term solution to breaking Mississippi’s ongoing cycle of poverty starts with strong public schools. Charity, while well intended, is not the solution. Ours To Change Mississippi’s goal is to work toward a lasting solution.
I featured the following quote by Nelson Mandela in the center of all my classrooms to instruct and inspire myself and my students:
“It (Poverty) is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”

Jehrod Rose-Alain

Outreach and Program Coordinator

As a resident of Jackson since birth and a product of Jackson Public Schools, I am well aware of the challenges that face the capital city and our state at large. I believe these challenges provide us with the opportunity to not just affect change on the surface level but to be the change we want to see– a change that is lasting and real. Ours to Change is a catalyst for such change and I’m happy to use my experiences, skills, and resolve to push Mississippi forward.

Kristen Dechert

Director of Women in Leadership
A native of Birmingham, Alabama, I have lived in Mississippi since 2005 and have become fiercely devoted to my adopted home. I believe our public goods and services, including schools, are a treasure and deserve to be protected and supported by our elected officials. In a state that lags behind in nearly every area, we cannot afford to leave skills and ideas on the table, and women are an untapped resource in this area for our state. As director of women in leadership, I work to improve the status and representation of women in government by recruiting and training women to run for office and work on campaigns.

Kynnedi Taylor-Henry

Outreach and Program Coordinator

Over the past year, my faith has led me to discover a new path for my future, one that reflects my values of servant leadership and humanistic principles. I joined Ours to Change to help develop the OTC Women in Leadership program, which helps train and empower aspiring public officials and community leaders.

Josh Starr

Multimedia Producer

Since moving to Mississippi, I’ve found many varied and diverse communities have given me a home. Their unique perspectives and storied lives inspired me to be a journalist. As the staff multimedia producer for OTC, I am eager to use my journalistic experience to help voice the ideals and insights of the young Mississippians, who are fighting for the future prosperity of the state.

Samantha Holland

Outreach and Program Coordinator, North Mississippi

As a native Mississippian, I grew up witnessing first-hand the impact of poverty that permeates this state. As the daughter of a public school teacher and an attorney, I grew up watching my parents educate, help, and defend as many people as they could reach. I was raised to believe that poverty can be overcome with a strong support system and the opportunity of a good education. Ours to Change is giving me the opportunity to help break the cycle of poverty by working to support strong public schools for all Mississippians.

Jordan Malone

Outreach and Program Coordinator

Growing up in Mississippi allowed me appreciate our vast and unique culture. Also, I have witnessed first-hand the deeply rooted issues facing our state. My goal is to give my generation and myself a reason to stay in Mississippi. Since becoming a student at the University of Mississippi in 2015, I have been committed to creating change in the state that ensures a better quality of life for all. I joined Ours to Change not only because our values align but also because OTC is equally committed to creating effective and sustainable results.

Maggie Thomas

Outreach and Program Coordinator

Being born and raised in Mississippi, I was made aware of the injustices within our state and public school system from an early age. After graduating high school, I decided to pursue my passion for public education and take a gap year to serve as a corps member for City Year in New York. City Year is a non-profit organization that provides resources and student success coaches to support the academic and social-emotional needs of students in high-need public schools. Now in my senior year at Mississippi State University, I hope to combine my passions for public education and journalism to make a positive impact on the future of the state I call home.

Catherine Gray

Contributing Writer
As a kid, I never thought I would stay in Mississippi. Then when I was a senior in high school, I began working for a local newspaper in the city of Jackson, collecting stories of change, hope, and progress. My eyes opened to richness of culture around me as well as the immense need and many challenges within the state. I discovered I wanted to be part of steering Mississippi toward progress. As a contributing writer for Ours To Change, I use my experience and passion to write stories that inspire other young Mississippians to find their voice and improve the quality of life of everyone in our state.

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Deputy Director / Voting Coordinator and South Mississippi Director
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