Jessica L. Carter was born and raised in Philadelphia, Mississippi. In 2005, Jessica graduated from the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science (“MSMS”). Jessica then applied and decided to attend Cornell University in Ithaca, New York with a major in Industrial and Labor Relations. Jessica became the first person from the small town of Philadelphia, MS to attend an Ivy League university.
Following the completion of a Bachelor of Science degree at Cornell, Jessica began her career in organizing as an Organizer with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). She traveled throughout the country from New Mexico organizing childcare workers, to Kentucky organizing state employees.
In an effort, to return to the south, Jessica obtained a position with the Southern Poverty Law Center as a Youth Advocate, and focused on community organizing in New Orleans, LA and Mississippi around education reform, juvenile justice, and the school to prison pipeline.
Following these exceptional experiences, Jessica decided to attend law school. She completed her J.D./D.C.L. degree in 2015 at the Paul M Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA.
Jessica worked with Democracy for America as the National Organizing Manager. She also served as the Equity Working Group co-chair that assisted in implementing internal policies and procedures with an equity lens.
Jessica is excited to serve her home state now as Executive Director of Ours to Change!
Born and raised in Moss Point, Mississippi, Melissa Garriga resides with her husband and two sons in Pascagoula. Melissa is a proud product of the Moss Point School District. After graduation she spent a year at MGCCC, followed by a year at University of Southern Mississippi where she was a member of the Kappa Delta sorority.
Growing up her heroes were activists and civil rights leaders, and she often dreamed of being one herself. However, in her sophomore year at USM she still was not entirely sure what she wanted to be when she “grew up.” She moved home to decide her career path before pursuing anymore higher education, but life sometimes has its own plans. Instead of returning to school, she started a family.
Her plan to finish college never died, so when the time was right for her family, she decided to finish her degree and she knew exactly what she wanted to do. Combining her love of writing and her dream of advocacy work, Melissa graduated from Tulane University with a B.A. in Public Relations. Her focus in school was political communication and non-profit work. Prior to joining Ours to Change, Melissa served as Press Secretary for Representative Jeramey Anderson and his 2018 campaign for U.S. Congress. She is beyond excited to now serve as OTC’s communication director.
Sherman Robinson has lived in Mississippi his entire life. He is a young open minded individual who enjoys interacting with the public. After having worked and interned for multiple large box retails stores, and 5 years of corporate banking, Sherman has learned the importance listening to the needs of the public and to be proactive in solving their problems. He looks forward to using this platform an opportunity to help fix the problems here in the state of Mississippi, and do my part get improve and expand pubic education in Mississippi.
Outreach Coordinator, North Mississippi
As a native Mississippian, a product of public schools, and the daughter of a teacher and attorney, I grew up witnessing the impact a quality education has on every level- from individual to state-wide. My parents instilled in me a deep appreciation of education and of people, teaching me to be open and accepting to all who cross my path. I believe that Mississippi and its people have so much potential, so much vibrancy, so much brilliance to offer the rest of the world. Ours to Change offers a way for me to be a part of a lasting movement that will propel Mississippi forward through the quality public education of its children.
She joined Ours to Change from Teach Plus where she led the organization’s expansion into Mississippi and the Teacher Fellowship Program, which allows teachers to take leadership over issues that impact their students. Prior to joining Teach Plus, she worked at the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi where she led the organization’s educational opportunities and criminal justice reform work, specifically aimed at dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline. Aisha brings her social justice and education policy experience to Ours to Change to help motivate and mobilized the state’s electorate around funding for public education.
Her experience growing up in Mississippi has shaped her desire to improve systems for all Mississippi children. She is a millennial who is committed to staying in Mississippi and creating change for the next generation. Although her passion is working on the ground with young people, Aisha’s goal of impacting the education system to create better outcomes for students through policy change is at the forefront
of her work.
She graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a BA in Political Science and minor in Black Studies and holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Belhaven University. In her spare time, Aisha loves traveling with friends and collecting new records for
her prized vinyl collection.
George “Chuck Patterson
Outreach Specialist, South Mississippi
George M. Patterson, Jr., widely known as “Chuck,” is an experienced professional in community outreach, higher education, and multimedia design. Chuck uses innovative, educational, and experiential methods to empower communities, campuses, and organizations on using minimal resources to get maximum results. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in History from the historic Tougaloo College in 2003, Chuck began a journey dedicated to enhancing student leadership and community empowerment.
Over the past fourteen years, He has worked and partnered with entities such as Tougaloo College, Mississippi MOVE, UAW Global Organizing Institute, Council for A Strong America, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Police Training Institute, The Opportunity Institute, and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. His diverse background in community outreach includes health and wellness, youth-police relations, civic engagement, and school discipline reform. Chuck has led and organized outreach campaigns in communities in Mississippi, Florida, Texas, Washington, D.C., Utah, and California.
Patterson is also a successful entrepreneur with his apparel company; I Got It MADE Clothing (www.igotitmade.us). He also has 20 years of experience in the event and entertainment industry and serves as the chairperson for the community festival Mississippi Greek Weekend (www.msgreekweekend.com). Chuck also holds a Master of Liberal Arts from the University of St. Thomas (Houston, TX). He and his wife Shalon are proud parents of two boys, McRae (5 years old) and Jaxon (1-year-old).