Two Jackson State University alums will lead a conversation during Essence Festival 2019 about the power of Southern women at an event led by Oxfam America and its partners. The thought-provoking, invitation-only event is set for Friday, July 5, inside the theater at Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans.
Other partners are the National Urban League, Black Women’s Roundtable and Mississippi Women’s Economic Security Initiative.
For “The Power of Women in the Deep South Symposium,” co-conveners Joi L. Owens and Cassandra Welchlin of Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable (MS-BWR) will help kick off the panel discussion. It will focus on black women and girls’ empowerment and economic security in Louisiana and Mississippi.
“The symposium will connect black women in the South and uplift and empower the movement-building work that Oxfam America and its partners are doing on the ground in Louisiana and Mississippi,” Owens said. She is a senior policy adviser and program lead for Mississippi and Louisiana at Oxfam.
In 2009, Owens received a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication from JSU, where she has been recognized as a notable alum. She later earned her law degree from Mississippi College School of Law in 2013. She served as the disability liaison on the Mississippi Bar Association’s Child Welfare and Advocacy Committee and was recognized recently as one of the top 24 women leaders in Mississippi by Women For Progress of Mississippi, Inc.
Owens also has worked for the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi and served as a judicial intern for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. She serves on the Women in the Profession Committee of the Mississippi Bar and the board of directors for the Mississippi Women’s Lawyers Association. As well, she’s a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and the Junior League of Jackson.“The symposium will connect black women in the South and uplift and empower the movement-building work that Oxfam America and its partners are doing on the ground in Louisiana and Mississippi.” — JSU alum Joi L. Owens of MS-BWRMeanwhile, Welchlin is a member of MS-BWR, an affiliate of the National Coalition for Black Civic Participation/Black Women’s Roundtable. MS-BWR is an inter-generational statewide network dedicated to increasing civic engagement and voter participation among black women. The organization is at the forefront of championing just and equitable public policy on behalf of black women and girls.
Before MS-BWR, Welchlin co-founded and launched the ambitious and progressive Mississippi Women’s Economic Security Initiative (MWESI), which was founded initially as a project of Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative (MLICCI).
Welchlin received her undergraduate degree in social work from JSU and is a licensed social worker. She earned a master’s degree from Brandeis University’s The Heller School for Social Policy and Management. She is the recipient of the first-ever 2014 Gwendolyn Nero Loper Social Worker Field Award and the first-ever 2017 Dr. Ollye Brown Shirley Placemaker Award.
In addition, Welchlin is active with the Mississippi State Conference NAACP and chair of Women in NAACP (WIN), Jackson Branch. She’s also a member of the Hinds County Democratic Executive Committee and is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and 100 Black Women of Central Mississippi.