Cassandra Overton Welchlin is the Executive Director of the MS Black Women’s Roundtable (MS-BWR), an inter-generational statewide network dedicated to increasing civic engagement and voter participation among black women while at the forefront of championing just and equitable public policy on behalf of Black women and girls. MS-BWR is an affiliate of the National Coalition for Black Civic Participation/Black Women’s Roundtable. Prior to joining MS BWR, she co-founded and launched the ambitious and progressive MS Women’s Economic Security Initiative (MWESI), founded initially as a project of MS Low-Income Child-Care Initiative. MWESI is rooted at the intersections of race, gender, and economic justice.
It was the first women’s agenda launched in the South with seeded support from the Ms. Foundation for Women out of New York. The women’s agenda does the following: prioritizes women’s rights, equity, economic security; advances an intentional and explicit racial and gender framework; and centers women, particularly black women. Cassandra continues to provide leadership and vision to the MS Women’s Economic Security Initiative as a project of the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable.
Under her leadership, she expanded the statewide network of women through local town halls and major summits, where women crafted MWESI policy agenda focusing on expanding child care subsidies, affordable and comprehensive health care, jobs that pay living wages, paid family leave, and protections from domestic violence. In addition, during the 2017-18 legislative session she was successful in building a bi-partisan coalition on equal pay with the intended purpose to close the gender pay gap in MS. Her work has led to legislative & policy wins in child care, juvenile justice reform, health care for women and the most vulnerable, and domestic violence in addition to preventing harmful legislation & policies in child care, education, women’s healthcare, and safety net programs from going into effect. Cassandra is an advocate, organizer, and agent of change whose work spans over twenty years reforming public policy and organizing for power at the local, state, and federal levels.
She graduated from Jackson State University with a bachelor’s in social work and is a licensed social worker. In 2005 Cassandra received her Master’s in Sustainable International Development at the Heller School of Social Policy & Management from Brandies University. She is the mother of three beautiful children and has been married to her north wind from MN for 18 years.
Cassandra holds membership in several organizations, and she is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc, and 100 Black Women of Central Mississippi. She is a planning board Commissioner for the City of Jackson. Her volunteerism is extensive and growing. She’s been featured in many local, state, national and international media platforms and publications. Cassandra is a Kellogg Fellow with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, a Ms. Foundation Public Voices Fellow, a project of the OpEd Project, and a fellow of Congressman Bennie Thompson’s MS Black Leadership Institute.
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