Click here for the Winter Institute Advisory Board

The Honorable William F. Winter

WLW Current Photo-smallerBorn in 1923 in Grenada, Mississippi, William F. Winter served in the armed forces in World War II and the Korean War. He was awarded a BA from the University of Mississippi in 1943 and an LL.B. in 1949. He has since been awarded over five honorary degrees. His credentials within the academic community are long standing: Jamie Whitten Professor of Law and Government at the University of Mississippi School of Law (Fall 1989); Eudora Welty Professor of Southern Studies at Millsaps College (Spring 1989); Fellow, Institute of Politics, Harvard University (1985) and President, Ole Miss Alumni Association (1978). He continues to practice law with the Jackson, MS, firm of Watkins Ludlum Winter & Stennis, P.A. which celebrated its one hundredth anniversary in 2005. William Winter is most well known, however, for his role in leading the charge for publicly-funded primary education while he was the fifty-eighth governor of Mississippi from 1980-1984. His governance echoed his belief that all people, regardless of race or class, should be entitled to the same rights and privileges as the most privileged enjoys. In a substantial way, Governor Winter’s accomplishments were honored in 1997 when President Bill Clinton initiated “One America,” an unprecedented national conversation on race. Winter served on the board of One America, helping to bring the only deep-South public forum to the University of Mississippi. President Bill Clinton has called Winter a “great champion of civil rights.” Positive changes stem from great leadership, and William Winter is one of many guiding lights for Mississippi and America. On May 12, 2008, Governor Winter was honored at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. Click here to read his acceptance speech.

Institute Staff

portiae-thPortia Ballard Espy is the Director of Community Building at the Institute. She previously served as Chief Administrative Office for Children’s Defense Fund Southern Regional Office and Assistant Director of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Mid-South Delta Initiative. She holds a B.A. from Southern University, Baton Rouge; an M.B.A from Loyola University, New Orleans; and she is currently a Ph.D. student in the Public Policy and Administration Program at Jackson State University. She also has an extensive background in Human Resources Management, Executive Coaching, Team Building, and Mediation. Portia considers herself a griot and enjoys collecting the data (through traditional and nontraditional means) that have become her family’s American story.
vong-thVondaris “Von” Gordon is a native of Moorhead, MS, in Sunflower County. He joined the Institute to develop and coordinate youth programs as Youth Engagement Coordinator. He attended the University of Mississippi, where he was a student leader and helped organize the first Statewide Student Summit on Race. He served as a founding board member of the Winter Institute and the only student representative. He has worked in the private sector in franchise and corporate multi-unit restaurant operations and in business development for one of Pepsi’s top franchise bottlers. Von is the married father of two, and he is passionate about equipping youth to build stronger communities through education, empowerment, and racial healing. He thinks the best salads in the world are the ones with no dressing.
aprilg-thApril Grayson is Community Building Coordinator for the Welcome Table. A native of Rolling Fork, MS, April was Documentary Educator at the Institute from 2005 through 2008. She has led community oral history and documentary projects in Philadelphia, McComb, Tallahatchie County, and other communities. Her oral history project on the integration of the University of Mississippi School of Law and Medical School, in conjunction with Kate Medley, won the Mississippi Historical Society’s Oral History award. She has a Master of Fine Arts in Film from San Francisco Art Institute. Her short films have shown in film festivals, galleries, and museums in the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa, and South America. As a teenager, she was an avid waterskier.
francesca-thFrancesca Lovelady is the Operations Coordinator for the Winter Institute. She is in charge of coordinating and managing budgetary, grants and fiscal affairs, coordination of daily office operations, special events and travel logistics. Francesca received her B.A. from Mississippi Valley State University and has a background in customer service, training, and project management. Her main goal in life is to enhance herself and make a difference. She considers herself as a lifelong learner and aspires to learn new things, meet new people, and help others. Francesca enjoys writing, watching movies, and spending time with friends and family.
jackiem-thJacqueline B. Martin is a civil rights veteran from McComb, MS, and serves as the community liaison for the Civil Rights/Labor History curriculum development project at McComb School District. She has served as civil rights tour guide for high school and college students, as well as teachers and other interested citizens. She has organized many of McComb’s civil rights tours and commemorations, especially those honoring local civil rights veterans. She joined the Institute as a Community Building Manager and participates in intergenerational community work in Mississippi. She has a B.S. in Business Administration from Belhaven University and is a certified Training Professional through the WLPI at the University of Southern Mississippi. Jackie enjoys mystery novels and western movies.

jakem-thJake McGraw is the coordinator for Rethink Mississippi and editor of, a collaboration of emerging leaders in Mississippi to begin critical discussions about the state’s long-term issues. Jake has deep-seated passion for combining the power of ideas with community organizing methods. While studying public policy and economics at the University of Mississippi, Jake co-founded the campus integration initiative One Mississippi as well as a community empowerment organization in San Mateo, Belize. Jake also has significant experience working in both state and national politics. A native of Oxford, MS, Jake researched the history of progressive education policies in the South while attending a master’s program at “the other Oxford” in England. He returned home to join the Winter Institute in spring 2013. Jake is an avid golfer and squash player–a frequent source of ridicule among his colleagues.


schultz-thChristopher Schultz is the Institute’s Director of Development and Communications. We’re proud to have been among the very first clients of Chris’s idea-development consultancy, Start Here Project Development, which has worked with clients worldwide to help them develop and fund projects for more than ten years, securing contracts and funding surpassing $12 million. Additionally, Chris is the co-author (with his sister, Heidi Schultz Adams), of Planet Cancer, a book for young adults and their loved ones affected by cancer; his writing has appeared in the New York Times, Esquire, Men’s Journal, ESPN: The Magazine, and other publications, including Shenandoah, a literary journal founded by Tom Wolfe. A former U.S. Navy logistics officer, Chris has both catapulted off of and landed on an aircraft carrier.

jen-s-thJennifer A. Stollman Ph. D.  is the Academic Director at the Winter Institute. (Click here for her cv.) Jennifer is responsible for campus professional development, anti-oppression training, curricular and co-curricular development, crisis management, and is a consultant for detecting and eliminating institutional and interpersonal bias.  She works with campuses across the region including the University of Mississippi, Delta State University, University of Southern Mississippi, and Tulane University. Jennifer spent 18 years in graduate and undergraduate classrooms as a professor of history and gender and women’s studies.  She specializes in issues related to the construction, projections, and deployment of individual and collective identities.  Jennifer is committed to equity work taking place across campuses.  She loves spending time with her family and friends, is an avid cyclist, and is devoted to her Scottish Terrier, Lincoln.

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