August 19, 2015
What is going on in Mississippi?
The Coalition for a Prosperous Mississippi, or CPM, is the Jackson, Mississippi-based SRABC grassroots advocacy group that helps low- and moderate-income individuals and families build assets through educational empowerment. Paheadra Robinson is the executive director and Angela Boykin is program/communications director. Robinson replaced Melba Smith who has since retired, leaving a legacy of diligent service to the Mississippi community. We sat with Paheadra to discuss the work of CPM and what she has planned for asset building and creating policy change.
SRABC: What three words would you use to describe the work of asset building and income equality?
PAHEADRA ROBINSON: Necessary, Motivating and Overwhelming
SRABC: That is the case for many of the advocates and researchers who are attending the #SRABC2015 conference next month. What’s your favorite aspect of the conference?
PAHEADRA ROBINSON: Networking with like-minded individuals and organizations who are working to change the current dynamics for asset-poor people in this region.
SRABC: What attracted you (personally) to advocacy work with CPM?
PAHEADRA: I have always had an interest in working on social justice issues. I became an advocate to improve the conditions that others faced because of a perceived lack of power. Through this work, I became familiar with CPM during our efforts to address predatory lending reform in Mississippi. I thought that our mission to improve the circumstances of low-wealth people in Mississippi was similar. CPM was trying to create better opportunities and break the cycle of generational poverty and those were issues that resonate with me.
SRABC: What's the mission/core value of CPM? What are CPM primary programs?
PAHEADRA: The mission of the Coalition for a Prosperous Mississippi is to improve the lives of Mississippians through education and advocacy. Our primary goal is to collaborate with other organizations to provide Mississippians with education and resources to live financially secure lives- ending the dependence on predatory or abusive loan products or services. We are working to achieve this goal through our programs, collaborations with other organizations providing support to low wealth communities and policy reform. Our programs offer financial literacy; provides legal and financial resources to parents of school age children working to develop a stable co-parenting environment;encourages savings for college and building responsible relationships with financial institutions.
SRABC: What do you hope to be the outcome of this work?
PAHEADRA: My vision is to see the working poor able to obtain financial sustainability and have a good quality of life. By that I mean that they truly understand their finances and what options exist for them, that they can afford to pay their living expenses or address their needs without relying on high cost credit, that they have the ability to save a portion of their income, that they have a relationship with a traditional financial institution and that they are able to plan for their future without thinking its financially unobtainable.
Paheadra Robinson is the executive director of the Coalition for a Prosperous Mississippi. She has served in the nonprofit arena in the areas of programming, grassroots empowerment, executive leadership, and has a breadth of perspective and experience. Paheadra brings a fresh approach to the Coalition and a commitment to lead the organization with creative strategies and a transformative leadership style that targets substantive change for families and communities in the state of Mississippi. For more than eight years prior to joiining the Coalition, she served as the Director of Consumer Protection at the Mississippi Center for Justice where she and her team were the driving force behind executive planning, administrative management, and grassroots educational outreach in the area of predatory lending. She has served as a member of the steering committee for the Delta State University Center for Community and Economic Development. She is a past board member for the Mississippi Community and Financial Access Coalition, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Alliance of Economic Inclusion, and has served as legislative counsel to three committees in the Mississippi House of Representatives. A native of Jackson, Mississippi, she holds a bachelor’s degree from Tougaloo College and a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Mississippi. Paheadra’s was a founding member of the Fresh Start Foundation, a resource for direct financial aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina. She is a recipient of the Florence Kelly Consumer Leadership Award and a member of the Mississippi Bar, the Magnolia Bar, Parents for Public Schools and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She lives in Jackson with her three young children.
Angela Boykin is the program/communications director for the Coalition for a Prosperous Mississippi. She is a graduate of Alcorn State University with a bachelor of science degree in business administration and holds an masters degree in communications from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Angela has more than 20 years in the broadcasting industry as a staff announcer, news reporter, and account executive. Prior to coming to CPM, she served as news director for WPRL (an NPR affiliate) at Alcorn State University and taught broadcast journalism courses. Other work at Alcorn includes serving as director of communications/marketing for the Alcorn State University Cooperative Extension Program. She is a past marketing consultant/contractor for the Port of New Orleans International Intermodal and the Sally Beauty Supply International Beauty Show and Conference.