MSU-led educational policy program graduates 15 fellows

Contact: Emile Pennington

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Fifteen fellows representing various statewide institutions graduated from the Mississippi Education Policy Fellowship Program, hosted by Mississippi State’s Social Science Research Center, this spring.

Graduates of the Mississippi State Social Science Research Center’s Mississippi Education Policy Fellowship Program pose with program coordinators.
Graduates of the Mississippi State Social Science Research Center’s Mississippi Education Policy Fellowship Program pose with program coordinators Amanda Tullos, fifth from left, and Devon Brenner, 10th from left. (Submitted photo)

The Mississippi EPFP is part of a national cohort coordinated by the Institute for Educational Leadership in Washington, D.C. The program brings together P-12 and higher education leaders, practitioners and advocates for professional development. Mississippi’s fellows, led by program coordinators Devon Brenner and Amanda Tullos, focus on working together to advance equitable policies for Magnolia State students. Over nine months, fellows learn about specific policy issues, policymaking and implementation processes; the intersections of local, state and national policies; and how effective leaders function in the policy environment. 

“EPFP connected me with professionals who have been instrumental in helping me grow as an administrator. It was hands down the best professional development experience and learning experience I have had as an administrator,” said Robbi Cooper, West Lauderdale Middle School assistant principal.

For the 2023-24 program year, the Mississippi EPFP focused on rural education, including the role of rural schools in communities and the workforce, the unique needs and concerns of rural schools in policy and practice, and the importance of working together to advance education outcomes for rural students in Mississippi.

The fellows met from September to April to learn about statewide issues and policy and traveled to Washington, D.C., in March to discuss educational policies with Mississippi’s congressional delegation. Specifically, the fellows met with U.S. Reps. Michael Guest and Bennie Thompson.

“Being an EPFP Fellow afforded me the opportunity to learn about how policies are created and put into place.  By getting a look at the political side of education, it not only helped me see how the laws that impact education are created but also how they can be changed and influenced,” said Lori Nail, AccelerateMS youth programs manager.

This year’s graduates include:

—Sarah J. Bailey, Mississippi Achievement School District executive director of innovation and transformation

—Nicole Cockrell, Madison County Schools principal

—Monica L. Coleman, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program officer

—Robbi Cooper, West Lauderdale Middle School assistant principal

—Roger Davis Jr., University of Mississippi Division of Diversity and Community Engagement inclusive excellence and engagement director

—Charles Johnson, Cleveland School District deputy superintendent

—LaMareshia Johnson, MSU-Meridian Division of Education instructor

—Lori Nail, AccelerateMS youth programs manager

—Myrick Nicks, MSU-Meridian Division of Education assistant clinical professor

—Brandi Ratliff, Mississippi Community College Board professional development specialist

—Christina Reynolds, MSU Office of Research and Economic Development director of partnership and education liaison

—Katerina Sergi, MSU Social Science Research Center assistant research professor

—Ashleen Williams, University of Mississippi instructional assistant professor

—Vernita Wilson, Starkville Oktibbeha School District assistant superintendent

—Amanda Winburn, University of Mississippi associate professor

For more information on the Mississippi EPFP, visit or email Tullos at

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