Chief Executive Officer
Aisha Nyandoro is the Chief Executive Officer of Springboard To Opportunities. Springboard provides strategic, direct support to residents of affordable housing. The organization’s service delivery model uses a “radically resident-driven” approach designed to improve quality of life and end the generational poverty trajectory. Nyandoro has more than a decade of experience developing, implementing, and evaluating programs aimed at improving the quality of life for individuals with limited resources.
She has worked in various capacities—as an academic, evaluator, philanthropist, and nonprofit executive. These varied experiences have allowed her to better understand systems and policies that impact vulnerable communities. Prior to serving with Springboard, Aisha served as a Program Officer with the Foundation for the Mid South. During her tenure, she strengthened the Foundation’s community development portfolio by executing a plan focused on five specific strategies aimed at transforming communities. Additionally, she led the Foundation’s place based initiative – Community of Opportunities. Under her leadership, community leaders were able to leverage more than $20 million in federal and private funding. In addition, she established statewide, regional, and national public-private partnerships to create resources and assist the Foundation in achieving its mission and goals.
She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Tennessee State University, a M.A. in Community Psychology and Urban Affairs and a Ph.D. in Community Psychology from Michigan State University. Aisha shares her commitment to community with the various boards of directors and advisory councils to which she lends her expertise and service. She has received multiple honors, including recognition as a fellow of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Leadership Network and Ascend at the Aspen Institute. Aisha’s life mission is to holistically and compassionately lift families out of cycles of poverty. When not working to transform impoverished communities, she is a wife and Mommy to two best little boys in the world.
Paheadra Bratton Robinson
Director of Operations
Paheadra Bratton Robinson is Springboard’s Director of Operations. Supporting and empowering nonprofits and small businesses – especially those serving under resourced populations in Mississippi, is how Robinson seeks to make a difference in the world. Along with serving as a technical advisor for entities through her firm, Bratton Consulting Group, LLC, Robinson is also noted for being an advocacy juggernaut who has been addressing civil rights and consumer protection issues for more than 20 years. Robinson’s passion for fairness and equality has also spurred her to push for fully funding education, better policies for consumers, access to healthcare, legal support and voter protection.
Robinson’s drive to amplify the community’s voice reflects her background as a native of Jackson, Mississippi who graduated from Lanier High School before completing her college career at Tougaloo College and the University of Mississippi School of Law.
In addition to private practice, Robinson has worked for the Mississippi House of Representatives, the Mississippi Center for Justice, the Coalition for a Prosperous Mississippi and the United States Census Bureau. Robinson is a member of several social and professional organizations and currently lives in Jackson with her children.
Sarah Stripp is the Program Manager for Springboard To Opportunities. She is an experienced strategist and program coordinator and has worked for the past seven years in community development based non-profits taking on a variety of roles from providing direct services to coordinating and building local and national partnerships.
She has been at Springboard To Opportunities since the beginning of 2016, providing on-the-ground supportive services for families and coordinating and managing larger initiatives for the organization such as The Magnolia Mother’s Trust and the organization’s work around Children’s Savings Accounts. Sarah is currently a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Leadership Network fellow and a graduate of the Aspen Institute’s Jackson Workforce Leadership Academy Class of 2020-21, one of several Workforce Leadership in localities across North America.
Senior Community Specialist – The Village
Parthenia Fields, Senior Community Specialist for Springboard To Opportunities, is a firm believer in the concept of lifelong learning. Much of her career has been dedicated to educating and assisting others while gaining knowledge and wisdom through that work. After joining the Springboard team in 2014, Parthenia’s experience came in handy when she jumped feet first into working alongside families-who reside in affordable housing complexes-to help them achieve success in school, work, and life. In this intricate and strategic work, her duties are to form and sustain partnerships and research and design programs that embolden women to dream, set goals, and implement action steps for achievement, while providing tools for self-advocacy.
However, Parthenia is more than the sum of her work. She is foremost a mother. Additionally, she is a writer, editor for indie authors, and is trying her hand at theater. Her hobby is knitting.
Senior Community Specialist – Windsor Valley
Lynette, a graduate of Towson University with a B.S. in psychology, has worked at Windsor Valley for the past nine years. An Army Veteran and former Para-Educator, she currently sits on the steering committee for early intervention for Harford County Public School’s Judy Program.
Community Specialist – Northwood Village and Lincoln Garden
Ineshia is a native of Fayette, MS. After obtaining her B.A. in Sociology at Tougaloo College, she furthered her education in Public Health at Jackson State University. Ineshia has numerous years of biological and sociological research experience, and she is determined to achieve economic equity and eliminate negative social norms for individuals living in poverty. Additionally, she fully believes that “Nothing just happens”. She lives through this quote by understanding that everything is destined, and our works are always rewarded.
Community Specialist – Commonwealth Village
Val is deeply in love with her three children, her job, and the Springboard team. She is excited to embrace her role at Springboard as a Community Specialist. She values her family and has big goals for herself and her family.
Community Specialist – Skyview
Tia is a native if Aurora, CO, but has resided in Mississippi for past 12 years. She is a mother of three, two boys and a girl. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from the University of Southern Mississippi. Previously, she has worked as an Assisted Housing Specialist with the Mississippi Regional Housing Authority District 8 in Gulfport, Mississippi.
Community Specialist – Madonna Manor
Davyen is a native of Bolton, MS. Her family is her first priority and motivation. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Jackson State University, and a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Jackson State University. Her background is in banking and education, and she is excited to bring her education and prior work experience into the position of a Community Specialist. She is committed to helping others and her community.
Community Specialist – Overlook
Kerstin is a recent transplant to Hattiesburg Mississippi, having previously lived in Washington her whole life. She graduated from Western Washington University with her B.A. in Political Science and German Language, and is currently pursuing her TESOL certificate from USM. Kerstin is dedicated to systemic change, and is excited to be working with a non-profit that is also dedicated to that ideal. Outside of work, she is excited for the opportunity to explore a new part of the world.
Community Specialist – Dauphin Gate
Aiko has returned to her hometown, Mobile, after studying abroad and living in the United Kingdom, ready to engage in the community. From the start to finish of her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and English with a minor in Gender Studies at Spring Hill College, she knew that her calling was to advocate for, serve, and uplift people and communities. In November 2020, she started volunteering while pioneering a giving project in Mobile aimed at alleviating period poverty by distributing menstrual products to those in need. She has also worked with various non-profits and programs in the Mobile area. Aiko is excited to bring her connection to communities and organizations alongside her project planning experience to maximize resources and positive programming for her community. Forming strong bonds and trust with her residents is her motivation. Aiko values creativity, lifelong learning, and growth and can’t wait to grow in this role and with her community.
Community Specialist – Timbercroft
Linay Reed worked in Baltimore City public schools as a para-educator for 10 years. In addition to her experience in education, she has several years of experience in community engagement. She is a true believer of the saying “It takes a village”. Born and raised in Baltimore City, Maryland, Linay is a direct product of the results of collaboration and support from a community. Linay is also a wife and mom of two small boys. She currently serves as the president of the PTO and is a board member for the Baltimore Community Association.
Julianne is a native of Vicksburg, MS, but now resides in the Jackson area with her husband, two dogs, and one cat. She received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Mississippi Medical Center. From the beginning of her college career, Julianne knew she wanted to help people as much as she could in every opportunity life gave her. Julianne is an active blood and platelet donor at Mississippi Blood Services, coordinates the social media for an Embracing Diversity nonprofit, fosters rescue dogs until they find forever homes, and is a member of the Junior Auxiliary of Rankin County.
Board of Directors
Chair – Board of Directors
Michelle Whetten is vice president and Gulf Coast market leader for Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. Michelle leads Enterprise’s work to create and support effective systems and tools for high quality affordable housing production, attract private-sector capital and strengthen the affordable housing industry. Prior to her assignment in the Gulf Coast, Michelle was deputy director for Enterprise’s New York office, where she led neighborhood initiatives and public policy efforts. In that role, Michelle managed organizational development, resident services-related technical assistance and grant making programs, and directed advocacy and outreach to local, state and federal officials on housing and community development issues. Michelle serves as chair of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas Advisory Council and on the boards of Reconcile New Orleans, Louisiana Housing Alliance, Gulf Coast Renaissance Corporation and the Mississippi Association of Affordable Housing Providers. She is past president and current executive committee member of the board of the Louisiana Association of Affordable Housing Providers.
Vice Chair – Board of Directors
Marjorie has more than 20 years of experience in advancing the status of women and families at local, state, national, and international levels. She formerly served as program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation with a specific focus on family economic security programs and managed a $65M grant portfolio. Prior to joining the Kellogg Foundation, Sims held the positions of chief operating officer, interim president, and vice president of programs and operations at the Washington Area Women’s Foundation. During her tenure in Washington, Sims helped launch Stepping Stones, a $5 million, multi-year, regional initiative to increase the income and assets of women-headed families. Stepping Stones received national recognition as a model public-private partnership. In addition, Sims served as the executive director of the California Women’s Law Center and as a policy analyst with the International Center for Research on Women. She is a co-founder of Women’s Policy, Inc., an organization that emerged from the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues to provide unbiased analyses and educational briefings about federal legislation affecting women and families. Sims has additional expertise in expanding women’s philanthropy and managing leadership transitions.
Treasurer – Board of Directors
Carter Smith is the Founder of Profit Smart. He brings over 15 years of experience from working with two Fortune 500 companies to having owned his own small business. His expertise in operations and finance provide his clients with a deep knowledge base in financial strategy that will fit multiple organizational sizes, styles and structures. He founded Profit Smart as a means to more deeply engage with his clients and their business. Carter earned his Bachelor of Accountancy from the University of Mississippi and graduated Magna Cum Laude with his Masters in Business Administration from Mississippi State University. Carter is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Valuation Analyst. Carter is an associate member of the Law Practice Management section of the American Bar Association. Carter is a native of Batesville, MS and currently resides in Jackson with his wife, Cassie, and their four children.
Board of Directors
Kelly Butler is the Chief Executive Officer of The Barksdale Reading Institute (BRI). The Institute’s literacy work encompasses early childhood and parenting for school readiness, professional development for PK-3 teachers and literacy coaches, improving teacher preparation for early literacy instruction, and developing literacy leaders. Kelly spearheaded BRI’s development of The Reading Universe©, a detailed scope and sequence for training teachers on how to deliver sequential, systemic, explicit reading instruction (readinguniverse.org). She is the author of two statewide studies and developed a subsequent statewide initiative to improve teacher preparation programs focused on early literacy instruction in Mississippi’s 15 public and private universities. A former high school teacher in the Greenwich, Connecticut Public Schools, Ms. Butler holds a bachelor’s degree in Special Education from The University of Alabama and a master’s degree in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard University. She serves by appointment to the Governor’s Task Force on Teacher Preparation for Early Literacy Instruction and the State Reading Panel. She is a founding member of the Higher Education Literacy Council of Mississippi, a founding member of the Affinity Group of Education Grantmakers, and a member of the Advisory Board for the Southeast Regional Educational Lab (SE/REL). Recent advocacy work includes spearheading an informal coalition to develop a state-by-state strategy for improving educational policy specific to teacher preparation. Ms. Butler lives in Jackson with her husband, Thorne. They have five daughters.
Board of Directors
Darren Isom is a partner in The Bridgespan Group’s San Francisco office. He first joined the firm as a consultant in 2007, left as a manager in 2014 and returned as a partner in 2019. During his earlier tenure with Bridgespan, Darren was engaged with a diverse array of cases and was consistently lauded for building deep, enduring client relationships, helping clients develop bold yet pragmatic strategies, and his commitment to amplifying community voice and engagement in developing and leading innovative, high-impact youth and community programs, practices, and philanthropy. After leaving Bridgespan in 2014, Darren was the founder and executive director of the Memphis Music Initiative (MMI), an ambitious five-year, $20M grantmaking and community arts development initiative. He led efforts to use targeted investments and programmatic offerings to strengthen youth and community music engagement activities for low-income, Black, and Latino youth and communities. A seventh generation New Orleans native, Darren is a graduate of Howard University, Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris, and Columbia Business School’s Institute for Nonprofit Management. An activist for disconnected youth and LGBT communities of color, he has served as an advisor to the leaders of several Bay Area, Southeast US, and national foundations. He currently also serves on the board of Beloved Community of New Orleans, Collage Dance Collective of Memphis, and the National Guild for Community Arts Education.
Board of Directors
Carol Wishcamper has three decades of experience as a leader in the education and non-profit sectors. She has developed an organizational development consulting practice focused on capacity building offering services in strategic planning, leadership development, executive coaching, conflict management and communication skills (www.carolwishcamper.com). She lives in Freeport, Maine with her husband Joe, a developer of affordable housing. They have two grown sons and two grandchildren.
Board of Directors
Trené Hawkins, a program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, works to ensure philanthropic capital is deployed in the most strategic, equitable, and impactful ways possible. Trené spent her early years at RWJF shaping key efforts for the Foundation’s innovation portfolio, expanding the team’s networks and orienting grantmaking practice and programming to more intentionally ad-vance equity. Trené’s work currently focuses on the equitable distribution of re-sources for parents, caregivers and their children and families’ inclusion in the U.S. economy.
In addition, Trené is deeply involved in shaping RWJF’s grantmaking practices and organizational culture to advance equity. Trené holds degrees from Princeton University, Rutgers – The State University of NJ, and The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania. She’s a lifelong New Jersey resident, avid baker, and loves fashion, basketball, and travel.
Board of Directors
Dr. Ira E. Murray was named President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of the Capital Area, Inc. in July of 2018. Prior to that, Dr. Murray began his United Way career in 2005 as a Jackson-based National Community Fellow with United Way of America. Upon the end of his fellowship, Dr. Murray agreed to remain in Jackson as the director and eventually vice president of community impact at United Way of the Capital Area, a position he held until 2014. During his tenure, Dr. Murray led the organization’s transition from a traditional pass-through organization to one that focused on addressing large-scale community issues through community and collective impact partnerships.
Dr. Murray earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Florida A&M University, a Master of Education degree from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, and a Doctor of Philosophy in education from the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Murray is an education scholar, writer, and advocate with expertise in issues of race, equity, and achievement in urban schools, districts, and communities.
Dr. Murray is currently a member of 100 Black Men of Jackson, the United Way Worldwide Equity Advisory Council, and the Board of Directors of Excel by 5 and the Mississippi Early Learning Alliance. Dr. Murray is also a member in good standing of the American Educational Research Association.
Dr. Murray is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including the 2019 Early Career Alumni Award by the University of Pittsburgh School of Edu-cation and being named a 2013 Mississippi Business Journal Top 40 Under 40 business leader