Executive Director, Moore Community House
What do you do?
Since 1989 I have been the Executive Director of Moore Community House (MCH), a non-profit community center that is one of the United Methodist Women’s national mission institutions. MCH serves low-income families in east Biloxi, MS, by providing two programs that research shows make the most strategic and positive difference in moving low-income families closer to self-sufficiency: quality, affordable early childhood education (Early Head Start) and job training that leads to higher paying employment (Women in Construction). In addition, MCH sponsors Congregations for Children, a statewide advocacy network of people of faith promoting public policies to improve circumstances for poor children in MS.
Growing out of MCH’s work with low-income families, I founded the Mississippi Low-Income Child-Care Initiative in 1998. This statewide nonprofit organization strengthens the child care delivery system for Mississippi’s working poor families by making full-time services more affordable, improving parents’ access and retention of child care subsidies, and making child care centers serving low income families more financially viable. I served in state government as Mississippi’s administrator of the federal childcare subsidy program. This opportunity allowed me to learn first-hand about the impact of race and gender in policy-making and the long game required to win change in statewide systems.
What’s the best thing about your job?
It allows me to work with low-income working mothers to make real change at the individual and policy levels to improve their lives and the lives of their children. This work makes real and immediate improvements by making it possible for women to earn higher wages and afford the child care they need in order to work while also making early childhood education services available for children to support their improved long-term outcomes.
How did Union prepare you for this?
Union helped solidify my focus on gender and racial equity and my commitment to economic justice, and helped to shape my knowledge of effective social change.
How have you stayed connected to Union?
I’ve stayed connected primarily through the Poverty Initiative. In 2005 Hurricane Katrina destroyed both the organizations where I work and my home. It was through Hurricane recovery efforts that I connected with the UTS Poverty Initiative when a team came to the MS Gulf Coast to provide assistance and support. Since that time my organizations have become part of the network of organizations connected to the Poverty Initiative to work against poverty and for justice with poor and low-income communities across the country.
What would you say to someone considering going to Union?
Go with an idea about what you want to do, and Union will help you sharpen your focus and build your knowledge and capabilities. Use connections through Union faculty, students, and alumni/ae, and make opportunities to learn at Union and through the rich array offered in New York City.