Seventeen of the 40 alumni under the age of 40 celebrated for their personal, professional, and philanthropic achievements by the Ole Miss Alumni Association are in the College of Liberal Arts.
These young alumni include an NBC News producer, a US Space Force commander, a specialist for talent relations and awards at Netflix, and a director of the National Security Council.
“We are thrilled to unveil this first year’s class of 40 Under 40 and to honor their accomplishments,” said Kirk Purdom (BA 93), CEO of the Ole Miss Alumni Association. “These outstanding individuals exemplify leadership in their industries and communities.”
More than 500 nominations were received. Honorees must be active members of the Alumni Association, have made a significant impact on their industry or field, have civic or professional achievements, aspire to uphold the core values of the UM Creed, have earned an undergraduate degree from the university, and demonstrate a commitment to maintaining a lifelong relationship with the university and the OMAA.
“The Class of 2022 represents young alumni with careers in television, government affairs, philanthropy, and even the outdoors,” said Sunny Brown (BSFCS 09, MA 11), assistant director of alumni affairs who organized the awards. “It was so special to award them in March and allow our current students to network with all that our group has to offer.”
Members of 40 Under 40 providing leadership and making a difference in their industries and communities who received degrees in the College of Liberal Arts are:
Sumner Abraham (BA sociology 12, MD 16)
The chief medical operating officer at Relias Healthcare and an adjunct instructional assistant professor in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Dr. Abraham has a clinical faculty appointment at Baptist Memorial Hospital Internal Medicine Residency Program. He is currently a physician advisor for clinical documentation integrity for community hospitals in the North Mississippi Medical Services system and is enrolled in the American College of Physicians’ Fellowship Program and American Association for Physician’s Leadership Certificate. He completed his medical training at the University of Virginia where he was selected as chief resident.
Julie Howell Addison (BA psychology 07, JD 10)
As an assistant United States attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi in the Criminal Division, Julie Howell Addison represents the United States Department of Justice in prosecutions for violations of federal law. She has exclusively worked in public service following her graduation with honors from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 2010. She was the judicial law clerk to two US District Judges and a US Magistrate Judge. Addison previously served for six years as assistant district attorney for the Third Circuit Court District, prosecuting hundreds of felony cases on behalf of victims in Mississippi.
Erika Berry (BA political science 08)
For over a decade, Erika Berry has been working to improve educational outcomes for students across the South. While teaching middle school math in Charlotte, North Carolina, Berry visited her first charter school and saw firsthand what high expectations and transformational education look like in action. Four years later, she seized upon an opportunity to return to her home state of Mississippi, bringing those same transformational options and ultimately creating the Mississippi Charter Schools Association and later working in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor to impact education policies beyond public charter schools. These experiences eventually led her back to North Carolina where she served in the state education agency advising the superintendent’s office. Now, as the senior director of policy with TennesseeCAN, Berry is advocating for Tennessee to adopt a weighted student-based funding formula.
Vince Chamblee (BA economics, public policy leadership 10, BAccy accountancy 10)
A senior financial adviser at Hardy Reed in Tupelo and Oxford, Vince Chamblee serves as a wealth adviser to successful families, retirement plans, foundations and endowments. Prior to joining Hardy Reed, he served for eight years as senior vice president for Diversified Trust in Memphis, where he was the portfolio manager for over $2 billion of the firm’s investment assets. Chamblee began his career in the financial markets practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers in New York City, where he advised and audited clients in derivative valuation and accounting, securitization, and private equity transactions. Chamblee is licensed as a CPA in Mississippi and holds the certification awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.
Martha Frances Dalton (BS biological science 11)
An anatomic veterinary pathologist who attended Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Martha Frances Dalton completed a pathology residency at the University of Georgia and is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists. She received additional training in wildlife pathology at the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study. This training further honed her experience in infectious disease diagnosis and disease transmission at the interface of wildlife and domestic stock. She has presented pathology cases and related research at regional and national meetings and has numerous manuscripts published in peer-reviewed journals. Dalton is currently an assistant clinical professor at the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine in Jackson. Her current duties include performing postmortem investigations on domestic animals, exotic species, and wildlife.
Christin Gates-Calloway (BA psychology 11)
As the programs and policy manager for The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, Christin Gates-Calloway leads the statewide public policy agenda designed to fulfill outcomes and to address Wisconsin’s racial health disparities. She previously served as a policy associate with the award-winning Race to Equity Project. Through holistic community partnership and engagement, she worked to bring synergy to the development and operations of strategic partnerships designed to address the underlying, systemic, and institutional drivers of racial inequity. Gates-Calloway was recognized by Brava Magazine as a Woman to Watch for her contributions to the University of Wisconsin-System’s 2020 Forward Strategic Framework effort to improve student retention, success, and completion. She earned a Master of Education in Education Policy and Management from Harvard University.
Billy Glasco Jr. (BA history 05)
An archivist at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta, Billy Glasco Jr. received his master’s in library and information science from Florida State University. His admiration for history and public service has allowed him to enjoy 15 fulfilling years in the archival profession. Prior to working at the Carter Library, Glasco served as special collections librarian at Georgia Southern University and lead archivist at the African American Library at the Gregory School in Houston, Texas. Glasco gained archival experience working in academic and government libraries at Prairie View A&M University, Florida State University, and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
Gresham Hodges Meek (BA liberal studies: art, art history, English, Italian 12)
Gresham Meek designs and curates her jewelry collection that evokes confidence and sophistication by individually crafting each piece and hand selecting her materials. Upon graduation, Meek dedicated herself to her craft and set out to turn her passion into a full-time job. Today, hundreds of retailers internationally carry the Gresham brand, and she has a flourishing e-commerce site featuring colorful jewelry, home décor, art, clothing, and more. The collection has expanded to embrace her multi-faceted design talents, creating a lifestyle brand that is quintessentially Gresham—curated, effortless and lively. As CEO and creative director, Meek believes joy is contagious and a fundamental cornerstone for long-term success.
Phelton Moss (BA public policy leadership 12, PhD education 20)
A professor of Education Policy and Leadership at American University and a senior technical assistance consultant at the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders at American Institutes for Research, Dr. Phelton Cortez Moss previously served as tenure-track assistant professor of Teacher Education at Tougaloo College and launched the Office of Innovative strategy for Jackson Public Schools. His research is focused on building school leaders’ capacity to diversify the educator workforce and improve efforts to increase teacher recruitment and retention. Most notably, Moss led the design and launch of the nation’s first state-run teacher residency program with a $4.5M Kellogg Foundation Grant to address the state’s teacher shortage and increase the diversity of the educator workforce in Mississippi.
Joshua Norris (BA international studies 09, BAccy accountancy 09)
Josh Norris started his career with Ernst & Young in Memphis. In 2012, he bought a small accounting firm in Jackson, and returned to his hometown. Over the next few years, he grew that tax practice and began to realize the influence tax consequences have over all the financial decisions his clients make. Through this realization, he saw the value he could provide to his clients by adding wealth management services, so he created a financial advisory firm, LeFleur Wealth Management, to complement his existing tax practice, Joshua Norris, PLLC. Since becoming a CPA at the start of his career, he has gone on to become a certified financial planner and chartered financial analyst as well as earning a master’s degree in tax from New York University.
Sarah Bracy Penn (BA English 15, BAJ journalism 15)
A producer and content creator specializing in storytelling through broadcast and digital media, writing, live event production and design, Sarah Bracy Penn is currently a producer at NBC News. She is part of the organization’s award-winning Custom Productions Unit, where her work appears across the platforms of TODAY, MSNBC, and Nightly News with Lester Holt. She was instrumental in launching several e-commerce initiatives across TODAY platforms and produces the streaming show Shop TODAY. In addition, Penn supports the news organization’s live events, including producing experiences and on-air elements for the 2020 Democratic Candidates Debates on NBC and MSNBC. Her work has been published in Harper’s BAZAAR, Town & Country, House Beautiful, Veranda, ELLE Décor, and Domino. Penn earned a master’s in journalism from New York University in 2016.
EJ Presley (BA psychology 10, MEd counselor education 12, EdD education 19)
The assistant director of career development at the University of Mississippi where he provides leadership in the areas of career development and student retention, Dr. EJ Presley also serves as an adjunct professor of higher education. In his role, Presley serves on numerous university committees. He was awarded the Career Services Professional of the Year for the Mississippi Association of Colleges and Employers. Presley serves as the four-year institution director on the MACE executive board and on the executive conference board for the Southern Association of Colleges and Employers. Presley’s passion for education began in 2012 during his employment as a school therapist. Presley then transitioned into the field of higher education when he accepted a role as an academic advisor at UM.
Daniel Roberts (BA public policy leadership 14)
Head of communications for BrightDrop—a start-up created by General Motors with a portfolio of products and software designed to decarbonize last-mile deliveries and reduce congestion, Daniel Roberts oversees a team focused on both internal and external communications for the business. Previously, Roberts was the global innovation and growth communications lead at General Motors. In this role, he led the communications team focused on GM’s Global Innovation incubator that creates new start-ups for the company and GM’s Global Connected Services that integrates Apple, Google, and Amazon products into vehicles. He previously served as head of state policy communications at Facebook. Before Facebook, he led east communications at Lyft where he managed public relations firms in various markets while overseeing the execution of national campaigns at the regional level.
Anna Hailey Rubinstein, PhD (BA chemistry, Chinese; BS chemical engineering 11)
The director of test and evaluation for a Department of Defense artificial intelligence (AI) program, Dr. Anna Rubinstein directs testing for AI models spanning the fields of computer vision, natural language processing, and other forms of machine perception. She leads teams developing metrics and assessing capabilities at the algorithm, system, and operational level, with a particular interest in human-machine teaming. In her previous role as a science advisor in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Information Innovation Office, Rubinstein provided technical insight to research programs modeling cyber operations in the information domain and building secure software-reliant systems. Before that, she served as a research staff member at the Institute for Defense Analyses.
Nicole Tisdale (BA political science and government 06, JD 09)
Nicole Tisdale has more than a dozen years of national security experience at the White House and in the US Congress serving as a key senior advisor on the President’s National Security Council and the House Committee on Homeland Security. She leads the Council’s legislative and oversight portfolios on issues of cybersecurity, intelligence, disinformation, counterterrorism, election security, and foreign policy efforts for the western hemisphere. Tisdale was also the primary lead for legislation and communications between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the National Security Agency. She has represented the US on official delegations to more than 35 nations. After a decade on Capitol Hill, she founded Advocacy Blueprints and wrote and published a book, Right To Petition.
Jenny Ann Urban (BA political science and public policy leadership 11, MBA 13, JD law 15, LLM air & space law 16)
An international aviation attorney with expertise in regulatory matters, crisis management, security and emerging technologies, Jenny Ann Urban has served as the director of Aviation Relations and Compliance for a biometric technology platform where she led emergency management and incident response on a 24/7 basis at all 36 of the company’s airport locations. Formerly, Urban was an associate at the international law firms of Cozen O’Connor and K&L Gates LLP. Her practice primarily focused on aviation matters, including unmanned aircraft systems. She counseled clients and entities involved in the commercial uses of drones, trade associations, airports, and other aviation industry participants on compliance with laws, policies, and regulations administered by the US Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Transportation Security Administration, and other agencies.
Marc E. Walker (BS biological science 06)
A double board-certified plastic surgeon and fellowship-trained hand surgeon, and tenure-track assistant professor of Plastic Surgery and Orthopedic Surgery, Dr. Marc E. Walker completed a residency in plastic and reconstructive surgery as well as fellowship training in hand and microsurgery at Yale-New Haven Hospital after graduation from Harvard University. He then joined the University of Mississippi Medical Center, where he is the only pediatric hand surgeon, founder of the Congenital Hand Clinic, division director of Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery, and Fellowship Program director of Surgery of the Hand. At UMMC, Walker serves in multiple leadership capacities as officer of the hospital Medical Executive Committee, founding chairman of the Systems-Based Practice subcommittee for the School of Medicine Curriculum Committee, as well as chairman of the Hand Surgery Fellowship Program Clinical Competency and Program Evaluation Committees.