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Community Chats

Community Chats

By Erin Oeth
Welcome to Community Chats! An interview series elevating the voices of community leaders in the Lafayette Oxford University Community.

An initiative of the University of Mississippi Office of Community Engagement and the Lafayette Oxford Foundation for Tomorrow.
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Episode #47 - Laura Martin - McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement

Community Chats

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Episode #49 - Katelyn Winstead - Andrew Goodman Foundation
In the final new episode of Community Chats for the semester, we sat down with Katelyn Winstead from the Andrew Goodman Foundation! As team leader for the AGF team at the University of Mississippi, Katelyn advocates for every person's right to vote. Tune in to hear about what the AGF team is doing to make voting easy and guaranteed for everybody in our community!
23:49
April 23, 2021
Episode #48 - Joel Amidon - Amidon Planet
In this episode of Community Chats, we sit down with Joel Amidon, Assoc. Prof. of Secondary Education and Servant Leader of Amidon Planet. We chat about what it means to teach with unconditional love and how Joel goes about teaching teachers. Serving the community through education is not lost on Joel, and it comes through in this interview. Tune in now!
29:20
April 16, 2021
Episode #47 - Laura Martin - McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement
In this episode of Community Chats, Erin Oeth and guest host Will Corley are joined by Laura Martin, Assoc. Dir. of the McLean Institute to chat about her role in fighting poverty through education. She discusses her background in community engagement and advocacy and highlights some of the programs at the Institute. Tune in to hear how you can get involved in the great work the McLean Institute is doing here in the LOU community and throughout the state of Mississippi.
26:20
April 9, 2021
Episode #46 - Patrick Perry & Senora Miller Logan - Luckyday Scholars Program
On this episode of Community Chats, we chat with Dr. Patrick Perry and Senora Miller Logan from the Luckyday Scholars Program. They discuss the work of their student scholars as they engage with their community through four areas of success: scholarship, community, service and leadership.
28:17
March 19, 2021
Episode #45 - Jaime Harker - Sarah Isom Center for Women & Gender Studies
Tune in to this episode of Community Chats where we chat with Dr. Jaime Harker, director of the Sarah Isom Center at the University of Mississippi, about her passion for fostering a diverse and inclusive community. Her love for the overlooked communities of our area shines through in this interview as she recounts multiple stories of community-driven action to create that inclusion and shine a light on those communities.
30:22
March 12, 2021
Episode #44 - Kenorus Wilson - Boys & Girls Club
On this episode of Community Chats, Kenorus Wilson, director of the LOU Boys & Girls Club, talks with our team about his role in shaping the next generation of community leaders. His work fostering responsibility, leadership and success in the youth of our community is incredibly valuable, so tune in now!
15:54
March 5, 2021
Episode #43 - April Grayson - William Winter Institute
In this episode of Community Chats, the team chats with April Grayson about her work at the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. Through the institute, April and her team work with communities across the state to come together, discuss the hard topics around the histories of these communities, and move forward to heal together. Tune in to hear about how her work at the institute is changing the conversation around the history of race in every community.
21:38
February 26, 2021
Episode #42 - Afton Thomas - Center for the Study of Southern Culture
In this episode of Community Chats, Afton Thomas joins us to discuss her role with the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. As associate director of programs, Thomas collaborates with campus and community partners to foster community engaged learning and service. Tune in to learn about the challenges and rewards of the job and the plans the Center has for the upcoming months as they preserve the history of Mississippi and all its voices.
24:18
February 19, 2021
Episode #41 - Estelle Roberts - Wild Again in Mississippi
In this episode of Community Chats, Estelle Roberts joins Erin and Jody to chat about her work with Wild Again in Mississippi, a nonprofit dedicated to rescuing, rehabbing, and releasing indigenous mammals of Mississippi. Roberts’s passion for her work shines through in this interview as she describes the experiences she has had helping animals be, as the name states, wild again. Tune in to hear why she does the work she does and how you can get involved rescuing the indigenous mammals of Mississippi.
16:59
February 12, 2021
Episode #40 - Nicholas Crasta - Black Student Union
In the first new episode of 2021, Anthony and Jody chat with Nicholas Crasta, president of the UM Black Student Union (BSU). He discusses the role of the BSU on campus and their goals for the new year. Tune in to hear how the BSU is working towards making our community and campus a welcoming space for everyone.
20:55
February 11, 2021
Episode #39 - Rebecca Nelson - Volunteer Northeast MS
In this special episode of Community Chats, Erin chats with Rebecca Nelson, director of Volunteer Northeast MS, to discuss the CARES Act and what it can mean for your nonprofit organization. With just 2 weeks until the deadline, Rebecca Nelson tells us everything you need to know about the application process and eligibility. Tune in now to see if your organization is eligible!
20:52
December 4, 2020
Episode #38 - David Stone - American Red Cross
In this episode of Community Chats, Anthony sits down with David Stone, volunteer recruitment specialist with the North Mississippi chapter of the American Red Cross, to talk about the mission and work of the Red Cross as well as the power of volunteerism. Tune in to hear about how you can get involved with the Red Cross and help those in our community affected by disaster.
17:27
November 20, 2020
Episode #37 - John Hydrisko & JR Riojas - Warren Debate Union
In this episode of Community Chats, our team chats with JR Riojas and John Hydrisko from the Warren Debate Union. Recently, the duo won awards in the Intercollegiate Advocacy and Dialogue competition hosted by the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Their project discussing Confederate memorialization in the southern United States won Best Letter, Best Creative Argument, and Honorable Mention in Best Use of History. Tune in to hear about that as well as how speech and debate can foster conversation and understanding within communities.
23:37
November 13, 2020
Episode #36: Jon Winet - Oxford to the Ballot Box
As the country reflects on the election, Jon Winet sits down to discuss some of the efforts he and others in the LOU community have put forth to understand people’s “why.” Why do they vote? Why do they care about these issues? Tune in to learn about Oxford to the Ballot Box and all the people that helped bring this project together, including the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, Oxford Film Festival, Mississippi Votes, and the University of Mississippi.
22:22
November 6, 2020
Episode #35: Jaycee Brown - Voting Ambassadors
In the week before the 2020 election, Anthony is joined by Jaycee Brown, operations specialist for the Voting Ambassador (VA) program at the University of Mississippi. Brown and the rest of the VA team are working to increase civic engagement and voter turnout in the LOU community. Tune in to hear about why it is so important for everyone to exercise their right to vote.
20:45
October 30, 2020
Episode #32: Kieran Murphy - UM Food Pantry
In this installment of Community Chats, we are talking with Kieran Murphy, a junior at the University of Mississippi, about the good work he and the rest of the team are doing at UM Food Pantry. Tune in to hear Kieran talk about why fighting hunger is so important and how you can get involved in fighting food insecurity in the LOU community.
14:11
October 30, 2020
Episode #34: Lawrence Muruako - Operation FitNation
Lawrence Muruako, founder and director of Operation FitNation, joins Dr. Siracusa for this week’s episode of Community Chats to talk about his passion for making great health the standard. He discussed the inspiration, motivation, and determination behind Operation FitNation, his nonprofit promoting accessible health and wellness in the LOU community and surrounding areas.
19:43
October 23, 2020
Episode #33: Allen Kurr - Oxford Relief Fund
On this episode of Community Chats, we welcome Allen Kurr, Vice President of the Oxford-Lafayette Economic Development Foundation (EDF), as he chats with us about the Oxford Relief Fund and how it is helping alleviate some of the economic impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Tune in to hear how this fund will be used and how you can contribute to the success of LOU’s small businesses and entrepreneurs.
20:00
September 25, 2020
Episode #31: Ike Adams & Erin Oeth - Leaderful Communities
In this installment of Community Chats, we are joined by Ike Adams and Erin Payseur-Oeth, who is switching to the other side of the interview table for a change, to talk about their program Leaderful Communities. Leaderful Communities is a 10-week summer curriculum focused on helping community leaders make a lasting change in their communities. Tune in to hear about the goals of this program, new developments under way, and why this work is so important to the growth and prosperity of local communities.
35:38
September 11, 2020
Episode #30: Kynnedi Taylor-Henri - UM Voting Ambassadors
On this episode of Community Chats, we are talking with Kynnedi Taylor-Henri with the Voting Ambassadors Program at the University of Mississippi. Kynnedi discusses her passion and excitement for voter engagement and the importance of voting to our democracy. Tune in to hear her talk about how she is working with Community Engagement to spark the same passion and excitement on our campus and in the larger community.
13:16
August 31, 2020
Episode #29: Lydia Koltai & Graham Bodie - LOU Space and Place
In this episode of Community Chats, we are joined by Lydia Koltai and Graham Bodie with the Space and Place dialogue series. They talk about the purpose of the series and how it is creating a welcoming space for anyone to discuss issues in our community. Tune in to hear about the rewards and challenges of this series and how they are working to foster conversation and understanding in the LOU community.
29:59
August 28, 2020
Episode #28: Joshua Tucker - C19 Ambassadors
For this episode of Community Chats, we are joined by Joshua Tucker, one of the organizers for the university’s C19 Ambassadors initiative. As students, faculty, and staff return to campus for an unprecedented fall semester, new guidelines and protocols have been set in place in order to keep everyone safe and healthy. Tune in to hear how Joshua and his team are getting university community members involved in ensuring these guidelines are being met.
25:51
August 26, 2020
Episode #27: Alice Pierotti - Thacker Mountain Radio Hour
In this installment of Community Chats, we are joined by Alice Pierotti, executive director/producer of Thacker Mountain Radio. She discusses the history and the future of Thacker Mountain and what motivates her and her team to keep pushing to highlight the culture of literature, music, and art in rural Mississippi. Tune in to learn more about Thacker Mountain and how they continue this staple of the LOU community since 1997.
17:01
August 21, 2020
Episode #26: LOFT's Night for Nonprofits Special Episode (08/19/20)
In this extra special installment of Community Chats, we are joined by Jody Holland of the Lafayette-Oxford Foundation for Tomorrow (LOFT) and 14 other nonprofit leaders from around the community. Each guest is able to share what some of their most pressing needs are at the moment and how they have adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is all in partnership with LOFT’s Night for Nonprofits, an event hosted each year to raise funds for the great work being done by all the nonprofits in the LOU community.
42:11
August 21, 2020
Episode #25: Jody Holland - LOFT (08/05/20)
On this episode of Community Chats, Erin talks with Jody Holland, executive director of the Lafayette Oxford Foundation for Tomorrow (LOFT). With their annual Night for Nonprofits fundraiser coming up this month, Jody discusses the great work being done by LOFT partners across the community. Tune in for more information about LOFT’s Night for Nonprofits and how you can get involved and help local nonprofits improve the quality of life in the LOU community.
21:36
August 5, 2020
Episode #24: Suzanne Helveston - More Than A Meal (07/31/20)
For this episode of Community Chats, we are joined by Suzanne Helveston, board president for More Than A Meal. Suzanne discusses the mission of More Than A Meal and the hard work of the community that goes into making meals available for those who need them. Tune in to learn more about how More Than A Meal operates, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
18:03
July 31, 2020
Episode #23: Denise Strub - North MS Exchange Family Center (07/17/20)
For this episode of Community Chats, we are joined by Denise Strub, director of the North MS Exchange Family Center (NMEFC). The NMEFC is committed to ending the cycle of child abuse and neglect by offering prevention, intervention, and educational services. Tune in to hear to Denise discuss some of the greatest challenges and rewards of working with families in our community to fulfill this mission and ensure safety for the children of Oxford and Lafayette County.
16:58
July 18, 2020
Episode #22: Camie Bianco & Mary Leary - Lovepacks (7/15/20)
For this episode of Community Chats, we are joined by Camie Bianco and Mary Leary, co-founders and board members of Lovepacks. Lovepacks is a nonprofit organization that provides food on weekends and holidays during the school year for school-aged children in our community who experience hunger. Camie and Mary discuss the mission of the organization as well as some of the greatest challenges and rewards they experience through the work they do.
19:13
July 16, 2020
Episode #21: EJ Edney - Stronger Together/CICCE (7/8/20)
Dr. EJ Edney, director of the Center for Inclusion Cross-Cultural Engagement (CICCE), joins us for this episode of Community Chats to discuss his position on campus and in the community as well as the work he and so many others are doing to ensure a more equitable and diverse campus experience. EJ talks about some initiatives that the CICCE has set in place, future plans to stay active in their mission, and some of the challenges he and others meet in doing this work. Tune in to learn more about EJ, his staff, and all the great work happening at the CICCE.
32:46
July 9, 2020
Episode #20: Sarah McLellan - Lafayette County Literacy Council (7/1/20)
For this installment of Community Chats, we are joined by Sarah McLellan, executive director of the Lafayette County Literacy Council. She discusses the work she and others do for literacy in our community. From children’s book festivals to adult literacy courses, the Literacy Council is working tirelessly to ensure every person in our community is confident in their reading abilities so that they can succeed in every aspect of life. Tune in to learn more about the great work the Literacy Council is doing for people of all ages in our community.
17:03
July 2, 2020
Episode #19: Forrest Jenkins - LOU-Home, Inc. (6/26/20)
For this installment of Community Chats, we are joined by Forrest Jenkins, president of LOU-Home, Inc. She discusses her passion for affordable housing and community involvement as well as some of the greatest challenges LOU-Home, Inc. is currently facing. Tune in to learn about the needs of our community regarding housing and current projects and developments of LOU-Home, Inc.
19:21
June 26, 2020
Episode #18: Michael Gerberi - Habitat for Humanity (6/24/20)
Michael Gerberi joins us for this episode of Community Chats to talk about how Habitat for Humanity is helping aid an ever-growing need for affordable housing. He discusses some of the challenges local chapters of Habitat are facing and the greatest rewards that come from the work they do. Tune in to learn more about what Habitat does and how you can get involved and support local projects.
20:09
June 26, 2020
Episode #17: Joshua Mannery- Associated Student Body (6/17/20)
We are joined by Joshua Mannery, Associate Student Body (ASB) President, for this episode as he discusses what it means to govern a student body and how he uses his platform and voice to affect change on campus and in the Oxford-Lafayette County community. Tune in to learn about ASB initiatives such as the Stronger Together Dialogue Series in which student and community leaders discuss ways to make the University of Mississippi campus a more welcoming and inclusive place for all.
29:31
June 20, 2020
Episode #16: Zach Scruggs-2nd Chance MS (6/12/20)
In this episode of Community Chats, Zach Scruggs, executive director of 2nd Chance MS, joins us to talk about the support they are giving to adult education. Zach discusses the mission of the organization as well as the challenges, needs, and rewards of working with undereducated and underprivileged adults. Tune in to find out more about what 2nd Chance MS does and how you can help support adult education in our community.
24:02
June 18, 2020
Episode #15: Erin Smith-CASA (6/10/20)
Erin Smith with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Lafayette County joins us for this week’s Community Chat to discuss the mission, needs, challenges, and rewards of advocating for abused and neglected children in Lafayette County. This episode includes information about CASA’s upcoming events and ways you can get involved and help.
37:22
June 18, 2020
Episode #14: Wayne Andrews - Yoknapatawpha Arts Council (6/5/20)
Wayne Andrews, director of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council (YAC), joins us for this edition of Community Chats. He discusses the importance of culture and the arts in a community and how the YAC supports those creative endeavors in the Oxford-Lafayette community. He also discusses how the YAC has dealt with pandemic restrictions with creative initiatives that support artists and other workers in the community. Listen to learn about the vast array of projects and initiatives supported by the YAC in Oxford and other towns.
37:41
June 18, 2020
Episode #13: Kurt Brummet - United Way (6/3/20)
In this installment of Community Chats, we are joined by Kurt Brummett, executive director of United Way of Oxford-Lafayette County. Kurt discusses some of the rewards and challenges of running the organization as well as the power of community, especially in Oxford-Lafayette County. Tune in to learn about all the ways United Way is serving and supporting local communities.
30:22
June 18, 2020
Episode #12: Donna Howard - Holding Hands Resale Shop (5/29/20)
For this episode, we are joined by Donna Howard, executive director of Holding Hands Resale Shop. Holding Hands is a consignment shop that employs those who are mentally ill or disabled. Tune in to learn how they are giving underserved community members a comfortable and compassionate place to work.
17:02
June 18, 2020
Episode #11: Stephanie Green - Strawberry Plains (5/22/20)
Stephanie Green joins us for this episode of Community Chats. She talks about the Audubon center's dedication to conserving natural environments and protecting them from the reach of urban development. Tune it to learn how Stephanie and Strawberry Plains are educating the community on ecological stewardship and biodiversity.
18:52
June 18, 2020
Episode #10: Teresa Adams - Leap Frog (5/20/20)
Teresa Adams, executive director of Leap Frog, joins us for this episode to discuss her role in providing after-school tutoring and enrichment for Oxford and Lafayette County elementary students. Tune in to learn about the work being done by Leap Frog to ensure quality educational experiences for local children.
23:36
June 17, 2020
Episode #9: Ruth Ball - U.S. Census (5/15/20)
Ruth Ball joins us for this episode to discuss the importance of the census and how it can help our community by providing resources. Tune in to learn more about how you can do your part.
21:00
June 17, 2020
Episode #8: Mary Margaret Andrews - Doors of Hope (5/13/20)
Mary Margaret Andrews joins us today talk about the work being done at Doors of Hope. This local organization provides assistance to families who have lost their homes or are in imminent danger of becoming homeless. Tune in to learn how they are supporting members of our community and how you can help.
18:34
June 17, 2020
Episode #7: Sha' Simpson - North Mississippi Regional Center (5/8/20)
New Albany native Sha' Simpson joins us today to discuss her work with the North Mississippi Regional Center. Through their work, NMRC supports those in our community with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Tune in to learn more!
08:49
June 17, 2020
Episode #6: Janice Carr - Gordon Community & Cultural Center (5/6/20)
Janice Carr with the Gordon Community & Cultural Center joins us for this episode to discuss their work in the community. Tune in to learn how the GCCC provides educational opportunities to kids and adults in the Lafayette-Oxford community.
23:22
June 17, 2020
Episode #5: John Kohne - The Pantry (4/29/20)
John Kohne with The Pantry joins us for this episode of Community Chats! John works with The Pantry to provide qualifying members of the LOU community with food and other necessities.
30:47
June 17, 2020
Episode #4: Alonzo Hilliard - Interfaith Compassion Ministry (4/27/20)
Alonzo Hilliard with the Interfaith Compassion Ministry joins us to talk about the work they are doing for the homeless citizens in our community. ICM supports struggling community members with basic needs and services to ensure a brighter future.
22:06
June 17, 2020
Episode #3: Betsy Chapman - Oxford Community Market (4/24/20)
Besty Chapman with the Oxford Community Market joins us for this episode! Listen to find out about the benefits of fresh produce from local farmers and the importance of local markets.
25:10
June 17, 2020
Episode #2: Melanie Addington - Oxford Film Fest (4/22/20)
Melanie Addington, executive director of the Oxford Film Festival, joins us for our 2nd episode of Community Chats. Tune in to learn about the work they are doing to support local filmmakers in the LOU community.
17:51
June 17, 2020
Episode #1: Introducing Community Chats (4/20/20)
Our first episode! Introducing "Community Chats", an interview series elevating the voices of community leaders in the Lafayette Oxford University Community. 
17:04
April 20, 2020