Cassandra Overton Welchlin is co-convener and state lead of MS Black Women’s Roundtable (MS-BWR) an intergenerational civic engagement statewide network of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP) at the forefront of championing just and equitable public policy on behalf of Black women and girls.
Prior to joining MS BWR, she co-founded and launched an ambitious and progressive MS Women’s Economic Security Initiative (MWESI), founded as a project of MS Low-Income Child Care Initiative. MWESI is rooted at the intersections of race, gender and poverty. It prioritizes women’s rights, equity, economic security; created an intentional and explicit racial and gender framework; and engage women, particularly low-income women of color, with deep connections to grassroots organizing to create a leadership infrastructure setting the stage for long-term movement-building.
Cassandra will continue the leadership and important movement-building work of MWESI as leader of the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable.
Under her leadership, she’s expanded the statewide network of women through local town halls and major summits, where women crafted MWESI policy agenda focusing on expanding child care subsidies, affordable and comprehensive health care, jobs that pay living wages, paid family leave, and protection from domestic violence. In addition, during the 2017-18 legislative session, she was successful in building a bi-partisan coalition on equal pay with the intended purpose to close the gender pay gap in MS. Her work has led to legislative & policy wins in child care, juvenile justice
reform, health care for women and the most vulnerable and domestic violence in addition to preventing harmful legislation & policies in child care, education, women’s healthcare and safety net programs from going into effect. Cassandra is an advocate, organizer and agent of change whose work spans over fifteen years reforming public policy.
As an experienced policy advocate, organizer and coalition builder, she has led and been a partner on a number of local, statewide, and national initiatives & campaigns to advance racially & gender equitable policies for low-income women, their families and communities of color. Using her skills as an organizer, she has not only served as a strong voice for justice but has equipped many economically disadvantaged communities with the necessary tools to use their power at the policymaking table and at the ballot box.
Cassandra is a daughter of the South, raised in Jackson, Mississippi. She is a wife and mother of three beautiful and amazing children. She holds an undergraduate degree from Jackson State University and is a licensed social worker. In 2005, she received a Master’s from Brandies University at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management.
She’s been featured in publications such as Truthout, NBC-BLK, Ms. Magazine, The Hill, Meet the Press, Clarion-ledger, Jackson Free Press, The Jackson Advocate, The Link and other state media outlets. Cassandra is a Kellogg Fellow with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, a Ms. Foundation Public Voices Fellow a project of the OpEd Project, and a fellow of Congressman Bennie Thompson’s MS Black Leadership Institute.
She’s been the recipient of several prestigious awards and honor that include the first-ever 2014 Gwendolyn Nero Loper Social Worker Field Award, the
first-ever 2017 Dr. Ollye Brown Shirley Placemaker Award, in Women For Progress 2017 Salute to Women Award, 2018 Spirit of AAUW Award American Association for University Women, National Coalition for Black Civic Participation/Black Women’s Roundtable 2018 SisStars Leadership Award, 2017 Jackson MS Black Girls Rock Award to name a few. In December 2017, Cassandra was awarded the “Movement Maker” national fellowship through the NOVO Foundation’s Move to End Violence cohort- which goal is to strengthen movement leaders to end violence against
women and girls.
Cassandra is also very active at the community level serving as PTA president at her daughter’s school, active member of MS State Conference NAACP and chair of Women in NAACP (WIN) Jackson Branch, City of Jackson Planning Board Commissioner, member of the Hinds County Democratic Executive Committee, and president of her neighborhood association. She’s a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and 100 Black Women. One of her favorite quotes– “If you don’t love the people, sooner or later you will betray the people.” By late Mayor Chokwe Lumumba.