Board of Advisors

Board of Advisors

Kane Ditto

Principal of StateStreet Group, L.L.C.

Former Mayor of Jackson

Kane Ditto is the principal of StateStreet Group, L.L.C., a real estate development company which he started in 1971, and several companies in the manufactured housing business. Mr. Ditto served as Mayor of the City of Jackson from July 1989 until July 1997.  He was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives from District 66, where he served from 1987 to 1989.  Before entering the political arena, Mr. Ditto practiced law for 18 years with Watkins Ludlam Winter & Stennis in Jackson where he was managing partner of the firm for five years.  As a practicing attorney, he developed a primary emphasis in municipal finance. Mr. Ditto presently serves as President of the Board of Trustees of Mississippi Department of Archives and History.  He also serves on the boards of Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Partnership and the Mississippi Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Mr. Ditto is a graduate of Duke University and has a law degree from Vanderbilt University.  He and his wife, the former Betsy Martin, have four children and nine grandchildren and are members of Northminster Baptist Church.

 
 
Berneece Herbert headshot.jpg

Berneece Herbert, PhD

Chair

Department of Urban and Regional Planning

Jackson State University

Dr. Berneece Herbert, the chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at Jackson State University (JSU), is an experienced educator and planner with over 20 years of academic, research and community engagement experience. As an Urban Planner, she focuses on socio-economic development, strategic planning and management, and public sector investment planning and policy formulation. Her research areas include urban health indicators, sustainable economic development and social equity concentrating on food security, climate change, and community engagement. Other areas of interest include assessment, big data analytics and transforming data into actionable insights. Prior to the appointment at JSU, Dr. Herbert was a faculty member at Alabama A&M University’s for over 12 years and served as the Interim Chair for the Department of Community & Regional Planning for three years from fall 2015.

Dr. Herbert is an avid grant writer and has been Principal Investigator for a number of competitive grants on climate change, food security, solar energy, and recruitment and retention in higher education. She has worked as a consultant on a variety of plans such as HUD Consolidated Plans, and on comprehensive plans for various cities and strategic plans for small businesses. She has served as a reviewer and team lead for USDA’s Local Foods Promotion Program. Dr. Herbert was highlighted as a Featured Faculty by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP). She served as an ACSP Conference Chair Tract 9 – Food Systems, Community Health, and Safety. She also currently serves as one of the two southeastern representatives on the ACSP Board and as a member of the Planning Accreditation Board Standards Review Taskforce.

As service to her local community, she functioned as President of the Caribbean Association of North Alabama, 2018/2019. She was also mentor to the winner of the small business innovation grant for the 2016 State Department’s Young Leaders of America Initiative. Currently Dr. Herbert is spearheading a number of activities with local organizations in Jackson MS. She is a member of the City of Jackson’s Climate Change Taskforce and Harword Public Innovators Lab Team.

 

Alan Penman, MD, PhD, MPH

Professor

Department of Preventive Medicine

University of Mississippi Medical Center

Dr. Penman is a physician with specialty training in ophthalmology, public health, epidemiology, and biostatistics. He graduated MBChB from Aberdeen University Medical School, Scotland in 1979, and received an MSc in Clinical Tropical Medicine from London University, England in 1981, an MPH from the University of Alabama (Birmingham) in 1998, and a PhD in Biostatistics from the University of Mississippi in 2008. He has extensive experience analyzing population and sample survey data on mortality, morbidity, and behavioral risk factors, and from 2005-2013 was head of data analytics for the Jackson field site of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study, funded by the NIH/NHLBI. He has served as the local PI and co-investigator on 2 extramurally-funded grants focused on the genetics and epidemiology of diabetic retinopathy. As a Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), Dr. Penman consults regularly with UMMC investigators conducting clinical studies and population research. In addition, he directs and teaches courses in epidemiology, biostatistics, public health and disease prevention for medical students and graduate medical faculty. For the past 4 years he has worked on course development and teaching in public/community health, epidemiology, and global health. Dr. Penman is a listed author on more than 75 peer-reviewed publications.

 

Melia Dicker

Melia Dicker is experienced in nonprofit administration and programming, strategy, marketing, and communications. She started her career in the nonprofit sector as a member of the Public Allies AmeriCorps program, which develops diverse young leaders, and went on to spend eleven years on the national board of directors. Melia co-founded two national nonprofit organizations: Spark, an apprenticeship program for underserved youth, and IDEA, an organization advancing democratic education. She has served on the board of each. Melia is currently the Jackson Center Director for Get2College, a nonprofit program of the Woodward Hines Education Foundation that offers free college planning and financial aid assistance. Melia has a B.S. in Psychology from Santa Clara University and a certificate from the Business Advantage Program for Professionals from the Millsaps College Else School of Management. She is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area and has settled with her family in Jackson, Mississippi.

Director of Marketing and Communications

Woodward Hines Education Foundation