Our Board of Directors

Cassandra Welchin, President

Cassandra is a native Mississippian and change agent for low wealth communities of color.  She graduated from Jackson State University and is a licensed Social Worker.  Cassandra received her Master’s Degree from Brandeis University in the Heller School for Social Policy and Management.  For the past 7 years, she has worked with organizations at the local, state, regional and national level to develop strategies and create opportunities at address the social, political, economic and ecological injustices in low wealth communities of color that grows out of racial inequities in public policy.  Cassandra has worked to build local leadership and partnerships in order to organize their efforts and support their community’s power for the purpose of eradicating racial inequity.  Currently she is a policy and advocacy consultant managing the Child Care Matters Campaign for the MS Low Income Child Care Initiative.

Melanie Deas, National Representative

Melanie is a founding board member of Equality Mississippi, a state-wide organization dedicating to promoting social justice and advancing equality for all LGBTQ individuals. She serves as Executive Director of Link Centre in Tupelo, Mississippi, a multi-tenant nonprofit whose mission includes identifying and attracting partners to create a community of shared services to transform lives through education, cultural awareness, and health. Melanie joined Link in 2007, from the Office of the Boards of Overseers at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. Over the past twenty-five years, Melanie has worked as an arts manager, writer, translator, and dramaturg both as a freelance consultant and staff member at many New York and New- England-area theater companies. She is former Vice President of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, an international professional organization and served on the three-person panel judging the annual dramaturgy prize for the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival (Region I). Melanie received her AB in History and Literature from Harvard and her MFA training in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism at the Yale School of Drama.

Monica Galloway, Treasurer

Monica serves as operations director for the Mississippi Center for Justice, a position she has held since the Center’s founding in 2002. Monica oversees the Center’s financial, administrative and operations functions. In 2011, Monica’s work with the Center resulted in her being named a 2011 recipient of the Fannie Lou Hamer National Institute on Citizenship and Democracy. Monica is a native of Jackson and graduate of Jackson State University’s School of Business. Following graduation, Monica was hired by Atlantic Richfield Corporation's Dallas-based oil and gas division. During her career with ARCO she lived in Texas, Colorado, and California working in various corporate divisions in the areas finance, business process engineering and system implementations. She also worked on various projects in Australia and Mexico. Monica is the proud mother of one daughter, Paige.

Patricia E. Herlihy, Secretary

Patricia received her Bachelor of Arts degree in in Philosophy from Newcomb College of Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1984 and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1991.  Her law practice centers on family law issues. She served on the Mississippi Bar Association Ethics Committee and and was recognized by the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project for her pro bono service. Patricia is a former adjunct professor at Tulane University Continuing Studies Madison Campus. She lives with her three boys in her hometown, Jackson, Mississippi.

Dr. Olga Osby, Vice President

Dr. Olga Osby, DSW earned her Master of Social Work (MSW) and Doctor of Social Work (DSW) degrees from Howard University in Washington, D.C. Currently she is an Associate Professor at Jackson State University in the College of Public Service, School of Social Work. Dr. Osby is the 2013 recipient of the Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority, Inc., Distinguished Professor Endowed Chair Award, which was granted to further her research on grandfathers rearing their grandchildren. She is currently serving her second term on the Commission on Conferences and Faculty Development (CCFD), for the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).  Dr. Osby is actively engaged in the community. She is running for her second term on the Board of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi (ACLU-MS), and last year was elected to serve as the Mississippi representative to the National Board of the ACLU. Olga currently serves as the Affiliate Representative to the National Board of the ACLU.

Dan Roach, Foundation Board

Dan Roach is a lifelong resident of Jackson, MS. He has a cumulative total of 22 years of experience in education. Dan is currently a teacher, coach, and Upper School Dean of Students at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. He has 10 years of experience in corporate business – retail, outside sales, and payroll/employee benefits administration. He graduated from Sewanee: The University of the South in 1982 and received his Master’s in Political Science with a focus on the U.S. Constitution and Constitutional Law from Jackson State University in 2012. Dan was a Senior Fellow at the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation in 2003 and attended the Fannie Lou Hamer National Institute on Citizenship and Democracy in the summer of 2003. He joined the ACLU of Mississippi Foundation Board in the fall of 2013.

Sam Edward Arnold

Sam Edward Arnold is a teacher, writer and community activist. He graduated from Hampton University in Virginia with a degree in accounting. He has worked as an accountant, financial planner and financial consultant. Mr. Arnold survived Hurricane Katrina and spent two years as a community organizer working for International Relief and Development. Since Hurricane Katrina, he has become interested in community economic development. He works with local non-profit organizations to help them create sustainability. His main focus is teaching how the economic and financial systems work and how to use that information to survive financially.

Andy Guerra

Andy currently servies as Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Latin American Association which centers on Education and Outreach on local, state, and federal laws, as well as Housing Rights, Workers Rights, and Human Rights issues affecting Latinos on the Gulf Coast. Since arriving to the Coast over 20 years ago Andy has completed the State of Mississippi Standards for Law Enforcement in 1996 and served for ten years in Harrison County as a Deputy Sheriff and now serves as a liaison for the Latino community partnering and working with local law enforcement agencies and the court systems in Harrison and Jackson County with bi-lingual services. Andy, a military veteran, served in the U. S. Army and National Guard for 20 years. He also became the first Latin American male recruiter for the State of Mississippi. He also has received numerous meritorious awards during his military service that includes a silver star in Army Achievements. Andy was also recently nominated to the National Hispanic Leadership Committee by Senators Thad Cochran and Trent Lott and recognized as one Mississippi’s prominent young Latino Community Leaders. 

Cristen Hemmins

Cristen Hemmins graduated from Vanderbilt University and has a Master's degree in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi. In 2011, she was a plaintiff on the ACLU lawsuit against the state of Mississippi which sought to keep Personhood off the ballot that year; when that suit failed, she was an unofficial spokesperson against Personhood, speaking out on multiple national and international news sources including two live appearances on The Rachel Maddow Show. In 2015, she ran for State Senate, District 9 against an 18-year incumbent, raising $100,000 as a first-time candidate and garnered just shy of 40% of the vote. She is a small business owner of Hemmins Hall, Inc. (which sells ads for a few different publications), and is on the board of LOU-Home, a non-profit organization which looks to provide affordable housing to the low-income population of the Lafayette-Oxford-University community. She is happily married to an Englishman whom she met when he came into Square Books where she worked, looking to buy a map of Alabama while riding his bicycle solo across America.  They have three kids who dance, play soccer, and love math and science, and they all live in an old farmhouse on the edge of Oxford.

Charles Holmes

Charles Holmes, Esq. earned a bachelor of science in social science from Jackson College, a master of arts in political science from Atlanta University, and a juris doctorate from North Carolina Central University School of Law. He is a retired associate professor in the political science department and pre-law advisor at Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi. Prior to serving in those positions, he was an instructor and associate professor at Jackson State University. He serves on the board of trustees at Mt. Helm Baptist Church and on the advisory boards of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Mississippi Common Cause. He is a member of the American Bar Association, National Bar Association, Magnolia Bar Association, NAACP, American Political Science Association, and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.

W. Abram Orlansky

Abram Orlansky was admitted to the Mississippi Bar in 2012. Prior to joining the firm, Abram served as law clerk to the Honorable Rhesa H. Barksdale, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. While in law school he was a board member for the Harvard Mississippi Delta Project and the Southern Legal Society.  He received Dean's Awards in Torts and Sports Law, and gained clinical experience in Sports Law working for the Boston Celtics. His areas of practice are Medical Malpractice and Health Law, Commercial Litigation, Class Action, and Pharmaceutical and Medical Device.

Stephen Silberman

Dr. Silberman received his dental and public health education at Tufts and Harvard Universities. He was one of the original faculty at UMMC School of Dentistry. He taught dental public health emphasizing the needs and expectations of communities and the dental profession’s responsibilities to serve all people. He was Chair of the Department of Diagnostic Sciences. During his final years at UMMC, he was Executive Director of the Mississippi Area Health Education Center (AHEC) where he was building a health care workforce pipeline to serve the rural and underserved populations of the state. Currently, he is Professor emeritus. He has served on this affiliate board for over 30 years and has held the positions of president, vice-president, executive committee member and representative to the national board. He was the originating plaintiff in the Sillers Building Cross Case and was 1990 recipient of the ACLU of MS Ernst Borinski Civil Libertarian of the Year Award.

Wendy Keith Thompson

Wendy Thompson is a graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law, she also has a Masters of Law in Taxation from New York University School of Law. In addition to her private practice experience, Ms. Thompson has taught at the University of Mississippi School of Law, Mississippi College School of Law and Chicago-Kent College of Law, covering a variety of topics including secured transactions, real estate transactions, corporate tax and business planning. Prior to joining Baker Donelson, she served as Editor of Opinions for the Mississippi Supreme Court and was law clerk to the Honorable Judge Rhesa H. Barksdale of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.