Mississippi Community College Policy Fellows Program co-director Tyson Elbert presents EMCC employees Dr. Renyetta Johnson, at left, and Marilyn Ford with certificates for completing the program’s one-year leadership program.

May 16, 2024

East Mississippi Community College employees Dr. Renyetta Johnson and Marilyn Ford were awarded certificates May 14 for completing the Mississippi Community College Policy Fellows Program (CPFP). The two were nominated to represent EMCC in the 2023-2024 cohort of the CPFP. They were joined by participants from other colleges across the state.

The certificates were awarded during the last May meeting of the CPFP in Jackson. Attendees included CPFP Co-Director Tyson Elbert, Mississippi Community College Board (MCCB) Executive Director Kell Smith and MCCB Director of External Affairs Missy Saxton.

Johnson is an Instructional Advisor & Accessibility Resource Services liaison for EMCC who works on the college’s Scooba campus. Ford teaches English and creative writing on EMCC’s Golden Triangle campus.

The CPFP is a one-year leadership development program focusing on public policy and advocacy for Mississippi’s community colleges.

Members of the CPFP cohort, which was comprised of educators from across the state, met monthly in sessions focused on leadership, networking, policy and advocacy. They attended a legislative summit in Washington, D.C., April 8-11 where they met with Mississippi’s U.S. Congressional representatives and senators, their staff members and other national education policy leaders.

Among other things, the cohort advocated for the expansion of Pell Grant eligibility for short-term programs at private nonprofit and public institutions for select programs of study.

“Advocacy leadership is about relationship building and keeping abreast of current policy and issues our community colleges face in Mississippi,” Johnson said. “Leaning into the table and keeping those relationships open are crucial to affecting change for our students and community colleges as a whole.” 

“This program has been an amazing experience,” Ford said. “From the people I've met to the culminating trip to Washington, DC, CPFP was a major highlight of this past year.”

The CPFP program was created in Mississippi in 2012, with a new cohort of participants named each year.

“This has been a phenomenal experience and honor that I will remember,” Johnson said. “The relationships made with our fellow cohort members are what makes this program so unique. We can call on each other.”