The Mississippi Center for Justice Announces New Leadership During Its 10th Anniversary Year

October 30, 2013

For Immediate Release: October 30, 2013

Contact: Diana Lee, diana@berlinrosen.com, 646-200-5322

Jackson, MS – The Mississippi Center for Justice (MCJ) is pleased to announce it has named Reilly Morse the Center’s new President and CEO. Currently Managing Director, Morse will take over November 1 for founding President and CEO Martha Bergmark, who will maintain a leadership role at the Center as she embarks on a new project.

The leadership change comes as MCJ celebrates ten years of advancing racial and economic justice. Since its founding in 2003 with the goal of creating a home-grown organization that could achieve real and lasting change, the Mississippi Center for Justice has expanded to a staff of more than 30 at offices in Jackson, Biloxi and Indianola, and has a growing operating budget of $4 million.

“At the Mississippi Center for Justice, we have dared to imagine Mississippi as the social justice state,” said founding president and CEO Martha Bergmark, who will continue to play an active role at the Center, serving as senior counsel and as a member of its board of directors. “By daring to dream and to act, we are helping to make it so. We have built a secure foundation and a robust network of supporters, and scored important legal and public policy wins on behalf of thousands of Mississippians.”

Bergmark added: “I cannot imagine a better qualified person to assume leadership of the Center at this momentous time than Reilly Morse. Over the past 8 years, Reilly has demonstrated the vision, commitment and creativity it will take to catapult our work to the next level. Under his leadership, we’ll continue to make great strides in advancing racial and economic justice in our state.”

A third-generation Gulf Coast lawyer who began work at the Center just weeks after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, Morse has served as Managing Director the Center starting in 2013 and previously served as policy director and leader of housing and community development campaigns. He led MCJ’s multi-year campaign to provide essential legal services to hurricane survivors and ensure fairness in the recovery process. Thanks to Morse’s litigation and advocacy, 6,000 families excluded from previous housing recovery programs are now receiving the benefit of $172 million in additional recovery assistance.

“It is a great honor to lead the Mississippi Center for Justice into its second decade,” said Morse. “Mississippians who strive for better conditions in education, health care, fair credit, and housing are facing unprecedented challenges. The Center is going to be right there with them—advocating in communities, the policy arena and the courtroom. We are grateful for the years of leadership from Martha, and we’ll continue to work with her to advance racial and economic justice in our state and across the country.”

Under Morse’s leadership, the Center will continue to tackle the most pressing issues facing Mississippi and the nation today. The Center plans to:

  • Continue to fight predatory payday lending in Mississippi—which has the highest concentration of payday lenders per capita in the nation—and launch an innovative new campaign to create alternatives to predatory lending.
  • Increase efforts to ensure every Mississippi child’s right to a high-quality and adequately funded public education.
  • Build out Mississippi’s first statewide fair housing enforcement effort with new federal support.
  • Develop a new medical-legal partnership with the University of Mississippi Medical Center and to broaden public participation in the benefits provided by the Affordable Care Act.
  • Continue to push for a full recovery for disaster victims along the Gulf Coast and elsewhere.

More on the Mississippi Center for Justice’s ten-year record of growth and forthcoming projects can be found here.

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