Paheadra Robinson Honored with Florence Kelley Consumer Leadership Award

October 6, 2011

The groundbreaking legal work of Mississippi Center for Justice's director of consumer protection, Paheadra Robinson was recognized by the National Consumers League in Washington, DC. Robinson leads a broad coalition of advocates, lawyers and consumers dedicated to saving the homes of Mississippians facing foreclosure, providing assistance to people who’ve fallen into the predatory lending debt trap, and mobilizing communities to change the policy environment in the state.

"Paheadra is an inspiration to the Center and to Mississippi," said Mississippi Center for Justice founding president and CEO, Martha Bergmark. "She has brought her passion to make Mississippi a better place, her expertise in the arena of consumer issues, and her indispensable sense of humor to bear on the often-challenging task of attacking the systemic causes for discrimination in our state."

Robinson's work focuses on helping consumers in Mississippi secure economic justice. Most recently she has been leading the fight to reform payday lending in the state – a particular focus because they are so uniquely dangerous. Predatory lenders destroy families and businesses in Mississippi and across the country. Their short-term, high-interest loans trap consumers in a cycle of mounting debt. With interest rates that can reach 572 percent, anyone who borrows a few hundred dollars to get their car out of the shop can find themselves thousands of dollars in debt.

"We want higher standards that ensure payday lenders do what they say they do rather than hurt individuals and families," said Robinson. "I am confident that we will be able to implement common-sense reform, and we need advocates and policymakers to help by becoming vocally and passionately engaged both at the federal and at the state level."

Robinson has deep roots in Mississippi and is a graduate of Tougaloo College and the University of Mississippi School of Law. In addition to private practice, she served as legislative counsel to three committees in the Mississippi House of Representatives and co-founded the Mississippi-based Fresh Start Foundation to provide direct financial aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina.