bOARD of directors

Bridgett Gager Davis – Secretary

Bridgett Gager-Davis was born and raised in Gautier, MS. She has been the secretary to the board for Celebrate Sisters Foundation since March 2018.  Bridgett is a 1996 graduate of Pascagoula High School.  Shortly after graduating she was married, and began her journey as a wife and mother.  After 1 year of being a stay at home mother she opted to return to the workforce. Bridgett has worked in customer service since 1998 with experience in retail, medical, veterinary, and finally landed in banking in 2006. She had wanted to follow in her mother’s footsteps for quite some time and in 2015, when she had the offer to work for the very same bank as her mother, she jumped at the opportunity.  Since then Bridgett has worked her way up from Teller/Customer Service Representative to Branch Operations Officer, Teller Trainer, and Vault Teller for the Association.

In her spare time Bridgett has taken on a few hobbies: crochet (taught by her mother), glass etching, and sewing (inspired by her mother). These hobbies have allowed her to make beautiful keepsakes for weddings, anniversaries, Christmas, as well as new babies.

Edmund Graham, MEd

Edmund serves as the Minority Serving Institutions Coordinator for the Rackham
Graduate School at the University of Michigan. Through this role, he supports graduate
and professional programs in their outreach and engagement efforts with MSIs, towards
developing bidirectional partnerships that expand access to and through U-M graduate
and professional programs for historically marginalized student populations. Throughout
his career, Edmund has sought to address systemic and systematic inequities through
institutional self-assessment to improve pathways for students often at the margins to
bring them into spaces of mattering. Edmund has received a B.S. in Marketing from
Grambling State University and an M.Ed. in Work and Human Resource Education from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Ja’Larna Grant, MD – Co-Founder

Dr. Ja’Larna J. Grant, MD is an Obstetrician/Gynecologist currently practicing at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare in Olive Branch, Mississippi. Dr. Grant received M.S in Biomedical Science from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (Georgia Campus). She earned her medical degree in 2012 from the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, MS. She completed residency training in OB/GYN at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN. Dr. Grant specializes in women’s health care and has a special interest in obstetrics, contraception, and preventive medicine. Dr. Grant is passionate about patient education and decreasing health disparities in minority communities. When she is not delivering babies, Dr. Grant enjoys working out, running, playing and watching basketball, spending time with family, and enjoying great food!

Ja’Wanda S. Grant, PhD – President, Co-Founder

Dr. Ja’Wanda S. Grant, PhD joined ORNL in June 2020 as University and Student Affairs lead for the Office of Research Excellence. Dr. Grant has a doctoral degree in pharmaceutical sciences from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Mississippi–Oxford. She attended Higher Education Resource Services Leadership Institute for Women, a nationally renowned leadership development institute for women in higher education, in 2017. Prior to ORNL, Grant served as the Special Assistant to the Provost for Scholarship Scholar Development and Institutional Alliances, and Founding Director of the Honors Program at Xavier University of Louisiana. Grant holds memberships in numerous education- and leadership-focused professional organizations and has received awards including Change Agents for Mississippi and the American Association for Cancer Research Minority Scholar Award. Dr. Grant has coordinated and directed various academic success and summer research programs, conferences, and trainings. She has a passion for mentoring and supporting students’ development as scholars and leaders. During leisure time, she enjoys exploring small towns, parks, and coffee shops, staycations, and enjoying or performing live music. 

Judy Grant – Treasurer

Judy A. Grant was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina where she received her education. She has been married to Jake Grant since 1977, and together they raised two daughters, Ja’Wanda and Ja’Larna. Judy passionately serves her family, her church and her community. She also enjoys cooking and baking, spending time with family, and traveling. Judy is retiree of Hancock Bank and now works in service on the Board of Directors of Coastal Family Health Center, and Celebrate Sisters Foundation, and in ministry at Full Gospel Holiness Church (Gulfport, MS).

Tyra Gross, PhD

Dr. Tyra Gross is an Assistant Professor of Public Health at Xavier University of
Louisiana. She is particularly interested in maternal & health disparities along the lines
of race, age and income as well as the intersections of these categories. Her research
philosophy stems from a strengths/asset-based framework to focus on what is already
working to promote wellness and prevent disease in communities and understand how
those efforts can be expanded. Dr. Gross is also an undergraduate instructor and
mentors student researchers. She currently directs the Preparing Mentors and Advisors
at Xavier (PMAX) program for Xavier’s NIH-funded BUILD program. Dr. Gross is completing the Certified Personal and Executive Coach (CPEC) program with the CaPP Institute. In her free time, she enjoys being with her husband, Bantu and three little kids, Amari, Nia and Kalel.

Leslie King, MEd

Leslie King is a St. Martin, Mississippi native that has over ten years of experience
working with youth and young adults in various capacities. She has served as an academic advisor, taught life skills to at risk college freshmen, and counseled college students and youth of various ages. King also has extensive experience in individual counseling, group therapy, and marriage and family therapy. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication from the University of South Alabama as well as a Master of Arts degree in Journalism and a Master of Education degree in Community Counseling from the University of Mississippi. King enjoys reading, writing, traveling, mentoring, exploring the outdoors, being a foodie, and being active in her church. She has also taught and spoken in various conferences and has hosted youth summits on the Gulf Coast. Currently, she is a counselor/advisor for a program that services low-income and
first-generation college students at the University of Maryland.

Twana Marx, CIIP

Twana Marx is an Applications Specialist and Workflow Analyst who works in the
Healthcare IT sector. She has more than 20 years of experience in the field of Radiology
as a technologist, educator, and system administrator. Currently, she is a Senior Clinical
Applications Specialist at Konica Minolta Healthcare Americas. In addition to her
certification as a Registered Radiologic Technologist, Twana also holds a license as a
Certified Imaging Informatics Professional from the American Board of Imaging

Her love for technology in healthcare has compelled her to volunteer and serve on several committees throughout the industry. She currently serves on the Membership and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion committees for the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine.

In addition to her radiology career, Twana is an entrepreneur. As the owner of Creative Marx, an online jewelry boutique, she has designed jewelry for celebrities and public figures for more than a decade. Twana often lends her talents to her local community via donations, events and the like. This hobby turned business, allows for a creative outlet and artistic space. Whether it is software or jewelry, she loves to share information and volunteer in multiple capacities. Twana grew up in Williamsburg, Virginia. She served in the United States Air Force and has lived in many cities throughout the country. She now resides in Biloxi, MS with her husband, Thomas. They both enjoy traveling and experiencing new cultures.

Leslie Zanders, MS, PMP – Committee Chair, Scholarship & Awards Ceremony

Leslie Zanders is an Information Technology professional currently working in the Manufacturing (Shipbuilding) industry.  She has more than twenty (20) years of experience in the Information Technology field as a Technical Project Manager and Software Programmer/Developer.  Currently she is the Software Development Manager at Halter Marine, Inc.  Leslie has a Bachelor of Science, Business Administration (BSBA) from the University of Southern Mississippi; a Master of Information Systems (MIS) from the University of Phoenix; and holds a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.

Leslie is a native of Pass Christian, Mississippi and enjoys learning new technology, being active in her church; volunteering when and where she can lend her extensive experience to individuals, community and professional boards or organizations; traveling (particularly cruises); and spending time with family and friends.