Our Board


The role of the board is to guard the integrity of the Coalition, assure that all Coalition activities address the STEPS Coalition's 5 social justice principles and monitor that there is a balance among policy analysis, advocacy and community organizing. The Board ensures the coalition's financial and legal integrity and hires and evaluates the Executive Director.

Board Members are active social justice leaders within the Coast community, including persons not associated with a particular organization. Membership reflects a balance of geographic location, gender, race, culture, ability, skills, and experience. The Board of Directors is composed of a mixture of individual members, and individuals representing civic organizations, and individuals representing non-profit organizations to strike a balance between community leadership and nonprofit leadership.




 Chris is an attorney in private practice in Gulfport. He is a critical and analytical thinker who can creatively engage the public in important conversations. He currently serves on the board of the Boys and Girls Club and is active member of several civic organizations on the coast. Chris is committed to the Steps' mission and the five social justice pillars.


CSingletaryPic.jpgCindy is a lifelong resident of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and has been an active member of the disability rights movement for over 10 years. She has been an active member of the STEPS Coalition and its Board of Directors. She pursues her passion of equal access for all through her work with disability organizations and her service on varying boards and committees. A majority of her work is with youth and young adults with and without disabilities knowing this is where the seeds of change start best.


jaleasa_photos_-_1_(6).jpgMarcia is a retired commander with the United States Navy where her areas of expertise were counseling, Human resources, leadership and legal and public affairs.  She served on the board of Gulfport Chamber of Commerce, and is currently a member of the Gaston Point CDC.  In addition she has done extensive work in the public housing, and  Section 8. Marcia has been a member of the Steps Coalition for several years and is committed to the inclusion of all people in the work of Steps.



Jona Burton is a Gulfport resident by way of Brooklyn, NY. With over 10 years of experience in the fields of social work and jaleasa_photos_-_1_(5).jpgeducation, she is here to work. Her commitment to the five pillars of the STEPS Coalition impacts all aspects of her work with individuals, schools and communities. Her passion for youth empowerment and servant leadership fuels her investment in racial equity work and creating dialogue around issues such as oppression, entitlement, privilege and access. As the Coordinator of Student Life and Career Services on the Gulf Park Campus of The University of Southern Mississippi, she is invested in fostering personal and professional development in students. She serves on the United Way Volunteer Center Advisory Board and embraces opportunities to provide service. She is enthusiastic about contributing to the impact of the STEPS Coalition on the Gulf Coast and began her service to the Board January 2016.


jaleasa_photos_-_1_copy.jpgJackie, born in Bogota, Colombia, immigrated to New York City with her family when she was 5 months. Jackie’s mother said “if you can dream everything is possible” and inspired Jackie in her life and work. Jackie is one of the Founders of the Alliance for The Education of Undocumented Youth (now joining with United We Dream), a MIRA volunteer, a member of the MS Business Women, any Unemployment Support Group on the Gulf Coast, and youth minister and past CCD teacher for Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church. She owns Gulf Coast Myofascial Release Physical Therapy in Ocean Springs. She lives in North Biloxi and is blessed to be married 26 years to Scott Cooper, who has helped her raise 3 spirit filled children on one income. Favorite quote, Be The Change You Want To See In The World- Ghandi. Jackie lives in Ocean Springs and began her Steps Board Term January 2016 


jaleasa_photos_-_1_(7).jpgBill Chandler, an eyewitness to brutal immigration raids during the 1950’s, has been continuously involved in advocating for rights and security for immigrant workers.

In 2000 he brought together immigrants, labor, civil rights, religious, and human rights activists to form the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance(MIRA) and serves as the Executive Director. MIRA has grown into a major force led by a board primarily of African and Latino leaders and is internationally recognized for its efforts to build unity among people of color. Bill has served the struggle for affirmative action in the Labor Movement, as every union he has organized in the South are led by women of color.  In 2009 he was named a Purpose Prize Fellow. Bill has six children and seven grand children. He is married to immigration attorney Patricia Ice and live in Jackson with their tw0 dogs and two cats.  Bill began his term of service with Steps Board of Directors in 2013.


jaleasa_photos_-_1_(2).jpgYvette is interested in the needs of her community especially the elderly and youth. She promotes seat belt safety and safe driving at schools, health fairs and other venues with a focus is on education of youth and their safety.  Yvette takes a special interest and joy in listening to the concerns of young people.  Yvette lost her two children in an automobile accident and has turned that loss into channeling compassion for those who have experienced similar loss. Yvette participates in a monthly grief support group to help those suffering the loss of their child or children. Yvette Pearse was born and raised in Brooklyn NY and traveled with her husband for twenty years during his service in the Air Force.  They settled in MS in 1998 where she now resides in Gulfport  with her  husband.  Yvette began her service to Steps Board in January 2016. 


Other members of the Board of Directors: Pastor Eric Dickey, Barbara Irvin, and Glenn Cobb.


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Steps Coalition
610 Water Street, Biloxi, MS 39530
(228) 435-3113

Economic Justice | Environmental Justice | Affordable Housing | Preservation of Historical Communities | Human Rights