Steps Coalition



The role of the board is to guard the integrity of the Coalition, assure that all Coalition activities address Steps Coalition's five 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 Gulf 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, individuals representing civic organizations, and individuals representing non-profit organizations to strike a balance between community leadership and nonprofit leadership.


Board Vice President

Cindy 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 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.


Board President/Acting Treasure

Marcia 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 public housing and Section 8. Marcia has been a member of 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 education, she is here to work. Her commitment to the five pillars of 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 Steps Coalition on the Gulf Coast and began her service to the board in January 2016.



Jackie, born in Bogota, Colombia, immigrated to New York City with her family when she was 5 months old. 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 Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance volunteer, a member of 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. Her favorite quote is, "Be the change you want to see in the world."- Ghandi. Jackie began her Steps Board Term in January 2016



Bill Chandler, an eyewitness to brutal immigration raids during the 1950’s, has been continuously involved in advocating for the 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 for that organization. MIRA has grown into a major force led by a board of primarily 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 lives in Jackson with their two dogs and two cats. Bill began his term of service with Steps' Board of Directors in 2013.