About Empower

Founded in 2014, an independent, nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to removing barriers to opportunity so all Mississippians can flourish. We’re a solutions center, working with stakeholders of all political stripes to tackle Mississippi’s biggest challenges.

The Problem

We’ve found that many Mississippians are burdened by laws that make it difficult to get a good education and find meaningful work. But we believe everyone should have the opportunity to make choices that improve their lives.


Every child in Mississippi should have access to a great education.


Every Mississippian should have the opportunity to find meaningful work.

Our Strategy

  1. Promote public policy solutions
  2. Provide empirical research on key issues
  3. Share the stories of Mississippians
  4. Educate and engage citizens
  5. Support candidates in elections

Our Experience

We are a team of Mississippians with decades of experience advocating for policy change. We have a track record of changing laws that were barriers to success and have helped elect candidates who share our mission through Empower PAC.

We care deeply about our state and have built a network of over 25,000 people who have partnered with us for change.

Our Vision

Mississippians should have opportunities to make choices that improve their lives. We envision a Mississippi where:

  • Every child has access to a quality education.
  • Parents have the freedom to choose the best educational setting for their children.
  • People have the opportunity to find meaningful work and provide for their families.
  • A fresh start is attainable for all citizens, including those who have made mistakes.

Our Team

Our team is made up of Mississippians who understand both the blessings and challenges of the Magnolia state. We were raised here, educated here, and have invested our lives here. We are committed to helping Mississippians succeed over the long haul, and with decades of public policy and political experience in Mississippi, have built the largest and most influential advocacy organization in the state.

Grant Callen

Grant Callen

Founder & CEO

Grant is a sixth generation Mississippian who grew up in Laurel. He founded Empower Mississippi in 2014 as a solution center, tackling Mississippi’s biggest challenges so everyone can rise.

Russ Latino


Russ brings a passion for Mississippi and extensive public policy and legal experience to Empower Mississippi. In his role as President, Russ plays a critical role in strategy development, and oversees our public policy, government affairs, and advocacy efforts.

Elyse Marcellino

Elyse Marcellino

Director of New Schools Project

Elyse is the Director of New Schools Project. This project, to be publicly launched in late 2021, aims to come alongside education entrepreneurs and help them start high quality charter and private schools in Mississippi.

Steven Randle

Director of Justice & Work

Steven is the Director of Justice & Work for Empower Mississippi. In this role, he is responsible for the implementation of strategies to help shape and execute policies pertaining to criminal justice and employability issues.

Brett Kittredge

Vice President of Marketing & Communications

In his position as Vice President of Marketing & Communications, Brett oversees marketing and communications strategies for a portfolio of issue initiatives that includes education, expanding work opportunities, and justice.

Joanna Holbert

Joanna Holbert

Director of Outreach

Joanna is the Director of Outreach. She is responsible for strengthening Empower Mississippi’s outreach to individuals who are most affected by education, work, and justice public policies, with a commitment to providing a platform for these impacted voices.

Gina Metzger

Gina Metzger

Director of Operations & Events

Gina is the Director of Operations & Events. In her role, Gina organizes all special events, oversees project management and administration of the organization’s human resources, accounting, and compliance systems.


J. Robertson

Fellow on Criminal Justice Reform

J. is a Fellow at Empower Mississippi. In this position, he plays an advisory role on criminal justice reform policy.

Christopher Koopman

Fellow on Regulation & Innovation

Chris works with Empower to examine the impact of regulation in Mississippi on labor force participation rates and wages, as well as providing valuable research and insights on how technology and innovation can improve education, job opportunities and our justice system.

Conor Norris

Fellow on Entrepreneurship

Conor works with Empower to review government regulations and provide reform recommendations for increasing entrepreneurship.

Matt Ladner

Fellow on Education

Matt is a Fellow at Empower Mississippi. In this position, he plays an advisory role on education policy.

Joe Bishop-Henchman

Fellow on Tax Policy

Joseph is a Fellow at Empower Mississippi. In this position, he plays an advisory role on tax policy.

Empower Mississippi works to Educate, Engage, and Elect Mississippians dedicated to removing barriers to opportunity.

Empower Mississippi Foundation logo

Empower Mississippi Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working to educate citizens. Contributions are tax deductible for federal income tax purposes.

Empower Mississippi logo

Empower Mississippi is a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization working to engage citizens in the public policy process. Contributions are not tax deductible for federal income tax purposes

Empower PAC logo

Empower PAC is a state political action committee working to recruit, train, and elect candidates for the legislature who are committed to ensuring that every Mississippian has access to a high quality education and meaningful work.