About Empower

Founded in 2014, an independent, nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to removing barriers to opportunity so all Mississippians can flourish.

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

Grant Callen

Grant Callen

Founder & President

Grant is a sixth generation Mississippian who grew up in Laurel. He founded Empower Mississippi in 2014 to ensure that every Mississippian has access to a high quality education and meaningful work.

Russ Latino

Senior Vice President

A south Mississippi native, Russ brings a passion for Mississippi and extensive public policy and legal experience to Empower Mississippi. In his role as Senior Vice President, Russ heads up the policy team and plays a key role in strategy, coalition building, and advocacy.

Elyse Marcellino

Elyse Marcellino

Vice President for Education

Elyse is the Vice President for Education of Empower Mississippi. In her position, Elyse oversees education policy and lobbying, and works to attract high-quality schools to Mississippi.

J. Robertson

Contributing Fellow

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

Gina Metzger

Gina Metzger

Director of Operations

Gina is the Director of Operations. In her position, Gina oversees day-to-day activities of the office, including human resources, bookkeeping, and compliance.

Joanna Holbert

Joanna Holbert

Director of Communications

Joanna is the Director of Communications. She is responsible for Empower Mississippi’s overall communications strategy, including branding, public relations, web presence, and social media.

Katie Elliott

Katie Elliott

Executive Assistant and Development Connector

Katie is the Executive Assistant to the President and Development Connector. In her position, Katie works with the President providing high-level support to the organization.

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.