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Mississippi Coordinators

Devon Brenner (EPFP '04-05)
Special Assistant to the Vice President for Education Initiatives, Office of Research and Economic Development
Professor, Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education
Mississippi State University

Devon Brenner is professor of teacher education and Special Assistant to the Vice President of Research for Education Initiatives at Mississippi State University. She recently completed a year-long fellowship in the office of U.S. Senator Thad Cochran where she focused on K-12 and higher education policy. Her research focuses on rural teacher education and education policy. 

Kristen Dechert (EPFP ’16-17)
Communication Director/Project Manager
Research and Curriculum Unit
Mississippi State University

Kristen Dechert directs communication, research, and evaluation at the Research and Curriculum Unit (RCU) at Mississippi State. In this role, she oversees production of several communications projects, including magazines, issue briefs, newsletters, websites, promotional toolkits, and a podcast. She also manages several research and evaluation projects for the center. Prior to joining the RCU in 2011, she was a technical writer and editor for MSU's Energy Institute. She has taught technical writing, literature, and academic-writing courses and has served on textbook editorial review boards and as an expert reviewer for linguistic research. Dechert holds bachelor's and master's degrees in English from the University of Montevallo and Mississippi State University, respectively, and is working toward her doctoral degree in public policy and administration at MSU.

Tyson Elbert (EPFP ’07-08)
Founder and Consultant

Tyson Elbert is the founder of AdvocacyBuild, a Washington, DC based communications firm. He brings a practitioner’s perspective to advising special interests, major non-profits, philanthropies, and membership organizations. Tyson works with these groups to improve their ability to advocate by providing grassroots message training, implementing organizing strategies to achieve results, and uniting powerful data with storytelling. He is currently obsessed with leveraging the power of relationships to drive systemic, social and organizational policy change. 

Prior to AdvocacyBuild, Tyson spent nearly two decades working in higher education, including the John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development at Mississippi State University, the Education Policy Center at The University of Alabama, and the Rural Policy Research Institute at The University of Missouri.

Tyson also serves as a co-coordinator for the Mississippi Education Policy Fellowship Program and recently directed the Institute for Educational Leadership’s Civil Rights Learning Journey in partnership with Freedom 64, a non-profit organization dedicated to youth leadership development and social justice in the American South.

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