Board of Directors
Jim Johnston, M.D.
Jim was born and raised in Jackson. After graduating from Princeton University and Tulane Medical School, he completed his internal medicine residency at Mayo Clinic and gastroenterology fellowship at UCLA. Jim then returned to Jackson to begin a 34-year gastroenterology practice. Since retiring in 2012, Jim has worked to help clean up blight in Jackson and mobilize neighborhood revitalization around the city.
Ms. Willa R. Womack is a lifelong resident of Jackson, Mississippi. Ms. Womack has owned and operated for the last 24 years Classic Printing, a successful union print shop located in the historic Farish Street District of Jackson, MS.
Ms. Womack says the most important work of her life has been helping and empowering her neighbors in the Battlefield Park Area to improve their lives and community. Since she began that work, calls for police service have been dramatically reduced, home ownership in the historically impoverished area is up by more than 35% and quality of life in the area is greatly improved. Ms. Womack is demonstrating the principle of allowing the community to tell you what it needs and then helping them to implement the plans they devise.
Vernon W. Hartley, Sr.
Mr. Vernon W. Hartley, Sr. is a community and environmental activist in Jackson, MS. Mr. Hartley spent the last 30 years in the US Air Force and Reserves while also working for the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the Solid Waste division for the City of Jackson. Vernon served as the Commissioner of the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority, its Executive Committee and the Environmental Board for the Airports Council International-North America. Mr. Hartley graduated with a degree in Community Health Sciences and a Master's of Public Health from the University of Southern Mississippi. Along with Revitalize Mississippi, Vernon is currently an active board member with Keep Jackson Beautiful, the Jackson Association of Neighborhoods and the Pecan Park Neighborhood Association.
Deborah Perkins was appointed in September 2015 as Co-President of John & Vera Mae Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation, Justice and Christian Community Development headquartered in West Jackson, MS. Deborah directs the finance department, HUD housing renovations for working families, the Wellness Nature Park, internships and community service opportunities. Deborah also works with local community organizations, colleges, churches and businesses to eliminate blight and clean up debris. Deborah believes that “joy is living beyond-self.”
Deborah was born in Los Angeles, CA in January 1960. Her parents Drs. John M. and Vera Mae Perkins – after being called by God to serve and teach the poor in their home state of MS – relocated back home to Mississippi, later that same year. Reconciliation and Community Development have impacted Deborah her whole life: she is committed to restoring, renovating and reviving West Jackson, one block at a time.
Max Arinder, Ph.D.
Max is a Mississippi native and longtime Jackson resident. He graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a B.A. degree in general psychology and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees experimental psychology. Max retired in June 2015 after thirty-four years of service to the Mississippi Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review (PEER), having served fifteen years as Chief Analyst for Planning and Support, and nineteen years as Executive Director. His experience and knowledge are great assets for Revitalize Mississippi.
Todd Sherwood, M.D.
Todd, a longtime Jackson area resident, graduated from Mississippi College and received his medical and ophthalmology training from the University of Mississippi. Todd spent most of his career as Section Chief in the Division of Ophthalmology at the Jackson VA Medical Center. His passion for helping clean up abandoned properties and his chain saw skills have been essential.
Andy, a graduate of Mississippi College School of Law, has been a resident of Jackson since 2009. Andy began working with Jim Johnston and the Wider Net program in 2013 on a pro bono basis, while working for the Adams and Reese law firm. Andy helped Jim navigate through the legal issues related to cleaning up blight and assisted in the formation of Revitalize Mississippi in 2016. Since coming on board full-time in April 2017, Andy has been working daily with Jim to find sustainable, community-based solutions for local neighborhoods suffering from blight.