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Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS)–Nat’l Pres-Elect
Assoc Prof, Agricultural Economics & Rural Sociology
College of Agriculture, Communities, and Environment
Kentucky State University
Marcus Bernard is currently an Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology at Kentucky State University and an Interdisciplinary Research Leader Fellow (alum) with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. His research focuses on resilience and food security through a community-based participatory research lens and seeks to understand how marginalized groups build community through relationships and resistance. Prior to this, he served as the Director of the Rural Training and Research Center for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/ Land Assistance Fund in Epes, Alabama. There, he led an 8-member team in developing workshops and trainings for socially disadvantaged farmers and landowners, cooperatives, outreach to low-income rural communities, and developed partnerships with land-grant universities across the Southern United States. Bernard’s dedication to rural development originated from his own rural roots in North Carolina on his family’s small produce operation. Throughout his career, he has integrated working for and researching rural-based organizations and communities. Academically, Bernard has built on his relationships with community organizations, small businesses, and farm families to research economic development, public health, and opportunities for youth in agriculture throughout the Black Belt Region. He completed his doctoral studies at the University of Kentucky in Rural Sociology and Medical Sociology where his studies focused on intersections of race, gender, and class. His dissertation research snapshots these intersections through a gendered lens on how Black men farming construct their ideas about masculinity and gender roles. For his MS in Agricultural Economics, which he received from North Carolina A&T State University, his thesis research focused on access to health care providers and utilization of health care across the 12 state Black Belt Region. Bernard builds on his professional experiences as practitioner and academic in his current role at Kentucky State University by facilitating connections between research and outreach.
Co-Founder and Chief of Heart, A Greater Good Foundation
Cody K Cotton is the Co-founder of A Greater Good Foundation and Vice President of Communications. He acquired a Bachelors of Arts in Criminology, with a minor in communications from Valparaiso University. While attending “Valpo,” he was heavily impactful on campus as he co-founded two organizations and remained active in other university involvement. His perseverance in character was fostered by 4 years of Division-1 football, as he adopted a role for leadership and also an ambitious drive to become more.
Following graduation in May, that same month Cody was blessed to start working on the foundation immediately along with his business partners/brothers. As V.P. of Communications, he handles community involvement, oversees relationships, and help structure ways for mentees and volunteers to become a part of AGGF.
Since then, he has spoken with schools, organizations, and excelled his passion of speaking with a recent TEDx Talk. He has continued to travel, speak, and educate throughout the Chicagoland area and have progressive plans to impact more. Cody is a current grad student at Maharishi International University. He is accompanied by his beautiful wife and his two sons.
Founder/Executive Director of Foster Advocates
Hoang Murphy is the Founder/Executive Director of Foster Advocates, a nonprofit that improves the child welfare system in Minnesota by providing advocacy, policy, and organizing with former foster care recipients and impacted communities. A former high school English teacher and debate coach, he has seen the importance of amplifying student and family voices. Hoang also has had the honor of serving as the Public Policy Fellow with the United States Department of Education as part of the Obama Administration.
As a former foster care recipient he knows that children and families must, and absolutely can, have a seat at the policymaking table. He works to ensure that those most impacted by current inequities have a voice in making decisions and crafting solutions. Hoang is a proud first-generation college graduate, with a B.A. from Syracuse University, where he majored in Policy Studies, and a M.S., Ed. from the Johns Hopkins University. In his spare time, he likes to brag about the Eastside of St. Paul, cook, and lament about the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Current IRL Fellow, Cohort 6 and Founder/Executive Director of Cara C. Pugh, Consulting LLC
Cara Pugh is dedicated to transforming circumstances of typically overlooked and underestimated communities. With her influential, charismatic, and healing presence, her magic is facilitating and co-creating high expectations for the process and outcomes of reimagining equitable policies, learning, and community power.
Pugh received a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy, a double minor in Education and African American & Diaspora Studies from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She also has a master’s in education, from the University of Missouri, St. Louis. She has served in fellowships with the North Carolina Public School Forum, WomenNC, and Forward Through Ferguson to learn the intricacies of equitable K-12 education policy. Additionally, Cara pursued meaningful classroom experiences with Breakthrough Collaborative, the Emily K Center, Teach For America, and EAGLE Tower Grove East so that she could view policy through the lens of an educator and experience firsthand the role of a community leader. As a community organizer with WEPOWER and campaign manager for SLPS Board of Education member, Alisha Sonnier, Cara organized get out the vote actions and power meetings with residents of East St. Louis and St. Louis amidst the pandemic to achieve economic justice and education policy wins.
Currently, as an Interdisciplinary Research Leadership Fellow with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the founder of Cara C. Pugh, Consulting LLC, Pugh coaches and supports community leaders, residents, and community-based organizations about power building and holding power through policy and systems level change.
Founder and Executive Director of Project Momentum, Inc. (PMI)
PMI is a community-based organization in rural eastern North Carolina that provides substance abuse counseling and related services. Throughout her career, Mysha has worked tirelessly to arrest health disparities that plague rural African American communities. For 15 years, she has partnered with academic institutions to engage in community-based participatory research projects and led numerous community engagement initiatives. These partnerships have catapulted PMI into new spaces and enabled Mysha and her staff to play key roles in several NIH grants seeking to advance health equity research, and intervention development and implementation. Presently, Mysha is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Fellow, enabling to her further expand the services of PMI. Mysha serves on a several community advisory committees and is the principal investigator of a 3-year substance abuse and misuse initiative funded by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable trust. Additionally, Mysha is a founding partner of the PRIME Collective, LLC, a community consulting group providing strategic insight and direction to researchers seeking to incorporate community engagement principles into their programs of research. Moreover, the PRIME Collective, LLC supports investigators in addressing barriers that stifle community participation in academic research.