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Meet Our Team

 
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Dr. Susan M. Glisson

CO-FOUNDER AND PARTNER

Dr. Susan M. Glisson, a native of Evans, GA, earned bachelor’s degrees in religion and in history from Mercer University, a master’s degree in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi, and a Ph.D. in American Studies from the College of William and Mary. Her focus is social justice and she has been working to change conditions that have created a legacy of inequities for more than 20 years.

Offering years of practice-based evidence in community building, advocacy and public policy, Susan works with organizations seeking to make the greatest collective impact in creating inclusive and humane work and social environments and to develop the capacity to form sustainable community trust. This work includes workshops, retreats, research as a basis for building networks and communities of practice to increase individual learning and collective action for social justice. Her motivation is simple: "My mother taught me to leave places better than I found them.”

As founding director of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, Susan cultivated lasting partnerships with organizations promoting reconciliation and improved community relations both across the United States and in Belfast, Northern Ireland (with YouthLink) and in South Africa (with the Wits Centre for Diversity Studies, the Centre for the Advancement of Non-Racialism & Democracy, and The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice).  At the Winter Institute, an internationally recognized civil rights and social justice center located at the University of Mississippi, Susan engaged in years of community-based trust-building and advocacy.  She supported impoverished communities in the Mississippi Delta in securing basic services. She co-founded a faith-based social justice organization devoted to affordable housing and local empowerment. In 2006, she co-created the Steps Coalition, a broad-based, multiracial group on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, founded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to secure affordable housing, equitable economic recovery, and environmental sustainability.  

As an advocate for social justice, Susan served as special liaison to the Philadelphia Coalition, which issued a call for justice in the 1964 Neshoba civil rights murders in a commemorative event on the fortieth anniversary of the murders. The event and subsequent work helped lead to the first state conviction in the case in 2005. During this time, Susan served the local community as a media liaison during the two-week trial. She helped create and served the Tallahatchie County Emmett Till Memorial Commission in 2007, which offered an apology in the miscarriage of justice in the Emmett Till case in 1955. She has dedicated years of service working with educators to increase civil rights education in schools and in fact, spearheaded the passage of SB2718, which mandates teaching civil and human rights history in all Mississippi classrooms.  

She has been widely recognized for her leadership, including:  

  •  A Hearts on Fire Visionary of the Month  

  • The Fannie Lou Hamer Institute Humanitarian of the Year in 2012

  • The International Award for promoting civil and human rights around the world from the ·International Organization of Human Rights Agencies in 2012

  • Named by Southern Living in 2013 as a “Hero of the New South

  • Honored in September, 2016, on NPR as a “Boundbreakers: People Who Make a Difference

  • Named by the Mississippi Center for Justice as a Champion of Justice for participation as a plaintiff, one of "The Courageous Thirteen," in Barber v. Bryant, a case that challenged Mississippi's discriminatory HB1523 bill against the LGBTQIA community


Susan has numerous publications and been recognized in the media for her work, often called upon now as a public intellectual in matters of race. Susan has spoken at many events including at the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture in Charleston, SC, and The Summit: World Change through Faith and Justice, Sojourners Conference in Washington, D.C., at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and at Initiatives of Change International in Caux, Switzerland.

She currently serves as a member of the National Advisory Board to the Myrlie Evers-Williams Institute for Elimination of Health Disparities at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. She also chairs the Mississippi State Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights and is an International Researcher for the Apartheid Archive Project at the University of the Witwatersrand.

In 2016, Susan retired from the Winter Institute. She and her partner, Charles H. Tucker, co-founded Sustainable Equity, LLC, to work with communities, public institutions and businesses to foster effective historical dialogue in order to build trusting and respectful relationships. Susan is deeply committed and experienced in the work of transformation, truth-telling and community trust-building. Her focus continues to be on social justice and her ultimate goal remains achieving sustainable equity.​