Meet the Board

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Derrick Dyess

Derrick Dyess is from Bassfield, MS and currently resides in Diamondhead, MS. Derrick served in the United States Coast Guard until a service connected disability forced him into permanent retirement as a decorated Veteran of the US Armed Forces. Since his service, he earned his Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Political Science. During his academic career he received numbers accolades for academic excellence. He earned the Trent Lott Scholarship Award, Political Science Outstanding Student of the Year for 2017-2018, Golden PRIDE Award, induction into the Gama Beta Phi Honors Society. In 2018, he was awarded the Judge R. J. Bishop Award in recognition of overcoming economic hardships in the pursuit of education. He has since worked conducting political research, analysis and provided recommendations of strategy for political campaigns.

Vice President

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Neal Lancaster

Neal Lancaster was born and raised in Corinth, Mississippi. Upon graduating from Corinth High School as a Hall of Fame inductee, Neal attended Millsaps College for a year before transferring to the University of Mississippi. In 2018, Neal graduated from the University of Mississippi with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, and accepted a positive as Head Page in the clerk’s office of the Mississippi House of Representatives. Neal served in that position for the previous two Mississippi legislative sessions. In between those two legislative sessions, Neal worked as an aide de camp and volunteer coordinator on former Attorney General Jim Hood’s gubernatorial campaign for governor. His time on the campaign allowed him to gain a firsthand experience of how the election process works on a statewide basis. Neal resides in Jackson, Mississippi, and is finishing his first year of law school at Mississippi College.

Board of Directors Secretary

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Dr. Robert J. Pauly, Jr.

Dr. Robert J. Pauly, Jr. is Tenured Full Professor of International Development at The University of Southern Mississippi. His research interests focus broadly on the fields of U.S. foreign policy, national security, and homeland security, with emphases on the intersection between transatlantic relations and American policy toward the states of the Greater Middle East. He is the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of eight books, and nearly 50 academic articles, essays, and book chapters, including, most recently, American Nation-Building: Case Studies from Reconstruction to Afghanistan (2017). He co-edits the academic journal White House Studies, works regularly with the Council on Foreign Relations Academic Outreach Initiative, and analyzes U.S. foreign policy and national security issues, with emphases on Europe and the Greater Middle East, for a range of electronic and print media outlets.

Board of Directors Member

Dr. Douglas Bristol, Jr.

Douglas Bristol, Jr. is a historian of the African American experience, U.S. race relations, and War and Society with a focus on World War II. In 2002, he received his Ph.D. with distinction from the University of Maryland, where he studied under Ira Berlin.  In his teaching and research, he focuses on the beliefs, institutions, and strategies that ordinary Americans developed to exercise control over their lives. He joined the Southern Miss history faculty in 2003, where he is an Associate Professor and a Fellow of the Dale Center for the Study of War and Society.  The Smithsonian, Duke University, and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library have awarded him post-doctoral fellowships.  He has published two books: Knights of the Razor: Black Barbers in Slavery and Freedom and Integrating the U.S. Military: Race, Gender, and Sexuality since World War II. His current book project is Behind the Front Lines: Black GIs in Service Units and the Battle for the Military Workplace during World War II. Publications including the Christian Science Monitor and the New York Times along with the PBS documentary Boss: The Black Experience in Business featured his interviews.

Board of Directors Member

Tina Tosto

Tina Tosto is an educator on the Mississippi gulf coast where she currently teaches U.S. History and African American Studies at Pascagoula High School. Originally from Philadelphia, PA, Tina received her B.S. in Secondary Education from Pennsylvania State University. In 2012, she moved to Gulfport to begin her teaching career. While teaching, Tina earned her M.S. in American History with a minor in European History. Tina is a Mississippi fellow with Teaching For Change, an organization in Washington D.C. whose mission is to provide educators, parents, and community members with the tools to create schools that change the world. As a fellow, Tina connects with teachers around the state to share and create resources, as well as facilitate workshops. Tina had the honor of receiving Pascagoula’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Teacher of the Year Award for 2019.  

Special Advisor


Mr. Shows is a strategic partner and former Congressman from the State of Mississippi who continues to work to lobby for a better and safer society. He is tenacious when working for the betterment of society, it’s people, and to the country. He retains personal relationships with many members of the U.S. House and Senate. Ronnie has traveled internationally as a select election observer in Africa and Asia. Ronnie holds degrees in education from the University of Southern Mississippi.

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