Mississippi University for Women Alumni Association will host BLUE, a professional development event, Feb. 8 online and in-person at the Pope Banquet Room of the Hogarth Dining Center on The W’s campus.

BLUE – an acronym for Building Leadership, Understanding and Education – is free for students. Alumni can sponsor a student through a nominal fee. The event is presented by MUWAA Public Relations Committee.

The keynote speaker for the sixth annual event will be Lori Spicer Robertson vice president and chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Alumni panelists will be Dr. Phillip “Flapp” Cockrell, a 2003 alumnus of The W; LeAnn Alexander, a member of the The W Class of 2013 and Elizabeth Yoste Whittington, who graduated from The W in 2000.

“Whether you are a student, at the beginning of your career or an experienced professional, BLUE will offer insights, shared wisdom and motivation,” said Heather Fasciocco Stone, MUWAA president and a 2002 graduate of The W.

Spicer Robertson is founder of The DEI Collective – a collaborative of DEI leaders creating more just work environments and communities, and “chief joymaker” of an experiential membership community created to reconnect women and mothers to a life of joy called Wundher.

Prior to joining St. Jude, Spicer Robinson was vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion for Saks Fifth Avenue.

A Memphis native, Spicer Robertson has held leadership positions with United Way of the Mid-South, First Horizon National Corp. and Regional Medical Center (now called Regional One Health). She also taught business communication as an adjunct professor at the University of Memphis.

Spicer Robertson has received numerous awards for her work, including being named to the Memphis Business Journal’s 2022 Class of 40 Under 40.

Cockrell, who graduated from The W with a Bachelor of Science in family studies, also holds a Master of Science in educational leadership – student affairs administration from Florida International University and a Doctor of Philosophy in urban higher education from Jackson State University.

As president and CEO of The Cockrell Firm, LLC, he has been a justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) trainer, advocate and champion, faculty member, guest lecturer, moderator, facilitator and guest speaker within public and private sectors. Most recently, Cockrell served as the inaugural vice president for campus engagement, diversity, equity and inclusion at Cleveland State University. Prior to joining CSU, he served as vice president for student affairs and vice provost at the University of Toledo from 2016-2021.

Cockrell is a graduate of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges – Pathway to the Presidency Fellowship Program and recently completed the Education Advisory Board – Future Presidents Intensive, where he learned and gained skills to effectively lead institutions of higher learning.

In 2020, Cockrell was recognized as one of Toledo’s Top 20 under 40 and honored by The W as a recipient of the Alumni Service Award.

Alexander, a Starkville native, graduated from The W in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in family studies and earned a master’s degree in counselor education with a focus on student affairs administration from Mississippi State University in 2013.

Starting her career first at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science and then as director of campus recreation at The W, Alexander is now dean of students at East Mississippi Community College’s Golden Triangle campus.

She is an active member of the community, serving as the secretary of the Lowndes County 4-H Advisory Board and the Recruitment and Retention Committee of the MUWAA. Alexander is a spring 2009 initiate of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. She is also a co-host of “The Vessel” podcast.

Whittington is the recipient of The W’s 2024 Alumni Achievement Award, which recognizes those who have achieved professional distinction and contributed significant community service at the local, national or international level, bringing prominence and honor to the university.

She is the senior director of executive communications at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She has earned many awards for her science writing and communication efforts, including a Silver Anvil for a clinical trial recruitment that resulted in a cure for a rare pediatric disease, a Bronze Anvil for executive communications and a fellowship to Medicine in the Media, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

Prior to her role at St. Jude, she served as digital managing editor of CURE Media Group, a publishing company focused on providing healthcare information to cancer patients, survivors and caregivers.

During her time as an alumna, Whittington has served on the MUWAA Board twice, chairing the Public Relations Committee and serving on several committees over the years. She formalized the MidSouth Chapter of the MUWAA, established the Troubadour Alumnae Association and its long-standing scholarship and is a member of the BlackList Alumnae Association.

BLUE attendance, in-person or online, is free for students, faculty and staff of The W, $15 for alumni, and $20 for community members. Registration and sponsorships are available online at longblueline.muw.edu/events/blue through 5 p.m., Feb. 8.

About the Mississippi University for Women Alumni Association

The Mississippi University for Women Alumni Association exists to support and promote the mission of Mississippi University for Women while providing alumni engagement opportunities as the university’s officially affiliated alumni organization. To learn more about the MUWAA or to join, please visit longblueline.muw.edu.

About The W

Located in historic Columbus, Mississippi, The W was founded in 1884 as the first state-supported college for women in the United States. Today, the university is home to 2,227 students in more than 70 majors and concentrations and has educated men for 40 years. The university is nationally recognized for low student debt, diversity and social mobility which empowers students to BE BOLD.

Be Bold. Tower with Blue.