12:00 pm - 12:30 pm

Registration in McComas Theatre Lobby

12:30 pm - 1:45 pm

Welcome, opening remarks, and keynote speaker

1:45 pm - 2:00 pm


2:00 pm - 3:15 pm

Short Talks with scholars, practitioners, and artists

3:15 pm - 3:30 pm


3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Short Talks, closing remarks, and award ceremony

5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Reception in McComas Theatre Lobby



Anna Wolfe, a native of Tacoma, Wa., is an investigative reporter who writes about poverty and economic justice. Before joining the staff at Mississippi Today in September 2018, Anna worked for three years at Clarion Ledger, covering local government and health care, and one year at alternative newsweekly Jackson Free Press. She has received state and national recognition for her stories on hunger, medical billing and debtors prisons, including the February 2020 Sidney Award and the Bill Minor Prize for Investigative Reporting in 2018 and 2019.


2:00 – 3:15 session

Ryan Starrett was birthed and reared in Jackson, Mississippi. After receiving degrees from the University of Dallas, Adams State University and Spring Hill College, as well as spending a ten-year hiatus in Texas, he has returned home to continue his teaching career. He lives in Madison with his wife, Jackie, and two children, Joseph Padraic and Penelope Rose O. He has co-authored The Hidden History of Jackson, The Hidden History of the Mississippi Sound, and The Hidden History of New Orleans with Mississippi State instructor Josh Foreman.

Zach Lancaster received his BA from William Carey University where he discovered his love for audio engineering and sound design. He used his musical background to create scores and sound designs for multiple theatre productions. After college he has worked in production sound for both television and films. Some of his network credits include HGTV, Discovery, History Channel, and A&E. He has also worked on movies starring Allison Janney, Mila Kunis, Nick Cage, and Tim Blake Nelson. When he isn’t working, he is the father to two daughters.

Michael Williams is a writer, director, cinematographer, and producer known for OzLand (2015) and The Atoning (2017). Williams, a resident of West Point, MS, began creating short films in 2004 while in high school and graduated The University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor of Arts in Film in 2009. Williams has made over 25 short films and 2 features and worked professionally in the film industry since 2007. When not making his own films, Williams serves as a cinematographer on a wide range of independent films and running Shendopen Productions, his video production business.

David Garraway is the director of the Mississippi State University Television Center, where he oversees the university’s non-athletic broadcast television operation. At the TV Center, David has focused on increasing the center’s ability to tell creatively engaging stories that inform and entertain, while delivering the intended message to the target audience. Under his leadership, the TV Center has won numerous state and regional awards, including two Southeast Emmy nominations for creative storytelling. A native of Hattiesburg, David received both his bachelor of arts and master of science degrees in communication from the University of Southern Mississippi, a master of business administration from MSU, and is currently completing the coursework for a doctor of philosophy in instructional systems and workforce development. David and his wife, Michelle, have two small children and a dog that acts like yet another small child.

3:30 – 5:00 session

Recognized as one of the top PR professionals in the country, Rick Looser has worked for a virtual who’s who of business and industry, including Northrop Grumman, 3M, Raytheon, Sherwin Williams, Boeing, Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Sanderson Farms, among others. Rick was also the lead communications strategist for the competition to win one of the largest defense contracts ever awarded by the U.S. Navy, the DDG 1000 program, a $30 billion contract. Rick is a sought-after speaker and media industry expert. He has been interviewed and featured in articles by The New York Times, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor and The International Herald, to name a few. He has also been a featured expert on NBC’s Today Show, National Public Radio’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on MSNBC. In 2009, Rick was inducted into the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame. Rick serves on the board of advisors for The University of Alabama’s Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations.

Benjamin Saulsberry is a native of Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, where he currently works at the Emmett Till Interpretive Center in Sumner, Mississippi, as the tour coordinator. Since 2017, he has talked with thousands of visitors from all over the world about the work of the Emmett Till Memorial Commission and their commitment towards the creation of racial harmony in Sumner and surrounding areas. He has also served on a number of panel discussions concerning race, racism, and racial reconciliation as well as being the keynote speaker for various events; one of which being Harvard Law’s Annual Celebration of the MS Delta in November 2017 and the Black History Convocation at the University of Detroit at Mercy in February of 2019.

Jonathan Harris