Helen R. Johnson - "Let's Be Clear! The Fight is for Quality Education for ALL our Children, No more, No less!"
Helen R. Johnson attended Morgan State University where she received her Bachelor of science in Mental Health in 1986. Two years later, she was awarded her Master of Science in Counseling Education from Jackson State University.
Helen R. Johnson was married to Leroy Johnson, former Southern Echo President and Co-founder for 23+ years, parents of three children (all adults) and their grandson, Kaizen who gave her so much joy.
Helen R. Johnson served on the Mississippi Parent Teacher Association Board as its' President and parent advocate on Mississippi Families as Allies for Children's Mental Health, Inc. Board.
Helen R. Johnson is one of the founding members along with her twin, Ellen L. Reddy of the Nollie Jenkins Family Center, Inc., a local organization named in honor of their maternal grandmother and the organization is dedicated to the support and development of low-wealth children and their families.
Helen R. Johnson beginning in 1997 worked with Southern Echo, Inc. and became the Education Coordinator while having primary responsibility for the field work in Holmes County. In 2000, Helen was elected to the Holmes County School Board and for 12 years and sought to diligently serve the citizens of the Holmes County community. Her 12 years also represented the school life of a child/student. In her 12 years she helped and served many children and families and was committed to improving schools.
Ellen Reddy has over 20+ years of experience in community-based organization fiscal & administrative management and community organizing.
Ellen after many years has retired and stepping down as NJFC's Executive Director but still remains in a capacity of transition consultant until July 2023.
Ellen held the responsibility of carrying out day-to-day activities including financial, administrative, and programmatic work of a community-based organization that develops grassroots leaders, community organizers, while actively supporting parents, and students, and other members of the African American community in Holmes County.
In 2003, along with the ACLU of Mississippi, Mississippi Center for Justice, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and other social justice organizations, Ms. Reddy co-founded the Mississippi Coalition for the Prevention of a Schoolhouse to Jailhouse, a statewide coalition of youth, students, educators, community, legal and public policy groups dedicated to using cost-effective and humane methods to close Mississippi’s schoolhouse-to-jailhouse pipeline and reform its wasteful, ineffective juvenile justice system.
In 2005-2007, she continued her staunch advocacy for youth when she co-founded and provided leadership to the Mississippi Youth Justice Project (MYJP), a project of Southern Poverty Law Center, and advocated for an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. DOJ eventually filed a class action against the state of Mississippi stemming from violations against youth placed in Mississippi’s two training schools. As a result of this statewide policy and legal work, MYJP was able to achieve unprecedented victories - one of Mississippi’s training schools was closed; advocacy for an Adolescent Offender Program (AOP) in all eighty-two counties in Mississippi; and young people cannot be placed in detention and/or training schools as a result of a status offense. Ms. Reddy remains a staunch advocate for children, youth, and families living in low-wealth rural communities across Mississippi.