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Meet Our Staff

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Daphne Chamberlain

Chief Program Officer

Daphne considers the moment she learned about the 1955 murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till as one of many events that changed her life, and solidified her passion for history and desire to change the world. She is a native of Columbus, Mississippi, who received her B.A. in History from Tougaloo College and both her Master’s and Ph.D. in History from the University of Mississippi. She considers this a full-circle moment in her life. She is excited to be on this new journey doing impactful work that preserves and protects the legacies of Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley, while engaging the community, Mississippi, and the world.


Jessie Jaynes-Diming

Special Projects Coordinator

Jessie Jaynes-Diming is a passionate community activist wanting to see change for the future. Born in Chicago, she lived there for fifty-one years before becoming a transplant to Tallahatchie County. She was a founding member of the Emmett Till Memorial Commission preserving the story of Emmett Till and wants that story to be the cause for more healing and learning.

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Venita Halbert

Community Engagement Coordinator

Venita Halbert, originally from Chicago, IL, has lived in Tallahatchie County for the past two decades. She graduated from Mississippi Valley State University in 2018 with a bachelors in business administration. Her highest hope is to bring jobs and opportunities to Tallahatchie County for all people. She is eager to make a positive difference in the community!


Elliot Long

Chief Operations Officer

Elliot Long has served as an organizer and community worker with refugee and immigrant populations in Maine, low-income youth in rural Appalachian Ohio, and with graduate assistants and adjunct faculty involved in unionizing efforts. He previously worked as a project coordinator for the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. He holds a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Mississippi and is a doctoral candidate in interdisciplinary arts at Ohio University.


Jermarlius "Jay" Rushing

Youth Coordinator

Jermarlius “Jay” Rushing is a native of the Mississippi Delta. He is a 2013 graduate of East Side High School, a former combat engineer in the Mississippi Army National Guard, and a community organizer. Jay holds a bachelor's degree in history with minors in political science and Africana studies from Mississippi Valley State University. He has served as both a participant and mentor for the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation’s Summer Youth Institute.

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Benjamin Saulsberry

Public Engagement and Museum Education Director

Benjamin Saulsberry is a native of West Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. He grew up surrounded by social justice activism, which he credits for his deep care and concern for his community today. Ben joined the Emmett Till Interpretive Center in 2016 and has spoken on race, racism, and racial reconciliation across the country on behalf of the Center, including at Harvard Law in 2017 and the University of Detroit at Mercy in 2019. He attended Mississippi Valley State University and the University of Mississippi for graduate work in music.

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Matt Switliski

Grants Management Coordinator

Matt Switliski has spent most of his professional career in education and writing. He has worked with students in and around Philadelphia, PA, and New England, and he has published in newspapers, magazines, academic journals, and multiple online venues across a range of genres. His editorial experience includes fiction, entertainment journalism, and content for medical professionals. He holds multiple graduate degrees in writing and related disciplines.

Patrick Weems

Patrick Weems

Executive Director

A community builder, social entrepreneur and philanthropy leader, Patrick is setting a path toward restorative justice and racial healing. With more than 10 years of experience in racial justice and restorative justice work, Patrick is leading transformational change that will last through the generations. He co-founded the Summer Youth Institute, an experiential learning youth program for the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. He also co-founded and serves as director of the Emmett Till Interpretive Center, which uses art and storytelling to share the Emmett Till tragedy, facilitate racial healing and point us toward a new future. A graduate of the University of Mississippi, he holds a master’s degree from the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. He was recently awarded a prestigious Fellowship from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and is a Monument Lab Fellow.

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