Mississippi College

Mississippi Commission on the Status of Women Honors Mississippi College Leaders

June 4, 2013

The Mississippi Commission on the Status of Women recently honored two Mississippi College leaders.

Founding dean of the Mississippi College School of Law, Mary Libby Payne, and attorney Beth Clay, founder of The Clay Firm, and a member of the Mississippi College Board of Trustees, were among eight leaders saluted at the organization’s annual luncheon in May.

Created by the state Legislature in 2001, the commission seeks to launch a Mississippi Women’s Hall of Fame.

Selected as the first MC law dean in 1975, Payne taught at the law school in downtown Jackson through 1994. The University of Mississippi School of Law graduate and Pearl resident retired from the Mississippi Court of Appeals in 2001. Payne received the Governor’s Medal of Service in 2011, among other awards.

The commission honored Payne for the legal/judicial category.

A graduate of the Mississippi College School of Law, Clay was the award recipient in the group’s business/industry category.

Her firm deals with legislative and government relations, public affairs and lobbying at the Capitol. A Mississippi State University alumnus, Clay served as executive director of the former Mississippi Capitol Commission in Jackson. The “Clarion-Ledger” and “Mississippi Business Journal” have consistently rated the Kemper County native among the state’s top lobbyists.

The credentials for the eight women recognized in its “Women of the Year” competition are all superb, says Gloria Williamson, the group’s chair. The women “have made a major impact on the lives of others and helped shape our communities, the state of Mississippi and the country.”

Others selected for awards include Dr. Hannah Gay in the health/medical category. The University of Mississippi Medical Center pediatrician recently helped cure an HIV-positive infant. Tougaloo College President Beverly Hogan was chosen for her contributions to education.

The commission recognized Mississippi Court of Appeals Judge Virginia Carlton in the military category. The judge holds the rank of colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves. In the field of arts/entertainment, Sweet Potato Queen and best-selling author Jill Conner Brown was honored. Virgi Lindsay, director of the Greater Belhaven Neighborhood Foundation in Jackson, was lauded for her community service. Phyliss Anderson, chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, was honored in the political/state category.

For more information on the Mississippi Commission on the Status of Women, visit the website www.msstatusofwomen.org.

Photo: Beth Clay

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