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Alumna Dr. Jameshyia Ballard promoted to state WIC director

The Mississippi Department of Health has promoted an Alcorn State University alumna for her commitment to making the state healthier.

Dr. Jameshyia Ballard ’08 recently received a promotion to state Women, Infants, and Children’s (WIC) Program director.

Ballard is responsible for planning, implementing, and directing the WIC program's overall vision, leadership, and strategic direction. She also leads the coordination and evaluation of nutritional and vendor management service program policy and budgets to promote effective administration and service delivery.

Ballard has spent seven years with the Mississippi Department of Health. She has served in several positions, such as vendor management director, deputy bureau director, and state breastfeeding coordinator, during her tenure. After earning a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics from Alcorn, she earned both master’s – nutrition and food systems - and doctorate – education; research, evaluation, statistics, and assessment - degrees from The University of Southern Mississippi in 2012 and 2016.

The future looks bright for Ballard in her new role. She’s happy to lead the provision of healthy food services to women and children in Mississippi.

“I feel excited to see what the future holds as I have been tasked with leading the brilliant staff at WIC,” said Ballard. “This staff works diligently to ensure women, infants, and children have access to nutritious foods and nutrition education. I am humbled to serve WIC participants throughout the state because WIC food is essential to combating food and nutrition insecurity in the state.”

Representation matters to Ballard. She’s proud to be an example to others of what can be accomplished with hard work and persistence.

“This promotion means that every little Black girl from a low-income household in a small town has a chance to do what she sets her mind to doing. In a world that often celebrates instant gratification, it is important to highlight that diligence, consistency, and work ethic not only gets the job done but also keep the job flourishing.”

Nutrition has been Ballard’s passion since her undergraduate years at Alcorn. After reflecting on her journey, she’s happy to see her hard work pay off.

“This is a breath of fresh air. I fell in love with nutrition long ago and was excited to serve people with the newfound knowledge I gained in the hallowed halls of Alcorn State. But, as time progressed, I longed for something more. A master’s and doctorate later, I knew I wanted to impact policies and administrations ensuring equity and inclusion for people who look like me and are from places like where I am from.”

Elevating in her career allows Ballard to play a pivotal role in bringing positive and significant changes to her home state.

“Mississippi is my home, and I want to see it change for the better. Becoming the WIC director is a pivotal point in my career that allows me the opportunity to be the change I want to see in the world.”