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Waikinya Clanton    

Impact Strategist, Community Activist, Advocate & Director of the Southern Poverty Law Center

Canton, Mississippi native Waikinya J.S. Clanton is a proud graduate of Tougaloo College where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with an emphasis in Pre-Law and currently serves as a member of its WATAC and TCNAA chapters as well as a member of its Employee/Faculty Relations Council.

This gifted, young trailblazer and chief problem solver is a well-known and highly sought-after strategic, political, and community engagement expert; specializing in helping to direct corporate and private donor investments in political campaigns and organizing efforts.

In addition to her degree from Tougaloo, Waikinya also holds a Master's in Business Administration, and certifications in Strategic Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University and Campaign Management from the Campaign School at Yale University.

Clanton currently serves as the inaugural state director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, where she is an active member of the Mississippi Rapid Response Coalition— a community of frontline community activist and advocacy-led organizations providing direct assistance to residents impacted by the Jackson Water Crisis; as well as the Mississippi Donor’s Alliance and the Mississippi Criminal Justice Funders’ table.

Having previously served as Senior Advisor to the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Executive Director of the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women, and a Congressional aide to Congressman Bennie G. Thompson, Waikinya has dedicated more than a decade of her career to public service and leadership. Clanton is most known for her role as the chief architect of the leading democratic organizing campaign -- Seat at the Table. A program that galvanized thousands of Black women throughout the country to secure key electoral victories in 2018, 2019, and 2020. As well as the brainchild of NOBEL Women's premier program for training young girls for careers in STEM- Girls, Gigabytes, and Gadgets (3G).

As a fierce warrior for equity, equality, and acceptance, Clanton helps and has helped to advise the social impact strategy of companies like the international beauty brand, Sephora, the friendly neighborhood app, Nextdoor, and other key clients. She has also consulted, informed, and directed major tech and media conglomerates around philanthropic giving totaling more than $ 3 million in support of voter engagement programs; and led and coordinated the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination campaign, Take The Shot for the Win, in partnership with the Black Women’s Health Imperative as well as the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) and the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) which specifically targeted Black women and their families.

She is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. where she serves at both the local and National levels. She is the recipient of many distinguished awards and honors including the inaugural Tougaloo College’s 40 Under 40, the Judge Constance Slaughter Harvey Champion Award, and being named one of Mississippi’s Top 50 Women in Business by the Mississippi Business Journal and is the Founder of Who’s Who of MS Women.

Clanton is currently an Eric H. Holder Public Policy Fellow at Tougaloo College; a Black Churches for Digital Equity Policy Fellow of the Multicultural Media, Internet and Telecommunications Council, and an inaugural Google NextGen Public Policy Fellow.

She is a devoted member of Mt. Able Missionary Baptist Church in Canton, MS, where she serves as the Director of Pastoral Administration and attends with her mom, dad, and younger brother.

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