And now the work begins…

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Some of you are familiar with an idea that began as a loose group of concerned individuals that came together as the “Mississippi Brain Drain Commission.” The mission of this group was to develop actionable recommendations that would help to stem (and ultimately reverse) the loss of intellectual capital in our state. Simply put—to stop the brain drain. Two years and a good bit of gray matter later, we’re happy to report that the work of the Brain Drain Commission has resulted in the Fast Forward Mississippi initiative, which is the branded education and outreach component of the commission’s efforts. A few weeks ago, Fast Forward established an association with an existing but inactive 501(c)(3) organization—The Mississippi Leadership Forum (MLF)—to serve in a governance and oversight capacity and allow the organization to raise funds.

“The formation of a governing board with people who share the vision of preserving and incubating our best and brightest is a tangible step forward in the process of reversing brain drain,” said Tim Mask, founder of the Mississippi Brain Drain Commission. “From this point, the Fast Forward initiative will be able to raise operating funds and put outcomes-based projects into place.”

The MLF oversight board consists of individuals representing a wide variety of private, public and non-profit entities, each with a vested interest in developing an education, economic development and quality-of-life environment conducive to retaining and attracting knowledgeable workers. The board operates on a non-partisan basis. MLF inaugural board members are:

Sumesh M. Arora, Ph.D., Vice President • Innovate Mississippi

Paul Jones, President • Multicraft Ventures

Elaina R. Jackson, Director of Communications • Hope Enterprise Corporation and Mississippi Economic Policy Center

Bradley Lum, Founder • Law Studio, PLLC

Rebekah Staples, Principal • Free State Strategies

Marsha Watson, Director College Knowledge Project • Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning


“Each of these individuals believes that it is truly possible for people to ‘go farther, faster’ in Mississippi, and are committed to seeing the state grow into an educational and economic development leader in the new economy,” said Mask. “Under the direction of this board, it is our hope that Fast Forward can be an initiative that Mississippians can get behind with pride and become ambassadors for our state’s culture of innovation.”

The board will be holding its first planning meeting in mid-September, after which a roadmap for proceeding with project development will be unveiled. A separate Fast Forward advisory board that will offer strategic direction and project logistical support will be developed in the next few weeks.

For more information about the Fast Forward Mississippi initiative, please contact Tim Mask.

Show your support for the Fast Forward Mississippi initiative by adding the Fast Forward mark to your social media profile pic. If you don’t know what that means, then learn more about it here.