2015 – 2017 Cohort



Innovation Fellows

Will Bedwell


Will Bedwell is a first year Law student senior Public Policy Leadership major with an Environmental Studies minor from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Will graduated from the University this past spring with a major in Public Policy Leadership. Since coming to the University, Will has been involved with improving the environmental movement and sustainability culture on campus. Will introduced the first University of Mississippi Green Fund legislation as a freshman ASB Senator and negotiated the UMGF’s implementation with administration. He has continued his work with the UMGF by serving as a student representative on the UMGF committee, Outreach Coordinator for the UMGF committee, and as project liaison for the successful pilot composting program.  As Students for a Green Campus Chairperson he led the group to be the top supporters and volunteers for the UMGF. During his summers, Will has worked as a student intern in the UM Office of Sustainability to improve the capacity of both the office and the UMGF. Will has also worked as a Wilderness Ranger for the nonprofit WildSouth to improve conservation in the MS Black Creek Wilderness and Leaf Wilderness Areas. Will’s service goes beyond the environment, however, as he has worked alongside Americorps VISTAs at the university to fight poverty and attended the alternate spring break service trip in 2014. After graduation Will intends to continue to champion institutional change aimed at improving environmental sustainability and reducing poverty with his Juris Doctorate in hand.


Rebecca Bramlett


Rebecca Bramlett graduated Magna Cum Laude from Mississippi State University with a BA in Criminology, and is now pursuing a master’s degree in Criminal Justice. While an undergraduate, Rebecca was hired by Mississippi State University as a research assistant on a grant from the National Institute of Corrections. She authored articles pertaining to the field of corrections and is published by the NIC. In 2014, Rebecca interned with the Shelby County Department of Corrections in her hometown of Memphis, TN where she spent the summer behind prison walls and developed an interest in the connection between poverty and crime. As a McLean Institute fellow, Rebecca is eager to continue research on issues relating to criminality, the criminal justice system and effects of criminal justice policies.


Taeisha Gambrel


Taeisha Gambrel is a native of Belden, MS and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She recently graduated from the University of Mississippi, where she earned a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in English. She is currently working towards a Master of Education in Community Mental Health Counseling. She has a passion for helping others improve their quality of life and her aspirations are to become a Marriage and Family Therapist, as well as to work with women and children. Taeisha spent a semester of her senior year studying abroad at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa, where she discovered how simple it is to serve and how every action creates a significant impact on society at large. In her free time she enjoys reading, watching movies, and listening to music. Taeisha is excited about the opportunity to innovate community solutions in the state of Mississippi while working with the McLean Institute. A personal goal of hers is to do work that is substantial and life-changing for others, while simultaneously enhancing and supporting the growth of communities in her home state.


Zack Grossenbacher



Zack Grossenbacher graduated the University of Mississippi in 2014 with a B.A. in English and a minor in Public Policy.  He is now pursuing a M.A. in integrated marketing communications (IMC).  As an undergraduate Zack worked to plan community events and learn about the way that the arts can serve as a way to build community.  In 2013, he interned for McSweeney’s, a literary publisher and non-profit in San Francisco that focuses on community development through literacy, and learned the value of non-traditional approaches to social issues.  As a CEED Innovation Fellow, Zack hopes to utilize his experiences to find ways to help strengthen his partner communities and further the CEED mission of education.


Janae Owens


Janae Owens is a native of Natchez, MS. She graduated from Mississippi State University with a BS in Exercise Science and is now pursuing a master’s degree in Health Education and Promotion at the University of Mississippi. Janae developed a passion for serving others through community engagement, after interning with the Longest Student Health Center located on Mississippi State University’s campus, where she planned physical activity programs for college students and promoted general health and wellness throughout campus. Being an Innovation Fellow at the McLean Institute has provided a way for her to not only advance the mission of McLean Institute, but also further promote overall health and wellness throughout Mississippi. After completing her master’s degree, Janae plans to seek community director opportunities in order to advocate community growth by creating or providing readily available resources for underserved communities; which she hopes will further advance the development of higher education and sustain economic development within communities for generations to come.




Innovation Scholars


Madeleine Achgill


Madeleine is originally from Indianapolis, IN, and is studying International Studies, Chinese, and Spanish and minoring in Environmental Studies at the University of Mississippi. At UM, she is a Stamps Scholar and member of the Croft Institute, Honors College, and Chinese Flagship Program. She has been active in several campus and community organizations including the Office of Sustainability, Thacker Mountain Radio Hour, Ole Miss Outdoors, and the Honors College Student Union. She was a year-long Rotary Youth Exchange student to Quito, Ecuador in 2009-2010 and graduated from United World College-USA, an international high school in New Mexico, in 2013. These experiences have motivated her to aspire to develop local, community-based solutions to issues with international impacts. She is looking forward to learning more about Mississippi’s unique challenges as well as social and economic development in general.


Alex Borst


Alex Borst is a junior International Studies major minoring in Environmental Studies and German. He is interested in food systems, preventative health, and food as a vehicle socio-economic and racial integration and inclusion. He hopes to use this opportunity with the McLean Institute to increase food literacy in the Delta and hopefully implement a sustainable and meaningful initiative that reflects the needs of the community that he is placed in.



Audrey Dayan


Audrey Dayan is an Oxford, Mississippi native. She is a graduate of Oxford High School and continues her education at the University of Mississippi as a pre-med student majoring in psychology with a minor in chemistry. On Saturdays, she can usually be found working the register at the local Bottletree Bakery on the Oxford Square. Audrey spends her weekdays focusing on schoolwork, but she enjoys playing piano, reading, and running during that time as well. Shadowing at a medical clinic in Arkansas in the summer of 2014 sparked her interest in making healthcare more accessible in rural communities, a passion she continues to pursue as a volunteer at the Sav-A-Life center located in Oxford. She is elated to be an Innovation Scholar and looks forward to further develop her skills in community service through this program.


Madison Gable


Maddie hails from the city of Diamondhead on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She is currently studying philosophy and plans to attend law school and become an attorney. Maddie’s goal is to use her education to advocate for the interests of those that cannot defend themselves—especially children and animals.  Maddie already enjoys working toward this goal as a volunteer at Calhoun City Excel and 9 Lives Cat Rescue. Maddie first became interested in social entrepreneurship when her mother, Stephanie, opened her own business focused on giving newborn Mississippians the best start in life through natural nutrition.  As an Innovation Scholar, Maddie hopes to follow her mama’s example by learning to initiate social entrepreneurship endeavors and implement programs that affect the quality of education, health, and the overall lives of the people in the communities she serves.


Vera Gardner


Vera Megan Gardner is a Junior Mechanical Engineering major at the University of Mississippi from Memphis, Tennessee.  Vera has a passion for learning languages and studying language.  She is fluent in Spanish and is earning a minor in Portuguese and Linguistics.  At Ole Miss, Vera is involved with Engineers Without Borders, where she has served as a secretary and VP of design, a member of Society for Women Engineers, where she has served as a secretary, a member of the Center for Manufacturing Excellence, and a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.  Vera enjoys travelling and has been to various areas in the U.S., Germany, Honduras, Ecuador, Brazil, and Togo.  In her free time, Vera likes to relax and ride her bike.  Vera is looking forward to being a part of the McLean Institute Innovation Scholars Program.  She is grateful for the opportunity to learn more about the value of service, planning, and communication.


Leah Gibson


Leah Gibson is a junior Broadcast Journalism student from Starkville, MS. She attended Starkville High School and was named Miss Starkville High school and MSPA’s Mississippi’s High School journalist of the year among many other awards.Leah came to campus and immediately got involved in student organizations such as Freshman Council, The Associated Student Body cabinet of Attorney General, The Black Student Union, Gamma Beta Phi, and she was recently inducted into the Columns Society. Leah has served as a Community Assistant for the learning community of the Luckyday Residential college, an 2014 Orientation Leader and a 2015 Summer Academy Counselor. Leah was one of two sophomores selected to attend a study abroad trip to Ethiopia during the wintercession term where 10 students conducted interviews and created in-depth reports on the people of Ehtiopia and their culture. She founded a mentoring program last year, The G.L.A.M. Squad, that gives young girls the tools the feel empowered.



Terrius Harris


Terrius Harris is a sophomore at the University of Mississippi main campus, triple majoring in Marketing & Corporate Relations, International Studies, and French with a minor in Environmental Studies. He grew up in Eagle River, Alaska, however, due to his parent’s military service he has lived in many areas around the world, until finally spending his senior year of high school in McComb, MS, where he graduated from McComb High School. His current campus involvement includes: Director of Student Life for the Associated Student Body, Secretary of the Black Student Union, State President of MS Collegiate DECA, Secretary of Pi Kappa Phi Alpha Lambda Chapter, Stockard Community Assistant, Member of the Columns Society, and much more. Throughout his lifetime Terrius has always had a passion to serve, because it is his belief that if we do not help our fellow man today, then what hope do we have for the survival of humanity. However, it was not until the experiences he encountered throughout his collegiate tenure that he was able to form his life passions into three words: Inclusion, Sustainability, and Philanthropy. Ultimately, Terrius is beyond excited to work with the McLean Institute, to hopefully make a better Mississippi, and encourage other college and universities to incorporate a similar program to one day make a better world.


Henry Lang-VanDerLaan


Henry was born and raised in Hinsdale, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. He enrolled in the University of Mississippi to experience a new part of the country and get away from subzero temperatures. He is pursuing a B.A. in Public Policy with a minor in Journalism and is planning to graduate in 2017. Before attending the University of Mississippi, Henry was highly involved in his community. He worked for a restorative justice program for minors called The Links Project, serving as a peer mentor for troubled youth in the surrounding areas. He also was involved in scouting and earned the rank of Eagle Scout by repairing the landscape of a local children’s park. In his spare time, Henry is an avid fan of the Chicago Blackhawks and Ole Miss Rebels. He enjoys reading, playing sports and music.


Holly Pitts


Holly Pitts is a junior in the University of Mississippi Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.  She is currently pursuing a degree in Civil Engineering with three minors–Studio Art, Mathematics, and Business Administration.  She is involved with many organizations on campus and within the Oxford Community including Engineers Without Borders, where she serves as the current secretary, her sorority–Chi Omega, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers, RebelTHON Dance Marathon, the University of Mississippi Big Event, numerous honor societies, and many more. She grew up not far away in the small, Mississippi Delta town of Indianola.  She graduated from Indianola Academy, a small, private high school, back in 2013.  Having been around the extreme poverty in rural Mississippi from such a young age, she believes it is her duty and obligation to give back to the community which so graciously gave her opportunities that not everyone was not given.  She hopes to follow in the footsteps of the many great leaders in the Mississippi Delta and help it reach its maximum potential and become a better place for everyone.



Mackenzie Poole


Mackenzie Poole is currently a junior at the University of Mississippi.  In the year 2013, she graduated from Olive Branch High School in Olive Branch, Mississippi.  She is now pursuing a major in psychology with a minor in Spanish.  Mackenzie is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, UM College Corps, Sigma Phi Lambda, and numerous honor and service societies.  She plans to attend law school after earning her undergraduate degree.  Mackenzie spends a great majority of her time outside of class serving the Oxford community.  She is passionate about bettering the lives of those living in poverty, and improving the educational system in Mississippi.  When she is not volunteering or studying, Mackenzie enjoys baking, scrapbooking, antiquing, and spending time with family and friends.



Austin Powell


Austin Powell is from Corinth, MS and a Corinth High School graduate. As an Eagle Scout, he found his passion for service through his school and local organizations like the Boy Scouts of America, The Corinth Alliance, and his church. Powell is currently a junior Public Policy Leadership and Philosophy double major. His love for service and a better community are seen through his different leadership roles in organizations like  Sigma Chi Fraternity’s chair for the philanthropy event Derby Days that benefitted Horizons at The University of Mississippi. Powell currently serves as the Assistant Director for the Ole Miss Big Event, and the Chief of Staff for the Associated Student Body President. In his free time, he enjoys the outdoors and going to Alpine Camp for Boys, where he spent the summer of 2014 as a counselor. Powell is interested in social justice and economic policy specifically in Mississippi, and is extremely excited about working with the McLean Institute these next two years.


Brittanee Wallace


Brittanee Wallace is a junior Integrated Marketing Communications major from Gulfport, MS.  She is actively involved on campus as an Ambassador, Student Activites Association member, co-chair of Recruitment and Retention for the Black Student Union,  member of the Ole Miss Media Relations staff,  and a peer leader for the Lucky Day Scholarship Program. Brittanee is  a former University of Mississippi Track and Field athlete and is the current Vice President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.  She’s been actively involved in her hometown community as the assitant coach of the Youth Express Track Club and in the Oxford community as a MOST mentor.  Some of her interests include running, reading, and listening to music. She is passionate about taking an active interest in the welfare of this country and working towards the advancement of minorites.  She is a light hearted young person with a positive outlook on life, and is committed to leaving a rich legacy.