Moody Thortis Promoted to Grants Director, Barker Named Arts-Based Community Development Director

JACKSON, MISS. – July 17, 2019– Melody Moody Thortis, of Brandon, has been promoted to grants director of the Mississippi Arts Commission and Leslie Barker, of Jackson, has been named arts-based community development director, which was Moody Thortis’ previous position at MAC.

“We are thrilled for Melody as she begins her new role, and we are excited to welcome Leslie to the Mississippi Arts Commission,” said Malcolm White, executive director of MAC. “Melody has proven herself to be a capable and enthusiastic team member since she began working at MAC and will undoubtedly be very effective as grants director. With Leslie’s background in and passion for the arts and community development, I’m confident that she too will make a positive impact on our agency and communities across the state.”

As director of grants, Moody Thortis will focus on the overall management of the agency’s grant programs, including the eGrant online application system. In her previous role as arts-based community development director, she managed the agency’s community development grant programs, which include grants to organizations and individual artists. Prior to her work at MAC, Moody Thortis worked with nonprofits and municipalities across the state for more than 14 years as a professional fundraiser and grant-writer and in the fields of nonprofit management, advocacy and community development. As grants director, Moody Thortis fills a role previously held by Diane Williams, who retired in June after 16 years of service to the agency.

In her new role as arts-based community development director, Barker will not only manage community development grant programs but will also oversee special initiatives related to community arts. Barker previously served as director of outreach and education at Theatre Memphis, where she focused on using the power of theatre and story to engage the surrounding community.

Barker comes to MAC with a background in community engagement through the arts, non-profit management, experience directing plays and performances as well as teaching at the high school and college level. She earned a bachelor’s degree in theatre at William Carey College in Hattiesburg and went on to receive a Master of Fine Arts degree in directing from the University of Memphis.

Moody Thortis transitioned into her new role at MAC in June 2019, while Barker began working at MAC on July 8, 2019.

Pictured above (l to r): Melody Moody Thortis and Leslie Barker

Contact:  Anna Ehrgott | Communications Director | aehrgott@arts.ms.gov | (601) 359-6546