In 2015, Chef John Currence founded Move On Up, Mississippi. “Mississippi has provided me with wonderful opportunities in my career, and I am proud of what my team has built in Oxford,” says Currence. “Through a process made possible by Move On Up, Mississippi, we want to take greater strides and help our community move forward into a happier, healthier future.” Since 2015, Currence’s foundation has worked to inspire and fund educational initiatives to realize healthier futures for children living in Lafayette County.
Currence is the chef/owner of the City Grocery Restaurant Group. He was the recipient of both Restaurateur Of The Year and Chef of the Year awards from the Mississippi Restaurant Association. He has been awarded the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef South. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi and does whatever his wife, Bess and daughter, Mamie tell him to do.
Afton Thomas works for the Southern Foodways Alliance, a cultural nonprofit based on the campus of the University of Mississippi. She currently sits on the Oxford Tourism Council board and the Leadership Lafayette steering committee. Afton and her husband, JT, have called Oxford home for the past 5 1/2 years. They have two children, Olive, who is elementary school aged, and Noah, their busy toddler. Afton wholeheartedly believes that all children can be successful so long as all of their needs are met.
Janae Owens is a Certified Health Education Specialist. She promotes overall health and wellness in the Lafayette-Oxford-University community and throughout the State of Mississippi. She holds a BS in Exercise Science from Mississippi State University and a MS in Health Promotion from the University of Mississippi. She’s currently an Education and Training Specialist at the Institute of Child Nutrition.
Dr Mac Nichols is an Emergency Medicine Physician at Baptist Memorial Hospital here in Oxford. Originally from Mantachie, MS; he and his wife, Joli, graduated from The University of Mississippi in 2003 and moved back to Oxford from Chicago in 2011.
Eleanor M. Green is Co-Owner of The Green Garden Abbeville, a market garden. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Mississippi State University and a Master of Education from Delta State University. She has extensive experience working at the grassroots level with many community organizations, including farmers markets, small farmer organizations, community health organizations, and schools.
Mariana Anaya Jurss
Mariana Anaya Jurss is a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley. She has been the wellness dietitian for the University of Mississippi since 2014 where she is working to implement programs to create a healthier campus environment. Prior to this, she was a pediatric dietitian with the Oakland Children’s Hospital in California, working with the Healthy Hearts program to prevent and treat childhood obesity and related illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Glenn Aquino is a licensed practical nurse that works in the Oxford School District & has lived in Oxford for the past 25 years. Glenn grew up in Ruleville, MS (the Mississippi Delta) before first attending The University of Alabama then transferring to The University of Mississippi. He is the father of two Mississippi children himself: his teenage son Zaiden & his elementary school-aged daughter Siobhan.
Dr. Anne Cafer
Dr. Anne Cafer is a faculty member at the University of Mississippi and co-directs the UM Community First Research Center for Wellbeing and Creative Achievement (CREW). Anne is a community-based researcher, who works primarily in the MS Delta with community groups and local non-profits on community resilience building. Her research focuses on blending health and food systems for more sustainable approaches to community wellbeing. Anne is a Community Health Advocate, a consultant for Venture37, and coordinates the Applied Policy and Community Research Laboratory housed at the UM Center for Population Studies.
Dr. Adole Muruako
Dr. Adole Muruako is a Health Outcomes Researcher and Clinical Mental Health Counselor. She has been in the field of health and wellness, health outcomes, and chronic disease since 2010. She has taught several chronic disease self-management and cooking classes in rural community settings. After witnessing the intrinsic links between physical and mental health, she decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Counseling, which she will complete in August 2020. She currently works at The Wellness Center of Oxford as a therapist and will also begin working with Communicare in the fall.
Edy Dingus is a devoted advocate for quality education for all Mississippians, and especially works to support young children and their families. Edy graduated with a degree in English literature from the University of Mississippi, and has served both as an English teacher abroad and a national service member at home. As an AmeriCorps VISTA, Edy supported local educators, families, and children as part of the ongoing work of the early childhood education coalitions housed at the United Way of Oxford and Lafayette County. Later, she joined the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement as the AmeriCorps*VISTA Leader for the North Mississippi VISTA Project, where she supported the successes of more than 40 VISTA members and the 30 amazing non-profits they served. Now, Edy sustains her passion for improving educational opportunities in Mississippi by maintaining an active presence in North Mississippi anti-poverty organizations like Move On Up Mississippi, the local chapter of the National Campaign for Grade Level Reading and Team 36. Edy wants to champion your wellness initiative for children living in Mississippi. Contact her at email@example.com.
Meghan Anderson moved north to Oxford, MS in the fall of 2005 and received a BA in Liberal Arts from The University of Mississippi in 2009. She began working for John Currence in 2008 and is currently the Chief Operations Officer of City Grocery Restaurant Group. Meghan is actively involved in coordinating The Southern Foodways Alliance Fall Symposium. She is married to Rusty Anderson, chef at the original Big Bad Breakfast.
Sierra Dexter, LMSW
Sierra was born and raised in Memphis, TN, and moved to Oxford, MS in 2013 to begin her Undergraduate degree. During her time in school, she fell in love with Hospitality thanks to the City Grocery Restaurant Group. She graduated in May of 2016 with her Bachelors of Social Work from The University of Mississippi. Eventually, she moved to Dallas where she continued splitting her life between Hospitality and Social Work. After earning her Masters of Social Work with a focus in Mental Health and Substance Abuse in December of 2019 she returned to Oxford. Since then, she has rejoined the City Grocery Restaurant Group where she currently serves as the Main Event Catering Director. She is thrilled to be able to use her Social Work experience from Haven House (Oxford, MS) and Nexus Recovery Center (Dallas, TX) by joining the Move On Up, Mississippi Foundation Team as the Culture and Community Action Liaison. Thus far, Sierra has spearheaded their COVIDHelp Program and Becky Currence Field Day at Home 2020 initiatives and plans to continue to develop programming to benefit the lives of children in Oxford/Lafayette Co.