Cathy McGruder-Jones, State Approving Agent

SAA for the State of Mississippi

Cathy McGruder-Jones has been working for MS Veterans Affairs Board for 6 years as Division Director for the State Approving Agency (SAA) Division. Prior to her coming on board, she taught Exceptional Education (PreK-2nd) for a number of years and has always worked in the Education field. She received her Bachelors of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education and Masters of Science Degree in Exceptional Education at Jackson State University. Also, she has a Specialist Degree in Psychometry. She is married and has one daughter.

Julie Kirk, President

Military Benefits Associate and School Certifying Official, Mississippi State University

Julie Kirk is no stranger to the VAAMS organization, having spent eleven years as a School Certifying Official and thirteen years in the educational arena.  Before joining Mississippi State University Center for America’s Veterans in September 2014, Julie worked for ten years at the University of Mississippi as a Senior Certification Clerk as well as a School Certifying Official beginning in the fall of 2006.

David Magola, Vice President

Senior VA Certifying Official, University of Southern Mississippi

David Magola was born and raised in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and is proud to be a Southern Miss graduate.

Although, he has not served in the Military himself, several of his family members have served. This makes David's duty of assisting our Veterans, Service Members and their Families extremely important to him.

David received degrees from Jones County Junior College and the University of Southern Mississippi.

He enjoys helping people and finds serving Southern Miss as the Senior VA Certifying Official very rewarding.

Aside from assisting our Veterans, Service Members and their Families, David enjoys spending time with his wife, Heather, his two sons, Lucas and Eli, and his extended family and friends, as well as painting, writing music and attending church.

Yolanda B. Tate, Secretary

School Certifying Official and Scholarship Coordinator, Mississippi State University

Yolanda B. Tate has been a VA Certifying Official with Miss State University since August 2014. She has also served as the Center for America’s Veterans Scholarship Coordinator and Green Zone Initiative Training Coordinator since August 2016. She received her Bachelor of Science in Educational Psychology from Mississippi State University and a Master of Science in Continuing Education in College Student Development from the University of West Alabama. She is honored to be the wife of Air Force Veteran SSGT Antwane Tate and the proud mother of Yalaina Brielle.

Mandy Moore, Treasurer

Financial Aid/VA Certifying Official, Itawamaba CC

Mandy Moore is the Certifying Official at Itawamba Community College.  She also works in the Student Aid Office.  She has been with the college for eight years.  Mandy resides in Fulton with her husband Ben. 

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David Lewis, Education Liaison Representative

ELR for Mississippi/Louisiana

David Lewis currently works for the Southern Regional Processing Center, Atlanta, Georgia and is based at the VA Regional Office in New Orleans. He is a retired Army Sergeant First Class and has been with the VA now for ten years. He served for six years as an Education Compliance Survey Specialist for Texas prior to his assignment as the ELR for Mississippi and Louisiana. This allows him to travel through out Mississippi and Louisiana ensuring that the veterans are receiving the education benefits that are due to them, training school officials and working closely with both State Approving Agencies. The ELR is a non-voting member of the VAAMS Board.

Andrew Newby, Northern Representative

Assistant Director for Veteran & Military Affairs, University of Mississippi

Andrew Newby is the Assistant Director for Veteran & Military Services at the University of Mississippi, where he serves active duty, veteran, guard, reserve, and military dependent students. He works to solve the complex issues surrounding military-connected students in higher education. He is focused on ensuring military-connected students have a meaningful education experience, and works to make the state of Mississippi a better place for veterans. He is passionate about implementing programs adn works to ensure veterans have success after graduation. He is an eight-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps, holds his B.A. in English, and a Master of Education in Adult Education from Auburn University. An Alabama native, he enjoys spending time with his wife and children, reading and writing, and flying air planes. 

Benefits & Program Counselor, Jackson State University

Kimberly has served on the VAAMS board for several years as the Central representative. She has been with JSU as a school certifying official through the establishment of the JSU Veterans Center.

Sheila Lowery, Southern Respresentative

Vocational Counselor, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (Jackson County Campus)

Sheila Lowery is the VA Certifying Official at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Jackson County Campus.  Sheila has a Specialist in Education from the University of Southern Mississippi as well as a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Master of Science in Education/School Counseling from Jackson State University. Sheila has been employed with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College since 1997 and have been a VA Certifying Official for fourteen years.

Lori Allemand, Conference Chair

Counselor and VA Certifying Official, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (Jefferson Davis Campus)

-Currently employed at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC)

-Worked in Higher Education for 17 years.

-Masters Degree in Higher Education from Sam Houston State University

-Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern Mississippi

-Associate Degree from Pearl River Community College

-Married with 3 children and 6 grandchildren.

Deana Johnson, NCD Representative

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