Waikinya Clanton is the director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mississippi state office. A native Mississippian, she forges partnerships with local communities to advance the SPLC’s mission to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements and advance the human rights of all people. Clanton also leads the SPLC’s Advocacy Institute, a training ground for community organizers seeking to develop the skills necessary to create positive community change.
Previously, Clanton has served as senior adviser to the Democratic National Committee chair. She was national executive director of the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women, where she led efforts that fueled electoral victories for Black women. Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, she was a key aide to U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi. She also served as an equity adviser on race, gender, policy and public engagement for social networking company Nextdoor and cosmetics retailer Sephora.
Clanton is a graduate of Tougaloo College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology. She earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix. She is a certified political operative through the Congressional Black Caucus Institute’s political education and training Boot Camp as well as The Campaign School at Yale University, which is dedicated to increasing the number of women in elected and appointed office. Clanton is a certified diversity and inclusion specialist through Cornell University’s diversity and inclusion certification program.