Women’s History Month Spotlight: Jennifer Riley Collins

Mississippi Link Newswire,


Editor’s Note: As part of our monthly series spotlighting women making a difference during the month of March. We thought we would re-introduce you to Jennifer Riley Collins the first African-American candidate for attorney general in the state of Mississippi. She’s the first African-American and female democratic nominee for this position. Her bio, as pulled from the ACLU website, is our feature.

Jennifer A. Riley-Collins is a native of Meridian, MS. She is a 1987 Magna Cum Laude graduate of Alcorn State University. In 1993, she earned her Masters of Criminal Justice Administration from the University of Central Texas in one year while serving on active duty as a primary staff officer. In 1997, she returned to Mississippi after receiving a merit based scholarship and in 1999 received her Doctor of Jurisprudence from Mississippi College School of Law, graduating a full semester ahead of her classmates.

Collins is an attorney licensed to practice in both state and federal courts. An advocate for quality representation and equal justice for all she has been a speaker both across the country on issues related to providing zealous representation to juvenile clients. She has coordinated the legislative advocacy efforts aimed at reforming Mississippi’s juvenile justice system and de-institutionalizing at-risk youth.

Collins has studied and written about the Mississippi juvenile justice system. She has authored a number of professional publications and training materials to include Mississippi, An Assessment of Access to Counsel and Quality of Representation in Youth Court Proceedings, published Fall of 2007; In the Interest of Joshua Brown: An Interactive Juvenile Defense Training Module, published Spring of 2008; Double Jeopardy, A Tactical Clog in the School House to Jail House Pipeline; Avoiding the School-House to Jail-House Track, A Self Help Handbook for Children, Parents, and Community Leaders; and Train the Trainer, Juvenile Justice Advocacy Training Manual.

In 2008, she was nominated for recognition as one of Mississippi’s Most Outstanding Women Lawyers. She is member of the Project Equity Advisory Board.

Her military career exceeds 20 years of both active and reserve duty. Assignments include Counterintelligence Platoon Leader, 504th MI BDE; Commander, Special Security Group, Ft. Meade, MD with assignment at the Test and Experimentation Command; Battalion S2, 2-2 Air Defense Artillery Battalion; Security and Intelligence Officer, 549th MI BN (TXNG); SIGNET/EW and Operations Officer, 255th Military Intelligence Company (MSNG); Intelligence Officer, 3rd Personnel Command (USAR); Plans and Operations Officer, 3rd Personnel Command (USAR Deployed to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait); and Brigade S2, 177th AR BDE (USAR – Mobilized). Her last assignment was Command Inspector General for Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center (USAR – Mobilized).

She has been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal (1 Oak Leaf Cluster), Joint Service Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal (3 Oak Leaf Cluster).

Collins’ military education includes Basic Training (as Private Riley) -1985, Military Intelligence Officer Basic Course – 1988, Military Intelligence Officer Advanced Course Jun1994, CombinedArms and Services Staff School, -1997 Command and General Staff Course 2009, and the Inspector General School -2010. She has also completed the following Naval War College courses: Joint Military Operations Course – 2013, the Strategic and Warfare Course – 2012, and the National Security Decision Making Course – 2011 earning 12 hours toward a Master of International Relations.

Collins is a member of New Horizon Church International, Leadership Jackson and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She has been a racial diversity trainer for Leadership Madison. In January 2014, Collins was appointed as a member of the US Commission on Civil Rights Mississippi Advisory Committee.

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