Two UM Staff Make Top 20 Under 40 Young Professionals List

Anna Lauren Heavener and Shawnboda Mead honored for community work, leadership and service

OXFORD, Miss. – The Oxford Eagle and Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce have named two University of Mississippi staff members among 20 LOU young professionals under age 40 being recognized for their volunteerism, leadership and service in the community.

Anna Lauren Heavener, success coach in the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience, and Shawnboda Mead, vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement, made the Oxford Magazine and Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce’s “Top 20 Under 40” list. The program spotlights some of the many talented, innovative young professionals in the LOU community.

Named to her current post in 2021, Mead is responsible for advancing institutional diversity, equity and inclusion goals. She provides leadership and coordination of the university’s strategic efforts to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of the community.

Shawnboda Mead

“I’m elated to be among such an outstanding group of individuals who do so much for the betterment of the LOU community,” Mead said. “With the support of my family and mentors, I’ve had an incredible career in higher education.”

Mead joined the university’s administration in July 2014 as the inaugural director of the Center for Inclusion and Cross-Cultural Engagement. In her time at UM, she has enhanced its capacity to recruit and retain a more diverse student body, and played a key role in moving strategic initiatives involving faculty and staff.

“I have spent the last eight years at the University of Mississippi, and I am very grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve had to lead, serve and grow,” Mead said. “Both within my division and across campus, I get to work with the most talented and dedicated team of individuals every day.”

For Heavener, this is her second time making the list.

“This recognition challenges me by simply strengthening my motivation to continue – to push through obstacles and move myself forward so that I can continue serving my students, family and community,” she said. “I am incredibly humbled to be among so many amazing leaders in the Oxford community recognized with this award.”

In her role at the student success center, Heavener serves students in the School of Applied Sciences. She meets with parents and students to discuss retention programming and opportunities available to help students be successful at the university.

Anna Lauren Heavener

Originally from Walnut, Heavener has called Oxford home since 2013, when she transferred to Ole Miss from Northeast Mississippi Community College and got a job as a student worker.

“I feel like my commitment to serve the students at the University of Mississippi as a success coach and mentor – in addition to my engagement in community organizations such as Young Professionals of Oxford, Junior League, the Rising Professionals Cohort at Ole Miss and Habitat for Humanity – are my greatest achievements,” Heavener said.

“The best gift we can give to others is our time, and I work very hard to be intentional and helpful with the time I have.”

Heavener, Mead and other honorees were recognized during a ceremony Sept. 20.

“We’re so excited to honor young professionals in the second year of our 20 Under 40 recognition program,” said Rebecca Alexander, publisher of Oxford Magazine and The Oxford Eagle. “We have young leaders throughout all aspects of our community: business, education, volunteer programs, faith communities, government service and more.

“The chamber’s Young Professionals Organization provides a networking and development opportunity for many of these individuals, and we want to take that focus a step further by highlighting some of the individuals each year in Oxford Magazine.”