President’s Commission on the Status of Women recognizes outstanding female leaders

Pictured with MSU President Mark E. Keenum, center, Mississippi State University President’s Commission on the Status of Women’s 2018 Outstanding Women award recipients include, left to right, Sarah E. “Izzy” Pellegrine, Leslie Fye, Keenum, Leslie Hossfeld and Terranecia L. “Bria” Henderson. Not pictured is Feifei Zeng. PHOTO: Beth Wynn | Public Affairs

Mississippi State University is honoring five individuals for their outstanding contributions and leadership on campus and in the community.

During a recent ceremony in the university’s Griffis Hall, the MSU President’s Commission on the Status of Women honored:

-- Sarah E. “Izzy” Pellegrine, Outstanding Graduate Student Woman.

Leslie Hossfeld, Outstanding Faculty Woman.

Leslie Fye, Outstanding Community Woman.

Terranecia L. “Bria” Henderson, a senior communication/journalism and public relations major from Madison, and Feifei Zeng, a senior marketing/international business and supply chain management and foreign language/Spanish double-major from Italy, also were recognized with Student Leadership Awards.

“This year marks the 20th anniversary of the PCSW Awards,” PCSW Chair Alexis Gregory said. “We have many accomplishments to be proud of, and the five amazing women we honored are continuing this important work on behalf of gender equality.”

MSU President Mark E. Keenum congratulated and presented each recipient with an award at the ceremony.

“This is a wonderful, celebratory occasion where we’re able to recognize the outstanding leaders here on our campus, individuals who are making this great university even more of a special place because of their contributions and leadership in the faculty ranks, student ranks and in the community at large,” Keenum said.

Pellegrine is a sociology doctoral student and research associate in the Family and Children Research Unit and Survey Research Laboratory at MSU’s Social Science Research Center. At the SSRC, she is involved in multiple projects, including a study of Mississippi physicians’ practices around long-acting reversible contraception and a systems-building project aimed at improving the development health of Mississippi’s very young children. She is a founding member of the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition and currently serves as a co-principal investigator on a statewide needs assessment collecting data about Mississippi’s LGBTQ populations. Pellegrine graduated summa cum laude with bachelor’s degrees in social work and sociology and also holds a master’s in sociology from MSU.

Hossfeld has served since 2015 as professor and head of MSU’s Department of Sociology. She has extensive experience examining rural poverty and economic restructuring and has served as co-chair of the American Sociological Association Task Force on Public Sociology, vice president of Sociologists for Women in Society, president of the Southern Sociological Society and president elect of the Alabama and Mississippi Sociological Association. She is founder and director of The Mississippi Food Insecurity Project and serves as associate director for local food systems, food insecurity and economic development of the Myrlie Evers Williams Institute for the Elimination of Health Disparities. She has published numerous books, journal articles and book chapters, and her new book is forthcoming in August from Vanderbilt University Press.

A licensed professional counselor, Fye currently works as founder and executive director of Starkville Counseling Associates, a private group practice that provides counseling for children, adolescents, adults and families. She also serves as president of the Starkville Foundation for Public Education and is a founding board member of the Mississippi Public Education Political Action Committee. In January 2018, she launched a blog called MOM4PublicEd to broaden the reach of her voice as a public education advocate. She is the mother of two children in the Starkville Oktibbeha School District.

Henderson has worked since spring 2015 in the university’s Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion. During summer 2017, she served as the communications intern for the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women in Washington, D.C. At MSU, she has been involved in several campus organizations, including service as a student ambassador for the Department of Communication and the Student Association’s co-director for diversity and outreach. She is a member of the fall 2017 class of the prestigious Society of Scholars in the Arts and Sciences, as well as a 2017 Spirit of State Award recipient.

A student in MSU’s Bobby and Judy Shackouls Honors College, Zeng received a 2017 Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Fellowship that enabled her to study at The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. In 2015, she completed a six-week study abroad program at Cornell University’s Summer Program in Turin, Italy. She was the first MSU student selected as a campus ambassador for the Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business organization and raised scholarship funds to help fellow students attend Harvard’s Intercollegiate Business Convention in October 2017. At MSU, she is founder and president of the Undergraduate Women in Business organization and a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Golden Key and Beta Gamma Sigma honor societies. She also holds an associate of arts degree in business administration from Carl Albert State College in Poteau, Oklahoma.

For more than 40 years, the MSU President’s Commission on the Status of Women has advised the university chief executive on issues affecting the status and role of women on campus and in society. The group also has sponsored informational and educational programs that promote advocacy, leadership and inclusion. Learn more at

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Sasha Steinberg | Public Affairs

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