Planning & Development Department

This department is responsible for planning, developing, and organizing support activities needed to achieve the desired goals and outcomes within agency programs. HCHRA recognizes that planning is a fundamental property of a business structure. We create these individual plans for each program and department, but we also look at “Big Picture” planning or strategic plans for the agency as a whole. Each division within the Planning and Development Department has a unique function in supporting HCHRA.

Planning & Development Division

HCHRA has 11 different grants or programs that operate simultaneously. The Planning & Development Division is responsible for grant review, analysis, writing, reporting, and submission. The P&D Division also conducts the Annual Community Strengths and Needs Assessment, our Annual Report to the Public, Community Action Plan, and our agency’s Strategic Plan.

Communications & Development Division

The Communications & Development Division provides us with the format, layout, design, and language needed to relay that message clearly. We do this in many different ways. We produce radio, television, and newspaper ads and update the website or create flyers, calendars, memos, letters, and hundreds of internal forms and documents each year.

The Communications & Development Division is responsible for event planning, fundraising, media relations, and interacting with professional and civic organizations. They will recruit and invite keynote speakers, musicians, public officials, hosts, and many others to participate in our community events while protecting and maintaining the image and message that HCHRA strives to uphold.

Quality Assurance Division

Throughout the agency, we monitor our outcomes to understand how the plan is working, if the plan and/or policies communicated are being interpreted and implemented as we intended, and what changes or corrections to the plan we need to revisit. The Quality Assurance Division gives us a real-time perspective on how well we plan. It helps us narrow the field by identifying what pieces are missing and who missed them, allowing us to provide more specific training and resource allocation to training staff.



Melverta Bender, MLS, MPH

Melverta Bender, MLS, MPH

Vice President of Planning and Development

Melverta Bender assumed the role of Vice President (VP) of Planning and Development at HCHRA in May 2023. With over 20 years of experience in project management, she is a dedicated public health professional with expertise in strategic and community planning, program development, prevention education, research, grants management, and program administration.

Ms. Bender holds a Master’s degree in Liberal Studies from Millsaps College and a Master’s in Public Health from Jackson State University. She is a member of several organizations, including the Training Cadre for Teen Health MS, the Project Management Institute, the American Public Health Association, and the MS Public Health Association.

Before joining HCHRA, Ms. Bender held several positions, including Director of the Office of STD/HIV at the Mississippi State Department of Health, Project Manager/Research Director at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and Research Support Manager at the Jackson Heart Study.

As Vice President of Planning and Development, Ms. Bender plays a vital role in agency strategic planning, continuous improvement, community relations, development and implementation of monitoring and evaluation of internal controls, and management of information services development. Additionally, she supervises the Communications and Development and Quality Assurance Divisions and coordinates ROMA (Results-Oriented Management and Accountability) – Next Generation.