Leadership Jackson County Class of 2021

20 students graduated in the 32nd class of Leadership Jackson County after a fun and educational year. These students represented a diverse set of leaders from various industries throughout the county.

The class was able to participate in sessions that Leadership classes have been experiencing over the last three decades and more. These sessions focused on a wide variety of topics including state government, education, economic development, industry, small business, environment, public safety, and others over the course of nine months.

Throughout the course of the 2021 Leadership Jackson County class, participants received an overview of how each municipality in the county is run from tourism to industry.

The class concluded with a graduation at the Hilton Garden Inn in Pascagoula. Please find the list of 2021 Leadership Jackson County graduates below:

  • Lucas Applewhite ― USM (Gulf Coast Research Laboratory)
  • David Bever ― Gautier Police Department
  • Reagan Bridley ― The Citizens Bank of Philadelphia
  • Joy Douglas ― East Beach Specialties
  • Amber Green ― First Federal
  • Ryan Heath ― City of Ocean Springs Fire Department
  • Casey Hill ― Merchants & Marine Bank
  • James Howell ― Ingalls
  • Meghan Lyman ― The Walter Anderson Museum of Art
  • Chanelle Mailes ― Keesler Federal Credit Union
  • Anthony McCorvey ― Mississippi Power
  • Elisha McDonald ― Ingalls
  • Tim Neese ― Singing River Health System
  • Marcie Overstreet ― Chevron
  • Stephanie Packer ― Jackson County Board of Supervisors
  • Ketena Reichbaum ― Coldwell Banker Smith Homes
  • Libby Rickley ― Realty (Self Employed)
  • Leah Singleton ― Sparklight
  • Kelsey Thompson ― Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce – Main Street – Tourism Bureau
  • Anthony Virgilio ― Jackson County Board of Supervisors

2nd Annual Jackson County State of the Economy

Please enjoy the 2nd Annual Jackson County State of the Economy Address and feel free to share. 2020 was one of the most challenging years we have ever faced, but we believe we have entered 2021 stronger than before. #jaxcomsunited #jaxcomsthrive  

Leadership Jackson County 2020

31 students graduated in the 31st class of Leadership Jackson County after a very challenging, yet successful, year. These students represented a diverse set of leaders from various industries throughout the county. Despite the unconventional nature of most of the sessions being during a pandemic, the class still received the full Leadership experience.

Fortunately, the class was able to participate in sessions that Leadership classes have been experiencing over the last three decades and more. These sessions focused on a wide variety of topics including state government, education, economic development, industry, small business, environment, public safety, and others over the course of nine months.

Throughout the course of the 2020 Leadership Jackson County class, participants received an overview of how each municipality in the county is run from tourism to industry. Due to the pandemic, many of the classes had to be modified to make sure the participants could stay sufficiently distanced and in good health. This change in the format opened up new innovative ways of holding Leadership Jackson County that may influence how the program is run in the future.

The class concluded with a graduation at the Hilton Garden Inn in Pascagoula. Please find the list of 2020 Leadership Jackson County graduates below:

    • Alyssa Acevedo, Keesler Federal Credit Union
    • Chassity Bilbo, City of Gautier
    • Meggan Brown, City of Ocean Springs
    • Courtney Carter, Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce
    • Bradley Chennault, City of Ocean Springs fire Department
    • Cheryl Cooper, Navigator Credit Union
    • Melissa Davis, MGCCC
    • Sarah Duffey, Singing River Health System
    • Kelly Dye, MGCCC
    • Rochelle Harris, Moss Point School District
    • Brandi Hilsabeck, Chevron
    • Matthew Hosey, Jackson County
    • Stacy Inlow, Merchants & Marine Bank
    • Katie Hancock, The Citizens Bank
    • Melissa Jarosinski, MGCCC
    • Theresa Jenkins, Charter Bank
    • Liz Johnson, Halter Marine
    • Marcel Kinnard, Mississippi Export Railroad Company
    • Kellie Lamb, Singing River Health System
    • Erin Marks, QuadMed, Huntington Ingalls Family Health Center
    • Angela Massey, Northrop Grumman – Unmanned
    • LaToya McClain, Engineering Supervisor
    • Robert Mills, First Chemical Corporation – Chemours
    • Joaquin Orozco, Ingalls Shipbuilding
    • Lisa Parker, Blacklidge
    • Leigh Rayburn, First Federal
    • Leah Small, Singing River Federal Credit Union
    • John Sullivan, Ingalls Shipbuilding
    • Sonya Vaughn, Jackson County Office of Emergency Services
    • Prentiss Williams, Pascagoula-Gautier School District
    • Lester Wright, Merchants & Marine Bank



2020 Annual Membership Meeting

The Jackson County Chamber of Commerce hosted the Annual Membership Meeting for 2020 at the beautiful Pelican Landing in Moss Point. We appreciate everyone who made the event a success this year. We want to say a huge thank you to our outgoing chair, Clayton Legear, and a big welcome to our new chair, Christian Hartley! We were pleased to present Debbie Anglin with the Jolly P. McCarty Award of Excellence for 2020 for her amazing selfless work and leadership. Please enjoy the photo album below:

20th Annual Veterans Day Program

The 20th Annual Veterans Day Program hosted by the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce proved that even a pandemic couldn’t hold back the appreciation this community has for its military men and women.
This year’s event was held at Pelican Landing in Moss Point. It brought together service men and women from across Jackson County, including keynote speaker, Christy Wheeler, Retired Commanding Officer of the United States Navy.
The moving ceremony honored and remembered numerous veterans from almost every conflict since World War II.
Please take a moment to browse through the photo gallery below, then scroll down further for the bio of this year’s keynote speaker.


Keynote Speaker

Retired Commanding Officer Christy Wheeler

Commander Christy Wheeler is an Air Force dependent, with overseas tours in Morocco and Spain. Commander Wheeler served on active duty in the United States Navy. Her military career spanned 20 years, culminating in being named Commanding Officer of Naval Station Pascagoula. After retirement, Commander Wheeler returned to Mississippi to serve as a caregiver to her father-in-law. She later accepted a position as Executive Director of the United Way for Jackson and George Counties. After great success fundraising for the United Way, she became City Manager for the City of Gautier just in time for Hurricane Katrina. She excelled in the operational needs of the city’s emergency response and recovery efforts. She is now happily retired again.

Commander Wheeler attended high school and junior college in St. Petersburg, FL. She earned a B.A. in Education from the University of South Florida and later pursued her Master’s Degree in Education Administration from the University of West Florida.

She began volunteering with the League of Women Voters of the Mississippi Gulf Coast six years ago, assisting with high school voter registration. That transitioned into membership and becoming the VP for Voter Services, then President. She is now Co-President for the State League of Women Voters of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Commander Wheeler taught school for 7 years in Florida and was an educational consultant for the Florida Department of Education for several years. She is married to Nick Richards, CAPT USN-Ret and they have three adult children, Larinna Richards-Cothren, Rhiannon Richards, and Dell Lopez.

Anchor Awards Finalists Announced


The 12th Annual Anchor Awards Finalists have been chosen through a public online voting process. There were nearly two dozen businesses nominated for four different awards. The Grit Award for non-profits, the Thrive I Award for businesses with up to 50 employees, the Thrive II Award for businesses with 51-200 employees, and the Pioneer Award for businesses in operation between one and three years. Each award was narrowed down to three finalists after hundreds of votes poured in on social media.

New to this year’s awards will be two additional honors. One will be the President’s Award, chosen by our President and CEO Paige Roberts for outstanding support in the community. The other is the Champion Award, that will go to a business nominated by the public and judged by a panel of qualified professionals. The Champion Award received more than 150 nominations. Those nominations were narrowed down to three finalists by a panel of judges. They judged the finalists on criteria including pandemic relevance, effort above and beyond usual business practices, and community impact.

Each of the other awards were judged by a separate panel of judges on criteria that includes keys to success, impact and involvement, human resources, and reasons for applying.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, attendance at this year’s awards ceremony will be limited to finalists and their supporters. The ceremony will be streamed on Facebook LIVE on August 26th.

We want to give a big thanks to our sponsors for this year’s Anchor Awards. Gold sponsors are Chevron, Navigator Credit Union, Merchants and Marine Bank, Mississippi Power, Jackson County Board of Supervisors, and Ingalls Shipbuilding. Silver sponsors are Mississippi Security Police, and Geiger Promotional Products. The finalists are listed below.

CONGRATULATIONS to our 12TH Annual Anchor Awards Finalists!

GRIT AWARD (non-profit)

  • FabLab Jackson County
  • Habitat For Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast
  • Junior Auxiliary of Pascagoula-Moss Point, MS</li>

PIONEER AWARD (in business 1-3 years)

  • Amerson One Stop Pest Shop
  • CK Creations LLC
  • Pascagoula Nutrition

THRIVE I AWARD (up to 50 employees)

  • Dixie Glass MS Gulf Coast
  • Gibson Electric Motor Sales &amp; Service, Inc.
  • Pugh’s Floral Shop

THRIVE II AWARD (51-200 employees)

  • Bozo’s Too
  • First Federal Savings &amp; Loan Association of Pascagoula-Moss Point
  • Gulf Breeze Landscaping, LLC

CHAMPION AWARD (Outstanding performance during the pandemic)

  • FabLab Jackson County
  • Just For You Embroidery
  • Navigator Credit Union

Tune in to our Facebook LIVE on August 26th for the awards ceremony!

Jackson County Chamber debuts new commercial

The Jackson County Chamber of Commerce is pleased to present our brand new commercial. Please enjoy and share this link as we celebrate our unified community.

Explosion of Excellence 2020

Explosion of Excellence 2020

Explosion of Excellence 2020Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau

Posted by Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, Mississippi on Tuesday, May 5, 2020

While graduating seniors in Jackson County are facing an unconventional conclusion to their high school careers, one tradition is being kept alive that provides scholarships to nearly 180 students.

The 30th annual Explosion of Excellence scholarship ceremony was held Tuesday evening in a brand new format for the program. The entire event was live-streamed on the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page.

Explosion of Excellence is an effort to provide scholarship funds to the top ten percent of students from each high school in Jackson County. Pat Descher, of the McDonald’s Descher Organization, started the program 30 years ago with the dream of encouraging high school students to go to college and come back to Jackson County to live and work.

179 students each received a $250 book scholarship this year. Out of that 179 students, 20 of them were randomly drawn to receive an additional $1000 scholarship each.

Please find the full list of scholarship recipients below, as well as this year’s contributors.


Congratulations to the Explosion of Excellence Class of 2020


William Alexander                 Anderson

Natalie Rayne                         Baxter *

Lauren Quinn                          Brown

Sydni Lyn                                  Burroughs

Stacy Rene                               Crawford

Yamiliz Yari                               Felicie-Robles *

Ashlyn Paige                            Hinton

Chesie Elyse                            Killen

Garrett Michael                     Knotts

Tori Elizabeth                          Loper

Kiley Elizabeth                        Martin

Sarah Lauren                           Rice

Rylee Caroline                        Sharpton

Madison Brooke                    Strickler

Sallie Amanda                         Warren

Sarah Elisabeth                       Warren

Secora Faye                             Webb



Perla                                           Arellano

Fernando                                  Arellano

Laney                                         BIrchfield

Summer                                    Dillion

Abbigail                                     Finn

Jarrod                                         Gingell

Marcus                                      High

Shandrika                                 Jefferson *

Madison                                    Lavinghouse

Kathryn                                     McArthur *

Michael                                     McCusker

Alexander                                McNair

Justin                                          Miller

Allison                                        Miranda-Pagan

Hayden                                      Mitchell

Eriel                                             Odom

Kyle                                             Rondy

Cailin                                           Salisbury

Shantel                                      Simmons *

Jenna                                         Sutherland

Victoria                                      Taylor *

Kerstin                                       Tuck

Nicholas                                    Weir



Rachel                                        Clarke

Jaiden                                        Downs

Alani                                           Gildersleeve

Kristen                                       Gonzalez

Kanecia                                      Holmes

Robyn                                        Lee

Caleb                                          Lett

Carley                                         McGrath

Ninoshka                                  Munoz Deleon *

Nakiya                                        Owens

Kirsten                                       Tait

Wil’Lisha                                    Trevillion

Robyn                                        White



Trenton                             Arocho

Chase                               Black

Mitchell                             Bowie *

Amelia                              Carmichael

Maggie                             Conner

Jordyn                              Cook

Rebecca Tatum                 Cooper

Harold “Todd”                    Coulter

Alise                                 Crabtree

Isabella                             Furr

Kirsten                              Glass

Kaylee                              Goodwin

Sujung                              Ham

Isabela                              Healy

Natalie                              Hodge

Williams                            Kaylee

Erin                                  Kilpatrick

Caroline                            Leonard

Emilee                              Ly

Kenneth                            Mack

Linda                                Marcano

Gillian                               May

Jackson                            McArthur

Kaitlyn                              McDonald

Lillian                                Ming

Hanna                               Mitchell *

Dessommes                     Natalie

Chloe                                Nguyen

Blake                                Noblin

Ivy                                    Oberkirch *

Ashlyn                              Page

Danielle                            Pasquini

Areesha                            Razi

Mary                                 Samblis

Kaekoa                             Siangco

Naya                                 Slusher

Hannah                             Smith

Shaw                                St. Amant *

Campa                              Steven *

Matthew                            Strunk

Lexi                                  Tufo

Abigail                              Victory

Aydin                                Virga

Cole                                 Whiteside

Alexander                         Whyte

Ashley                              Williams

Parker                               Winders



Alexsandra                               Gonzalez

Alondra                                     Reyes

Carlos                                         Rivera-Martinez

Cecily                                          Johnson

Clarissa                                      Sanders *

Ella                                               Pitts

Emily                                           Bowlin

Hannah                                      Ladner

Jadelynn                                   Rudolf

Joshua                                       Hawthorne

Kailey                                         Hunter

Keishliane                                 Reyes

Keleri                                          Chasteen *

Kennedy                                   Turner

Kylee                                          Hill

Lakyia                                         Norwood

Landan                                       Northrop

Madison                                    Brown

Morgan                                     Madison

Percy                                          Barberena

Raisa                                           Harris

Sydney                                      Triplett

Taylor                                         Smith

Trinity                                         McJimson

William                                       Watson



Kacha                                         Coleman

Jameson                                   Cook

Meghan                                    Denmark *

Sarah                                          Hults

Wyatt                                         Slonneger



Scott                                           Beebe

Kailey                                         Bosarge

Tara                                             Bradley *

Kamryn                                      Carcich

Amya                                          Douglas

Lanie                                           Forehand

Maya                                          Geissinger

Maygan                                     Glover

Sophia                                        Incer *

Rafal                                           Jakubowicz

Anabelle                                   Lang

Victoria                                      Lee

Kyla                                             Lowery

Dustin                                        Lucky

Vivian                                         Ly *

Ashlyn                                        McDaniel

Sydney                                      Mitchell

Lillian                                          Nguyen

Dana                                           Pham

ThuyAn                                      Pham

Regina                                        Phan

Michael                                     Ressel

Desiree                                      Rodriguez

McKinzie                                   Rodriguez

Skylar                                         Ross

Erin                                              Schreck

Aavriel                                       Smith

Victor                                         Thorne *

Caroline                                     Tran

Delaney                                     Ware

Gwyneth                                  Weber

Kristina                                      White

Kimberlyn                                 Williams



Adrienne                                  Beckstein

Madison                                    Ely

Gerald                                        Harringtion

Seth                                            Hebert

Miranda                                    Hines *

Luke                                            Langlinais

Angelita                                     Micele

Zackary                                      Mitchell

Matthew                                  Mixon

Jade                                            Owen

Autumn                                     Pierce

Sydney                                      Salter

Elizabeth                                   Smith

Cheyenne                                Strickland

Jeb                                              Wells

Abigail                                        Wickham


* $1000 drawing recipient


Thank you to this year’s Explosion of Excellence contributors

ASB Marketing, LLC in memory of Jim Brooks

Baber Strunk Enterprises

Bienville Animal Medical Center

Bryan, Nelson, Schroeder, Castigliola & Banahan

C Spire


Children and Grandchildren of Billie and Zelma Lofton in memory of Billie and Zelma Lofton   

Cmsgt. Lloyd W. & Ann Hegwood, USAF Retired

Community Connections JC Chapter

Descher, William H.

Dr. Charles and Amy Wilson

Duchess Club of Ocean Springs

East Central High School

Eight D Enterprises, Inc. – DBA McDonald’s

Family Dental Care

Fifteen D Enterprise, Inc. DBA McDonald’s

First Chemical Corporation

First Federal

Foster’s Air Conditioning and Heating, Inc.

Friendship Civic Club of Ocean Springs

Gayle T. Roberts

Hacienda San Miguel

Hargrove Engineers + Constructors

Hayden and Sandy Dent

Heidelberg Steinberger, P.A.

Home Town Lumber & Supply, Inc.

Ingalls Shipbuilding

Jackson County AARP Chapter 1213

Jackson County Board of Supervisors

Jackson County Commercial Properties, LLC

Jackson County Utility Authority

Jana Wamsley Memorial Scholarship in memory of Jana Wamsley

Jerry and Joann St. Pe’

Jerry Lee’s Grocery No. 1

Junior Auxiliary of Pascagoula-Moss Point

Keesler Federal Credit Union

Lee Tracy / Accent Foot Fashions OS, LLC in memory of Kyle Todd

Merchants & Marine Bank

Mike and Bettie Concannon in memory of Melinda Mitchell

Mississippi Export Railroad Company

Mississippi Eye Associates

Mississippi Power

Moss Point Rotary Club

Nine D Enterprises, Inc. DBA McDonalds

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp.

Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce

Omega Protein, Inc.

Paige Roberts in honor of Jim, Anita, & Kaya Brooks  

Pascagoula Bar Pilots Association

Propeller Club of Pascagoula

Retired Education Personnel of Jackson County

Robert and Vivian Barr in memory of Patsie Meyer & Claire Kershaw

Rotary Club of Pascagoula

Sarah and William Finnicum

Singing River Electric Cooperative

St. Martin High School

Tuesday Night Bridge Club

United Way of Jackson & George Counties in memory of Jim Brooks

Virginia Montgomery

VT Halter Marine, Inc.

Wells Fargo

Zonta Club of Pascagoula