Keynote Speaker Announced for the Explosion of Excellence

The Explosion of Excellence Scholarship Program is still accepting scholarship contributions to recognize 177 students from Jackson County at next month’s 29th annual scholarship program at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.  This year’s 29th Annual Explosion of Excellence Keynote Speaker is Claire Louder, IOM, CAE, MPP.  This program honors the academic achievements of the graduating high school seniors who are in the top ten percent of their classes in all area high schools in Jackson County (including the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science).

The public is encouraged to consider a $250, $1,000 or $5,000 scholarship—all of which are 100 percent tax deductible.  These scholarships are donated by the public to encourage these students to consider employment in Jackson County when their education is finished.  The scholarships can be made in memory or in honor of someone, in the name of a company or individual or left anonymous.  The public can help honor these students by writing a check to the “Gulf Coast Community Foundation/Explosion of Excellence” and mailing it to “Explosion of Excellence, Post Office Box 480, Pascagoula, MS  39568-0480.”

There are many ways that donors are recognized who contribute to the Explosion of Excellence scholarship fund:

  • All contributions are 100% tax deductible through the Gulf Coast Community Foundation
  • If the scholarship is contributed/pledged by the last week of March, the donor will be listed in the book printed for all students and families (500 copies)
  • If the donor pledges by mid-April, the donor will be listed in the event program printed for all attendees
  • The donor will be listed on the event PowerPoint if pledged/donated by the last day of April
  • The donor will be listed on the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce website’s Explosion of Excellence page
  • The donor will be listed in the press release following the program

This year’s Keynote Speaker, Claire Louder, IOM, CAE, MPP, has been a chamber and association executive since 1989, including most recently 10 years with the West Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce in Odenton, Maryland. She began her chamber career in 1989, at the Jackson County Area Chamber (now called the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce) in Pascagoula, Mississippi. She is passionate about helping organizations succeed through establishing strategic direction and adopting industry best practices. She is a 2009 graduate of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Organization Management (Northeast), and a Certified Association Executive (CAE). She is a past member of the Northeast Board of Regents, a past President of the Maryland Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (MACCE), and the 2012 recipient of MACCE’s Chamber Executive of the Year award.

Louder recently formed her own consulting company, Louder NonProfit Strategies, LLC, to provide strategic planning, benchmarking and mentoring to chamber and association clients. She serves as faculty for the US Chamber’s Institute for Organization Management and for the Chamber Professionals Online Conference teaching board governance, strategic planning, and leadership.

Louder has been married to David S. Louder, III, MD for over 30 years, and they now reside in Charleston, SC. They have two sons: Andrew, 22, recently graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design, and Kelley, 19, is a music education major at Towson University outside Baltimore, MD.

The Explosion of Excellence is a program jointly sponsored by the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and all high schools in Jackson County. It is a fund of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

This year’s fundraiser for the scholarship program includes raffle tickets available to the public for a Louis Vuitton handbag.  The drawing will be held the night of the scholarship program.  To purchase tickets, contact the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce.  To complete this program each year, over $70,000 is raised to provide scholarships to the top ten percent of graduating seniors in Jackson County from the local high schools.

The Chairman of this year’s Explosion of Excellence is Pat Descher of the McDonald’s Descher Organization, and the Co-Chairman is Dr. Bill Descher.

To answer any questions, please call the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce at 228-762-3391 or email Valerie Dedeaux, Administrative Assistant, at More information can be found online at

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