Skip to content
Magnolia on the Move: December 15, 2023

Magnolia on the Move: December 15, 2023

By: Frank Corder - December 15, 2023

Spotlighting the people and businesses in Mississippi making headlines in their communities and across their industry.

Here’s a look at what’s happening across the workforce and business community in Mississippi.

Top CFOs announced for Mississippi

TOP CFOs (formerly Finance & Investing) announced their listing of The Top 25 CFOs of Mississippi for 2023. 

“The distinguished awardees on this list demonstrate expertise in financial planning, risk management, and investment decisions, which have a ripple effect on the state’s stability and resilience,” the organization says. “They play a pivotal role in steering businesses toward success and contributing to the overall well-being of their communities.”

Noted among the listing are Jane Lennard Moss of Viking Range, Max Bowman of Cal-Maine Foods, Clark Robinson of Neel-Schaffer, Ben Pace of C Spire, and Doug Hancock of Roy Anderson.

View the list full list of the Top CFOs here.

Shaw named new registrar at Mississippi State University

Emily Shaw (Photo by Beth Wynn)

Emily Shaw, who has served as associate registrar since 2020, is now leading the management and maintenance of all student academic records and the university’s approved curriculum as the new university registrar.

She also oversees class scheduling and end-of-term processing, student registration, transfer articulation, degree audit and education record federal compliance.

According to the university, Shaw’s most visible responsibility as the new registrar is coordination of MSU’s spring and fall commencement ceremonies, working with Office of the Registrar staff and others across campus on two of the biggest—and most memorable—events for students and their families.

Sanderson Farms Championship host organization donates $1 million to benefit Children’s of Mississippi

(Photo by Melanie Thortis/ UMMC Photography)

The University of Mississippi Medical Center announced this week that Century Club Charities, host organization of the Sanderson Farms Championship, set a record by donating $1 million from tournament proceeds to benefit Mississippi’s only children’s hospital.

The donation comes from proceeds of Mississippi’s only PGA TOUR event. According to UMMC, it is the 10th consecutive year the tournament’s donation to Children’s of Mississippi has been $1 million or more.

Sanderson Farms, now Wayne-Sanderson Farms, has been the title sponsor of the tournament since 2013. In that time, UMMC says more than $17.2 million has been raised for Mississippi charities through the event.

Thirty Mississippi firefighters graduate from national course

Firefighter Class 206 of the Mississippi State Fire Academy is graduated 30 members from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1001 Firefighter I-II course held at the Mississippi State Fire Academy in Jackson this week.

Graduation was held at the Fire Academy Auditorium Thursday, December 14th.

According to the Fire Academy, this intense seven-week course included online, classroom, and hands-on instruction in the areas of fire behavior, fire suppression, rescue, incident command, hazardous materials, and other fire related topics. This course meets and exceeds the National Fire Protection Association for Firefighter Qualifications and the uniform minimum training standards stated in the Mississippi Code section 45-11-7.

The Mississippi State Fire Academy is a division of the Mississippi Insurance Department.

Alliant Insurance continues growth in Mississippi, adds Roberts as Senior VP

Alliant Insurance Services continues to expand its presence in the Mississippi market with the addition of Steve Roberts as Senior Vice President within its Alliant Americas division. Based in Jackson, Mississippi, Roberts will provide tailored property and casualty insurance solutions to a growing regional client base.

An insurance industry veteran, Roberts joins Alliant with a long history of success in the state of Mississippi. His extensive background includes time as an underwriter, agency owner, and producer, which he will leverage to assist Alliant in continuing its growth in the region.

Roberts previously owned and operated a Louisville, Mississippi-based commercial insurance agency. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Mississippi State University.

Career Coaches helping Mississippians connect with possibilities

AccelerateMS career coaches were deploying into Mississippi high schools over a year ago, and they are proving that students make better choices about the future when they have more individualized support, control, and more connections.

“Bringing in more coaches has generated a lot of excitement,” said Lori Nail, AccelerateMS youth programs manager. “They’re building connections between schools and communities and making sure more students graduate with a career plan in place, often with the support of local employers who need skilled workers. And we’re expecting even greater outcomes in the future.”

In partnership with regional development organizations, AccelerateMS has placed 176 career coaches in 115 school districts across Mississippi. While career coaches are available to assist all high school students, they focus on seniors who don’t have post-graduation plans. Coaches help them set goals for the future and identify steps to achieve them, whether it’s continuing their education, entering the workforce, enlisting in the military, or a combination of options.

Keesler Federal Credit Union names Julie Peek as Director of Finance

Keesler Federal Credit Union has named Julie Peek as Director of Finance. She will manage the Keesler Federal finance team in reporting and analysis of asset liability management, budgeting, financial reporting, and liquidity, with the goal of maintaining the credit union’s excellent financial performance.

Peek is a 27-year veteran at Keesler Federal and previously worked as Accountant, Financial Analyst, Senior Financial Analyst, Assistant Finance Manager, and Manager of Finance.

Peek is a resident of Pascagoula and a 1993 graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi. She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and is a certified public accountant. Before joining Keesler Federal, she worked for Mississippi Power Company.

MDOT names Willis as Director of new Office of Intermodal Planning and Highway Operations

The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) recently announced the promotion of Assistant Chief Engineer – Operations Jim Willis to the position of director of the newly formed Office of Intermodal Planning and Highway Operations, effective January 1, 2024. 

The restructuring of the Intermodal Planning and Highway Safety divisions comes after Charles Carr, longtime Multimodal Director, announced his retirement at the end of the year.

Willis received his Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from Mississippi State University in 1998 and began working for MDOT in the Planning Division. In 2000, he was promoted to State Safety Engineer in the Traffic Engineering Division where he started MDOT’s Highway Safety program. In 2011, Willis was promoted to Assistant State Traffic Engineer, which included management of Highway Safety, Intelligent Transportation Systems and the Rails Programs. He was named the Highway Safety Division Director in 2019 before being named Assistant Chief Engineer – Operations in 2022.


Help us tell Mississippi’s business story. Submit your professional or business/industry news to be highlighted in Magnolia Tribune’s “Magnolia on the Move” by emailing
About the Author(s)
author profile image

Frank Corder

Frank Corder is a native of Pascagoula. For nearly two decades, he has reported and offered analysis on government, public policy, business and matters of faith. Frank’s interviews, articles, and columns have been shared throughout Mississippi as well as in national publications. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, providing insight and commentary on the inner workings of the Magnolia State. Frank has served his community in both elected and appointed public office, hosted his own local radio and television programs, and managed private businesses all while being an engaged husband and father. Email Frank:
Previous Story
Next Story