HATTIESBURG – Although
Danny Mitchell '70, '71 has only been on the job as the Southern
Miss Alumni Association's president for little more than one month,
he does not at all feel like he is new to the position. Mitchell
began his new post on July 1, along with members of the executive
committee and seven new members of the board of directors.
That very well may be because last year under
the guidance of then-president Rex Kelly, Mitchell, who was then
president-elect, and Rosemary Aultman, the current president-elect
and then vice president, the Association's executive committee took
a new approach to leading the Association. The change, while it
required hard work and diligence, was simple in plan - to think
"Last year Rex, Rosemary and I made a commitment
to look at the future of the Alumni Association as larger than the
goals of any one person's presidency," Mitchell said. "This
year we will continue that agenda, while adding Lou Ann (Poynter)
as vice president."
The result was the Association's "2004-2009
Strategic Overview," a document that has guided, is guiding
and will guide the Association's decision-making processes. The
document includes both goals and paths toward those goals in four
key areas - revenue enhancement and alignment, membership involvement
and participation, resource allocation and participation, and organization
positioning and branding.
The Association's executive committee members
Danny Mitchell '70, '71, president
When Danny Mitchell is not assisting the Alumni
Association in its various efforts, he is working as one of the
most highly regarded public relations practitioners in the South.
He received his bachelor's degree from Southern Miss in 1970 and
his master's degree in public relations a year later. He is currently
the chairman and chief executive officer of GodwinGroup in Jackson,
one of the South's oldest independent advertising agencies. Mitchell
has worked as a public relations and communications officer for
the Jackson Municipal Separate School District; was a managing partner
for WSDL-AM and WVSL-FM in Slidell, La.; served as assistant director
of public relations for Mississippi University for Women; and was
a public relations consultant for Wilson/Mitchell Public Relations
His work with the GodwinGroup should be very
familiar to Southern Miss alumni, as the agency has been behind
the athletic department's brand "Anyone. Anywhere. Anytime.,"
as well as the University's "Freeing the Power of the Individual"
Mitchell and his wife Patricia '70 have three children, Benjamin
Ferrell '01, Emily and Amy.
Rosemary Aultman '73, president-elect
Rosemary Aultman, a Tupelo native, has earned a master's
degree from The University of Southern Mississippi and a bachelor's
degree from Mississippi University of Women. A former first grade
teacher, she served 10 years on the Clinton School Board, serving
twice as president.
Since her election as mayor of Clinton in 1993, Mayor
Aultman has set an aggressive agenda for the city. During her three
terms, Clinton has twice been chosen a Mississippi Most Livable
City, received a City Excellence Award, became a Certified Retirement
Community, twice received the Energy Team City designation and has
garnered five Making Mississippi Move awards from the Mississippi
Aultman has served on the board of directors for
the Alumni Association as well as The USM Foundation and was selected
to the Alumni Association's Hall of Fame in 2002. She was a Mississippi
University for Women Alumni Achievement Award recipient in 2001.
Aultman and her husband Les, a geologist, have two
daughters and two granddaughters. The Aultmans are active members
of First Baptist Church in Clinton.
Lou Ann Poynter '69, '70, vice president
Lou Ann Poynter served as senior executive vice president
and head of the Mortgage Banking Division of Union Planters Bank,
N.A. prior to her retirement in July 2004. She currently serves
on the board of directors of Regions Financial Corporation, headquartered
in Birmingham, Ala. She was president and CEO of Magnolia Federal
Bank for Savings prior to the merger of Magnolia Federal with Union
Planters Bank on November 1, 1997.
Active in university and community affairs, Poynter
is a member of the Alumni Hall of Fame, past president of The USM
Foundation and currently is a member of the College of Business
Administration Advisory Council. She has served on the executive
committees of the Area Development Partnership for Forrest and Lamar
counties, the Public Education Forum of Mississippi and the Mississippi
Economic Council. She also served a five-year term through July
2004 as a commissioner on the Forrest County Industrial Park Commission
Poynter is married to Louis Poynter '91, who was an
appraiser in Hattiesburg prior to his retirement. They have one
daughter, Melissa '02, who now attends law school at the University
Larry Watson '71,'76, Finance Committee Chairman
Larry Watson's love for The University of Southern
Mississippi was developed during his years as a student. He earned
two degrees from the University, following his Bachelor of Science
in finance in 1971 with a Master of Business Administration in 1976.
Today, Watson is active in both The USM Foundation
and the Alumni Association, which he has served as president of
the East Central Mississippi Chapter and on the finance committee.
With more than 30 years of business experience at
financial institutions, Watson has worked with BancorpSouth Trust
and Asset Management since 2001. His previous experience includes
positions with Merchants and Farmers Bank, Deposit Guaranty National
Bank, Compass Bank, Mississippi State University and Founders Trust
Rex Kelly '80, past president
While Rex Kelly's term as president of the Alumni
Association ended July 1, the foundation he instilled for the organization's
future has placed the Association on solid footing for years to
come. Under his leadership, the executive committee created a strategic
overview, which guides decisions made by the Association.
He is also a member of The USM Foundation Honor Club.
Kelly, who is director of the corporate communications
department for Mississippi Power, is responsible for the company's
advertising, external communications, media relations, employee
communications, video production, corporate services, community
affairs, creative services, charitable and education foundations,
and public relations program.
Kelly and his wife Becky have two children. He is
a member of First Baptist Church in Gulfport, where he serves as
a deacon and an adult Sunday school teacher.
The following is an introduction of new members
of the board of directors. Board members will serve three year terms,
Angela Hilbun Cognevich '92, '94 has been employed
by the Mississippi Development Authority as the Southeast office's
regional manager in Hattiesburg since 1995. She is a football, basketball
and baseball season ticket holder and is a member of the Eagle Club,
Hardwood Club and Dugout Club. She currently serves as president
of the Laurel Metro Alumni Chapter and is part of the Eagle Club's
advisory board. She assists with the University's New South Economic
Development Course, teaching in the economic development master's
program. She was instrumental in establishing the Joe Johnson Scholarship
that awards a scholarship to a graduate student in economic development.
The award honors Joe Johnson, a past president of the Alumni Association,
who died in 2003.
Cognevich has a son and daughter-in-law, Chad
and Ashley Cognevich, and is expecting her first grandchild in September.
In addition to becoming a Life Member of the
Association in 2000, Marcus Kincaid '98 is an Eagle Club member
and served as the Association's Central Mississippi Chapter's recruitment
committee chairman from 2001 to 2004.
Since graduation, Kincaid has worked as a financial
advisor, and he currently resides in Louisville, Miss., with his
wife, the former Miranda Pampley, and children, Tyler, Ryan and
Mary Alice Kirby, a 1992 graduate of The University
of Southern Mississippi, has shown her dedication to the institution
as an alumna through her service as the president of the Association's
Kirby, who works as an inventory control specialist
for After Hours Formal Wear, was honored with the Scott Caldwell
Chapter President of the Year award in 1999.
Kirby resides in Marietta, Ga., with her husband
Ricky Rex Mathews '84 is publisher and president
of The Sun Herald, where 21 years ago he began as a summer advertising
and circulation intern. He has held various positions in the newspaper's
advertising, circulation, production, operations and marketing departments
and was vice president/marketing director when named publisher in
As an involved member of his community, Mathews
has served in various leadership positions for the Gulf Coast Chamber
of Commerce and the United Way. He is a past president of the Friends
of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, the Mississippi Wildlife
Federation and past chairman of the board of Goodwill Industries.
He is a member of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Economic Development
Council, a board member for the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce
and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. He is currently the chairman
of the Knight Foundation Biloxi Community Advisory Committee.
Mathews is married to the former Ann Barhonovich
of Biloxi, and they have three children: Victoria, Justin and Jordan.
After graduating magna cum laude from Southern
Miss, Michael Ratliff '78 received his juris doctorate degree from
the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1981. He has practiced
law in Hattiesburg since 1981 and is a partner in the firm of Johnson,
Hall & Ratliff.
An active member of the Rotary Club of Hattiesburg,
Ratliff is a former president of the club, served as chairman of
its district conference in 1997, and was assistant governor district
6840 from 1997 to 2001. He is a member of the inaugural class of
the Area Development Partnership's Leaders for a New Century (1989),
serving as co-chair (1993-94, 1999-2000, 2003-04) and participating
on the steering committee (1990-2005). He received the ADP's Service
Award in 2000.
Ratliff belongs to University Baptist Church
where he is a deacon. He is chairman of the Mississippi Commission
for Volunteer Service.
A Life Member of The University of Southern
Misssissippi Alumni Association, Lamar Reynolds '66 is a mainstay
at Golden Eagle athletic events. Most notably, he attended 230 consecutive
Southern Miss football games from 1981 to 2001. In addition, he
is a member of Wings, the women's basketball support group, the
Dugout Club and the Southern Miss Hardwood Club.
When he is not cheering the Golden Eagles from
the sidelines, he is routinely finding other ways to support the
University. He is a member of the Alumni Hall of Fame, inducted
in 1994. He received the Outstanding Service Award from the Alumni
Association in 1989 as well as the Continuous Service Award in 2000.
He has been a member of the Alumni Association's traditions committee.
He has served as president, vice president and treasurer of the
Jackson Big Gold Club, and he has served as an Eagle Club district
Recently retired, Reynolds resides in Hattiesburg
with his wife Janet. He has two daughters, Jackie and Amy.
Dale Shearer, a 1987 graduate of The University
of Southern Mississippi, was born and raised a Golden Eagle. Shearer
is the son of Carolyn and Kenneth B. Shearer '60, who served as
president of the Alumni Association from 1970 to 1971.
While a student, Shearer was a member of the
Honors College and Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and was active in
student government. As an alumnus, he has served as a member of
The USM Foundation's board of directors and is a delegate to the
IHL Inter-Alumni Council.
Shearer, who graduated from the University of
Minnesota Law School in 1990, is a member of the Copeland, Cook,
Tayor & Bush, P.A., law firm, which is located in Ridgeland,
Miss. From 2003 to 2005, he was a member of the City of Ridgeland
Chamber of Commerce.
Shearer resides in Ridgeland with his wife,
the former Janet Denise Saul '90, daughter Mary Kate, 6, and son