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Released August 15, 2005


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 long term.

"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 include

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 in Columbus.

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" campaign.
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 Municipal League.

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 of Mississippi.

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 Company.

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, 2005-08.

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 McKenna.

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 Atlanta Chapter.

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 Michael.

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 2001.

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 director.

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 Sam, 4.


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September 14, 2005 4:41 PM