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College of Business and Economic Development

Alumni of the Year

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Each year, the College of Business and Economic Development recognizes an outstanding Alumni of the Year and Young Alumni of the Year for their professional achievements. This year, we will host the event on March 24, 2023 at noon in the Trent Lott National Center on the Hattiesburg campus.


2023 Alumna of the Year, Nell Murray

Nell O’Neal Murray has spent her life’s work on business and economic research, marketing, project development, educational innovation, and community development. Having grown up in the family business, Nell’s parents instilled in her at an early age a strong work ethic and the importance of community. She fulfilled those core values throughout her life’s pathways.

With 15 years in higher education administration, she served on the President’s Executive Council at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and was the Vice President for Development and Institutional Relations. Additionally, 10 years was filled with research and teaching at The University of Southern Mississippi. Nell is known for her dedication to working with young people to assist them with career and education choices.

Nell is quick to relate the pivotal role that Southern Miss Business played in her career choice and the preparation for that career. As she so often says, “my undergraduate in marketing and an MBA from Southern Miss has served me well for a lifetime.”

Over the last fifty years, Murray Consulting Services has provided clients assistance with marketing, public relations, strategic planning, research, project development, grant writing, project administration, disaster recovery and mitigation, and economic development. Clients have been served from county and municipal government, higher education, K-12 education, manufacturing, business, engineering, and medical services. Funding in the millions of dollars from successful grants was acquired for clients from such sources as the U.S. Department of Labor, FEMA, U.S. Department of Education, MS Arts Commission, Ronald McDonald Charities, Eisenhower Professional Development Program, MS Workforce Development, National Science Foundation, U.S. Congress, and so many more prestigious organizations.

Service to church and community is a privilege high on Nell’s priority list. She is a member of the Southern Miss Business Advisory Council where she served as President from 2020-2022. She also serves on the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Foundation Board and the Stone County School District Career Technical Advisory Committee. She was instrumental in the passage of legislation creating the Stone County Economic Development Partnership. 

She was an elected member of the Stone County School Board and the recipient of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s service award, the Sam Owen Award. The Stone County Economic Development Partnership established the Nell Murray Excellence Leadership Award to recognize outstanding leaders in the county and awarded it to Nell as the founding member. 

2023 Young Alumna of the Year,
Allie Williamson

Allie WilliamsonAllie Williamson is the Owner and CEO of Southern Domestic Diva, a multi-services cleaning company operating out of Southwest Mississippi and Nashville, Tennessee. Allie is from Monticello, Mississippi and graduated from Southern Miss with her bachelor's in Hospitality Management. Following graduation, she accepted a position in Fairhope, Alabama and began her career in hospitality at the Grand Marriott. Allie gained experience in sales through her roles in the hospitality industry and eventually landed a job with RJ Young in Nashville, Tennessee.

While Allie loved her roles in the corporate world, she desired to make an impact in a new way. During her free time, she began cleaning homes to make a little extra money for the holidays. After her 9-5 corporate job, she would change clothes, grab her vacuum and a bottle of Pine-Sol and get to work! Her initial success encouraged her to pursue her entrepreneurial journey full-time and in 2014, Southern Domestic Diva was formed. In 2019, she expanded the business to her hometown and a new division of Southern Domestic Diva opened in Southwest Mississippi. She has grown an empire made up of more than 70 women. Allie and her team serve over 800 clients in Southwest Mississippi and the Nashville metropolitan area, offering services for residential, commercial, and rental properties. The company's goal is to be the one stop shop for all cleaning needs. With over 10 years of cleaning experience, Southern Domestic Diva provides unmatched cleaning services which always includes a touch of southern hospitality.

With a heart for giving back to her community, Allie is involved in numerous nonprofit organizations throughout the Nashville area, frequently volunteering services for events benefitting the area. 

Our Sponsor, Joseph Boardman Jr.

This event is supported by the endowment of the late Joseph Boardman Jr., a 1953 graduate of Southern Miss, who majored in marketing. Boardman remained connected to his alma mater through both his generosity and service. A past president of the Southern Miss Alumni Association and former member of the USM Foundation Board, Boardman also served 18 years on the Harrison County Development Commission. 

Boardman started working at Coast Materials, a ready-mixed concrete operation in Gulfport, Miss., in 1953. In 1964, he became president of Coast Materials and served in that capacity until 1984. During that time, Boardman was twice elected president of the Mississippi Concrete Industries Association and chair of the Board of the National Ready- Mixed Concrete Association (a worldwide organization). 

In 1972, he was elected to the Hancock Bank Advisory Board and served as a member of the Hancock Bank Holding Company Board until 2007, including chair of the Board from 1987 to 2007. From 2008 to 2009, Boardman served as Hancock Bank Holding Company Board member emeritus. 


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College of Business and Economic Development

3103 Scianna Hall
118 College Dr. #5021
Hattiesburg, MS 39406

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College of Business and Economic Development

North Academic Building
730 East Beach Blvd. 
Long Beach, MS 39560

Gulf Park Campus

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