Human Capital Development Ph.D. - Current Students

 Jim Black

Black, Jr., Jimmie R.

Master’s Degree: Master’s of Business Administration- University of Phoenix

Master’s Degree: Master’s of Business Law- Friends University

Bachelor’s Degree: Business Management- University of Phoenix

Jimmie R. Black, Jr., is a Director of Human Resources for T-Mobile USA, Inc.  With over 15 years leadership experience, he has held key leadership positions in both operations and human resources for companies in retail, manufacturing, and communications, including directing call center operations and providing HR support to over 4,400 employees in a high paced national retail environment.  Jimmie received an Eagle Excellence Award in 2006 for innovation in creating a work flow system to automate graphic design processes at the Wichita Eagle while leading the sales and design teams.  In addition, he won three HR All-Star awards at T-Mobile USA for his work in creating the first comprehensive Human Resources metrics and scorecard program in the organization and currently leads the team that supports that program.   He is also holds certifications as a Senior Professional in Human Resources from the Human Resources Certification Institute and in HR and Law from the Institute for Applied Management and Law as well as being a certified core mediator.

 Picture of Larry Blavos

Blavos, Lawrence

Master’s Degree:  Master’s of Business Administration- West Coast University

Bachelor’s Degree: Business Administration- Shepherd College

Lawrence K. Blavos is a Project Manager for Technical Training and Development for Supply Chain Management at Huntington-Ingalls in Pascagoula, MS, where he designs, develops, and delivers instructor-led and computer-based supply chain and logistics training.  Additionally, he has served as a full-time instructor and currently works as an adjunct instructor and as a member of the Advisory Board for the Associates Degree program in Logistics Technology at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College where he designed the program, developed the courseware, and recruited students.  Larry is a 21-year veteran of the United States Air Force, having retired as a Lieutenant Colonel where he specialized in intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) nuclear operations and maintenance, cruise missile nuclear and conventional maintenance, space logistics, and munitions maintenance.  Larry is also a graduate of the Air Force Advanced Logistics Course, Squadron Officers School, Air Command and Staff College, and Air War College.  Larry is recognized by the International Society of Logistics (SOLE) as a Demonstrated Master Logistician, their highest demonstrated logistician rating.

Picture of Catherine Campbell 

Campbell, Catherine

Master’s Degree: Workforce Training and Development- The University of Southern Mississippi

Bachelor’s Degree:  Chemistry- Mississippi State University

Cathy Campbell has extensive experience as a training and development professional with Chevron Corporation. She has designed and implemented key initiatives for leadership development, accountability through performance management, employee development, multi-source feedback, and diversity. Cathy is the Learning and Development Area Team Leader for Chevron’s largest manufacturing facility. Cathy earned an undergraduate degree in chemistry and mathematics and held various technical positions in addition to positions in human resource development. She is a Certified Training Professional by the Jack and Patti Phillips Workplace Learning and Performance Institute at The University of Southern Mississippi. As a member of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), Cathy was a speaker at the 2001 ASTD International Conference in the area of organizational development.

Picture of Charles Childress

Childress, Charles

Master's Degree: Economic Development- The University of Southern Mississippi

Bachelor's Degree:  Athletic Training- The University of Southern Mississippi

Charles is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana. He has been employed as the Assistant Director for the Office of Conference and Fraternity Housing Operations at Southern Miss’s Hattiesburg Campus since 2008. As an undergraduate student, Charles worked in many different departments such as Recreational Sports, Admissions, Athletics and Residence Life. He served as the Graduate Assistant for Facility Operations in the University Union Complex while attaining his Masters Degree. Charles is an active volunteer within the Hattiesburg community helping with Hattiesburg’s Caerus Mardi Gras Parade, American Heart Association Forrest / Lamar Heartwalk, and “My First 5k” program among other things. He enjoys exercising and runs Marathons and Half Marathons raising money for the different race charities. He is active at Southern Miss serving on the Staff Council, Parking Management Committee (Chair), University Appeals Committee, AHA HeartWalk Logistics Committee, Lambda Sigma Honor Society Advisor and Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity Advisor. During the fall, he teaches a Leadership Class to a group of the Freshman Leadership Scholars.

 Picture of Yolanda Clark

 Clark, Yolanda

Master’s Degree: Community Development- Delta State University

Bachelor’s Degree: Psychology- Belhaven College

Yolanda Clark is currently position as an asset manager for Jefferson County Assisted Housing Corporation. As an asset manager, she is responsible for the implementation of tasks within the Section 8 Contract Administration Annual Contributions Contract (ACC) with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. To ensure program compliance, Yolanda is responsible for conducting training seminars for owners and management agents of affordable housing properties. Through the National Center for Housing Management, she has received Occupancy Specialist and Manager of Housing certifications. As a student in the HCD PhD program, Yolanda presented research at the 2011 Graduate Student Research Symposium. 


Cook-Johnson, Gizzatta

Master's Degree: Human Resource Development- Louisiana State University

Bachelor's Degree: Management (HR)- Louisiana State University

Gizzatta is currently an HR Specialist for the LSU Health Care Services Division.  She also has experience working in HR in the Federal government.

Picture of Anesa Davis

Davis, Anesa

Master's Degree: Master's of Business Administration- Western Governors University

Bachelor's Degree:  General Studies- Louisiana State University

Anesa Davis is an experienced strategic management professional with extensive knowledge in operations management, project management, team development, and training. She has held several leadership roles with Target Corporation, AT&T (formerly BellSouth Telecommunications). Currently, she is an Adjunct Faculty Evaluator at Western Governors University. She evaluates Business Management, Business Law, Ethics, and Leadership Concepts courses.

 Picture of Chad Driskell

Driskell, Chad

Master’s Degree:  Public Policy and Administration- Mississippi State University

Bachelor’s Degree: Political Science- The University of Southern Mississippi

Chad Driskell, Executive Assistant to the President of the University of Southern Mississippi, manages all outside political and regulatory relationships with The University of Southern Mississippi.   Prior to joining the Southern Miss family in Sept 2007, Chad served as Senior Vice President of the Mississippi Bankers Association since 1996.  As the single trade association representing over 100 commercial banking institutions with a combined $40 billion in total assets, the Mississippi Bankers Association worked in consultation with a myriad of political and regulatory officials on the state and federal level.  He was responsible for managing the Bankers government relations program and political action committee.  Chad began his career as an Operations Analyst for the Mississippi Gaming Commission in 1994 and has forged positive working relationships with political and regulatory officials in various agencies and bodies since.

 Picture of Josh Duplantis

Duplantis, Josh

Master’s Degree:  Educational Administration- Auburn University

Bachelor’s Degree:  Human Resource Education- Louisiana State University

Joshua Duplantis is the Assistant Director of the Union for the Office of Community Service Learning at The University of Southern Mississippi main campus in Hattiesburg. Josh’s responsibilities are conducting faculty training on the concept of service-learning, promoting civic engagement among students, faculty, and staff and managing a network of non-profit leaders in the Hattiesburg area.

 Picture of Amy Eifling

Eifling, Amy

Master’s Degree:  Workforce Training and Development- The University of Southern Mississippi

Bachelor’s Degree: Human Sciences- Mississippi State University

Amy Eifling is CEO of the international human capital development consulting firm, Aspire, Inc.  In addition to managing projects and developing business relationships, Amy specializes in organizational design and development, as well as talent development.  Specific areas of expertise include workforce analysis, succession planning, accelerated leadership development programs, professional coaching, organizational structure and systems design and knowledge transfer initiatives.

Amy works with clients with a variety of organizations, including The Whitten Group.  While working with The Whitten Group, Amy developed a leadership program that won an international award and two national awards.  The program was also the runner up for the 2009 Innovation in Government Award.  

Amy focuses on the design and development of custom courses for corporate and public sector clients.  She also facilitates courses on many HR topics related to recruitment, retention, hiring, and succession planning.  Her latest training pursuit is the development of e-learning courses on compliance topics such as Workplace Harassment and Ethics.  In addition, Amy worked on the design and implementation of learning management systems in 3 public sector organizations.  

To recognize Amy’s professional and civic accomplishments, the Mississippi Business Journal named her one of the “Top 40 Under 40” in Mississippi.  The Business Journal also recognized Amy as one of the “50 Leading Business Women in Mississippi”.  Amy was featured in the international magazine, T & D, as 1 of 6 members of “Training’s New Guard 2004”.  Amy also served as President of the American Society for Training and Development’s Mississippi Chapter for two terms.


Fava, David

Master’s Degree:  Educational Administration- The University of Southern Mississippi

Bachelor’s Degree: Science Education- The University of Southern Mississippi

David Fava is the Director of Career and Technical Education (CTE) for the Gulfport School District.  Focusing on the development of rigorous and relevant learning opportunities, Mr. Fava strives to build cooperative relationships between education and business/industry.  As director, Mr. Fava is involved in workforce development, career preparation and Mississippi’s High School Redesign Initiative. Fava also supervises the Gulfport School District University – the district’s novice teacher induction program.

 Picture of William

Ferguson, William (Ker)

Master’s Degree:  Business Administration- University of Western Ontario

Bachelor’s Degree: Business Administration- University of Western Ontario

W. Ker Ferguson moved to the U.S. from Canada in 2005.  Ker’s initial background includes corporate banking and finance, but more recently he has been engaged in the academic sector, where he has over 15 years experience in university technology transfer and research park management.  He is currently the Asst. V.P. for Research and Industry Liaison, at the University of South Alabama, responsible for the development of the University of South Alabama Research Park initiative and operation of their Office of Technology Transfer.


Fox, Christopher

Master’s Degree:  Counseling Psychology- William Carey University

Bachelor’s Degree: Psychology- The University of Southern Mississippi

Chris Fox is the Staff Development Coordinator for Pine Belt Mental Healthcare Resources in Hattiesburg, MS. He has been employed at Pine Belt Mental Healthcare Resources for the past 12 years.   Chris is responsible for coordinating all clinical trainings as well as providing curriculum training for orientation staff.  He has 12 years of experience in the social service industry with 3 of those years in clinical training and development.


Fullerton, Pete

Master’s Degree:  Public Administration- University of Missouri

Bachelor’s Degree: Political Science- Texas A&M University

Burdette "Pete" Fullerton is the Executive Director of the Platte County Economic Development Council in Kansas City, Missouri.  During Pete’s tenure with the Platte County EDC, the organization has won over 45 awards for economic development services.  The Platte County EDC has been involved in the successful completion of over 125 projects that have created over 11,000 jobs in Platte County.  The Platte County EDC, in 1999, was awarded the first ever Missouri Governor’s Achievement Award.  In addition, Pete was recognized as the Missouri Economic Developer of the year in 1996 and an “Up & Comer” by the Kansas City Business Journal in 1997.  A “40 under 40” selection by Ingram’s Magazine in 2000, he has also received the Chairman’s Award of Distinction by the Southern Economic Development Council in 2001 & 2006 and the designation of “Counselor” by the Missouri Economic Development Council in 2005.  

In addition, Pete is a graduate of the Economic Development Institute and holds certifications as an Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP), Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) and Professional Community Economic Developer (PCED).  Pete’s professional endeavors currently include: Board memberships on the Kansas City Area Workforce Investment Board, the Greater Kansas City and Northland United Way Board of Directors.  In addition, Pete is a Past President/Chairman for the Southern Economic Development Council and the Missouri Economic Development Council.


Funk, Mary

Master’s Degree:  Business Administration- William Carey University

Bachelor’s Degree:   Professional Aeronautics- Embry Riddle Aeronautical University

Mary Funk is a Student Success Coordinator, and Career Services associate on the Gulf Coast Campus.  Mary served 24 years in the United States Navy as an air traffic controller supervisor and airport manager during the Iraqi and Gulf Wars.  She excels at training and mentoring, taking great pleasure in assisting undergraduate students through their educational journey.


 Picture of Gregory

Higgins, Gregory (Greg)

Master’s Degree:  Public Affairs- University of Texas (Austin)

Bachelor’s Degree:  Management - Georgia Institute of Technology

Greg Higgins is an experienced program and project leader with expertise in a broad array of organizational functions to include: strategic planning, financial management, human capital development, organizational performance management, capital project management, economic analysis and information technology utilization.  Greg has significant experience managing multi-disciplinary and diverse project teams.


Hinrichs, Tom

Master’s Degree:  Workforce Training and Development- The University of Southern Mississippi

Bachelor’s Degree:  Workforce Education and Training Development- Southern Illinois University

Tom is employed at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding as a Program Manager Representative/On-Site Logistics Representative Manager.  Tom developed Personnel Qualification Training Program for Configuration Analysts for the Navy’s Configuration Data Manager’s Certification.  The Personnel Qualification Program was selected by the Navy’s Certification Team as a “Best Practice” and implemented throughout the other nine CDM’s.  Tom is a 21 year veteran of the United States Navy, having retired in 1996 as a Senior Chief Surface Sonar Technician.  Tom was on the Training Development Team responsible for integrating new training for the Navy’s new SQQ-89 Integrated Sonar System.  While stationed on board the USS John Hall, he integrated individual warfare and numerous ship operational system training programs into one integrated warfare training program.  The integrated training program tested all ship training programs simultaneously providing a realistic combat simulation training scenarios.  The training was evaluated by the Navy’s Afloat Training Group and developed for all classes of Navy ships. 

 Picture of John Hubbard

Hubbard, John

Master's Degree: Econcomic Development- The University of Southern Mississippi

Bachelor's Degree: Liberal Arts- Abilene Christian University

John Hubbard has been employed in Texas local government for over twenty-five years serving in the communities of Plano, Lucas, Fairview and Lancaster Texas. Currently John is the Executive Director of the Balch Springs Economic Development Corporation in Balch Springs, Texas. During John’s tenure with the Balch Springs EDC, the organization has been involved in the successful completion of over 45 projects that have created over 500 jobs in Balch Springs.

John holds certifications as a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD), an Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP) and Professional Community and Economic Developer (PCED). Currently John is part of a community team of local stakeholders that is working closely with the University of North Texas at Dallas to create a Center of Logistics and Trade at the University. John’s other professional endeavors currently include: Board memberships on the Methodist Charlton Medical Center Advisory Board in Dallas, the Balch Springs Chamber of Commerce and the Balch Springs Tourism Advisory Committee.

John's thoughts on the HCD program: "The program's format offers and excellent method for working professionals to pursue their degree. I find the professors and staff to be very helpful and friendly.


Johnson, Sharon

Master’s Degree:  Adult Education and Human Resource Development- James Madison University

Bachelor’s Degree:  Marketing- Virginia Intermont College

Sharon is a Consultant with expertise in workforce development, strategic partnering, and learning and performance related project management. She is currently working on projects with the Shenandoah Valley Partnership, Shenandoah Valley Workforce Investment Board and regional community colleges. She serves on numerous regional workforce, economic development and education boards, steering committees and advisory councils. Prior to her consulting work, Johnson was Director, Industry Learning and Performance for Blue Ridge Community College, Project Director for Manufacturing, Healthcare and Technology Workforce Development with the Workforce Investment Board, and Director, Implementation Strategies and Services for an Atlanta based software company. In the last five years, she has designed and managed $5M of externally funded projects to address regional workforce needs.

She is a Certified Performance Technologist (CPT) with the International Society for Performance Improvement, a Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) with the American Society for Training and Development, and a Certified Workforce Development Professional (CWDP) with additional endorsements in Business and Employer Services and Workforce Management Services through the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals

 Picture of Bobby Lamb

Lamb, Bobby

Master's Degree: Management/HR Minor- Troy University

Bachelor's Degree: Human Resource Management- University of Maryland

Bobby Lamb is an Instructional Designer working on the DDG 1000 Class Destroyer Training Program at Huntington-Ingalls in Pascagoula, MS, where he designs, develops, and delivers computer-based training of the Navy’s newest state-of-the-art warship.  Bobby previously worked at NASA’s Shared Service Center as a courseware developer where he was responsible for integrating new and legacy NASA courses into NASA’s Learning Management System (LMS).

Bobby is a 20-year veteran of the United States Navy, having retired as a Chief Petty Officer where he specialized in training, development, and career counseling. Bobby also specialized in meteorology and oceanography and deployed to the Middle East on multiple occasions supporting real-world operations.

Photo of Chris Lawrence

Lawrence, Chris

Master's Degree: Workforce Training and Development- The University of Southern Mississippi

Bachelor's Degree: Speech Communication- The University of Southern Mississippi

Chris is currently a Lead Curriculum Developer with Huntington Ingalls Industries.  He has over 20 years of training experience and has spoken to over 200,000 students. He is convinced that the strategic advantage for today's corporations, is the human development initiative and wants to be a part of helping employees to perform their best.

Chris' thoughts on the HCD program: "The hybrid format of the program at USM is the perfect blend of online learning and interactive peer learning, the best of both worlds. Also the practical applications are immediate. Very little theoretical learning that may or may not ever be used. Additionally, the facilitated instruction illustrates the best of Adult Learning Theory that we carry back to the workplace."




Mabry, Janice

Master's Degree:  Master’s of Business Administration with an emphasis on Finance and Management- Mississippi State University

Bachelor's Degree:Business Administration- Millsaps College

Janice is an instructor of Business Marketing Management Technology at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.  Prior to going into the classroom, Ms. Mabry directed a Small Business Development Center, providing guidance and assistance to small businesses.  Her expertise with small business is being tapped to assist the start-up and development of a small business incubator in Jackson County, MS. Additionally, she possesses extensive experience as a professional sales representative with a major trucking company and a managed services company. Professionally, she has been recognized as one of Mississippi's 50 Leading Businesswomen and was selected to receive the Lamplighter award for instructors demonstrating excellence in the classroom. She is a graduate of Leadership Jackson County and has served her homeowner's association in a number of positions, including President. 

 Picture of Bill Markoplous

Markopoulos, William (Bill)

Master's Degree:  Adult Education- The University of Southern Mississippi

Bachelor's Degree:Administration of Justice- William Carey University

William P. (Bill) Markopoulos, M.Ed., is the director of the Harrison County Law Enforcement Training Academy. Bill is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and has over 35 years in the public safety field, in both Mississippi and Florida.

Picture of Alan Martinez

Martinez, Alan

Master's Degree: Instructional Design and Development- The University of South Alabama

Bachelor's Degree: Radio, Television, and Film- The University of Southern Mississippi

Alan Martinez is an Instructional Designer and Pilot Instructor at the Coast Guard Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Alabama.  Besides teaching student pilots, he designs and develops pilot and aircrew training for both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft.  Alan is a naval aviator and military veteran, flying for both the U. S. Marine Corps and United States Coast Guard, and served as Instructor/ Standardization Pilot and Functional Check Pilot.  He holds a FAA commercial pilot rating and an aviation safety certificate from the Naval Postgraduate School.  He worked as Aviation Safety Manager for both the Marine Corps and Coast Guard and Aviation Training Manager for defense contractors Lockheed Martin and L3 Communications.  He has taught as adjunct instructor at a university school of aeronautics and his Human Capital Development Ph.D. research interest is in the impact of cognitive and psychosocial behaviors in multi-piloted cockpits.


 Picture of Gwen Meador

Meador, Gwendolyn (Gwen)

Master’s Degree: Professional Accountancy- Delta State University

Bachelor’s Degree: Accounting- Delta State University

Gwen Meador is currently an Instructor of Accountancy at Delta State University.  She teaches Financial, Managerial, Cost, and Governmental Accounting courses.  Gwen is the treasurer for the Delta Chapter of Certified Public Accountants.


Means, Tammy

Master’s Degree: Engineering Technology with an emphasis in Computer Networking- The University of Southern Mississippi

Bachelor’s Degree:  Software Engineering Technology with an emphasis in Programming- The University of Southern Mississippi

Tammy is a Technology Educator at Memorial Hospital in Gulfport, adjunct professor in the School of Computing at Tulane University.  Tammy has a broad range of expertise in computer technologies through education and work experience in programming, networking, configuration management, and web development. She has served in several technical roles at NASA's Stennis Space Center.


Mitchell, Joy

Master’s Degree:  Technical and Occupational Education- The University of Southern Mississippi

Bachelor’s Degree: Management- Mississippi University for Women

Joy is a counselor at the Jefferson Davis campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.  Prior to her current position, which she has held for 3 years, she was an Assistant Dean of Instruction for 7 years and taught Marketing Management Technology and Fashion Marketing Technology at the Jackson County campus.  Joy has served on and chaired various committees within the college including biannual blood drives, SACS reaffirmation, Master Teacher Professional Development Initiative, Student Advisement System Development Team, and others.   Most recently, she has received certificates from the Community Emergency Response Team, MidSouth Community College Fellowship Program, and ASIST Suicide Prevention.  She is a member of the Biloxi Bay Chamber of Commerce, MS Community & Junior College Counselors Association, and serves on the Pastoral Council of St. Michael’s church.  Prior to career in education, Joy worked in business and industry for several years. 

 Picture of Janea McDonald

McDonald, Janea

Master’s Degree:  Workforce Training and Development- The University of Southern Mississippi

Bachelor’s Degree: Human Resource Management- University of South Alabama

Janea McDonald is currently the owner of Edge Consulting, LLC, a human capital development consulting company. Previously, she was employed as the Director of HR and Technology Divisions for Aspire, Inc., Janea has over 15 years of human resource related experience. She is a certified HR professional (PHR) through the Society for Human Resource Management as well as a certified training professional through the Jack and Patti Phillips Workplace Learning and Performance Institute at The University of Southern Mississippi. In addition to owning her own business, Janea also teaches at William Carey University and serves as a graduate assistant in the human capital development department of Southern Miss. She is currently a board member with the Lighthouse Chapter of the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD).


Perkins, Dianna

Master's Degree:  Workforce Training and Development- The University of Southern Mississippi

Bachelor's Degree: General Studies- University of Louisiana- Lafayette

Dianna is currently a Informatics Education Coordinator at Lafayette General Medical Center where she has been employed for more than 27 years.  During her numerous years at Lafayette General Medical Center, she has assumed many responsibilities, including but not limited to, department supervisor, assistant manager of registration, liaison between the hospital and for-profit entities, educational analyst and trainer of satellite physician office personnel. 

Utilizing her work experience and graduate studies, Mrs. Perkins has been able to combine new skills with old, enhancing her work environment through the application and implementation of newly learned techniques and delivery methods.

Dianna's thoughts on the program:  "Although I have had some delays, this program has been extremely enjoyable and has enhanced my abilities to live my dream and follow my career path. During a resent behavioral based interview which included a panel of 10 people, I was very comfortable discussing training and implementation, evaluation, organizational change and ROI. The confidence occurred because of the knowledge and skills obtained from both the Master's and PhD programs."

 Picture of Steve Puryear

Puryear, Stephen

Master's Degree: Master's of Business Administration- Mississippi College

Bachelor's Degree: Business/Accounting- Mississippi College

Stephen is currently employed as the Coordinator of Finance & Transportation Research at CAVS Extension with Mississippi State.  In the past, he served in various leadership roles with several trucking companies.  In Steve retired from the truck transportation industry after 32 years and began working in several Trucking related businesses -- the American Trucking Associations, Mississippi Trucking Association, and Mississippi State University.  Through Mississippi State, he works with improving and enhancing manufacturing in Mississippi, especially in the automotive sector.  Steve works with the Mississippi Extension Partnership of Mississippi ( through my association with Mississippi State University.


Riddle, Christy

Master's Degree:  Community Development- Delta State University

Master's Degree:  Master’s of Business Administration- Delta State University

Bachelor's Degree:
Business Administration emphasis in Marketing and CIS- Delta State University

Christy serves as the Director of Career Services at Delta State University in Cleveland, MS and as an adjunct professor in the Division of Social Sciences where she teaches a master’s level leadership development course. She has 16 years of professional experience in student, community and leadership development. She is a board member with the United Way of Bolivar County, a member of NACElink’s CSM College National Advisory Group, a Health Champion for Blue Cross/Blue Shield’s Healthy Campus/Community Initiative, a member of the DSU Budget Committee, Past-Chair of the DSU Administrative Staff Council and an ambassador for the Cleveland/Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce.  She is the 2008 recipient of the DSU Outstanding Staff Award for University and Community Relations and is a 2000 graduate of Leadership Mississippi. In 2007, she was selected as a Community Consultant for "Lifting Up the Delta," Phase II of the Mid South Delta Initiative/W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Design Work Groups.  She has presented at several regional and national conferences, including the 2011 USM Graduate Symposium. She has several journal articles published, including an article in the International Leadership Association's journal edition, "Building Leadership Bridges: Leadership: Impact, Culture and Sustainability."

 Picture of Jay Ritchie

Ritchie, Jarryl "Jay"

Master's Degree: History- Mississippi State University

Bachelor's Degree: History- Mississippi State University

Jarryl Ritchie serves as the Gulf Coast Liaison for the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Administrative Unit's Communication Team.  He also serves as the Social Sciences Coordinator for the Northern Gulf Institute (NGI). He is charged with enhancing the social science research activities of the NGI.

Mr. Ritchie has experience in the areas of data management, complex data systems analysis, data visualization, spatial technologies and their applications to the social sciences and management. Mr. Ritchie previously served as Health Data Librarian and Coordinator of the Monitor Laboratory at Mississippi State University's Social Science Research Center (SSRC) and worked with NASA, the Southern Association of Agriculture Experiment Station Director (SAAESD), Mississippi Department of Transportation, and the Foundation for the Mid-South. He has also collaborated on a variety of projects with the Mississippi Department of Human Services; the Office of Highway Safety; the Rural Health, Safety, and Security Institute; and others.


 Picture of Phillip Sandifer

Sandifer, Phillip

Master's Degree: Human Resource Development- Clemson University

Bachelor's Degree: History with Business Minor- University of Texas at Austin

Phillip is currently employed as Director of Worship and Arts at Colonial Presbyterian Church in Overland Park, KS.  He also owns and operates Urgent Media and 234 Music Publishing, two companies that engage in all manner of Media Arts.

Phillip is experienced in team building and creative collaboration in serving the ongoing marketing, messaging and initiatives of organizations. He also facilitates communities of artists, communicators and technicians agreeable to participating on creative teams to engage people via the arts & new media for specific communicative purposes. He is seeking to apply gifts & acquired skills within organizations focused on the general improvement of the culture, most notably the contemporary Church. His goals include continuing to facilitate and apply creative and teaming concepts while seeking new opportunities for their expanded use both inside and outside the corporate setting.

Phillip's comments on the HCD program: "I have loved and benefited from every class I have taken to date. Every class has collaborated with my daily work experience. Separate and apart from the degree pursuit this curriculum is an ongoing educational partner to my professional development. I am becoming a more equipped employee as a result of this program."

 Picture of Brock Stout

Stout, Brock

Master’s Degree:  International Management- Thunderbird (American Graduate School for International Management

Bachelor’s Degree: Advertising/Public Relations- Brigham Young University

After earning his Master’s Degree in 1995, Brock Stout worked in Tokyo as a human resource consultant and recruiter until 2007. Since then he has been operating the Asia business as a telecommuter from a very remote-rural home office in Illinois.

 Picture of Linda Stringfellow

Stringfellow, Linda

Master’s Degree:  Criminal Justice- Delta State University

Bachelor’s Degree:  Criminal Justice- Mississippi Valley State University

Linda is the Project Director of the Mississippi Delta Service Corps/AmeriCorps Volunteers In Service To America (MDSC/AVISTA) Program at the Center for Community and Economic Development at Delta State University.  Along with her AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA experience, she has eleven years of public relations experience with assisting non-profit agencies in developing and implementing annual objectives and strategic plans; six years of adjunct professor experience; two years of correctional counseling experience with establishing individualized plans for inmates and their families, and ten years coordinating experience with “at-risk” youth programs with a focus on education, rehabilitation and self-motivation.  My career experiences also include public relations with thirteen years’ experience in customer service and sales; five years college admissions and recruiting experience; and, ten years of job preparatory teaching and training experience with an emphasis in resume’ writing and conducting interviews.  After completing two years of service as an AmeriCorps member, she joined the staff at the Center in 2000 as a Program Associate for Field Services with the Mississippi Delta Service Corps/AmeriCorps Program and in 2002 she was named MDSC’s Program Associate for Public Relations and Recruiting.  In 2003 Stringfellow and Deborah Moore started a new AmeriCorps program at the Center, Mississippi Delta Service Corps/AmeriCorps VISTA.  She is the recipient of the 2003 Award of Excellence from the National Crime Prevention Council, 2004 delegate for W. K. Kellogg’s Travel Learn & Serve in South Africa, 2005 graduate and Team Leader of Class I with Mid-South Delta Leaders, received the Economic Development Finance Professional certification in 2007 and was a national finalist for the 2008 Spirit of Service Award offered by the Corporation for National and Community Service. 

 Picture of Courtney Taylor

Taylor, Courtney

Master’s Degree: Human Resources Management from Troy University, 2008

Bachelor’s Degree: Business Administration from the University of West Alabama, 2004

Courtney now serves as the Assistant Director for the Center for International Business and Economic Development for Troy University and also taught as an adjunct professor at Troy.

Picture of Robert Thompson

Thompson, Robert

Master's Degree: Master's of Business Administration (Hospitality and Tourism)- University of Guelph

Bachelor's Degree: Fine Arts- The University of Southern Mississippi

Robert is a C.H.A. (Certified Hotel Administrator) with the American Hotel & Lodging Association and T.M.P. (Tourism Marketing Professional) certified through the Southeast Tourism Society.  Robert has over thirty years of experience in the hospitality industry in tourism markets ranging from Las Vegas, NV to Beverly Hills, CA.  He serves on the Advisory Board – University of Arkansas’ Hospitality and Restaurant Management Program as well as the University of Southern Mississippi's Casino, Hospitality and Tourism Department.  He is currently employed as Regional Marketing Director for Wyndham Worldwide, Inc.  He is also an adjunct instructor with The University of Southern Mississippi in the Casino, Hospitality and Tourism Department.

Donna Valestro

Valestro, Donna

Master's Degree: Master's of Business Administration (Entrepreneurship) William Carey University

Bachelor's Degree: Accounting- The University of Southern Mississippi

Donna is currently the Director of Finance at The University of Southern Mississippi-Gulf Coast and the CFO of Valestro Building Group LLC. She is currently a Board Member with the Lighthouse Chapter of the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) and Member of Staff Council. Donna serves on numerous committees.

Donna's comments on the HCD Ph.D. program: "The executive format is a good fit for working professionals. The staff and faculty have been outstanding and do everything they can to ensure your success."



Walker, Angie

Master's Degree: Meteorology and Physical Oceanography- Naval Postgraduate School

Bachelor's Degree:Mathematics- University of Florida

Angie is a Commander in the U.S. Navy and currently the Executive Officer of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Professional Development Center in Gulfport, MS.  As second in command and Chief Administrative Officer of a 77 person, globally dispersed military and civilian staff, she supervises and provides education and training for the Naval Oceanography Program, a workforce of 3,000. With a 16+ year record of leadership and decision making in the operational fleet of the Navy, Angie is a critical thinker and innovative problem solver with proven success in leading small and large operations teams as well as a scientific focused training force. Previous assignments include: Officer-in-Charge Professional Development Detachment South, Commander Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, Commander Carrier Strike Groups Six and Fourteen, USS STUMP (DD-978), and USS SHENANDOAH (AD-44).  Her professional affiliations include: Lean Six Sigma Green Belt graduate, the American Meteorological Society, and the National Weather Service.  


Walker, Rick

Master's Degree: Management (Manpower), Naval Postgraduate School

Bachelor's Degree: Business Administration - University of Florida

Rick works as a Human Capital Planner for the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance in Arlington, VA. His work includes conducting detailed workforce analysis, drafting and revising manpower plans, and evaluating diverse Human Capital processes including the Strategic Workforce Plans of subordinate naval organizations. Rick is a 23-year veteran of the United States Navy, having retired as a Lieutenant Commander after serving tours in enlisted recruiting as a Naval Recruiting District department head; multiple tours at sea as a Surface Warfare Officer with Commander, Destroyer Squadron 24, USS De WERT, and USS HAYLER; and as an enlisted Sonar Technician onboard the nuclear Attack Submarine USS SANDLANCE. Rick is also a graduate of both the Navy’s Surface Warfare School and Enlisted Submarine School and he is an active leader with the Boy Scouts of America.

Rick's thoughts on the program: "The depth of experience and professionalism of the faculty; the flexibility, breadth, and rigor of the curriculum; and the diversity of background of my fellow students all combine to make this a tremendously rewarding program."


Wallace, Katie

Master's Degree: Engineering Technology- The University of Southern Mississippi

Bachelor's Degree:Electrical Engineering- University of Alabama

Katie is the Education Director for NASA at Stennis Space Center. She received a BS degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alabama and an MS degree in Engineering Technology from USM.  In addition, she is certified to teach Secondary Math, Physics, and English.  She worked in NASA propulsion testing and remote sensing offices before moving to the Education Office.  


Washington, Timla

Master's Degree: Community Development- Delta State University

Bachelor’s Degree: Community Health and Education- The University of Southern Mississippi

Bachelor's Degree:Psychology- The University of Sothern Mississippi

Timla currently works in the office of United States Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (MS-02).  She is the Community Development Coordinator working laboriously from the federal level to successfully perform and assist with sustainable community development and planning efforts in the 23 counties of the Second Congressional District.  Timla is based in the Greenville office, one of six offices located strategically in Congressman Thompson’s District.


Weir, Bubba

Master's Degree: Public Policy and Administration- Economic and Community Development- Jackson State University

Bachelor's Degree:Business Administration- Mississippi College

Charles "Bubba" Weir is Vice President for Community Services for the Mississippi Technology Alliance, a non-profit organization that drives innovation and technology-based economic development in the State of Mississippi.  Bubba has a varied professional background in government and business. Over eighteen years, he was employed in federal, state, and local economic development positions. Because of his background, Bubba has been able to combine his knowledge of government, academic, and private sector resources with the needs of businesses and communities to help champion technology-based economic development.  He is a member of the International Economic Development Council, Southern Economic Development Council, and Mississippi Economic Development Council.

 Picture of Barry Wilkie

Wilkie, Barry

Master's Degree: Engineering Technology- The University of Southern Mississippi

Bachelor's Degree: Industrial Engineering Technology- The University of Southern Mississippi

Bachelor’s Degree: Business Administration- The University of Southern Mississippi

Barry is a Manufacturing Engineer responsible for implementing a Quality Management System for Ingalls Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, and supervising engineers and manufacturing operations quality advocates that conduct internal audits of manufacturing processes at sites in Pascagoula, Gulfport and New Orleans. He serves as an interface between both the Director and Vice President of the company ship construction organization and the Quality Management System (QMS) Management. Barry is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt with extensive knowledge as a technical writer for new and revised shipbuilding technical instructions and procedures. He has served as project lead and mentor on many successful process improvement projects for the sector at both the New Orleans and Pascagoula sites resulting in hard savings in excess of several million dollars.