Gulf Coast Woman July 2021

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JULY 2021







Dr. Michael J. Christie and Dr. Aimee R. Watts are pleased to welcome Dr. Amber L. Glenn

Kelly Mask F.N.P.-C. Board Certified Nurse Practitioner

Cindy Barfield F.N.P.-B.C. Board Certified Nurse Practitioner

Leanne Virgilio F.N.P.-C. Board Certified Nurse Practitioner


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2113 Government St., Suite I-4 2


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147 Reynoir St., Suite 102

July 2021 ww w. m i c h a e l c h r i s t i e m d . c o m

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Dr. Angela Bruni

PUBLISHER & EDITOR Dorothy P. Wilson




CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Jasmine Ball Carla Biasi Karol Brandt Kathy Brown van Zutphen Dr. Jonathan Brown Ariel Chamberlain Chris Dearman Erin Gibson Ryan Giles Janera Harvey Robin Killeen

Dr. Philip Levin Lauren Riley Kathy Rogers Dr. Sheila Sapp Susie Siemiontkowski Tammy Smith Angelyn Treutel Zeringue Dr. Pam Tuli Dr. Angela Wingfield Andrea Yeager Heather Young




YOUR FINANCES We offer a wide variety of choices for your personal banking needs.

Brandi Stage Brian Pearse

Lisa Tilley-Newman Anthony Williams


ON THE COVER Photographer: Brandi Stage Portraiture Makeup: Kasper Ly Hair: Cody Shafer, Polished Salon & Spa

COVER SUBJECTS Tish Williams LaShaundra McCarty Christen Duhé

CONTACT US 38 Pass Road, Suite A, Gulfport, MS 39507 (228) 539-2422


© 2021 Gulf Coast Woman is published 12 times per year and is available free of charge. We encourage your comments, suggestions and submissions, however, we unsolicited documents or manuscripts. All material is copyrighted and may not be reproduced in any manner without the written permission of the publisher.


July 2021





HEMATOLOGY ONCOLOGY PARTNERS provides care to cancer patients and also those with blood disorders. We are dedicated to helping you and your loved ones focus on your health, while we focus on offering the latest treatments available.


ACCEPTING NEW PATIENTS AT ALL FIVE LOCATIONS GULFPORT 1340 Broad Avenue, Suite 330 BILOXI 920 Tommy Munro Drive BILOXI 147 Reynoir Street | Suite 204 BAY ST. LOUIS 835 Thames Avenue WIGGINS 1440 E. Central Ave Wiggins


Hematology Oncology Partners

Memorial Physician Clinics



contents SUCCESS SHOWCASE / 21 HEALTH / 120 HOME & FAMILY / 152 FOOD & FUN / 172

Jasmine Ball: High-waisted suits are owning the summer / 140

Humanitarian award is latest honor for Scarlet Pearl CEO LuAnn Pappas / 20

photograph courtesy of Target

Tex-Mex elevated / 171 6

July 2021

A commitment that can’t be broken. Groundbreaking Orthopedic Care & Procedures in Gulfport. Singing River Orthopedics provides a full range of services to treat conditions and injuries that affect bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments. Dr. Myers brings a unique skill set to the Coast. He has extensive experience evaluating and treating hand injuries and is among the first in the area to perform minimally-invasive anterior total hip replacement, which helps his patients recover more quickly after surgery.

Procedures and Conditions Treated: • • • • •

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Sub-specialty procedures by some Memorial Surgeons:


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July 2021

The Memorial Surgical Team Is Growing! Memorial is pleased to welcome

Brian Anthony, MD to our surgical team in Bay St. Louis Memorial Physician Clinics

General Surgery

Trey Rimmer III, MD

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Scott Blackburn, DO

Kristine Carter, MD

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General Surgery Memorial Medical Office Building 1340 Broad Avenue, Suite 240, Gulfport........(228) 575-1200 Dr. Blackburn also sees patients at

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July 4 Freedom will ring across the Coast with numerous activities and events. Gulfport’s fireworks show will begin at 8:45 p.m. at Jones Park, and Ocean Springs’ show also starts at 8:45 p.m., with fireworks being shot across from Fort Maurepas Park and vendors and live music adding to the celebration. In Biloxi, fireworks will kick off around 9 p.m., with the best views between the Biloxi Lighthouse eastward to the Biloxi Bay Bridge If you’d prefer to watch fireworks from the water, the Biloxi Schooner departs the Schooner Pier Complex at 7 p.m. for a special sail, and Ship Island Excursions offers a sunset and fireworks cruise, which boards at 7 p.m. at the ferry’s Gulfport departure location (Jones Park, inside the Yacht Harbor).


July 17, 5:30 p.m. Biloxi Civic Center This first-annual networking party will feature keynote speakers, a raffle and more as attendees paint, sip and make valuable connections.


July 24, 5 p.m. Beauvoir, The Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library Guests are invited to dress in clothing from their favorite era, from the 1800s to the 1940s, and dance through time at Beauvoir. Live music will be provided by Red McWilliams and Daniel Driskell, and the event includes a buffet-style dinner.


July 17, 7-11 p.m. Frank G. Gruich Community Center, Biloxi Marcelito Pomoy, a Filipino singer who won Pilipinas Got Talent Season 2 and was the third runner-up


July 2021

of the America’s Got Talent - The Champions of the World Edition, will share his musical gifts with a Biloxi audience.


July 24, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Jones Park, Gulfport Over 20 of the Gulf Coast’s best food trucks will be on hand to serve at this inaugural event. Guests can enjoy delicious coastal favorites along with vendors, music from local artists, bouncy houses, a hula hoop contest and face painting for kids.



as a member, you’ll be in the know about mgccc events & enjoy benefits designed especially for you.

LIFETIME alumni membership: $200 Lifetime couple alumni membership: $250


OTHER MEMBERSHIP OPTIONS: Annual Alumni Membership: $25 & Annual Couple Alumni Membership: $40



July 2021

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College alumnae stand out as leaders in workforce, education and health care


Dr. Charlotte Hughes Huntley



Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College does more than educate students. It trains leaders who are a driving force in the Coast community and beyond. When asked, MGCCC alumni credit the college with being the springboard that propelled them into their careers, giving them the tools needed for success. Carla Todd-Voda, who served as president and CEO of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce until her retirement in 2019, said her time at MGCCC prepared her for her future career. “MGCCC made my career path a reality,” she said. “I was able to continue college while in the Air Force, participating in the 2+2 program MGCCC offered, complete the Hotel and Restaurant Management program, and then get both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The foundation I received at MGCCC made the difference in my education and in preparing me for my career in the military, business, and the local tourism industries.” Dr. Charlotte Hughes Huntley, an epidemiologist, microbiologist, consultant, career coach, and podcaster, agreed that MGCCC offered her a chance to plan and expand her career goals. In fact, she said it helped her surpass even what she dreamed of accomplishing. “I was living in Washington, D.C., and found myself divorced with three kids,” she said. “I needed support, so I moved back to South Mississippi where my family lived. That and deciding to attend

the Medical Laboratory Technology program at MGCCC were the two wisest choices I’ve made.” Huntley said she chose the MLT program because she needed a career that allowed her to take care of her children. “I wanted a job that had specific training and certifications that allowed me to get to work fast,” she said. “Medical lab was a very in-demand field, so I knew that jobs were there.” Before she had even completed the program, Huntley had job offers. She took one at a large hospital in South Carolina where she learned the education she received at MGCCC was above and beyond that of her MLT counterparts there. Her supervisors encouraged her to continue her education. “That’s when I decided to push forward into a career in epidemiology and public health. It was a defining moment for me.” Now, Huntley serves as the CEO and principal consultant at DrCHHuntley, LLC, where she offers epidemiologic consulting solutions to organizations within the public health sector and coaches public health professionals as they develop career and business strategies. “It’s my way of giving back because of the excellent education and mentorship I received at MGCCC and in my very first job as a technician,” she said. “I want to help others find that passion in their health-related education and careers.” Also driven to give back, Dr. Lynn TincherLadner, president and CEO of Phi Theta Kappa

Honor Society, is an incredible voice for community college students. She attended MGCCC and later worked for the college for more than 20 years, which allowed her to provide for her family while continuing her education. At Phi Theta Kappa, she worked as a researcher and CIO before moving into her current position. “I count myself lucky to have experienced MGCCC from multiple perspectives throughout the last three decades,” she said. “Not only was I a student, I was also privileged to be an employee, working in a variety of positions in which I continued to learn and grow.” Today, she works with a large group of corporate partners and colleges around the world to provide assistance and training to hundreds of thousands of community college students. “I encourage students to attend community college and tell them about the outstanding education I received at MGCCC,” she said. “Community colleges offer a quality education and affordable tuition. Additionally, students can receive PTK transfer scholarships to attend a university or fouryear college, something only community college students qualify for. Whether a student that thrives in academia or one that simply wants to complete a career program and get a great job, MGCCC and other community colleges of its caliber are an excellent place to start.”




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July 2021

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‘She is my hero’




onnie Cuevas describes his daughter, Mary Lynn Cuevas Scarborough, as someone who would give you the shirt off her back — or, as it turns out, donate a kidney to her dad. “She is my hero,” says the retired teacher and coach and diamond ambassador with Plexus Worldwide. “She’s tougher than I could ever be.” In January 2020, doctors determined that Ronnie’s kidney function was 13 percent. Dr. Anil Paramesh, a transplant specialist with Tulane Medical Center, confirmed that his best chance was to receive a kidney from a living donor. “When I found out I needed a kidney, I was devastated and not telling anyone,” the Gulfport resident recalls. “The

first thing Dr. Paramesh told me to do was tell the world.” His daughters quickly shared the story on social media, and many people, even strangers, said they would get tested. Within his own family, Ronnie’s wife, Patti, his sonin-law, Josh Threadgill and Mary were matches. But from day one, Mary, a Realtor, wife and mom of two, was determined to be the donor. “The conversations leading up to it were pretty cut and dry for me; in my mind, I WAS doing it,” she says. “I understood that my daddy and momma were very scared and wishing it could be someone else, but I was the best living donor match.” Ronnie stands in awe of his daughter’s selflessness, and the feeling is mutual. Throughout her life, Mary says, her dad has been her best friend and mentor — the person she ran to when she needed help and support. To his family, she adds, “he has always been our rock and our hero.” “He has the most caring heart you could ever see in a person, and he would do anything for you — no matter who you are or where you came from,” she says. “He is the type of person many people strive to be.” Although she gifted her dad a kidney, Mary says she and her dad’s other loved ones received the greatest gift from the transplant: a restoration of Ronnie’s quality of life. After the April 14 procedure, he immediately felt better, and his kidney function has increased to 78 percent. “I truly feel like I am blessed beyond measure to have my dad healthy and thriving for many years to come,” Mary says. “He can continue to be an inspiration to everyone he comes in contact with.” As for Ronnie, he feels like he’s won the Super Bowl. “As soon as I am cleared,” he says, “we are going to Disney World!”

“I understood that my daddy and momma were very scared and wishing it could be someone else, but I was the best living donor match.” — Mary Lynn Cuevas Scarborough


July 2021

WE LCO M E TO DR. HAM Z A MI N H A S! Th e Me d i c a l O nc o l o gy G rou p conti n u es t o p rovi de c ut t i n g edg e t reat m e nt s a nd c l i n i c a l trial s . C l o s e t o ho m e . The M e d i c al O n c o l o gy Grou p feels a stron g connect ion t o t he M ississi p p i G u l f C oast an d th e p eople we s erve. Our t eam of fers t he lat est i n c utti n g edge treatm ents an d clinical t r ials close t o home so th e re i s n o n eed to travel far. In additi o n to e x p e rt, all-en com pass in g treatment for cancer and b lo o d d i s o rd e rs, we con sider it ou r p ers o nal resp onsibilit y t o st ay by ou r p ati ents s ides every step of the way. To lea r n more ab o ut this sp ec ial c om m itm ent to our pat ient s, refer r in g p rovi d e rs a n d c om m u n ity, c all 2 2 8 . 5 7 5 . 1 2 3 4 o r vis it Th eMedic alOn colo

ulfport (2) • Biloxi (2) • Ocean Springs • Wiggins • Gulfport (2) • Biloxi (2) • Ocean Springs • Wiggins Bay St. Louis • Diamondhead

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Lauren Hitt, NP Pamela J Tuli, MD Sidra Khalid, MD Edye Denius, NP

Lauren Hitt, NP Pamela J Tuli, MD Sidra Khalid, MD Edye Denius, NP



Jeff and Linsey O’Keefe

Jocelyn Gavin-Lane Leonard and Angela Papania

Dr. Shelia Rivers

Preston and Ellen Taylor

Ann Marie Walley

Landon and April Burks


Over the past year, the number of people suffering depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts has skyrocketed. Many people are hurting, but they may not even recognize that they need help. The Mental Health Association of South Mississippi continues to provide support to people who are experiencing mental health challenges, and its signature annual event, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” makes that possible. This year’s event is set for 7 p.m. on July 16 at the Biloxi Civic Center. Angelle Hahn, event chair and previous honoree, says, “I am excited to be able to not only help raise funds for this year’s event, but to raise awareness of the resources available locally. We can help overcome the mental health stigma that so many are living with, especially during COVID-19. Mental illness affects more people than you think. I plan to make this year’s event very different and very beneficial all around.” This year’s Annette O’Keefe Humanitarian Award winner is LuAnn Pappas, CEO of Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort, who has been involved with the MHASM since 2008, strengthening the organization through her contributions. Other 2021 honorees, who will be on stage for a live auction, include: Landon and April Burks: April has been in business for 15 years with several boutiques: Eve Marie’s Boutique in Hattiesburg and Love Ivy and Franko’s Clothing Co. in Ocean Springs. Landon is the business

development manager for Sterling Petroleum. Jocelyn Gavin-Lane: Jocelyn is the founder of the Gulfportbased Premier Professional Counseling Services LLC and founder of the nonprofit organization Pink Lotus Project. Jeff and Linsey O’Keefe: Jeff is President of Bradford O’Keefe Funeral Home, a multi-generational family business. Linsey is set to open Layla’s Coffeehouse & Eatery, formerly Nezaty’s. Leonard and Angela Papania: Angela is employed with the Gulfport School District at Bayou View Elementary as a teaching assistant. Leonard is with Oceans Healthcare based in Texas, working as the law enforcement and community outreach liaison. Dr. Shelia Rivers: Shelia is CEO and chief therapist of Rivers Psychotherapy Services, as well as a published author, adjunct professor at Tulane University, public speaker, mental health consultant, social work intern supervisor and licensed clinical social worker. Preston and Ellen Taylor: Preston is owner of Gulf States Construction and has a background in residential building for people with disabilities. Ellen is an insurance agent with United Risk Agency Inc. Ann Marie Walley: Ann Marie is owner, stylist and makeup artist at Antonian Salon. The fun event will feature a mixology contest, food tasting, a silent auction and a live band. Attendees must be 21 or over. The night and attire are Mardi Gras themed, so look for the Mardi Gras Museum, Second Liners Mardi Gras Club and other krewes to be represented. Not only will funds raised help MHASM continue essential programs, but they also will go toward needed building repairs. Services the nonprofit offers include a day center, homeless programs and mental health education.

TICKETS Tickets and tables can be purchased at www. For additional information, contact MHASM at (228) 864-6274 or 18

July 2021



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“I am driven by a need to do today than yesterday.”


— LuAnn Pappas 20

July 2021

LuAnn Pappas’s dad taught her what it means to give back. And as the 2021 recipient of the Annette O’Keefe Humanitarian Award, the CEO of Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort wishes Bill Sturm could share in the recognition. Bar none, she says, he was the biggest influence in her life. “I will forever say I am who I am today, both personally and professionally, due to my father,” she says. “My father was a single dad to two daughters in the early ‘60s, during a time when that would not have been considered the ‘norm.’” Sturm often was praised for his humanitarian efforts, and Pappas has carried that tradition forward. The Annette O’Keefe award recognizes a community member for exemplary volunteer service efforts that reflect O’Keefe’s principles. After being diagnosed with mental illness herself, O’Keefe worked to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health. Kay Daneault, executive director of MHASM, recalls that Pappas attended the Don’t Worry, Be Happy event, where the O’Keefe Award is presented, in 2008 and spoke about how she wanted to be involved. She joined the organization’s board shortly after, and according to Daneault, remains “very interested in the work we do.” “LuAnn has told me often that she feels taking care of your mental health is so important,” Daneault says, “as she has seen people struggle.” While walking through Scarlet Pearl with Pappas a few years ago, Daneault was impressed by her interactions with the employees, which showed her regard and respect for them. “She does so much for our community and has made Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort a top-notch business,” Daneault says. “She deserves every accolade she receives!” Besides this most recent award, Pappas has racked up an impressive collection of honors, including the 2019 Humanitarian Award from the American Red Cross, the 2020 Success Women’s Conference Top Influencer Award, New Orleans Magazine “Steel Magnolia” honors for accomplishments in philanthropy and business and inclusion in Global Gaming Business Magazine’s “25 People to Watch” list in 2017. “Community is extended family to me,” says Pappas, who has a 36-year career in the gaming industry. “In my profession, we touch so many in the community, whether they be customers, associates, vendors and/or partners.” She is actively involved in the annual Heart Walk, Habitat for Humanity and various other charitable organizations and events. The reward for her dedication is not always financial, but rather in making a positive impact on someone’s life or in the community. In all she does, Pappas asks herself, “Am I making a difference that truly matters?” “I am driven by a need to do better today than yesterday,” she says.





Photography by Brandi Stage Portraiture

160 WOMEN CELEBRATED When you hear the word “success,” what — or who — comes to mind? A sharp-looking woman in a tailored suit? A lawyer? A CEO? Sometimes, these images fit, but if the past year has taught us anything, it’s the subtlety of heroism. Success can take the form of a health-care worker toiling around the clock and putting herself in jeopardy to heal others. It may appear as a teacher giving her all to educate the future — whether in a classroom or through a computer screen. And it might manifest as the small business owner powering and pivoting through a global crisis. In this annual special edition, we will show you some of success’ many faces. You’ll meet three women who have hit their stride as

professionals and carved out their own niche in which to shine. We’ll introduce you to our 100 Successful Women to Know for 2021, all of whom make the Coast a better place to live, work and play. Amazingly, no matter how many honors they’ve earned or how high they’ve climbed in their careers, most showed that their identity and sense of purpose is closely tied to their home and family. So, what does a successful woman look like? She’s the woman you admire and aspire to be. And she’s the woman you are today, right now, who has unlimited potential for greatness. Read on ...

photography by Lisa Tilley-Newman

Dorothy P. Wilson Publisher




taking a University 101 class her freshman year and researching careers she might be interested in. Now, she describes PR as the thread running through her life and resume’. “At its core, public relations is about building and maintaining relations,” she says. “There’s no template for public relations, and that’s why I love it so much. Each day is a challenge, and I have to constantly be on my toes. “I love that I wake up every day and I have no idea what’s going to happen, and I thrive in that kind of environment.” A natural collaborator, Duhe’ is at her best working with a team and driving toward a common goal. For instance, she’s taken great pleasure and pride in watching the evolution of Coast Young Professionals since she became its director in 2008. Many of the CYP initiatives started over a decade ago have grown bigger and better, such as the Black Tie and Blue Jeans Gala and Walking on Water.

“Every job I’ve had, and the people I’ve met along the way, have helped mold me into the professional I am today.”


f Christen Hartley Duhé could have a word with her younger self, she’d tell her to stop with the self-doubt; “You have everything you need to be successful.” Everyone defines success differently, but for Duhe’, it’s having a husband who supports her and pushes her to be the best version of herself, a great group of girlfriends who serve as her sounding board, and her dream job at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Her accomplishments did not come without sacrifice; the Bay St. Louis native put herself through college at the University of Southern Mississippi, waiting tables and bartending throughout her undergrad studies. Then, she worked full time at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce and bartended on weekends to pay for grad school. “I have definitely progressed as a professional and a leader, but at my core, I am still learning and growing as a person and a professional,” says Duhe’, who serves as associate vice president of institutional relations at MGCCC. “Sure, I have a fancier title now and more responsibility, but at the end of the day, I’m just doing my best and putting my best foot forward.” It’s hard to imagine now, but at one time, Duhe’ knew nothing about public relations and had no ideas of working in higher education. She stumbled upon public relations by accident while


July 2021

“I think (collaboration) is how a lot of great ideas are born, and it’s why I will always value my time as the director of Coast Young Professionals, because I was able to work with so many outstanding young professionals to create some fantastic projects and events,” she says. “I’m also lucky to work with a great team right now, and we come together to collaborate on various ideas and projects.” Ever a pioneer, Duhe’ was the first director of MGCCC’s Business Development and Hospitality Resort Management Center, which was brand new when she took the helm in 2012. She transitioned into her current role in 2016 and now oversees the college’s public relations, advertising, and marketing efforts and acts as its spokesperson. “Every job I’ve had, and the people I’ve met along the way, have helped mold me into the professional I am today,” she says. Passionate about learning and unafraid of change, Duhe’ is a living testament to the power of self-belief and active listening. Her advice to other young professionals: “Make mistakes, because that’s how you learn; just don’t make the same mistakes over and over again.” “It’s not about you; you don’t know it all,” she says, “and if you really want to be successful, you have to be quiet and listen to those who came before you who are trying to help you.” Among the voices Duhe’ has heeded are those of her mentors, including MGCCC President Mary Graham and Jonathan Woodward, MGCCC’s executive vice president of teaching and learning/community campus, who encouraged her to pursue her doctorate — which she will complete in August of 2022. Ideally, she’d love to stay at the college and put her education to good use there. Despite the many distinctions she has earned, including recognition from the Public Relations Association of Mississippi and the Southern Public Relations Federation, top 10 business leader honors from local and state publications and the Young Careerist of the Year award from Lighthouse Business & Professional Women, Duhe’ has no intention of resting on her laurels. “The direction I want to go is forward,” she says, “and I want to continue to live my truth and be the best Christen that I can be.”

dreams. “That is when I am most n sync with my purpose,” she says. “I do it because people need to be reminded of how valuable they are.” McCarty’s path to personal empowerment wound through

effects for films. “None of my career has been what I projected; I started this journey as a graphic/web designer,” she says. “I am open to where it goes as long as speaking and improving the community are involved.”

“I am driven by the desire to do as much good as possible for as many as possible. We can all do that, starting with our sphere of influence.”


LaShaundra McCarty Gulfport’s public information officer is determined to make her life count BY JENNIFER GENTILE PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRANDI STAGE PORTRAITURE


hatever role she accepts, LaShaundra McCarty is committed to leaving things better than she found them. That includes her present position as the city of Gulfport’s public information officer and community relations manager, which she has held for two years. In essence, the job is a continuation of what McCarty has been doing for decades: helping people and organizations tell their stories in a compelling way. “We all have the capacity to leave a mark on the world by exercising our gifts,” she says.

“I am driven by the desire to do as much good as possible for as many as possible. We can all do that, starting with our sphere of influence.” McCarty’s sphere of influence always has included her hometown of Gulfport, and in her formative years, she spent lots of time at the city’s Little Theatre. The venue introduced her to performance and got her used to standing before an audience. Today, McCarty considers public speaking her niche — particularly on the topics of personal development and using your gifts to achieve your

the University of Central Florida, followed by graduate school at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and Emerson College. She also did a stint as a missionary in Johannesburg for the United Congregationalist Church of Southern Africa. Between her time in Boston and Johannesburg, she graduated from seminary and was ordained Once she’d satisfied her wanderlust, McCarty returned home in 2009 to a declining economy. Unable to find a job, she started consulting for organizations that didn’t have marketing departments — offering them web and graphic design services. “What I learned was that I am the key to my own opportunities, my willingness to jump into the unknown,” McCarty says. “My relentlessness when it comes to obtaining what I want to have all contributed to getting lost in Lyon, carrying the memory of a life-changing homestay in Morocco, starting a consulting business during a recession and even saying yes to a job that would mean staying a little more still than I was accustomed to. I have enjoyed the unpredictability of it all.” When she accepted Gulfport’s PIO position, McCarty saw it as an opportunity to give back to the city that had prepared her for adulthood. In grad school, when movies like “The Matrix” and “Harry Potter” were pushing the creative envelope, she thought she would do visual

Beyond being the public face of Gulfport, McCarty’s talents led her to create the online show and podcast UNbound Creatives, in which she talks with artists and visionaries like Lexi Williams, owner of Aloha Glamour boutique, and CeCe Shabaz, marketing and brand strategist at Memorial Hospital. Her hard work and skill earned McCarty the One Coast Top Ten Under 40 Award in 2018, the DeRose-Hinkhouse Award for her work in the production of Just Women Magazine and other honors. Those who have witnessed the gifted orator in her element remark on her knowledge of branding and marketing and her ability to hold her audience’s attention. Within the next five years, she aspires to be a more in-demand professional speaker. To achieve her aim, she’ll follow the same words of wisdom that she offers others: “Be bold and unapologetic.” “It is so tempting to shrink, but resist that,” she says. “Aim bigger than you can attain alone, and form a circle of friends or mentors who can help you get there.” McCarty’s passion is rooted in her desire to do something significant — the feeling that she only has one life to live, so she’d better make it good. She stresses that this doesn’t make her special. “I’m just aware that we all have the choice of whether to thrive or not— whether to realize our dreams or simply ponder them,” McCarty says. “I chose the former.”



Tish Williams Confidence comes naturally to Hancock Chamber’s executive director BY JENNIFER GENTILE PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRANDI STAGE PORTRAITURE


ish Williams spent the first 20 years of her life trying to leave Mississippi, and the next 20 trying to return. Raised in Bay St. Louis, Williams dreamed of influence and adventure well beyond the state borders. She got her wish during the first phases of her career, when she managed programs in major cities like New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Miami and others. “In the end, the grass is not always greener,” says the executive director of the Hancock Chamber of Commerce, “but oftentimes, it takes getting out to see the world, gaining all the experience you can, and then coming back home to put it all to work right here in your own backyard.” Williams once aspired to be a broadcast journalist, but she landed on the other side of the camera. In her present position, she is the voice and face of the largest organization for businesses in Hancock County. She also has more than 20 years’ experience in tourism development and marketing at the state and local level. Before coming to the Chamber, she spent a decade leading the fund development efforts for a national nonprofit, Foundation Fighting Blindness. One of her mentors, George Schloegel, gave Williams her first job as a director for the Miss USA Pageant, then she went on to become a director of the Mississippi Pavilion for the 1984 Word’s Fair under the leadership of her husband, George Williams. Whether she was recruiting New Yorkers to work a pageant for free, promoting Mississippi’s assets on a global stage or building Meridian, Mississippi’s first tourism organization, Williams always has gone for the “wow” factor — and she doesn’t doubt whether she can do something. “I just envision what needs to be done, and I go about making it happen,” she says. “I don’t achieve success by myself. My job is to assemble the best resources and set out to make it happen.” In every role she’s held, Williams has been well served by her journalism degree from the University of Mississippi. She’s also found one truth to be absolute: “If you can communicate effectively, you can change the world.” Williams’s world — and priorities — changed when she became a mom to her twin daughters, and she felt the call to go home. When she accepted the position at the Chamber, she says, “I thought I was going home to manage the easiest job of my career. I can do this job blind-folded and hand-tied, I thought.” Then Katrina hit. “Every skill I had acquired throughout my career would be put to the test over the next 18 years, with one disaster after another ravaging our Coast,” she says. “Challenging, yes, yet what an honor to rebuild your own hometown.” Coming from a long line of philanthropists and visionaries, Williams considers it her privilege, and her duty, to continue the legacy of her parents and grandparents. To that end, she is one of the founders of the Hancock Community Development Foundation, which supports 23 nonprofit causes. She’s also executive director


July 2021

“I don’t achieve success by myself. My job is to assemble the best resources and set out to make it happen.” of Partners for Stennis and Michoud, a two-state advocacy organization focused on regional job growth. For her professional and civic accomplishments, Williams has received the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contribution to Disaster Recovery by a Public Official, the Hancock Chamber’s inaugural Jody Compretta Person of Passion Award and several other honors. She credits her mother with giving her the most important tool she possesses, the one that has made her success possible: self-confidence. “If you believe it, you can achieve it,” Williams says. “I simply excel at multi-tasking, removing obstacles and using my contacts and resources to get the job done.” Now 62, Williams has started fielding questions about when she will retire. Her reply is that as long as she can walk up and down the stairs of the Hancock Whitney Bank building, where the Chamber has its offices, she will continue using her skills and determination to make a difference. “I have been blessed with the career I have built right here in Hancock County as chamber director; I have three boards, a staff and a community that support me in everything I do,” she says. “It just doesn’t get any better than this.”

Scan me to shop our online collections!

228.875.4842 25

1516 Government St., Ocean Springs


July 2021


Meet the other

Chamber leaders



Reflecting on her career in business support and nonprofit leadership, Adele Lyons is understandably proud of her track record. “At the Gulf Coast Business Technology Center, I started with just five tenants and left 15 years later with a full house of startup companies and an established program of work,” says the chief executive officer of the Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce. “At the Knight Foundation, over the six years I was on the job (as program director), the Coast received $14 million in grants — including one to start the Knight Nonprofit Center.” And the list goes on. While she was director of development with Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Lyons was the only person in her department. But by the time she’d left in 2016, a Women Build event was in place, and the Gulfport ReStore was approaching its grand opening date. Habitat was in “growth mode” at the time, Lyons recalls, and she was pleased to guide its upward trajectory. A leader who gets things done, Lyons credits her accomplishments to being proactive, seeking greater responsibility and completing tasks to the highest standards. “Also, I have been fortunate to have great people on my teams,” she says. “I set high expectations for my team, and I find they are motivated to rise to the challenge.”

Heading the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau combines Cynthia Sutton’s two main passions: communication and community. “It has always been my (desire) to do something that allows me to work in all forms of communication, as well as event plan, all while helping others to sustain, grow and prosper,” says Sutton, who has been part of the organization for 14 years. In that time, she has done every job — from public relations and marketing to economic development and event coordination. With a background that includes freelance writing for local newspapers and interning at a TV station, Sutton draws on a wide range of experience in her present role. She defines success as seeing the economic impact that she and her team have on Ocean Springs. “We put on 13 festivals or events for the community,” she says, “so when a new business relocates into town, or when a revitalization project begins, we had a hand in part by creating a wonderful quality of life and atmosphere for businesses to grow and for families and tourists to enjoy.” Sutton says she and her team work hard to bring regional and national recognition to the small town of nearly 18,000 residents. Together with its partners, her organization won the community the Great American Main Street Award and other distinctions. The City of Discovery also was named among the 10 best places to live in Mississippi in a report from HomeSnacks. Sutton has earned her share of accolades, too. A graduate of Southeast Tourism Society’s Marketing College and Leadership Jackson County, she was named one of the Top 50 Leading Business Women in Mississippi in 2010, and she is a One Coast Community Leader award recipient.

Chief executive officer, Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce


July 2021

Executive director, Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau

With their devotion and commitment to everything they do, the female leaders at Scarlet Pearl are mentors to many, contribute to winning countless awards, and participate in numerous community outreach programs. Thank you to the women of Scarlet Pearl.

• 888-752-9772 • • 9380 Central Avenue • D’Iberville, MS 39540 Must be 21 or older to gamble. Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort reserves all rights. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-522-4700.



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Meet the other

Chamber leaders



Paige Roberts’s goal is to let no moment go to waste. Each day, she remembers song lyrics penned by friends from her home state of Indiana: “We have this moment to hold in our hands and to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand. Yesterday’s gone, and tomorrow may never come, but we have this moment today.” Roberts has seized many opportunities in her career, starting with joining the WLOX-TV reporting team in 1993. She went on to work for the Public Service Commission, Pascagoula High School and Pascagoula-Gautier School District (PGSD), The American Red Cross, Pathways2Possibilities: P2P and most recently the Chamber. Along the way, she created the high school broadcast journalism curriculum for the Mississippi Department of Education and the PGSD Read ‘n’ Ride Rally that drew 10,000 people. P2P, which she co-founded, is a career expo touching tens of thousands of eighth graders in Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee. At the Chamber, Roberts says, “I oversee a team of four employees focused on nurturing a healthy business environment across Jackson County.” She also contributes to efforts related to education, workforce development, community development, health and mental health. “Internally, I am proud of my resilience,” she adds, noting that she was featured on The Weather Channel’s series, “Storm Stories” and in books about Hurricane Katrina and The Red Cross. “Externally, I am proud and humbled to serve as a community connector and bridge builder. All kinds of people, from individuals to community leaders in their respective fields, come to me to help them find a resource or solution to a challenging problem.”

Tina Ross-Seamans genuinely loves her hometown. A Biloxi native, she started her career in hospitality and tourism marketing soon after graduating from high school. Ross-Seamans spent more than 20 years promoting the Coast as a tourist destination to conventions, associations and international markets, and she has headed the Biloxi Bay Area Chamber of Commerce since 2008. Given the close relationship she has with the chamber members, Ross-Seamans considers them more like family than business associates. “I am not here to just do a job,” she says. “My responsibility is to ensure that everything I do is for the success of our members.” As director, Ross-Seamans wears many hats — including day-to-day operations: financial oversight, graphic design, event planning, marketing, networking, member-to-member relations and whatever else is needed. To do the job well, she says, “you surround yourself with a great team, pay attention to the details and make changes to ensure a smooth outcome.” “I was taught at an early age to work hard and have integrity in everything you do,” she adds. “Treat people with kindness; it will make life easier.” Community involvement is also important to Ross-Seamans, and she has served as a liaison on the Biloxi Main Street Board and on the advisory board for the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum for many years. She’s also a committee member of Preserve Biloxi, helping to plan the annual Preservation in May programs and tours at the Old Biloxi Cemetery. Both personally and professionally, Ross-Seamans says she feels like she is on the right path. “I live every day with a positive outlook, compassion for others and a kind heart,” she says, “and continue to help others any way I can.”

President and chief executive officer, Jackson County Chamber of Commerce


July 2021

Executive director, Biloxi Bay Area Chamber of Commerce

“The challenge that you think was sent to “break” you, could be the very thing that “makes” you. You can either take the bad things that happen in life and use them as excuses, or you can use them as the catalyst to propel you to your dreams.” Ashira Windsor is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, an author, advocate, and the owner and lead therapist of Catalyst Counseling and Therapy Services which is a multi-dimensional mental health private practice committed to the mental wellness of individuals, families, and the community through the necessary methods of prevention, intervention, treatment and education. While having established an outstanding career as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, in the states of California and Mississippi, Ashira Windsor is thoroughly committed to the breakthrough of both clients and professionals. In addition to her passion of helping others to heal, she also offers a space for professionals called to the same standard. Catalyst Counseling and Therapy Services is a breeding ground for social workers in training and doubles as an internship site for universities around the country. Ashira’s most recent accomplishment is co-founding “Bridging the Gap Transitional Age Youth Program,” a nonprofit organization in 2020. Bridging the Gap’s ultimate goal is to be the runway that gives teens, aging out of the foster care system, the momentum they need to be empowered and equipped to reach their unlimited potential. ASHIRA WINDSOR

Advocate. Leader. Philanthropist. 33

“Georgia’s was an idea bred deep in my soul as a child.” My earliest memories are in the kitchen and watching chefs on PBS with my PawPaw. Food and cooking has played an important role throughout my life, but I never envisioned making a career of it! But, there’s something so intimate, personal, and comforting about sharing a meal with someone, especially when your hands have prepared a dish your heart and soul created. For me, love and all that is good is shared through food! As a former teacher, (with a master’s degree!), fitness came into my life and took center stage, eventually leading me into that industry with having opened BoxLife CrossFit in Ocean Springs. Of course with fitness, comes diet...and this notion has helped me create some of the items we serve today! Becoming more conscious of quality, and the need for from scratch items to take center stage over processed foods have helped us create a menu inspired by family traditions and southern culture while ensuring the best quality one can find! The key to success is to be willing to give 100% of yourself, be willing to work harder, cut deep, and fight like hell to get to the top... most people stop at the “I am going too” stage... very few, and the successful ones, take the leap of faith... LAURA PYLATE

12655 Highway 57, Vancleave, MS 39565 228-217-3026

“Serving Generations of families for over 30 years.”

I have been a clinical audiologist for over 34 years, with 30 years on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Over that span of time, I was fortunate enough to grow a relatively small business into a large practice now with 4 doctors of Audiology in 4 offices across the Gulf Coast. I am also a preceptor for two Universities for the last 27 years for doctorate level Audiology students to train at our facility for their clinical experience. In that time, over 75 students have passed through our facility and will have Coastal Hearing Center as one of their initial training experiences. We diagnose hearing and/or balance issues from newborns to geriatrics. Hearing aids would be our specialty, if medical intervention is not applicable. Bringing communication back to people who have been deprived is always a rewarding and emotional experience for us as well as the patient. 970 Tommy Munro Drive, Suite A Biloxi, MS 39532 Phone: (228) 207-7102 Fax: (228) 207-4688



July 2021

3017 13th Street Gulfport, MS 39501 Phone: (228) 863-6592 Fax: (228) 863-1747

Bottom row left to right: Carrie Smith, Jacqueline Wilson, Marty Loper Top row left to right: Christie Sullivan, Marie James, Jessica Williams, Catherine Schwark

“We love our busy days talking to guests and making their vacation dreams come true!” Biloxi Beach Resort Rentals is the largest local & privately owned vacation rental management company on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We offer an immense selection of magnificent high-rise and villa condominiums. Providing superior customer service and comfort to everyone is our guarantee! Our daily mission is to exceed expectations of what Mississippi has to offer! Jacqueline Wilson, Owner, has worked for Biloxi Beach Resort Rentals for 10 years. In May Jacqueline purchased the company that she loves so much, capitalizing on her entrepreneurial spirit and making her dreams of owning her own business come true. After 10 years of experience with the business, Jacqueline is highly knowledgeable of

the coast tourism economy and the daily business of Biloxi Beach Resort Rentals. “I do a little bit of everything,” says Jacqueline. “I oversee the day-to-day operations, accounting, HR and much more. I love my team, we are a family and I could not do any of this without them!” Jacqueline acknowledges that her team is a vital part of the company. From the first impression at the front desk staff to maintenance, housekeeping, and reservations, her team is top notch! We are so glad to be a part of the tourism industry that is such a vital part of the Coast economy. Our mission is to give every person—visitors and locals—the best experience in our very own coastal paradise!”

Make your reservations online at: or call today 877-9-Biloxi (877.924.5694)






e received hundreds of nominations for this year’s 100 Successful Women to Know Showcase, and once again, the caliber of candidates giving their time and talent to our communities, all while maintaining careers and families, reflects the Coast’s wealth of female leadership. Some of these honorees are making a difference quietly or behind the scenes, and some are blazing trails front and center. Some faces will be familiar, and others are receiving well-deserved recognition for the first time. They represent all walks of life, and collectively, they demonstrate what is possible with passion, dedication and selfbelief. We are pleased to introduce the 100 Successful Women to Know Class of 2021. Congratulations! Well-deserved.


July 2021

“After 30 years in the Mortgage Business, receiving The Highest Customer Service Rating Award, year after year, is what motivates me to continue to work hard for my borrowers” BERNIE O’SULLIVAN

Mortgage Banker NMLS# 658282

I am married to David Cunningham, have 4 children, eight grandchildren & 5 great grandchildren. For relaxation, my husband and I have restored several homes back to their beauty in Pascagoula (mostly in our neighborhood, Historic Krebsville District). We fell in love with the last renovation which we began in 2017, so much so we decided to move in and make it our home in 2019. Since our move in, we kept adding to our project list and that keeps us busy!

have at our disposal. My clients and referral partners need to feel we have their best interests at heart, so making certain we are current on industry guidelines at all times allows me to provide them with the best information, experience and outcome. Although our work days can be long and busy, I enjoy that it allows me to be flexible enough to meet with clients, attend business lunches and presentations for realtors, which are all key to success.

Being involved in Pascagoula, knowing everyone and trying to make a difference in my community is why I work so hard for my borrowers as a Mortgage Loan Officer. I love helping families to get the home of their dreams whether it be by saving money to refinance their mortgage or showing first time homebuyers how the whole process works. Getting a mortgage is not as hard as many people think, I have an amazing team behind me which allows me to spend more one-on-one time with my clients. Whether it is utilizing our state’s various down payment assistance programs, helping people establish or rebuild their credit or being coupled with a company that has great rates and programs, I have been able to really make a difference in Pascagoula and surrounding areas so I absolutely love what I do!

Realizing happiness in helping others not only keeps me going but when your work gives you joy it’s not like work at all. I have been honored to receive many recognitions from Pascagoula’s Rotary Club, where I’ve been a member for over 26 years, raising funds for scholarships for our local High School graduates; Delmar Mortgage, as a top producer along with having the highest customer service ratings; and the Mississippi Home Corporation for helping the most first time home buyers year over year. These awards are much appreciated, but my real sense of accomplishment is helping people realize their dreams. Knowing I helped each client reach such a milestone is my reward each and every time! hablamos español

Conventional Loans

A majority of my business comes from repeat clients, USDA / Rural Housing Loans FHA & VA Loans referrals from them or Realtor referral partners. I also am Reverse Mortgages Bond &credit Grant Programs very grateful and humbled that local banks, unions First Time Buyer Programs and CPA’s put their trust in me by referring their Jumbo Loans mortgage New Construction Financing clients to take advantage of the vast mortgage programs we NMLS# 30998

Bay Saint Louis

805 Highway 90

A Lending Legacy

1403 JacksonOcean Ave., Suite B Springs 2112 Bienville Blvd, Ste G Pascagoula, MS Pascagoula 1403 Jackson Ave, Ste B 228.218.7487 direct Lucedale 826 Manila Street


The real estate business has been deeply rooted in my family. My husband’s father and uncle were involved in various aspects of the industry. My father was a draftsman and contractor and now, 35 years later, I find myself tracking the same footsteps. I enjoy my profession and each day presents a different challenge that allow me to work with people from different walks of life. My work has evolved so that I now have the pleasure of working with the adult children of my clients. The current market on the Mississippi Gulf Coast is extremely exciting and the opportunities are at the highest peak I have experienced in many years. It is not uncommon to encounter prospective purchasers vying for the same properties which, quite often, will generate offers greater than the list price. I am a fervent supporter of women in the business world. I encourage other women to stay the course and I try to instill that same philosophy in my daughters and granddaughters. I really believe that God should be first in your life, and with that there is nothing one cannot accomplish.


Broker/Owner 228-760-2815 |


July 2021

My profession is important, but it runs behind the blessing I have received through seventeen grandchildren. When I tell others I have seventeen grandchildren, they are usually shocked. My grandchildren are so much a part of my life and are such a blessing.

opening do

2208 18th Street, Suite B Gulfport, MS 39501


Broker Associate, ABR, SFR, MRP Certified Residential Appraiser 228-669-1767



Broker Associate 228-806-9822





REALTOR® 228-323-1603

REALTOR® 228-224-5337

Broker Associate 228-669-3720

REALTOR® 228-234-2001


REALTOR® 228-860-5460



REALTOR® 601-467-7890

Broker Associate 228-697-6609

Owen & Co., LLC Real Estate maintains a strong knowledge of what’s available in the area and market value of properties in the community. Prices can vary greatly, depending on quality, size, and location. Single-family homes abound, as do vacation homes and condos for those looking for a beach retreat on the spectacular Gulf Coast. Let our broad knowledge and experience of the market help you meet your needs, whether buying or selling real estate. We specialize in both commercial and residential properties in cities all along the Gulf Coast.

oors for you



Owner/hairstylist Salon Rouge/Blue Dog Bistro Amber Lord has been a hairstylist for 14 years and owned her salon, Salon Rouge, for 13 years. She and her husband also opened Blue Dog Bistro in Ocean Springs about two years ago. They love serving their community in every way they can. How are you making an impact in your community? There is nothing better than making someone feel better about themselves when they leave my chair or when customers leave the restaurant with a full stomach and a smile on their faces. We absolutely love serving our community, and our goal is for our businesses to make a positive impact on people when they walk out our doors.


Owner/Manager The Threaded Cork Originally from Florida, Andrea Jenkins and her husband decided to call the Mississippi Gulf Coast their home after 24 years in the U.S. Navy. Her lifelong dream to own a boutique has become a reality, and she couldn’t be more grateful to be among the many small businesses along the Gulf Coast! How are you making an impact in your community? Having the only hybrid boutique along the Mississippi Gulf Coast brings something different and unique to our community. I am truly passionate about the products I offer, as well as offering exceptional customer service to all. I love being a part of downtown Biloxi and look forward to being a part of its future growth.


July 2021


Dentist Divine Dentistry Andrea L. Davis is owner and operator of Divine Dentistry’s two locations, mother of one precious daughter named Kai Simone and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc. and other organizations that strive to be a part of the community. She hopes to encourage, uplift and challenge each patient and employee to be the best. She works hard to share what she has with others and believes we are created to serve in our purpose. How are you making an impact in your community? It is my prayer that I am supporting change in our communities by sponsoring activities with our youth like Womanhood Inc., which is dedicated to maintenance of young ladies once in college, as well as West Harrison’s girls’ basketball team and the powerlifting teams. My team and I support Big Hearts Little Hands by collecting for the needs of the community in shelters and back-to-school items.


Owner/special education specialist Gulf Coast Education Solutions Angel Jones started working in special education 13 years ago and completely fell in love with it. She earned her master’s degrees in special education and dyslexia therapy to better prepare herself to help the children God placed in her path. She started her company to provide more opportunities for children with special needs. She recruited along the way to build an amazing team of specialists that have helped make it all possible. How are you making an impact in your community? I have brought together, in one location, a wide range of educational and therapeutic services for children with special needs. Families can enjoy the convenience of multiple providers that collaborate daily to develop treatment plans to help each child reach his or her greatest potential in all areas of learning and development. We have been able to provide options that are often very difficult to find on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

“Hard Work, Dedication, Support And Help from Family & Friends!” Ossiea Lake, the owner of Assured Connections Insurance Group started her business in January of 2018. Ossiea, a personal lines agent, focuses on providing home, auto, and rental, and life insurance to her clients. She owns two agencies; one in Biloxi and the other in Pearl. She did not build this dream alone; She credits her success to her family, friends, and God. She gives credit to those who help her build her success. She services the entire state of Mississippi on Property and Casualty Insurance and Life/ Health Insurance. Ossiea’s favorite part of owning Assured Connections Insurance Group is having the opportunity to build personal and trusting relationships daily. Ossiea began her career as a customer service representative and later became a Realtor. She has been a realtor for over 16 years. Ossiea has been recognized as a Top Realtor in the tri-county area along with Top Listing and Selling Agent in her working office. She has earned several awards as a multi-million dollar producing agent. Ossiea loves working with people. Due to her career in real estate, she learned that there was a big gap in understanding insurance and that many people do not have insurance. After witnessing numerous tragic weather events and families with little or no life insurance to bury loved ones, Ossiea wanted to make a difference, educate others, and teach others how to save money. Ossiea realized in order for change to happen; you have to be the change that others see. As a double minority, she realized that many people are not educated on finances, how to prepare and plan for life changing events, or how to leave a legacy for the next generation. Ossiea has committed herself to educating others, thus leading to the opening of her thriving insurance agency. If you are looking for home, auto, business, trucking or life insurance. Look no further and call Assured Connections today.



Assured Connections Insurance Group 249 Beauvoir Ave., Ste C1, Biloxi, MS 39531 228-529-6233 |



July 2021

“We are passionate about offering our customers quality, hand-crafted, fresh meals, drinks, and desserts.” Layla’s has a rich tradition of serving fresh-brewed coffee along with hand-made sandwiches, salads, and desserts. We are glad to celebrate another year of being a part of our community through our dine-in and catering options. We love great food, and we love having an opportunity every day to make people smile. We pride ourselves on our food and beverage offerings, and we love serving people and offering them a space to craft relationships. Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner LINSEY O’KEEFE


2079 East Pass Road, Gulfport 228.897.1139



Career navigator/business owner Jobs for Mississippi Graduates Inc./ Workforce Innovations LLC Angela Griffin is originally from Yazoo City, Mississippi, and resides in Biloxi. She is married to Michael and is mother and grandmother of Miesha and Zoe Griffin. She is a graduate of Alcorn State University and holds a master’s degree from Jackson State University. Griffin is a certified public manager and certified mental health therapist. She retired as director of quality assurance from South Mississippi Regional Center. She is owner of Workforce Innovations LLC and a consultant with Jobs for Mississippi Graduates. She is a charter member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Gulfport chapter. How are you making an impact in your community? As career navigator, it is my objective to facilitate career placement outcomes for low-income youth ages 16-24. Using the America’s Graduates (JAG) Program applied model of school to work, participants receive dropout prevention/ career readiness services. To ensure student progression, it is incumbent on me to ensure active collaboration among students, parents, local school officials, local businesses and support agencies. Since the inception of the Mississippi Gulf Coast program in 2015, 250-plus students have received career transition services.


Special assistant attorney general Mississippi Attorney General’s Office Anna Ward Sukmann was born in Memphis and attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She received her juris doctorate from Mississippi College School of Law in 2004. She met her husband, John, in Jackson shortly after Hurricane Katrina and relocated to the Coast in 2008. Before joining the Attorney General’s Office, Anna was in private practice, advocating for clients in chancery and youth courts around south Mississippi. How are you making an impact in your community? I serve as the statewide human trafficking victim services coordinator at the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, where I work closely with nonprofits and other state agencies to expand services to victims of human trafficking around Mississippi. I have a passion for helping children and victims of crime, having previously served on the board of directors of Hope Haven Children’s Advocacy Center in Hancock County. I currently serve on the board of Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers.


July 2021


Owner, life and wellness coach Purpose by Ang Angela Singletary is a successful life and wellness coach, bestselling author and motivational speaker. A native of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Angela always has been a natural counselor. She combines her empathetic and positive coaching style with her passion for wellness in her life and wellness coaching business, Purpose by Ang. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Tulane University and various certifications. It is her goal to help her clients find wellness in mind, body and soul. How are you making an impact in your community? I am the president and founder of the Mississippi chapter of Little People of America. I am the Secretary of Lighthouse Business and Professional Women board of directors, as well as the chair of the Woman of Achievement awards ceremony. I am an honoree for this year’s Shuck Cancer program for The American Cancer Society. I am on the development committee for the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, and I am a volunteer and contributing writer for Mississippi Rising Coalition.


Founder/executive director Safe Haven Center for Domestic Violence Annie Sanders is the Founder and Executive Director of Safe Haven Center for Domestic Violence, which she founded and launched in August of 2017 while maintaining full-time employment. It is her mission to assist victims of domestic violence and their children. This nonprofit is near and dear to her heart because Annie is a survivor of domestic abuse herself that lasted 10 years of her young adult life. How are you making an impact in your community? While growing up in South Mississippi, I have always been a philanthropist, willing and wanting to help those with whom I come into contact. Every opportunity I get to help or volunteer, I take that opportunity head on, which has not always been an easy task for me. Yet, I continue to push through for others. Every part of my mission is to lead, protect and help grow my community.

Amy Brand

Branch Manager NMLS 103259 Office: 228.200.1091 Mobile: 228.200.8591 Email: Web: AFI Mortgage | NMLS 145368 1113 Ames Avenue | Ocean Springs, MS 39564 AFI Mortgage, division of AmeriFirst Financial, Inc., 1550 E. McKellips Road, Suite 117, Mesa, AZ 85203 (NMLS # 145368). 1-877-276-1974. © 2021. All Rights Reserved. This is not an offer to enter into an agreement. Not all customers will qualify. Information, rates, and programs are subject to change without prior notice. Not all products are available in all states or for all loan amounts. Other restrictions and limitations apply. AmeriFirst Financial, Inc. is an independent mortgage lender and is not affiliated with the Department of Housing and Urban Development or the Federal Housing Administration. Visit for all state licenses Visit NMLS Consumer Access at


“Because She Believed In Us” The story behind the development of C&M Tax and Tees was because of my sister Mary Funchess. She came to me one day and asked me to start a business. I never questioned her idea however I had been on the same job for over 20 years and the decision to walk away was difficult. I have my Undergrad in Accounting and for over the past 10 or 15 years I have basically given free tax advice. My sister said I think it is time that you start getting paid for what you have done for free for so many years. She was so sure that we could do it together and be successful. One of her statements is, all we need to do is walk out on Faith and God will guide our steps. I knew I could handle the tax part of the business, but we needed something else that would help us continue a steady income throughout the year and that is when I came up with the T-shirt addition. Which was supposed to be her project however we are in it together. In the development of our logo it’s more personal. Our logo symbolizes a bond between sisters. We decided to use our first initial in our name combined with our logo. To use it more than a logo it is a sisterhood for life, our strength together has made our company strong, and that strength has driven us to where we are today. Our mission statement of our company is God first, determination, and motivation is the key for success. She is my hero because she believed in me. MARY FUNCHESS AND CAROLYN REESE

C & M Tax and Tees We are active members of the Chamber of Commerce and the BBB.

“I am humbled and honored to give back to the community that helped shape who I am today.” A board-certified, fellowship-trained radiologist/partner with SMB Radiology, Dr. Leena Pande is a Gulf Coast native who returned home following training and practicing in New Orleans, Chicago, Washington D.C., and Houston. “My husband and I couldn’t think of a better place to raise our family,” says Dr. Pande. With additional training in Abdominal and Women’s Imaging, Dr. Pande is devoted to providing top-notch care to her patients at Memorial Hospital of Gulfport and Singing River-Gulfport. “Women’s imaging is my passion, and I love helping the women of our community make informed, autonomous decisions about their health.” Outside of work, Dr. Pande serves as Vice-President of the Junior Auxiliary of Gulfport. “JA does amazing things for the children of our community, and I am honored to help lead such an impactful group of women.”


SMB Radiology


July 2021

“I think what keeps all of us in my specialty going is knowing that the patient needs you, needs you to handle her situation with empathy and give her the confidence that she is going to be OK.” Dr. Alisha Ware is an OB-GYN and a partner with The Woman’s Clinic, PA with offices in Biloxi and Gulfport. While attending medical school at LSU, Ware fell in love with OB-GYN—largely due to the obstetrics side. She gets to be part of a woman’s life at a very joyful time and help ensure the best outcome for mom and baby. She takes that responsibility seriously and finds so much pleasure in watching her patients become parents. Ware may see dozens of patients on any given day, but the last will receive as much attention and compassion as the first. “Empathy is very important in my job,” Ware says. “Being able to truly put yourself in someone else’s place and understand what they must be feeling is important every day with every patient.” Dr. Ware enjoys taking care of women and creating a place where they can ask the uncomfortable questions. She attributes the comfort level she establishes with her patients to her approachable demeanor and genuine interest in her patients. “I think what keeps all of us in my specialty going is knowing that the patient needs you, needs you to handle her situation with empathy and give her the confidence that she is going to be OK,” she says. Ware is also just like every other working mom— supporting her husband and three kids in their activities and trying to decide what’s for dinner when she gets off work. She hopes that she instills in her children the idea that it is important to put others first and to work for something bigger than yourself. ALISHA WARE, MD




Owner Juiced Up LLC Artina Graves is a wife, mother, medical clerk and community member who also owns a company called Juiced Up. She serves at an awesome church where she is deeply rooted. She looks forward to juicing the world as she makes natural fruit and vegetable juice. One of her goals is to get juice into the hands of the homeless daily, as their health is important but often lacking because of their situation. How are you making an impact in your community? I am recognized for the empathy I have for people who are hurting. I find myself standing in the gap and lending a hand wherever needed, but specifically providing meals. I enjoy cooking meals for family, friends and strangers because I’ve been through rough times and would like to believe a great meal sometimes eases the immediate burden.


Director of business development Memorial Hospital For two decades, Ashley Comstock has built a career of business development, government policy and campaign management for political candidates. As director of business development with Memorial Hospital, she has the opportunity to utilize those relationships across the coast to build on the strong healthcare foundation Memorial holds in South Mississippi. She works with a team of people who are innovative and compassionate about the community and encourage her to expand boundaries and pursue limitless opportunities. How are you making an impact in your community? A pandemic was something I never imagined I would live through in my lifetime. Having now survived one, I have a newfound respect for our healthcare workers and the wellbeing of our citizens. One of my many roles at Memorial has been to reach out to our communities and coordinate COVID-19 vaccinations. Playing a part in helping our friends and families with some element of protection during times like this has been my highest reward.


July 2021


Licensed clinical social worker, owner and CEO Catalyst Counseling and Therapy Ashira Windsor is a new best-selling author, an advocate, licensed clinical social worker and owner and lead therapist of Catalyst Counseling and Therapy Services, a multi-dimensional practice committed to the wellness of individuals, families and the community through the necessary methods of prevention, intervention, treatment and education. She is committed to the breakthrough of both clients and professionals through the specialty of Catalyst Counseling and Therapy Services. Most of all, she is a servant leader. How are you making an impact in your community? I am making an impact in my community by providing quality mental health services. My mental health practice is also a breeding ground for mental health professionals in training and hosts several interns from universities across the country yearly. My most recent contribution is co-founding Bridging the Gap Transitional Age Youth Program, a nonprofit organization. Bridging the Gap’s ultimate goal is to assist with transitioning teens aging out of the foster care system successfully.


Owner/operator Charisma Born and raised on the Gulf Coast, as a young 23-year-old, Brandin Brosh knew the Coast was where she wanted to set roots and begin fulfilling her dream of being an entrepreneur. She’s always had a passion for fashion. Now, at 31, she owns a successful retail store in downtown Ocean Springs and has been on the board of directors for the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce for five years. She couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. How are you making an impact in your community? I think my greatest achievement comes through the influence I have on our youth through mentorship, volunteering in the community and educational fundraising. As an ex-educator, I know that impacting our youth in a positive way lays the groundwork for the future of our great Coast. Raising money for education through “Round Up” at Charisma and being on the board of directors in Ocean Springs has given me a huge opportunity to make a small difference.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished... It’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.” Owner of Ramon Insurance and partner of JP Kush & Associates, Leslie has worked day in and day out to make sure her clients are treated as if they were family and not just a number on the books. She was recognized in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 from AARP for outstanding community service. It is this community service that led her to Loaves and Fishes. After volunteering for two years she accepted the position of executive director in April of 2020 during the middle of the pandemic with very little training or knowledge of what her new job required, she jumped in 100% and never missed a beat. When faced with obstacles she adjusted and kept on moving. She has an amazing heart, a fearless mentality, and refuses to fail.

LESLIE RAMON Owner of Ramon Insurance and Executive Director for Loaves and Fishes



Owner Mississippi Roots LLC Brandy Waltman is a go-getter and a leader; she’s never been one to follow the herd. She is a business owner, wife and mother. Although she has an autoimmune disease, she has never let it define her. She loves a challenge and works tirelessly for her clients and customers. She takes care of those who have lost loved ones and provides a unique service. How are you making an impact in your community? I absolutely love my community. I named my company after my favorite state. There is something about volunteering and being part of something greater than yourself. At the end of the day, when you are long gone, how will people remember you? Leave your legacy!


Owner Little Sunshine Photography Britneye Ladner married her husband 14 years ago, and together they have three sons. Being his wife and their momma is the greatest blessing in her life. God and her family are her rocks. Motherhood photography is her passion. her dream was to be fully present as a mother, which owning my own business has allowed. She now finds so much joy in capturing the moments that mommas never want to forget. How are you making an impact in your community? My goal with every session is to help my clients see just how beautiful they are in carrying out their roles as mothers. There’s so much beauty in the love of a mom that we often overlook. I also find great joy in serving the moms of The Women’s Resource Center’s Earn While You Learn program by offering them complimentary sessions that I hope are a bright spot in a dark season for them.


July 2021


Volunteer director Gulf Coast Community Foundation Bridget Turan moved here in September of 2017 to take a job with the March of Dimes. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma. She has been married over 15 years and has two sons, ages 12 and 21. Her husband retired from the U.S. Air Force in 2018, and they have lived in Oklahoma, Japan, Arizona and Arkansas before relocating to Biloxi. I love the Gulf Coast! How are you making an impact in your community? I am an alumnus of Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority, and college is where I fell in love with helping others and started volunteering. I moved here less than four years ago and have helped so many organizations here on the Coast. I serve on several boards and committees. I enjoy helping where I can. I have held several volunteer positions, helping organizations raise money. I am always donating my skills and services.


Owner Southern Grounds Coffeehouse/Tin Roof Road Food Truck Brynn Knapp is a mom of seven boys (three by birth, four by bonus), and her husband is a police officer. They own three businesses and try to keep their sanity in the meantime. They have faith in God and try to put that love and kindness into everything they do. How are you making an impact in your community? We are trying give people a little bit of love and Jesus in everything we do. A little bit of love and kindness can go a long way.

“ Weddings are such a magical part of life, and I feel so honored and blessed that I get to live in that moment of magic every day.” The Wedding Collection is a business Kerri Pellegrin has truly built from the ground up on a foundation of love with her husband, Kevin. The dream began with their very own wedding, and the story of The Wedding Collection has brought her to a forever happy place, working with brides, grooms, and their families every day to bring love to the altar. Managing so many weddings at one time and still making every client feel like they are the only one is, as Kerri says, “…easy, because every client is different, has different needs, a different vision, and most of all, I love what I do.

It does not feel like work when you work next to clients you adore and treasure and have a great team beside you along the way. It’s fun bringing someone’s love story to a tangible celebration.” Wedding planning process and Wedding Day to be as perfect as we do, and YOU. We are very hands-on from start to finish. We want to touch every detail and be sure our Collection Couples and their guests enjoy every moment of the day without having to lift a finger; Service is the foremost important value of The Wedding Collection.

WWW.THEWEDDINGCOLLECTION.COM • 228-344-3212 • BAY ST. LOUIS, MISSISSIPPI 228-344-3212 | Bay St. Louis, MS




Executive Director American Heart Association Christin LeBoeuf is a busy mom of three children, ages 12, 10, and 7, and has the privilege of serving as the executive director of the American Heart Association along the Gulf Coast. She has been with the American Heart Association for 14 years and has held a variety of roles. She loves spending time with family and friends. She has been married to Ryan LeBoeuf for 16 years, and they live in Diamondhead. How are you making an impact in your community? I am leading our team along the Gulf Coast to empower our community to take charge of their health. Together with our amazing volunteers, we’re addressing the issues that are stopping our neighbors from living their healthiest and best lives. We’re working to stop our children from falling victim to the dangers of vaping. We’re helping to get hypertension under control. We’re addressing nutrition security to ensure people have access to fresh, affordable food.


Transformation coach,speaker, visionary author Finally Free LLC/Dawn Lieck Enterprise Dawn Lieck is a world-class life coach, best-selling author, international speaker and CEO of both Finally Free LLC and Dawn Lieck Enterprise. She motivates clients to renew their perspective, eradicate fear and maintain balance. Lieck’s mantra is simple: “Do it scared.” How are you making an impact in your community? I feel my purpose is awakening women to their God-given talents and finding their true selves, no matter their age. It’s never too late to start anew if only we can recognize who we are and what we truly want. I give women a fresh perspective on the journey to becoming Finally Free.


July 2021


Occupational therapist/certified lymphedema therapist Hematology Oncology Partners Danielle Lipski received her master’s degree in occupational therapy from Texas Woman’s University in Houston in 2003 and completed her certification in lymphedema therapy in 2005. She loves being an cccupational therapist. Lipski also is an active parishioner at St. Thomas Catholic Church. She has been a volunteer with Pink Heart Funds for over 10 years. She loves traveling with her husband and fur baby, Lexi, as well as yoga, hanging out with friends and being part of a great community. How are you making an impact in your community? As one of the only certified lymphedema therapists on the Gulf Coast, I am providing care to all patients diagnosed with lymphedema, as well as those requiring breast cancer rehab after surgery. I work with an awesome oncology group (HOPE) and am blessed to be able to provide a service to all that is limited in our area. I love helping people become successful in their journey through rehab to meet their goals.


Executive director USO Gulf Coast Felice Kelly Gillum is an author, advocate and executive director of USO Gulf Coast, a nonprofit dedicated to keeping service members connected to family, home and country throughout their service to the nation. Displaying more than two decades of outstanding professionalism in the arenas of organizational leadership, instructional facilitation and a plethora of philanthropic efforts, Gillum has proven her expertise to be essential in the growth and functionality of establishments displaying high potential to thrive. How are you making an impact in your community? Making a difference in the community is one of my greatest passions. Through the work of my sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc., I work to promote higher education, women’s healthcare and wellness and building economic security. I also serve on the board of Gulf Coast Community Ministries, which focuses on the homeless and underserved in our community, and I also serve on many outreach ministries in my church, Morning Star Baptist Church in Gulfport.

“Celebrating another year of providing exceptional urologic care for the Mississippi Gulf Coast.” After more than a decade of caring for patients, Dr. White used her expertise to establish The Urology Clinic two years ago, where she dedicated herself to personalizing urologic care for her patients. Over the years, she has developed a reputation for delivering quality, personalized care. The staff at The Urology Clinic are able to provide a wide range of services including vasectomies and in-office treatments for voiding problems, incontinence and UTI’s.



14231 Seaway Road Suite 6000 Gulfport 228-254-1103


The director team at Lighthouse Assisted Living and Memory Care in Ocean Springs invites you to come visit us. Lighthouse is locally owned and operated and proudly offers the finest memory care cottages on the coast. We are dedicated to serving those with Alzheimers or Dementia and have six cottages allowing us to place your loved one in a cottage based upon their specific needs.

From Left to Right. Ann Gregory, Nursing Supervisor, Lacy Prewitt, Director of Operations, Beth Joachim, Executive Director, Kayla Blevins, Director of Dietary, Kayla Parkinson, HR Director, Chelsea Dore’, Activities Director


15 Years in Business

3901 Hardy St. Hattiesburg, MS 39401


July 2021

900 Washington Ave. Downtown Ocean Springs

914 Washington Avenue Downtown Ocean Springs

“Inspiring Gulf Coast Lifestyles” Lynn has lived her entire life on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Her love for the beautiful area that she calls home and passion for outstanding customer service made an ideal combination for her launch of The O’Keefe Real Estate Group. After selling her successful specialty gift and stationary business, The Paper Moon, Lynn was excited for the opportunity to help others buy and sell their homes here. She earned her real estate license, then her brokerage license, which has allowed her to apply her skills and knowledge of the Coast to this endeavor. Because buying or selling a home is such a personal and important process, establishing trust with her clientele has always been a top priority for Lynn. Together with her capable team, she makes sure that they work closely with their clients in a shared sense of community and dedication. Their commitment to unparalleled level of service is what sets them apart from other real estate firms. Lynn is a loving mother to three boys, who she enjoyed raising in beautiful Biloxi. She and The O’Keefe Real Estate Group regularly give back to the community through their support of numerous charitable and community organizations on the Coast.


Owner/Broker The O’Keefe Real Estate Group


611 Jackson Avenue Ocean Springs, MS 39564 (228) 875-5096



Owner/ local artist Wood & Wine Design Co. Haven Hale, a lifelong Mississippi Gulf Coast resident, specializes in providing a creative and social atmosphere for even the most non-artistic clients to create something “wall worthy.” Beginning her career as a local artist, the DIY craze and ability to instruct others has opened the door to this unique small business. Finding a way to bridge the gap between downtown Ocean Springs art and nightlife has proven to be the key to Wood & Wine’s success. How are you making an impact in your community? Each night I encourage guests to take a step out of their comfort zone and open their minds to creativity. I strive to boost the confidence of every man, woman and child who walks through Wood & Wine’s door.


Administrator Hematology Oncology Partners Holly Ford is a lifelong resident of the Coast, and she and her husband, Scott, live in Biloxi with their four daughters: Olivia, Grace, Anna Kathryn and Mary Scott. She attended Millsaps College, where she received her bachelor’s degree and master of business administration. Ford has been in healthcare administration for the past seven years and serves as administrator for Hematology Oncology Partners. How are you making an impact in your community? I have always had a passion for helping others. When I am not helping our patients at Hematology Oncology Partners, I love spending time with my family, helping our community as a board member of Junior Auxiliary of Gulfport and volunteering with different projects at St. James Catholic Church and School. As a wife and mother, the strength of our family unit holds great importance, especially with leading by example with our four daughters.


July 2021


Attorney Butler Snow LLP Heather Smith is a partner with Butler Snow LLP and represents various governmental entities along the Gulf Cost. She is married to Todd Smith, and they have three beautiful children — Amelia (4), Grace (3) and Charlie (1). When she’s not working or mothering, she enjoys reading, cooking and being outdoors. How are you making an impact in your community? Working with governmental entities, I am blessed to experience firsthand the impact my legal career makes on the community. I assist my clients with decisions that directly affect their everyday lives. Each day, I strive to make the Coast a better place to live and raise children.


General surgeon Merit Health Biloxi Hope Burkett is a proud graduate of both the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science and the University of Mississippi. After post-graduate employment at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center, she returned home to obtain her medical degree from William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine. She completed her general surgery training at Oklahoma State University Medical Center and returned to the Gulf Coast to serve the general surgery needs of the community. How are you making an impact in your community? I work to meet the general surgery needs of the Biloxi area, including both elective and acute care intervention for a variety of ailments. I strive to provide well-rounded care, including mental, emotional and physical support for patients as they transition to their new life after surgical intervention or traumatic events. In my spare time, my husband and I work together in our passion for community involvement, community improvement and animal rescue.

“Watching others grow gives me the ultimate satisfaction and feeling of success.” An entrepreneur and retail business owner at age 17, Nicole has always loved sales and helping people. However, it was real estate that ultimately became her passion–finding the feeling of putting someone in a home “one of the most rewarding experiences of her life.” She founded Fidelis Realty in 2009, choosing the name for its meaning–integrity and honesty–cornerstones of any business, especially real estate. Nicole has grown the Fidelis brand with two successful franchises and has approximately 40 agents, who she views as family and proudly calls friends. A hallmark of Nicole’s business is to encourage and empower women–taking chances and inspiring everyone from single moms to those looking to change careers–with a supportive, mentored and family-friendly environment that allows for work-life balance. Her definition of success is the satisfaction that she gets from watching others grow. NICOLE NEZAT

Broker Fidelis Realty

2518 Pass Road, Suite 7A, Biloxi, MS 39531 Direct: (228) 365-0550 Office: (228) 896-4200



Certified life and weight loss coach Forge Health Jacque McShane is a doctor of pharmacy turned certified life and weight loss coach. After spending 16 years dispensing medications for preventable disease in “sick care,” she shifted her focus to “health care.” Life coaching helped her move forward after the loss of her daughter in 2013, and now she’s passionate about helping people create health in all areas of their lives, including body and mind. She enjoys skiing, travel and making memories with her son. How are you making an impact in your community? I empower my clients to pursue the best version of themselves. For many, weight prevents us from living our best lives. Whether we physically are incapable of participating in activities we enjoy, or if we are drowning ourselves in negative self-talk that keeps us in an invisible prison, it’s debilitating. I give clients the tools to overcome beliefs that are keeping them stuck on the scale and in life. I’m a hope dealer!


Local history and genealogy librarian Biloxi Public Library/Harrison County Library System As the local history and genealogy librarian at the Biloxi Library, Jane Shambra manages the collection of genealogy and local history materials. She received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of New Orleans. As a writer, she has co-authored two books: “Biloxi (Images of America)” and “Biloxi (Postcard History),” and she writes the back-in-the-day column in the city of Biloxi’s monthly newsletter. She is a member of the Preserve Biloxi Committee, which hosts the annual cemetery tours. How are you making an impact in your community? By participating in multiple public outreach events, I am able to share the unique history of the Mississippi Gulf Coast while developing an awareness of not only what disasters have taken away, but how the Coast has survived and rebuilt through its trying times. My monthly back-in-the-day article is a flashback of history with a circulation of 24,000 to homes, businesses and post offices and reaches an estimated 4,000 through traditional media.


July 2021


CEO/owner JeMaries Closet/ JeMaries Ministies Jacqueline Hall is a 47-year-old mother of three and grandmother of four. She works as a retail supervisor at Beau Rivage Casino. She also is a licensed evangelist with her own ministry (JeMarie Ministries), as well as multiple platforms. She attends Ramsey Memorial Church, where she serves as a minister under Pastor Barkum. Additionally, she is a small online business owner of five years (JeMaries Closet LLC). How are you making an impact in your community? I am making an impact through my multiple platforms: Facebook and Instagram, inspirational word videos, words of encouragement videos, Bible studies, Bible teaching, inspirational posts or pop-up live sermons, prophetic words and inspirational T-shirts sold through my business. My mission and purpose are not only to impact, but to be an example of God’s love and his light, to introduce Him to some and reintroduce him to others, to heal souls and, more importantly, to save souls.


Owner Epitome Cheveux Gulf Coast award-winning celebrity hairstylist of Epitome Cheveux Beauty Loft, Janice Spencer is a creative and intuitive professional known for her beautiful, customized headpieces. Her soul shows she is dedicated to top-tier customer satisfaction and entrepreneurial advancement. How are you making an impact in your community? The most satisfying thing to hear about me as a young entrepreneur is how I inspire others because I don’t complain, and I always speak positive truth. I also love to let people know as an entrepreneur that you will fall, but the only thing that matters is how you get up!

“Never Give Up.” Creativity is one of my God-given gifts, however, I would have never imagined myself as a photographer. I made a promise to my family after the death of my aunt. That promise was for no one to have an obituary without a visual reference to who they really are. My aunt’s obituary was printed without her picture. And I felt horrible, which led to the promise and my purpose. Creative Images was created to capture your family’s memorable moments. I feel that COVID has emphasized the importance of capturing them, and it made those moments so much more valuable. COVID also allowed me to think outside of the box of a way to capture memories for the Class of 2020 seniors. I created and designed yard signs to celebrate their newly achieved milestone in life. The seniors and parents were incredibly pleased with the results, which ended up being a success for the business and the seniors. Despite the pandemic, I created a vision board to inspire the next levels of my business and personal success. The goal: establish my very own bricks and mortar storefront. And I am pleased to say it has become a reality in Gulfport! I am extremely proud to have accomplished so much this year, despite COVID. This year, I was also blessed to be awarded ‘Best Photographer’ by the Mississippi Gulf Coast Black-Owned Business organization and my photographs have been published in Gulf Coast Woman, Success Woman’s magazine, VIP Global and Fashion GXD. Thank you all for helping make Creative Images what it is today, and I am excited for what the future holds. TATANEKA MOORE

Owner, Creative Images, LLC

12100 Highway 49, Suite 654 Gulfport, MS 39503 (228) 213-4636 59


Marketing and entertainment manager Island View Casino Resort Jennifer Lee is a native of Pensacola, Florida, and graduate of the University of South Alabama. Her career has been spent in the entertainment industry, and she has worked for over 20 years in the casino industry on the Coast, with the last 12 years at Island View. She is an active member in her church and several professional organizations. She enjoys spending time with family and time on the beach or boating. How are you making an impact in your community? I serve on the boards of directors for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce and the Gulfport Chamber of Commerce (past president), and I currently am president of Gulfport Main Street Association. I believe in promoting and giving back to the communities I work and live in to help them be their best. I also have also served on committees for the American Red Cross and American Cancer Society, helping to organize fundraisers and awareness campaigns for causes.


Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner Mindful Matters Joannie Evans is an advanced practice registered nurse and is certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. She obtained her master’s degree from The University of Southern Mississippi. She has many years of psychiatric nursing experience in caring for a broad spectrum of individuals suffering from mental health disorders. Her experience includes inpatient and outpatient care, which has provided her with the vast knowledge to care for each individual’s various needs. How are you making an impact in your community? I am grateful for the opportunity to help people reach their full potential when it comes to mental health. I believe that mental health is the cornerstone of overall wellness, and I am proud to provide services to my home community. I provide outpatient mental health treatment at Mindful Matters.


July 2021


Executive Director Brookdale Senior Living LLC Jessica Lahaie has been married to her wonderful husband, Brad, for 20 years. They share two beautiful children, Brodie, 2, and Jacqueline, 20. She currently has the opportunity to serve the seniors and families of south Mississippi by providing oversight to Brookdale Senior Living LLC. She joined the team at Brookdale Biloxi in February of 2019. She’s had the privilege of helping enhance the quality of life for those Brookdale serves and their families. How are you making an impact in your community? I oversee the daily operations, and I am able to have a positive impact on quality of life and offer seniors the independent but supportive environment that helps them maintain their dignity, enjoy their families and live fulfilled lives as much as they can every day. I help to personalize care plans based on individual likes, religious beliefs, preferences and interests, as well as physical, social and emotional needs.


Broker/owner Busch Realty Group Jodi Busch is a working mom with two beautiful teenage daughters. She strives daily to find balance as a leader in her business, a mom and a wife to an amazing husband who pushes her to always shoot for the moon and be a leader in her industry. How are you making an impact in your community? There is no I in team. Most brokers in my industry are not as hands-on as I am. I love being a mentor to all my agents who choose to come be a part of our work family at Busch Realty Group. My agents know that I am a leader, and I love watching each one of them grow into being a leader in our amazing industry as well. Every day is a gift!

1107 Cowan Road, Suite E | Gulfport, MS 39507 (228) 731-3570 |

I am the proud owner of The Yoga Barre—a boutique yoga, barre and Pilates barre studio in Gulfport. I opened my studio June 1, 2017 because I wanted to make the latest exercise formats available on the Gulf Coast. I lead a team of nine passionate and inspirational instructors. I have immersed myself in the fitness industry—I am a 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher, Barre Intensity Certified instructor, PiYo Live Certified instructor and Pilates Barre Certified instructor. I teach Vinyasa Yoga, Barre Intensity, Yoga Barre Fusion and Pilates Barre Fusion group classes. What fuels my love for the studio and teaching? I love helping people incorporate fitness into their lifestyle and see them get excited about it. I love watching clients become stronger and achieve their goals. I love watching friendships develop in the studio. I love seeing people feel good about themselves and become more confident. Finally, I love the energy in the studio—it is so uplifting! So many of our clients tell us “The Yoga Barre is my happy place.” And to me, that is the best compliment, and one of the main reasons we received The Sun Herald People’s Choice Awards in both 2018 and 2019. Despite a breast cancer diagnosis in June 2020, which was initially terrifying, I chose to have a positive mindset throughout my surgery and 12 weeks of chemotherapy. Because I lead a healthy lifestyle, I was able to get back to teaching in record time. Thirty days after completing chemotherapy, I was teaching yoga. Forty-five days after completing chemotherapy, I was teaching barre. I hope my story will be an inspiration to others that a positive mindset, faith in God, and a healthy lifestyle can get you through a medical crisis. You are stronger than you know.

So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10




Executive Director Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra Jordan Warren was born and raised near West Point, New York. She moved from Raleigh, North Carolina, to be the executive director of the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra in Gulfport. She has been in the nonprofit arts realm since 2012 and has a background in music education. Her philosophy is to educate with music for music and by music. Everything the GCSO does Warren to ensure brings enrichment and education to participants and audience members. How are you making an impact in your community? GCSO has come through the pandemic stronger than ever. We are reaching our audiences in Jackson County more by hosting concerts in the new performing arts center there. Our youth orchestra has been hosting more concerts and community outreach programs. In our 2021-22 season, we will be offering more LinkUp concerts for students in grades three to five, educational opportunities for future music educators and master classes with top performers in the field for aspiring musicians.


Owner Flowers by Karen Karen Coleman has been in business 34 years in Ocean Springs. She has seen a lot of changes over the years, both good and bad. Ocean Springs is a wonderful town, not too big and not too small. Coleman still enjoys arranging flowers and everything else involved with running a business. Her customers always have been supportive and wonderful. How are you making an impact in your community? I always try to give back to the community. I support the nursing homes and a local women’s shelter. Over the years, I have supported many organizations in Ocean Springs.


July 2021


Head librarian and professor Gunter Library/Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, School of Ocean Science and Engineering, University of Southern Mississippi Joyce M. Shaw is head of Gunter Library and professor, USM University Libraries. Since 2011, she has hosted the popular public program GCRL Science Café. She is a past president of the Ocean Springs Rotary Club and an associate member of the North Bay Civitan Club. In 2012, she published the book “Images of America: Ocean Springs.” Over the last 25 years, she has mentored 18 undergraduate and six graduate students. How are you making an impact in your community? I believe in giving back by volunteering. I am a Coastal Clean Up Zone captain, a member of the Restoration Advisory Board at the NCBC in Gulfport and past member of the Ocean Springs Zoning and Adjustment Board and the Ocean Springs Wayfinding Taskforce. I serve a chair of the Mississippi Library Association Special Libraries Section and chair of Atmospheric Science Librarians International. I volunteer as a Rotarian and with the local Civitan Club.


Audiologist Coastal Hearing Center LLC Karen Slater is the owner of Coastal Hearing Center LLC and has practiced on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for 30 years. Currently, there are four locations from Bay St. Louis to Biloxi, with a wonderful team that all have your hearing health as a priority. Coastal Hearing tests newborns though geriatrics to determine the type and amount of hearing loss. How are you making an impact in your community? If your hearing loss is not treatable through medication or surgery, we offer hearing aids as an alternative. Bringing you back into the conversations that you have been missing helps with cognition and depression, as well as overall communication.

“People who love to eat are always the best people.” - Julia Child When you look at Tresse Sumrall, it is hard to miss her dazzling smile. But those who know her will tell you that it is matched by her brains, tenacity, and heart. Her ‘day job’ includes being co-owner of White Pillars restaurant in Biloxi, but she also proudly wears the titles of wife to Chef Austin Sumrall and loving mother to son Ollie. A dedicated ER nurse at Memorial Hospital, she worked on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic, until deciding to take over full time office and event manager duties in December 2020. In 2017, native Mississippians Tresse and Chef Austin brought their take on farm to table dining to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, sourcing the highest quality and freshest local ingredients for the menu. They proudly celebrate their home state of Mississippi in everything from the restaurant’s serving dishes to hand crafted tables. Tresse finds great fulfillment in overseeing operations at her family restaurant, White Pillars. In addition to graciously greeting the restaurant’s patrons, she is also the brainchild behind the Biloxi landmark’s marketing and coordinator of special events. And as her Chef husband will attest, she is also the inspiration for some of his famous dishes, and his toughest critic. She is a proud alumnae of the University of Mississippi and the University of Southern Mississippi School of Nursing. When Tresse is not at White Pillars, she and her family can usually be found at area farmers’ markets, trying out new restaurants, and enjoying the Coast’s beautiful scenery. TRESSE SUMRALL

Co-Owner, White Pillars

1696 Beach Blvd., Biloxi, MS 39530 (228) 207-0885 |



Executive casino host Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort When the pandemic hit, Karol Brandt saw a need in her community to help inspire others through this challenging time while continuing to fuel her passion for her job as executive casino host. So, she went to the airwaves every week, hosting Wellness Wednesdays on the Gulf Coast Woman Facebook Page, sharing wellness and nutrition tips to help others stay on track; she also continues to promote health, wellness and nutrition as a contributing columnist for Gulf Coast Woman Magazine and Coast Observer. How are you making an impact in your community? I put on my pink hard hat and virtually picked up a hammer, serving as a 2020 co-chair of the Women Build for Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast to help raise funds. I was selected as a W.I.S.H. Society Woman (Women Inspiring Strength and Hope), raising funds to help grant wishes to children for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and I serve on the Lighthouse Business and Professional Women committee board and the Mississippi Heroes board, granting wishes for caretakers.


Owner Nella Katie Allen is the founder/owner of Nella Home Interiors and Gifts in Courthouse Plaza. She is a member of First Baptist Church of Gulfport and has three beautiful children. She is extremely blessed to do what she loves. Hard work, her Faith, and family make it all possible.

How are you making an impact in your community? Nella has evolved into something bigger than even I could’ve imagined. From its special name (Allen spelled backwards) and original artwork to its distinctive turquoise/ gold wrapping, Nella is more than just a home interiors and gift shop. Our customers are like family. We exchange stories and love to visit. No two days are alike. We help make their home decor visions come to life or pick out the perfect “happy” for a friend or loved one.


July 2021


Owner Elite Coastal Realty, Concrete Building Concepts Kate Gutierrez is a highly motivated, independent person who thrives on excellence. She constantly is trying to do better and be better than the day before. She enjoys a challenge and the learning that comes from one. Her family is her world, and she enjoys time with her husband, children and grandchildren. How are you making an impact in your community? I enjoy educating people on the home buying and selling process. My extensive knowledge in the home-building industry has provided me the knowledge I need to provide excellent service in all fields of real estate, whether it be buying, selling or building your home. I dedicate a lot time to educating people through city functions and educational seminars on the benefits of building with concrete.


Managing attorney and owner Seymour Law Firm PLLC Katina Seymour Demoran is the owner and managing attorney of Seymour Law Firm, PLLC, the only full-service law firm in St. Martin, Mississippi. Prior to opening her firm, she was a director of corporate compliance, a cardiopulmonary specialist, a director at Mississippi College School of Law and a member of a criminal defense team in the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Holland. How are you making an impact in your community? Each year, I hold two fundraisers — one for a wildlife rescue group, “Pusharatas for Possums,” and one for a local children’s charity group or a family dealing with childhood cancer. To date, more than $30,000 has been raised since 2018 for said causes. I sponsor several athletic and music teams for local schools. I am the attorney coach for the Vancleave/ St. Martin High School mock trial competition team, which placed fifth at state this year.

Compassionate behavioral healthcare for adults, adolescents & children Life can be overwhelming and emotional distress can impact individuals in different ways. Let us help you or your loved one who may need help with mental health issues or mental and behavioral issues resulting from addiction. Gulfport Behavioral Health System provides inpatient treatment for individuals as young as 4 years of age as well as intensive outpatient programs for adults and adolescents. We can help treat issues such as stress, anxiety, depression, phobias, family crisis, or threatening or destructive behaviors.

If you know someone who needs help, call us for a no-cost confidential assessment at 800-831-1700 or visit today. We can help.

11150 Highway 49N | Gulfport, MS 39503 | | 800-831-1700 Physicians are on the medical staff of Gulfport Behavioral Health System, but, with limited exceptions, are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Gulfport Behavioral Health System. The facility shall not be liable for actions or treatments provided by physicians. Model representations of real patients are shown. Actual patients cannot be divulged due to HIPAA regulations. For language assistance, disability accommodations and the non-discrimination notice, visit our website. 210152-0870 05/21



Owner, planner and designer The Wedding Collection Kerri Pellegrin is a hands-on owner who lives for building dreams and legacies. The Wedding Collection has been a dream in the making since 2015, and Pellegrin is honored to be able to bring couples’ love story to the altar. She and her husband, Kevin, have three dogs, a lot of projects, a full dedication and loyal team of people supporting TWC and their dream. How are you making an impact in your community? As TWC continues to grow, we have grown our company from a two-person husband-and-wife team to now employing six fulltime employees and five parttime employees, along with additional seasonal team members. We also love giving back, so we contribute to a variety of charities on the Gulf Coast, and we also do a benefit bridal show yearly, with a donation of proceeds given to a named charity.


Director of programs Mental Health Association of South Mississippi Kimberly Barta has been a Coast resident and working in social services for 15 years, 11 of those years at MHA. From a young age, she has been a “helper,” and when the time came to make a decision about her future, she knew social work was what she wanted to do. She enjoys traveling, being outside, music, movies and finding ways to improve her own wellness and promote mental wellness to her family and friends. How are you making an impact in your community? With the help of MHA, I have been able to help educate the community about mental health and wellness. As director of programs, my primary focus is to ensure that our mission of being a champion of positive mental health and wellness is emulated throughout each of our programs. This allows us to help break down the stigma associated with mental health and support others in realizing they are not alone and recovery is possible.


July 2021


Economic development director CIty of D’Iberville Kimberly Compton is a certified economic developer with over 25 years of experience. Prior to serving as the economic development director for the city of D’Iberville, she was an economist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Millsaps College and a master’s degree in economic development from the University of Southern Mississippi, where she received the Munro Petroleum Award. She was a U.S. Department of Agriculture economic research service fellow while pursuing her doctorate in economics at Clemson University. How are you making an impact in your community? Highlights of my career include the development of a return-on-investment model to evaluate financial and tax incentives, which is being utilized by several public entities across the Southeast. I was project leader on the development of the Biloxi Commerce Park and the project manager for the Rolls Royce expansion project at Stennis Space Center. I believe that economic development is a “team sport” that must be driven by local conditions to maximize public resources.


Regional manager Pass Christian Olive Oils & Vinegars Kyla Jacobs is a University of Southern Mississippi graduate and has been a business operator for eight years. Her background includes several years of volunteer work with nonprofit organizations. Jacobs is looking to set a positive example for women professionals entering the workforce and to support womenand minority-owned local businesses. How are you making an impact in your community? For eight years, I have strived to serve as a role model for young women professionals. I empower women to take leadership roles in business and entrepreneurship through our professional development and mentorship program. Additionally, I pride myself in providing a product line that directly correlates to the improvement of overall health in our community.


ENGINEER KIM WASHINGTON becomes company, Coast leader for DE&I by Halle Coleman For the majority of Kim Washington’s career, you could find her wearing a hardhat, safety glasses and steel-toed boots, working as an engineer in various leadership positions at Mississippi Power’s Plant Daniel. Today, you’ll find her in a new role and more corporate attire as the company’s first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Manager. “It’s an honor to hold this position and lead the charge for positive change at the company,” said Washington, who holds a degree in mechanical engineering from Florida A&M University. “It’s been extremely rewarding to see our employees fostering a more inclusive workforce and workplace culture.” Washington has formed DE&I committees across workgroups to help promote her initiatives and programs. In February 2020, just before the outbreak of COVID-19, she hosted the company’s first Inclusion Summit at Centennial Plaza where company leaders and national experts met to discuss progress and areas for improvement. She is not only a leader for DE&I at the company, but she also has emerged as an avid advocate for change across Coastal Mississippi. Washington is heavily involved in the Gulf Coast D&I Consortium, regularly meeting with her counterparts from major businesses across the region to share ideas. She worked with the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Chamber of Commerce last summer to conduct a series of meetings where business leaders learned tips for having difficult conversations on racial equity. Washington is also spreading the DE&I message with the future leaders, speaking to students at high schools and community colleges as well as what it’s like to be a DE&I ally with groups like Coast Young Professionals. “The most rewarding part of this role has been seeing employees find their voice throughout this process,” said Washington. “More voices lead to more ideas, new perspectives, a more inclusive workforce and a more inclusive Coastal Mississippi.” To contact Washington, email her at or call at 850-336-0589.



Public information officer City of Gulfport For over 20 years, LaShaundra McCarty has worked in digital media. From designing websites and marketing collateral to social media management, she has used digital media to help organizations tell their stories. Currently, she serves as Gulfport’s public information officer. McCarty is the liaison between the administration and the community, including local and national media. In her downtime, she hosts UNbound Creatives, an online show that highlights the stories of artists in a range of fields. How are you making an impact in your community? As the liaison between the community and the city of Gulfport, I aim to build strong partnerships between the city and local organizations to further the development of Gulfport for the benefit of all its residents. One of the ways I have done this is by collaborating with the Gulf Coast Small Business Development Center to set up a “hot desk” in the Urban Development Department to support new and existing entrepreneurs.


Publisher/ creative director B.A.R. Arts Collective, Inc./Black Authors Rock LLC LaTracey McDonald, a recognized professional writers’ consultant, edifies, equips and enlightens aspiring writers to become published authors. She’s the CEO, publisher, and founder of Black Authors Rock, as well as the B.A.R. Arts Collective. She leads BAR, an online community for aspiring writers and authors. McDonald has a master’s degree and an honorary doctorate of humanitarianism from Global International Alliance. She’s an ordained minister licensed to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How are you making an impact in your community? I am making an impact by writing history and not just creating it, by creating a legacy and building wealth in the community.


Sixth-grade reading teacher Gulfport Central Middle School Lauren Amador is a teacher, military wife and mother to an amazing autistic 2-year-old boy. She does everything she can to support his developmental needs. Amador holds degrees in education, early childhood development and psychology. She loves growing in her career and will begin pursuing her national board teaching certification this summer. She enjoys raising monarch butterflies, cooking international meals and spending time with her family. How are you making an impact in your community? I have helped my students to see the potential within themselves, and I challenge them to push themselves. Over the course of the school year, my students have grown in reading and writing exponentially. I support my students emotionally and have worked hard to establish strong bonds with each one of them. I am so proud to teach at GCMS!


July 2021


Owner/instructor Selah Pilates & Wellness Leah Rodgers is the owner of a small, boutique studio called Selah Pilates & Wellness in Ocean Springs. She specializes in classically based, anatomy-informed Pilates, yoga and ballet-inspired fitness. As a former dancer who had to hang up her dancing shoes early due to injury, she is passionate about injury-preventative fitness techniques and loves learning new ways that movement can help heal people. How are you making an impact in your community? I feel I am making an impact in my community by teaching a style of fitness that is sustainable to the body long term. It allows me to work with clients of varied ages, ability types and health concerns. For example, I have a client in her early 80s with severe scoliosis who takes private lessons, and I have former dancers who come to take barre and Reformer classes.

I felt compelled to give back to those that provided so much support to our family. While my community activities have varied throughout the years, the resounding theme has been to advocate, care and support underprivileged and marginalized populations - both people and animals

JENNIFER SUTTON, DVM, MBA Science has proven that those who love and care for animals have lower rates of depression, hypertension, stress and other emotional, mental, social and psychological benefits. What an honor it is for my husband, our team and myself to care for people through their pets - as a community advocate, during their time of urgent care 24 hours a day at Gulf Coast Veterinary Emergency Hospital, in times of health at Beach View Veterinary Hospital, or to preserve their pets’ memories forever with Paws to Remember Pet Loss Services.

I am proud of Gulf Coast Veterinary Emergency, Beach View Veterinary Hospital and Paws to Remember’s commitment to our community. I also hope that our volunteer efforts have a lasting impact. The first is a program with my retired search and rescue dog, “Belle.” We have presented a program to more than 3000 school-aged children called “Hug A Tree and Survive.” This program teaches children how to stay warm, dry, safe and in one place if they become lost in the woods while waiting for nonaggressive search and rescue dogs. Additionally, these programs provide children an opportunity to develop confidence, how to safely approach dogs, and what to do if a dog is threatening. We are also members of the Mississippi Crisis Response Team to provide emotional support to first responders - most recently finishing a tour of duty at the Emergency Operations Center in Jackson following initial COVID response efforts. Our veterinary practice serves as a 24-hour drop-off and respite center for more than 1000 injured and orphaned wildlife animals each year, until they are transferred to the care of rehabilitators. This becomes an especially busy time following inclement

weather. Additionally, along with my husband Jeff Sutton, DVM, our practices have committed to being part of the solution to animal neglect and overpopulation. Working with several nonprofit rescue groups, we perform low cost spay and neutering, veterinary care, and health certification for stray animals to travel on “love trains” to other parts of the country for adoption. Our partnerships have enabled more than 1000 animals a year to be spayed and neutered. Approximately 75% of these were females which has the potential to prevent the birth of 33,600,000 (33.6 million!) unwanted or neglected animals in our community. Paws to Remember Pet Loss Services extends the same level of compassion and care for companions and their owners. Located behind Gulf Coast Veterinary Emergency Hospital, services include both private and communal cremation services and other support. All private cremations include a beautifully engraved box, personalized engraved nameplate, clay paw print and other memorabilia.

GULF COAST VETERINARY EMERGENCY HOSPITAL | 8144 E. Oaklawn Rd. | Biloxi, MS 39532 | (228) 392-7474 | PAWS TO REMEMBER | 8144 E. Oaklawn Rd. | Biloxi, MS 39532 | (228) 400-5242 |


BEACH VIEW VETERINARY HOSPITAL | 132 Porter Ave. | Biloxi, MS 39530 | (228) 436-6497 |


Partner/radiologist SMB Radiology Leena Pande is a Gulf Coast native and attended college and medical school at Tulane University. During her third year of medical school, she was sent to Houston because of Hurricane Katrina, where she met the love of her life. After finishing training in Chicago and Washington, D.C., and practicing in Houston, they returned to the Coast for good to raise their family. They have a 9-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter. How are you making an impact in your community? As a partner with my group, I am the lead physician in charge of mammography/women’s imaging. Women’s health and advocacy are passions of mine, and I am thrilled to be able to help women lead healthy lives and make informed, autonomous decisions about their health. I am currently vice president of the Junior Auxiliary of Gulfport, which enables me to pursue my other passion in life: bettering the lives of children in our community.


Executive director and small business owner Loaves and Fishes and Ramon Insurance Leslie Ramon considers her two daughters her greatest accomplishment. Although she says she has failed quite a few times, she never wanted them to see her give up. She wanted to show them that no matter how hard life gets, always be a phoenix and rise. She strives every day to be a better person and mother and someone who will fight for what she believes in.

How are you making an impact in your community? I have been at Loaves for just one year, and I feel blessed to have served 53,000 meals last year and assisted in opening a cold weather shelter. During the pandemic, we never stopped serving; we adjusted, kept going and offered more. We provided a clothing closet, helped with unemployment, stimulus and getting jobs and coordinated with other agencies to see at least 20 people housed.


July 2021


Owner/operator Lavish Salon LLC Leonie Simmons spent several years in marketing before following her dream of becoming a stylist. She served as president of the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce and Biloxi Main Street and the executive committee for the Greater Biloxi Economic Foundation. She is the former board chair for CASA of South Mississippi and served on Mayor A.J. Holloway’s Rebuilding and Renaissance Committee for small business after Hurricane Katrina. She is a recipient of the Coast Young Professionals Forever Young Award. How are you making an impact in your community? I believe that if you are not volunteering, you are not living. It is our responsibility as community leaders to give back and share our knowledge with one another and the upcoming generation. It truly takes a village. It’s vitally important for us all to do our part. No one succeeds alone.


Project coordinator City of D’Iberville Leslie Robertson calls herself “energy wrapped in cells that fit inside a physical vehicle loving this wonderful journey called life.” She is a mother, volunteer and seeker of knowledge, sharing compassion and love with the community and all life, which brings light into the Gulf Coast. Learning through experience, teaching through humility and loving unconditionally are how she expresses a true desire for connection and inclusion while consciously expanding awareness. Her motto: “Shine like a bright star.” How are you making an impact in your community? I show up with unexpected shine and strive to leave a little sparkle behind. I offer service through Civitan projects like “Bears on Patrol” and the “Gobble Wobble” 5K, which provide resources and comfort to people in need. Managing student volunteer opportunities at the nursing home creates a multi-generational connection. My character, Leflie the Elf, engages children through creative art each Christmas. As a civic representative and municipal employee, my proudest professional accomplishment is connecting community needs to municipal action.

“If you can see it in your head, you can hold it in your hand!” People are my business! My joy in life is helping people develop and become the best versions of themselves. I truly believe it is my soul’s purpose. Real Estate has been the vessel that’s afforded me the opportunity to coach, teach, train and mentor people all across North America. I believe that everyone has greatness in them... Sometimes, they just need someone to believe in them. I am that someone who believes in you! It’s possible!!! I own and operate EXIT Prestige Luxury Realty and Prestige Luxury Rentals, with three locations located in Pascagoula, Biloxi and Pass Christian. I am blessed and honored to work with 65 extremely talented agents that hold licenses under my brokerage. I attribute our growth and success to the dedication of my team and loyalty of our clients. I lead by example with the absolute conviction to inspire others to do the same. I believe emphatically with everything I am that selflessly serving others is contagious and for those who are exposed to its infinite power find it virtually impossible not to grow from it then ultimately pass it on to others. I am motivated and committed to expanding the growth of my company and to continue creating paths of success for my team. TASHIA D. MCGINN Principal Broker / Owner

2598 Pass Rd. Suite B Biloxi, MS 39531 Office: 228.388.5888 Cell: 228.282.5356



Museum operations director Alice Moseley Folk Art & Antique Museum Lilyana Gandour attended college at Indiana University-Bloomington. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history and political science with a minor in western European studies. She completed her history degree with honors in addition to achieving the Hutton Honors Notation. She joined the Alice Moseley Folk Art & Antique Museum as art coordinator in April of 2018 and is now the museum operations director. How are you making an impact in your community? I run a nonprofit museum in Bay St. Louis that offers free admission. We are dedicated to providing the community fun and educational classes and events. We have hosted two free festivals, and in 2019, we won a grant to put on free art classes for kids.


Executive editor M2 Media Lori Beth Susman grew up in Las Vegas and graduated from The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, with a bachelor’s degree in communications. She moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast 27 years ago as part of the opening staff for Jackpot!, the region’s number-one guide to gaming and fun. A Leadership Gulf Coast graduate (class of 2006-2007), she has served on many boards for nonprofit organizations. She has been married for six years to Terry Lilly and they have two puppies, Penny and Patsy.

How are you making an impact in your community? Through the publications I manage, Jackpot! magazine and Mississippi Gaming News, we’re not only letting tourists know about casino excitement and encouraging visitation; we’re telling the story of the positive impact the casino industry has had on the state and highlighting those who do so much for the area. When not working, I lend my skills as a Jewish lay leader by speaking to groups, officiating at events and helping those in need.


July 2021


Director of outreach programs Anchored Heart Community Resources Liz Hoop is an international best-selling author, speaker, community leader and tenured healthcare community liaison. With professionalism being the minimum standard in all she does, Hoop considers taking up the cause of people her greatest trademark. A common thread of people-centric ethics and a heart for people has ushered Hoop, who has served for many years at an executive level in the areas of marketing and management, into the world of helping others with healthcare needs and resources. How are you making an impact in your community? By serving the local community, uplifting members of my faith communal body and pouring out unyielding love and support to those in need, I am intentional in creating a life of service that is respected both above and here on earth. I authored a book, “There’s Hope – Breaking Invisible Chains,” as a fundraising effort for Teen Challenge of Mississippi, a faithbased drug and rehabilitation center.


Real Estate Broker The O’Keefe Real Estate Group After 10 years of owning her own retail business, Lynn O’Keefe sold it and decided to get her real estate license. She loved the business of real estate, earned her broker license and opened my own brokerage on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She is married with three children and three grandchildren and truly living her best life while enjoying the great business she has created for herself. How are you making an impact in your community? I am a member of a large family that always has been dedicated to making our Gulf Coast community a better place to live for all. Over the years, I have been involved in many organizations, both civic and social, that impact others in a positive way.

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” I decided to go to law school after a career as a title researcher. I have a passion for land and real estate and wanted to take it a step further. I became partner at Island Winds Title Company in 2018. Everything I know about land and real estate I learned from my parents and my business partner, Michael L. Fondren, and I will always be grateful to them! Call me if you have land and real estate questions; I’m happy to help!


Attorney/ Partner

906 Convent Avenue Pascagoula, MS 39567 2812 Government Street Ocean Springs, MS 39564 228-762-5110



Broker/manager Coldwell Banker Smith Homes Lynn Wade is a mother of four, a grandmother of five, a wife of 33 years and a broker agent of 23 years. She has been a top producer for all 23 years and runs an office of 32 successful agents that is top in the county. She has produced over $200 million in sales and over 1,000 units and has been number one in Mississippi for Coldwell Banker for four years. She also has led in units and volume in real estate sales in the Biloxi Ocean Springs Board of Real Estate for the last 10 years. How are you making an impact in your community? I have volunteered in multiple organizations as fundraising chairman, vice president and president. I am mostly proud of forming and being responsible for the Ocean Springs Athletic Foundation car tags, which now bring in almost $2,000 a month for the nonprofit. I also lead numerous women’s bible studies and have been on the board for Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College the last four years (secretary for the last two). I am past president of the Biloxi-Ocean Springs Association of Realtors, and I was selected Realtor of the Year for 2020.


Chief administrative officer and inhouse counsel Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission Madeline Walker was born and raised in Gulfport. She graduated from Gulfport High School and went on to the University of Mississippi for undergraduate studies (English and religion degrees) and law school. She is married to Fant Walker, and they have a 10-month-old son. She enjoys tennis, cooking, hiking and traveling. She loves a challenge and the diverse range of issues she gets to tackle in her role with HCPHC. How are you making an impact in your community? I help generate and grow jobs, the tax base and revenue in Hancock County by overseeing and managing the leases, contracts and grants associated with the Port Bienville Industrial Park, our shallow draft port, the short-line railroad and storage track, 18 partner industrials and the Stennis International Airport, a 1,700-acre airport and airpark with 1,100 acres located within the Stennis Space Center Buffer Zone. I also spearhead site purchases for all property acquisitions.


July 2021


Assistant vice president of marketing and communications Mississippi Home Corporation Macie Carney calls herself a “hard-headed, tall woman who likes to wear heels every day and tends to procrastinate, but always gets the job done.” She loves talking to people and learning new things. Her spare time is spent with her husband and son enjoying the outdoors, whether it be riding the creek at deer camp or chasing their 2-year-old down the beach. How are you making an impact in your community? I make an impact through work — educating people about MHC programs. Every Mississippian should be aware of the homebuyer programs, rental-assistance programs, rehab programs to aid people with mental health issues and mortgage-assistance programs. It’s our job to make sure people live affordably and safely. I served in many roles in the Junior Auxiliary of Rankin County for six years. I serve on the board for The Mississippi Mortgage Bankers Association. On top of providing education to our members, we also provide scholarships.


Vice president, branch manager/ lender The First, A National Banking Association Marilyn Finch is married to Jay Finch and has three beautiful daughters, Alisha, Celeste and Courtney, and she loves spending time with her grandchildren, Madison, Brantley and Baylor. She enjoys traveling, especially on family vacations, and going on adventures with her teenage granddaughter, Madison. How are you making an impact in your community? Finch has been in banking over 35 years and takes pride in offering the most personable, yet professional, customer service possible and enjoys building lasting banking relationships with her customers. She has been a board member for the Hancock County Food Pantry for over 20 years and serves on several local boards. She constantly looks for ways to help within her work and home communities and strives to be a blessing to others.

“Food brings people together, and I want every customer to feel like family as they celebrate and share life’s best moments!” Lilian Perez-Gollott is co-owner of Pepe’s Bosque Mexican Restaurant on Central Avenue in D’Iberville, established in 2005. Hailing from Mexico, PerezGollott’s family has been in the restaurant business for generations, and Lilian says she “grew up in a restaurant booth” coloring in her coloring books or doing her homework. Even at a young age, Perez-Gollott had a fascination with restaurant operations. “I would sneak into the kitchen to watch from a corner,” she says. Today Perez-Gollott continues to love to be in the kitchen—the heart of any restaurant, the spot where she bonds with her team. This is evident in the awards and accolades won, including a Bob Stein Award from the D’Iberville/St. Martin Area Chamber of Commerce, a Covey Award for favorite Mexican restaurant and a Customer Choice Award for favorite Mexican restaurant and favorite burrito. Perez-Gollott says food brings people together, and she wants every customer to feel like family as they celebrate and share life’s best moments. “We love a good celebration!” Perez-Gollott says. “For starters, there’s always tequila, and we love to decorate for holidays.”

LILIAN PEREZ-GOLLOTT Manager and Owner Pepe’s Bosque Mexican Restaurant

10027 Central Ave. D’Iberville, MS 39540 (228) 396-0044


“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” Mother Teresa

Ashley Grayson Briscoe is a lifelong resident of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and is a graduate of the University of Mississippi. She resides in Biloxi with her husband, Bill, their son, Donovan, and their four-legged baby, Lola. Ashley joined Southern Mississippi Planning & Development District (SMPDD) team as their marketing manager in 2019. Prior to joining the SMPDD team, Ashley worked in her family’s business, Gatlin’s Ladies Clothing Store. Along with her mother and grandmother, Wanda and Anne Gatlin, she dressed women for the Gulf Coast’s finest occasions. Ashley has always had a passion for people; therefore, given the opportunity to work for a company like SMPDD that serves others has been a true blessing. Ashley is a lifetime member of Junior Auxiliary of Biloxi-Ocean Springs. She also serves on the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and is a member Kappa Delta Gulf Coast Alumnae Chapter, Order of Billikins and Krewe of Athena. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering and spending time with her family and friends. She also loves attending her Alma mater, Ole Miss, during football season - Hotty Toddy! Southern Mississippi Planning & Development District 10441 Corporate Drive, Suite 1, Gulfport, MS 39503 (228) 868-2311

“A winner is just a loser who tried one more time.” - George M. Moore Jr.

I’m a southern girl through and through married to my high school sweetheart with one teenage daughter. Before discovering my love of marketing and content creating for my family’s businesses, I received my cosmetology and real estate licenses. Being so involved in marketing now is obviously quite different than my other two fields of interest, but what started as an outlet for my creative spirit has allowed me to bring everything full circle and use my creativity in new ways. This creativity, coupled with optimism, are things that I cannot live without. My family always comes first in everything I do. After all, our single focus is building businesses that bring people/families together and that is what we do every day at Margaritaville Resort Biloxi, White House Hotel, Centennial Plaza, and Hotel Legends. I am an active member of Junior Auxiliary Biloxi Ocean Springs. TESSY LAMBERT

Chief Marketing Officer Lodging & Leisure Investments Margaritaville Resort Biloxi - White House Hotel - Centennial Plaza - Hotel Legends


July 2021


Marketing Manager

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou Growing up in a family business, I have watched my grandparents and my mom work tirelessly to bring home health and hospice quality care to the Mississippi and Alabama Coasts. I have always admired their dedication to their patients and knew I would eventually work for the family business to carry on their legacy. I thought I would become a nurse like my grandma and mom, but in college, I had a change of heart. There were other opportunities at Saad, but I wanted to make sure that I would have patient interaction and feel like I was making a difference in other’s lives. In 2018, my journey with Saad’s began. I started as a marketing representative, covering physician clinics and rehab facilities. I knew I was making a difference by telling others about our company and what we have to offer, however, I wanted more. After a few months, I became a patient care coordinator. I began going to local hospitals to see patients and working with the case managers to ensure all details from equipment to home care were in place. With the support and education from my mom and our hospice director Sarah Rumery, I found myself drawn to hospice care. I did not know if I would be confident enough to have the deep conversations in regard to the end-of-life experience and the care we would be providing, but I felt a calling to these patients. To say I feel rewarded to be a small part of someone’s life is an understatement. My mom has always said, “if you do what you love, you won’t work a day in your life.” I never fully understood this feeling until I worked to care for our patients and show support to their families. As a 3rd generation employee, I am honored to carry on the family name and hope to continue our mission for another 50 years.


Patient Care Coordinator, Director of Marketing & Business Development

10598 D’Iberville Boulevard D’Iberville, MS 39540 (228) 432-8855



Nurse practitioner, general and cosmetic dermatology Pine Belt Dermatology of Biloxi Marisa McGeorge has worked as a nurse practitioner for almost 20 years, with over 10 of those years being in general and cosmetic dermatology. She enjoys teaching people why healthy skin is important. From a cosmetic view, she also enjoys giving people the opportunity to fall in love with their skin again. She has lived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for 15 years with her family. How are you making an impact in your community? I absolutely love what I do. Teaching and helping people makes up most of my profession. Conducting free skin cancer screenings and making donations to local businesses is a way that we like to give back to our community. My practice is very locally focused because our community is the backbone of what we do. Without that mutual support, we wouldn’t have the successful practice that we have today.


Digital marketing manager Keesler Federal Credit Union Mary Cowand is a 35-year-old South Carolina native living in Bay St. Louis with her daughter, Amelie (5), and two pups, Wheezy and Olive. She studied fashion marketing at the Art Institute of Charlotte, North Carolina, and has been in marketing for 10plus years — starting at The Hancock Chamber and eventually making her way to Keesler Federal, where she is currently employed. How are you making an impact in your community? I enjoy creating art as a hobby via my side business, The Painted Olive. I am a founding chair of Hancock Young Professionals, which was created in 2017, and remained chair until this year, when I transitioned to board member. My vision for HYP was to connect young, like-minded people in the community who shared similar interests in giving back to the cities that have given so much to us. I am also an original member of Women of Leadership and The Raw Oyster Marching Club.


July 2021


Artist/entrepreneur The French Potager LLC Martha Whitney Butler is a working artist and mother of a beautiful baby girl. She made Bay St. Louis her home over a decade ago, and she’s absolutely in love with her community. This lovely town full of artists has allowed her to grow in both her artistry and business. She opened her store, The French Potager, in 2012, and thanks to the community, it’s thriving. She is humbled by the strong force of female leadership here. How are you making an impact in your community? I have dedicated the last few years to my artistry in the field of floral design. My goal is for floral designers to be understood and recognized as artists and creators while still maintaining the professional aspects and level of service we see in the commercial floral industry. Being recognized in several national publications this year has allowed me to promote both the community of artists where I’m from, as well as Mississippi floral design.


Partner C&M Tax and Tees Mary Funchess is 54 years old and has been married for 22 years. She believes In God, and she moved to the Gulf Coast 23 years ago. She worked in food and beverage for over 20 years and retired due to her health eight years ago. She is a mother of three, two deceased, one living, and her son is in music and entertainment. She also has three grandkids. How are you making an impact in your community? As a business, I think we have helped, and will continue to help, the community with job opportunities and continue to be a tax preparer that people can trust. We also offer quality tees at an affordable price that we stand behind.

pass christian, ms



“Do not be afraid to inherit a family business and keep it going.” When you think of legacy businesses that have stood the test of time, Corso’s Inc. in Biloxi in a great example. Liz Corso Joachim proudly leads her family’s 97-year-old wholesale and vending business, along with her three children–John, Todd and Elisa. Her father, Frank P. Corso, started the business in 1924 by selling candy on a bicycle to students after they were dismissed from school. The business grew to supply every item found in a convenience store except liquor. Liz attributes the business’ success to the exceptional service Corso’s provides and the loyalty of their customers to shop local. In return, Corso’s and Liz personally give back to numerous charities, schools, not-for-profits, arts, and military philanthropies each year. She encourages women to play active roles in business, as well as in their communities. Liz proudly has served in leadership positions on numerous boards and organizations and has been honored multiple times for her service, including receiving the Pat Santucci ‘Spirit of the Gulf Coast’ award. 221 Caillavet Street, Biloxi, MS 39530 (228) 436-4697



“Sit up front and pay attention.” As a former Assistant Operational Manager for a delivery service partner of Amazon, I grew fond of the transportation industry. I was eager to enter this male-dominated field when I was a driver, and even more so after noticing the transportation industry was not affected by the pandemic. So, I took a leap and created L. Hookfin Transport, named after my father. We specialize in transporting general freight from business to business. One of the goals I set for my company was to thrive, so that other women would become inspired in their industry of choice. I am all about female empowerment and am grateful to those who helped me. I was the first mentee turned mentor with the 100 Women D.B.A. in Bay St. Louis, founded by Rachel Dangermond. The great women of this group, and my hardworking mother, have inspired me in so many ways. I live each day in the words of my late grandmother, Willie Bell Hookfin, to “Be Yourself.” That quote and the one I tell my children, “No Rain, No Rainbow,” have inspired me to be my authentic self through the rain and the rainbows of my daily life. TANGELA HILLS

CEO, L. Hookfin Transport (662) 228-6555


July 2021


I love to create images that will make a lasting impression …

2008 Pass Road | Gulfport | 228-326-3833 81


Restaurant manager Beach Blvd Steamer, Island View Casino Mother, grandmother, wife, “boss lady” and friend to many, Maurina Gillis works hard to set an example for new generations to come. She says, “Our legacy lies in those that we set examples for and understand the meaning of work ethic.” How are you making an impact in your community? I have faith in people in general. I love to make people smile, and I work hard to set an example of the saying, “You work to live, not live to work.” It’s important to have a balance of work and time with friends and family. I have lent an ear to many being in the industry, and I have found that most just want someone to listen.


Dentist/Owner Pure Smiles Dental Michelle Gilich is a general dentist and owner of Pure Smiles Dental, a two-location general dentistry practice, in Gulfport and Biloxi. She graduated from dental school in 2010 and started her business in 2016. The practice grew to a second location in 2020. How are you making an impact in your community? I was the cofounder of The Ansley Foundation in 2020, a nonprofit that provides financial aid to families coping with a childhood cancer diagnosis and research projects through USA Children’s Hospital. The Ansley Foundation is in its infancy but has the potential to affect and change many lives through its work with childhood cancer advocacy. I also impact my patients’ lives daily with my passion for dentistry and giving them back their smile. My practice slogan is, “Caring for you and your smiles.” I feel myself and my team do a great job making our patients feel comfortable and cared for, not just another number.


July 2021


Owner Eat Right Meal Prep LLC In 2018, Michele Clarke conceived the idea to create Eat Right Meal Prep. After she partnered with Chef Rob Stinson at Salute Restaurant, they launched the healthiest and only Ochsner Health System-approved meal prep company in Mississippi. In only three short years, the company has grown to become the largest meal prep operation in the state. Although the logistics of creating this massive food network was overwhelming, Clarke says, “we have grown the company to a seven-figure corporation.” How are you making an impact in your community? Watching our clients’ success stories month after month, helping people become healthier and encouraging them with lifestyle changes, is amazing! I started on this journey myself when launching the company and lost 40 pounds in six months; now, I keep it off easily. Many of our customers are elderly but don’t have the ability to eat healthy meals on their own. With our company, they can be certain they get what they need.


Founder/director Wild at Heart Rescue Inc. Missy Dubuisson was born with spina bifida, and her future was uncertain. Because she couldn’t participate in many activities that a child without a birth defect could, she started rescuing wildlife at a very young age. She found that rescuing wildlife was her life’s calling. She considers herself very blessed with the life that she lives. How are you making an impact in your community? We rescue, rehabilitate and release injured, ill or orphaned native Mississippi wildlife. We assist the general public, as well as law-enforcement, with wildlife concerns. Each year, we take in thousands of wildlife with the goal of releasing them back into their natural habitat for a second chance at life. We also conduct several educational programs each year to teach the community about the environment and the wildlife that inhabit it.

We’re a full service video production company that loves connecting with businesses, organizations and creative teams. We love to produce highly compelling video ad campaigns that focus on creating leads, generating brand awareness and brand loyalty through story-telling, testimonials and informative videos.

W W W. A J W I L L I A M S M E D I A . C O M


“Change.” As a prior military member and spouse, change was inevitable with each new assignment. Becoming one of the first women aircrew on a USAF C130, helped break the glass ceiling for women in Tactical Flying Wings all across America. I helped make this change! I’ve had to change jobs, leave businesses, and reinvent myself many times. My children are still surprised to hear about one of my past endeavors. My daughter frequently asks how many times did I change hats? Today I am a Mom to Will and Julie, my two greatest accomplishments, and am happily married to Rob, the love of my life for 33 years. I am also the proud owner of Ladidaa Boutique in Historic Downtown Biloxi. Ladidaa is my happy place. It’s where I am supposed to be. My life is so full of love, full of challenges and rewards. If I am successful, it is because of change. Military life has taught me to adapt and improvise. Change has been my stepping stone to a successful life!

Ladidaa Boutique “Dressin’ The Gulf Coast”

871-C, Howard Ave., Biloxi, MS 39530 (228) 207-4906



Meet Dr. LaTracey McDonald Dr. LaTracey, a known Professional Writers Consultant, edifies, equips, and enlightens aspiring writers to become published authors. She’s the Chief Executive Officer, Publisher, and Founder of Black Authors Rock. Multiple Best Selling Author, She leads the Black Authors Rock online community for aspiring writers and authors and is the Founder of Capstone Experience, Inc. Dr. LaTracey has a Masters in Nonprofit Management and Executive Leadership from St. Thomas University and has an Honorary Doctorate of Humanitarianism from Global of International Alliance. She is an ordained Minister, licensed to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, specializing in youth ministry. In addition to her ministry gifts and talents, Dr. LaTracey possesses a profound skill set in Desktop Publishing, Business Development, and Motivational Speaking. Dr. LaTracey passionately coaches authors through the publishing and promotion process that produces satisfying results and profitability from their literary works. Connect with Dr. La Tracey in her private Facebook Group today:


July 2021


Empowering / Encouraging / Energizing JOIN US FOR LUNCH! 2ND WEDNESDAY MONTHLY

Knight Nonprofit Center, 11975 seaway Way Rd., Gulfport

WOW is a Marketplace Ministry established in 1999. CONNECT: Women of all ages, background and denominations through fellowship and service. CREATE: A place where women can talk honestly in a safe and confidential atmosphere. CULTIVATE: Positive relationships and encourage every woman to be the best she can be. MOTTO Connect with us — you’ll fit right in! We are all unique pieces of life’s puzzle. When we come together in one accord, we form a complete picture of God’s perfect plan. LATEST PROJECT

Due to the restrictions of COVID-19, we were forced to pause our WOW Care Closet community outreach. However, we have still been receiving clothing items during this period and we are looking forward to starting back August 1, 2021. Our future plans for the care closet is to provide interviews and resume tips and mock interviews. The care closet is staffed entirely by volunteers who assist women in finding clothing that fits and looks great. Volunteers keep the care closet organized and create a welcoming and loving environment where women truly have a unique experience. They not only leave with a perfect outfit for their interview, our goal is that they gain hope, self-esteem and confidence. 228.424.0098 | WWW.WOWCOMMUNITY.ORG



Co-owner/ manager Stevenson Elite Renovations Misty Stevenson is considered the “think tank” among her friends and organizations with which she is involved. She describes herself as one of several people of influence her community and quite resourceful, as well as a “socialite and Southern belle who knows how to work the room.” “I have been described as funny, kind, and one to know,” she says. “If there is an exclusive party or ‘invite only,’ my name is at the top of the list.”

How are you making an impact in your community? I am a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., he National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Mississippi Gulf Coast Black Nurses Rock and Empowerment for the Next Generation. These organizations focus primarily on the black community. My passion is self- love. I make a difference by constantly educating myself on the needs of the black community. I am a best-selling author, speaker, influencer, servant leader and community advocate.


Broker/owner Fidelis Realty Nicole Nezat was born and raised on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and loves calling it home. She’s been a business owner since the age of 17, when she bought her first coffee shop. She started in real estate in 2000 and opened Fidelis Realty in 2009. Since then, Fidelis Realty has gained two franchises and almost 50 agents. How are you making an impact in your community? I enjoy finding ways to invest in my community and career. In the past, I have served The Gulf Coast Association of Realtors and the MLS on the board of directors and as past president, and I also have served as a member of several committees — my favorite being community relations, which holds a yearly fundraiser for local charities. Fidelis Realty also sponsors several charity events throughout the year and hosts Business After Hours to help encourage networking among fellow real estate professionals.


July 2021


Associate attorney Conway Denson and Associates PLLC Monica McNeely is a proud native of Gulfport, Mississippi. Upon graduating from Howard University School of Law in 2008, she worked as a corporate and real estate attorney in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As a Mississippi licensed attorney for over six years, her current practice areas include personal injury, workers’ compensation, social security disability and criminal defense. Additionally, she is a nationally certified grant writer with plans to eventually start her own business development agency. How are you making an impact in your community? To fulfill my passion of community service, I volunteer as a youth mentor and provide pro-bono legal services, such as business formation and contract review, to small business owners and nonprofits. I am a member of the Magnolia Bar Association (president-elect) and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., through which I work with other members to coordinate, host and raise funds for activities like community forums, youth programs, expungement clinics, law camps, etc.


Owner Yellow Rabbit PR & Marketing Pamela Berry-Johnson is an award-winning former journalist turned branding expert with more than 20 years of experience in elevating, illuminating and inspiring. Her glow shines brightest in public relations, marketing, social media and branding. Nearly three years ago, she launched Yellow Rabbit PR & Marketing and hasn’t looked back since. Her goal in life is to bring her absolute best every day and leave nothing on the table. How are you making an impact in your community? I intentionally serve a client base primarily of minority female business owners because they are so often overlooked and under-resourced within the business community. My goal is to amplify, strengthen and elevate their brands so they can become strong financial community anchors, wellsprings of hope and sources of generational wealth. I also partner with nonprofits, providing my expertise in helping them align with their key audiences and connect communities with vital support and resources.

Meet Your Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce Team

PLAN WISELY. YOU WON’T GET A DO-OVER. A successful retirement in the future can often depend on having a solid plan now. If your money isn’t working as hard as you are, it may be time to act—there are no do-overs in retirement planning. Considerations may include:

LONGER LIFE EXPECTANCY - HEALTHCARE EXPENSES WIDOWHOOD - DIVORCE - CAREGIVER Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Now is the time to consider developing a strategy that can help you work toward your financial goals. I specialize in providing comprehensive, objective guidance with the goal of maximizing every remaining moment of the retirement countdown. As a financial professional with 22 years of experience on the Gulf Coast, I am here to help you find that peace of mind.

CINDY CARRAWAY, CRPC® Pathway Wealth Management 368 Courthouse Road, Ste A Gulfport, MS 39507 228-314-3011

The mission of the Chamber is Connect. Inform. Advocate. Develop. Our staff lives this mission to the fullest and is dedicated to improve the business climate by connecting our members to other business and resources, through fostering leadership, advocating for businesses, and providing information to the community. With over 150 events annually plus a variety of Board and committee meetings, the Chamber staff truly operates as a team helping each other accomplish larger events while individuals continue to focus on the program of work in their divisions. These events attract over 3,500 attendees with the team providing logistics and administration along with excellent customer service while welcoming members during registration and follow up after an event. The best part of being part of the Chamber staff is working with the over 925 business members on a regular basis. The Chamber connects with members through Ribbon Cuttings, networking opportunities and a range of educational and professional development events such as our Professional Development, WE: Women Educating, Enriching & Engaging; Ask the Expert, State of the County, and Legislative Briefings and the always popular Annual meeting with over 500 attendees. The Chamber team is honored to work alongside over 100 members that serve in a leadership capacity as a Board member of one of the seven Chamber divisions. Another tremendously rewarding experience for the Chamber team is to present small business grants and scholarships to over 50 business owners and high school students totaling more than $70,000 in 2020. You will not find a harder working group than the staff of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce. Become a member of the Chamber and experience firsthand this professional and committed team.

PATHWAY Wealth Management

Securities and Advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC



Office manager/sales Allstate Insurance Co. Patti McCall has been in the insurance industry since 1996 and has been at Allstate Insurance Co. for 25 years as the office manager. How are you making an impact in your community? I have the fortunate opportunity to meet new people moving to the Coast, and I am able to help them meet needs they may have living in a new area, along with taking care of their insurance needs. I have met thousands through my job and love every minute of it. I am also a pastor’s wife, married to Chris McCall of Destiny Church in Gulfport for going on 19 years.


Event planner/co-owner Gray Meetings and Events Ravin Nettles is an event planner, designer and co-owner of a full-service event planning firm on the Gulf Coast, Gray Meetings and Events. She lives in Gulfport and is a member of Junior-Auxiliary of Gulfport, Boys and Girls Club of East Harrison County and Biloxi Main Street. She is married to Glenn Nettles III, and they have one son, Benjamin. How are you making an impact in your community? I enjoy being a servant leader and serving the community through my talents for event planning and designing. My favorite thing is to find opportunities for those who have great potential and an excellent work ethic. I know what it means to me when people give me a chance to showcase, so I love to pay it forward. I believe when we all grow together, it will only make our community better and stronger.


July 2021


Director of Pharmacy Services Coastal Family Health Center Dr. Racheal Butler is a wife and mother of two. She serves as the director of pharmacy services for Coastal Family Health Center and oversees pharmacy operations for three pharmacies, which service Coastal’s 12 clinics along the Coast. Apart from her profession, she is a member of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Gulf Coast board of trustees and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., as well as a 2020 graduate of Leadership Gulf Coast. How are you making an impact in your community? In continuing to maneuver through the pandemic, it brings me a sense of fulfillment to know that I have served the community in ways that I would have never thought. In furthering the vision of CFHC, I have organized and participated in several vaccination drives to serve the citizens of our community by administering COVID vaccines. I also have provided education to patients regarding the virus and prevention. This is an ongoing, continuous effort.


Managing partner Gulf Coast Destination Management Company Renata Flot-Patterson has been an entrepreneur for 25-plus years. She has worked as an event and entertainment promoter, planner, manager and even an entertainer. She is from New Orleans but was born in Los Angeles. She is passionate about creating and promoting entertainment acts, musicals and events. She has written and is the owner of a touring Motown musical and is in the process of creating another musical ... but it’s a surprise. How are you making an impact in your community? I am the owner and managing partner of a destination management company. It is my goal to promote the Mississippi Gulf Coast, which, by the way, I love, and I work daily to encourage tourists to visit. I also work extremely hard at getting to know other businesses and their needs and determine how I can support and promote them where tourism and visibility for visitors are concerned.

“Take my seat at the table.” Insecurity is a thief. It robs you of joy, peace, and purpose in life. About a year ago I embarked on a journey to walk in courage. I had to be ready to take my seat at the table when opportunity presented itself. I had to believe that through God I had everything that I needed already on the inside of me. Once I began to defeat my own self-limited thinking, I began to embrace courage. Hence, my blog, Uncommon Courage, was birthed. Uncommon Courage is a platform that encourages women to let go of self-doubt while leaning in toward the promptings of their hearts that is calling them to live lives of greater purpose, service, and success. TIFFANY D. BELL




Owner and instructor The Yoga Barre Sandi Anderson is the owner of The Yoga Barre, a boutique yoga, barre and Pilates barre studio in Gulfport. She opened the studio on June 1, 2017. The studio quickly grew and relocated to its Cowan Road location. Anderson has a team of eight amazing teachers. She is a 200-hour registered yoga teacher, a Barre Intensity certified instructor and a certified Pilates barre instructor. She has been teaching group fitness for 10 years. How are you making an impact in your community? In 2020, at age 51, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I underwent surgery and chemotherapy. Because I was in good physical shape, lead a healthy lifestyle and relied on my faith, I recovered quickly and was able to get back to doing what I love — teaching yoga and barre. Difficulties will come into our lives, and I hope my story will inspire women to find their strength both mentally and physically in difficult times.


Case manager/outreach Back Bay Mission Sarah Boone has a master’s degree in criminal justice public administration from Liberty University. She has two amazing daughters and is getting married this summer. She is an avid cyclist and swimmer. Boone is from Florida but has resided in Biloxi for over six years. She has worked for Back Bay Mission for four years, serving and housing the homeless, as well as working with other agencies to end homelessness and poverty on the Gulf Coast. How are you making an impact in your community? I am somebody’s someone. When a person doesn’t have someone, I sit through cancer appointments. When a client is dying, I hold their hands on weekends while they pass. I work daily to rehumanize the poor and homeless. I spend my weekends making food bags and distributing them to camps. I try to fight daily against injustices found in the system while bringing hope to the hopeless and trying to be the light in the darkness.


Founder and executive director Jubilee Havens Sharon Robbins is a mother, grandmother (Nana), spiritual life coach and business owner of 25 years. She has coordinated the Night with the King Banquet for Teen Challenge for eight years. Robbins also is a public speaker and educator on human trafficking and its travesties. Robbins is in online college working on her certification for trauma-informed counselor/therapist. How are you making an impact in your community? I am making an impact by networking and partnering with community services and resources, in and out of state, to help sex trafficking survivors and bring them to safe havens — allowing them to get their needs met and make better choices for their future.


July 2021


Owner/CEO Gulf Coast Training & Education Services LLC Sheila Farr is a business strategist who loves helping small businesses and entrepreneurs overcome their struggles and become success stories. A five-time best-selling author (including one international best-seller), Farr is passionate about writing and encouraging others to live their lives thankfully, joyfully and intentionally. Her community is important to her, so she sows into it by providing free job/skills training through her business and by serving as a literacy coach in the Biloxi Reads! program. How are you making an impact in your community? I work hard to make an impact in my community by providing free job/skills training and by serving as the workforce readiness director for the Gulf Coast Human Resources Association. Additionally, I offer free literacy coaching and free books to underserved populations through our Biloxi Reads! literacy initiative. I also sit on the board for both Lighthouse Business & Professional Women and Mississippi Heroes, recognizing everyday caregivers as heroes in our community.

Relax, Rejuvenate and Unwind Diamond Lotus Holistic Spa is located in Ocean Springs, MS. Diamond Lotus aims to relax rejuvenate clients beyond measures with luxury spa treatments and Self-care is priority. One of our signature services is the Yoni Steam. This service aim towards women health with all natural organic herbs. Diamond Lotus offers a wide variety of services such as our complete package of non invasive body contouring wellness program. This program includes red light therapy, vibration machine therapy, body contouring massage therapy and waist beads to aid with your weight loss journey. Services also include ear candling, sauna detox, facials, bacials, vajacials and teeth whitening. Diamond Lotus has available products to complete your entire skin care routine including natural soaps, oils, scrub and toner. We also provide a full package wash bag that includes all the natural skin care products, steamers, jade rollers and exfoliate brush. Diamond Lotus is also an approved retailer for the amazing Black Girl Sunscreen.

Visit our website at


“The most meaningful way to succeed is to help others succeed.” - Adam Grant Allison Cook is the Corporate Affairs Communications Advisor at the Chevron Pascagoula Refinery, coordinating internal and external communications for the site. Prior to joining Chevron, Allison was a public relations and marketing practitioner for Singing River Health System, supported Hurricane Katrina community recovery for the American Red Cross, and was a reporter and advertising account executive for The Mississippi Press. She has served in multiple leadership roles with the Public Relations Association of Mississippi—Gulf Coast Chapter, is a past-president of the Kiwanis Club of Pascagoula, and served on the Board of Directors for Jackson County CASA and United Way of Jackson & George Counties. A graduate of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce’s Jackson County Leadership program, Allison holds a bachelor’s degree in communication from The University of Alabama, and a Master of Business Administration degree from William Carey University.


Communications Advisor



Director of finance Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort Shelley Chennault has over 20 years of gaming experience and has held executive positions in both finance and marketing. She proudly serves on the board of directors for MakeA-Wish and is passionate about volunteering in the community. She serves as a business mentor for both South Alabama University and the University of Southern Mississippi‘s alumni association. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in workforce and training development. How are you making an impact in your community? As a longtime Gulf Coast resident, I make sure to give back to my community in many ways. Not only do I serve on the board of directors for Make-A-Wish, this is my second year chairing a campaign called W.I.S.H. society. It stands for Women Inspiring Strength and Hope. Last year, I was a team leader for the Gulfport heart walk, raising funds for the American Heart Association. I am passionate about volunteering and continuous education growth.


Owner Sheran’s Stitches Sheran Watkins is a child of the most-high and living God, wife of David Watkins, mother of two adult children, David Jr. and Jessica, and grandmother of David Marzett and Nehemiah Watkins. Retired from Mississippi State University Extension Service after 26 years of 4-H youth development work in Harrison County, she owns Sheran’s Stitches LLC, an embroidery and alterations business that is a labor of love. She still enjoys teaching life skills. How are you making an impact in your community? I’ve made an impact in the lives of many children in Harrison County and throughout our state by teaching life skills. Even in retirement, I volunteer my time to teach sewing, cooking and baking skills. As an elder at my church, I work with the marriage and youth ministries, teaching individuals to love Christ and each other. I strive, as the book of Titus teaches, to teach and make an impact.


Executive producer MS. Senior World WORLD Pageantry The year is 1977. Sherry Strother is 22 and recently lost her mother to breast cancer. At that moment, she became bitter toward life, angry at God, and wanted to end her life due to a broken heart. From finding her way back from death and defeat to praise and victory, God opened the doors for her to share her story on a worldwide level. “It’s not me,” she says. “I am just the vessel.” How are you making an impact in your community? MS Senior World is pageantry for our modern and mature women ages 50-79. We are a beauty event focusing on empowering our outstanding state delegates. We provide them with strong leadership skills to embrace their new role as a mentor and volunteer throughout their state and region, as well as hosting a fashion and beauty event that supports senior women each year on our beautiful secret coast — stage, lights, runway, cameras and action!


July 2021


Owner/manager Rum Kitchen LLC Starr Chapman is a native New Orleanian residing in Hancock County for the last five years, but for 23 years before Hurricane Katrina. She is presently the president of the Hancock County Republican Women’ Club and sits on the board of the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce. How are you making an impact in your community? Through Rum Kitchen, I have started a program called The Community Awareness Project. The purpose of the project is to bring issues and topics that need to be addressed to the public at no cost to them. Our first series was Be A Hero: Protect yourself and others from becoming a victim, with topics that included identifying human and sex trafficking and teenage driving fatalities. The second series, which kicks off in August, will be The Fairness Act.

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is that quiet voice at the end of the day that says ‘I’ll try again tomorrow.” - Mary Anne Radmacher With the help of my assistant baker and beautiful niece, I make fresh, homemade bagels every morning. One thing that really keeps me going are the reactions we get as soon as someone steps through that door, smells fresh bagels, and gets excited for the decision they just made. The best part? Having them go back to their car, taking a bite in anticipation, and coming back in for more. Not only is BagelBees good for bagels, but we also make different desserts from scratch and always have fresh fruit and veggies. There is something different every week and a new flavor daily on top of our 10 flavors baked up fresh every day! We were honored to be voted one of the best small businesses in Long Beach in 2020 and voted best bagels AND best breakfast and brunch on the Gulf Coast in 2021. We’ve been so fortunate to have visitors from all around the country to come check us out and leave with a smile. As a navy veteran, I am inspired to continue to serve you.

4013 Beatline Road, Suite C, Long Beach, MS 39560 (228) 222-4145 |



“They won’t care about much you know until they know how much you care.” - President Theodore Roosevelt When Stephanie Brauchle goes to her happy place, she just steps outside of her office on Highway 90 and takes in the beautiful view that she loves—the Mississippi Gulf Coast. With a passion for hospitality, she has landed in her comfort zone as the Director of Sales for two properties, The Inn at Long Beach and Orange Beach. Stephanie rebounded from the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic by starting her own marketing business called Small Business Co-Pilot. Now as the hospitality industry on the Gulf Coast emerges from the ashes, she has hit the ground running in her new sales role. Stephanie has several years of experience working for boutique hotels such as Oak Crest Mansion, White House Hotel, and The Bourbon Orleans—specializing in weddings & large events. Her work as Sales Manager culminated with the crowning achievements of being named the 2018 and 2019 People’s Choice Award for Best Wedding Venue on the Coast. She is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing Management. STEPHANIE BRAUCHLE

Director of Sales, The Inn at Long Beach Founder, Small Business Co-Pilot



Owner/operator BagelBees LLC Stephanie Jantz is the youngest of five siblings and a U.S. Navy veteran. Prior to separating from the Navy, a good friend encouraged her to go for her dreams and open a bakery. After years of research, experimenting and planning, she has a very successful business in bagel making. BagelBees is a family-run business, and Jantz says, “We love what we do. We have wonderful customers who have become friends, and it’s another way we can serve our community.” How are you making an impact in your community? BagelBees is a big supporter of everyone in our community. We are more than happy to have sponsored local events, as well as events for schools and other functions. BagelBees donates to fundraisers and schools and has donated 350-plus bagels to our troops who were in the field during Veterans Day. It’s important to us to make some kind of impact in everyone we come across, whether it be a friendly smile and conversation or just a “hello.”


Community impact director Domino’s-RPM Pizza Stephanie Mueller is a lifelong Mississippi Gulf Coast resident who loves to help others and give back to the community. She is part owner and community impact director for Domino’s-RPM Pizza. RPM Pizza is family owned and operated in five states: Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. How are you making an impact in your community? I am able to help give back to anyone needing assistance in the community by offering ways to fundraise or donating time, money or food. In 2020, RPM gave out over 100,000 pizzas and over $2 million in monies raised or donated to the groups in our area. I also served on a committee for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for Mississippi and Louisiana.


Pulmonary and critical care physician Memorial Hospital Dr. Summer Allen is a pulmonary and critical care physician at Memorial Hospital and a single mom to two daughters. She has built a successful practice over the last five years and is a leading physician in the country on robotic bronchoscopy. Neither of her parents went to college, and Allen I worked and paid her way through school. How are you making an impact in your community? I have been taking care of COVID intensive care unit patients throughout the pandemic. Leading the battle against lung cancer, I am one of the top pulmonologists in the country in using the robotic bronchoscope for diagnosis.


July 2021

Realtor and new home specialist Coldwell Banker Alfonso Realty As a child, Susan Siemiontkowski watched her parents remodel homes. The experience piqued her interest in construction and design, and the excitement homeowners showed created some of her fondest memories. She’s been in the sales and marketing industry for over 30 years, and the knowledge she’s gained has been extremely helpful when selling homes, whether new or pre-existing. As a new home specialist, she helps homebuyers find the right plan, location and builder for their dream home. How are you making an impact in your community? Currently, I assist homebuyers and sellers as they reach their real estate goals. To help local businesses grow, I work with several homebuilders to design and build one-of-a-kind custom homes. We buy local as often as possible to generate more revenue for our friends and family on the Coast. Our goal is to create a place people are proud to call home while strategically designing it to offer the most cost-effective solutions for their needs.

“Her special treatment of color in each piece is her way of celebrating her happiness, and she aims to share that happiness with everyone” Put on your rosé-colored glasses and view the world as Alicia sees it! Born and raised on the Gulf Coast, her daily inspiration comes from the coastal environment and its warm atmosphere. After earning degrees in art and biology from Ole Miss, her creative endeavors have since taken the main stage of her life. Alicia’s playful color palettes and impressionistic style keeps her work uniquely fun with a childlike flair. Her special treatment of color in each piece is her way of celebrating her happiness, and she aims to share that happiness with everyone who views her work.

Alicia Hobbs Art Beverly Hills, California MS Painter Inspired by Light & Color ALICIA HOBBS

“One of our favorite parts of owning Heritage House Gifts is working with brides to plan wedding registries.” Sisters, Stacy Pair and Julie Gainey come from a family of retailers. In 1907, their Great Grandfather, Amzi Williams, began Williams Brothers General Store in Philadelphia, MS. 114 years later, Williams Brothers is now considered a landmark and tourist attraction. Stacy and Julie purchased Heritage House Gifts in 2018. One of their favorite parts of owning Heritage House Gifts is working with brides to plan wedding registries. “After the last year, seeing these lovely young ladies finally able to hold their weddings is a joy and makes us feel like things are getting back to normal.” Heritage House Gifts carries a large variety of Mississippi made and locally made items including pottery, candles and mouth-blown, hand-painted glass. They also specialize in gift baskets and gifts for all occasions.



738 East Pass Road, Gulfport, MS 39507 228.897.7644



Practice manager/marketing director GCI Radiology PLLC Susie Davis is multi-industry businesswoman. Just before the pandemic, she ventured into the medical Industry as the marketing director/practice manager for GCI Radiology PLLC, and she has led the event industry for the last 13 years as the owner/lead designer of A Plan to Remember. How are you making an impact in your community? I am the current chair of Lighthouse Business & Professional Women while serving on other boards and advisory councils. My purpose is to develop future gentlemen in my two preteen sons, and I love working with women in the community to help them empower themselves and build confidence.


Chief executive officer/mental health therapist Building Behaviors Counseling Services LLC Equipped with a vision to create an organization built upon the belief that everyone should be helped according to their needs, Tanisha Phillips founded Building Behaviors Counseling Services LLC in 2014. She currently serves as the chief executive officer, working tirelessly as a licensed professional counselor within the organization. Phillips is the proud mother of two sons and one daughter. She is driven by purpose and an intense desire to help others. How are you making an impact in your community? As a mental health therapist, owner of Building Behaviors Counseling Services LLC and mother of a high-functioning autistic child, I have impacted the community by creating a space (Millie’s World) for overlooked, under-served and under-diagnosed children with autistic symptoms. Millie’s World is a mental health-based summer camp program designed to meet the individual needs of this special population. We serve families whose children’s needs cannot be met in a traditional setting.


July 2021


Broker/owner Coldwell Banker Smith Homes Realtors Suzanne Martin loves the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where she was born and raised, and could not imagine living anywhere else. People here are “so friendly and giving,” she says, “not to mention the weather and water!” Helping people create a home has been Martin’s passion since 1988, when she came to work for her father’s company, Coldwell Banker Smith Homes, and now she has the honor of owning and running it. How are you making an impact in your community? I enjoy being community minded. It started in high school with a civic organization I took a leadership role in, and I realized at a young age how important it is to get involved and give back.


Owner/chef Savage Skillet Tara Pederson is a Mississippi native and graduated from Auguste Escoffier with a degree in culinary arts. She began her culinary career under award-winning chefs in Austin, Texas. Experienced across cuisines and settings from fine dining to food trucks, she champions seasonal cooking and local purveyors. She is also a level II sommelier and certified cicerone. Pederson established Savage Skillet in 2017 and feels fortunate to continue offering personal chef, meal prep and catering services. How are you making an impact in your community? Besides offering high-quality, personalized and affordable food that’s accessible to everyone, I am working to build opportunities for food education and rural food outreach. I believe greater knowledge and opportunity regarding nutrition and food preparation can be offered to everyone, particularly those without excess resources of their own, and can make a great difference in choices, sourcing and handling of food as a precious necessity.

“Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” ~Michelle Obama

Success, for me, will always be about making a difference in other’s lives. I have been fortunate to take my life story of unfortunate circumstances and overcome adversity. I use my story as a single mother, as a student, as a minority, as a business owner, as a colleague to inspire the lives of women I touch. As a Mental Health professional, it is an absolute honor to be an instrument in assisting women to transform their lives. Success is the fire that drives my passion to purposefully seek the opportunity in inspiring lives, personally and professionally. I am “Empowered to Make a Difference.” DR. SHELIA RIVERS, DSW, LCSW, MPH

Chief Executive Officer of Rivers Psychotherapy Services

411 Security Square, Gulfport, Mississippi 39507 (228) 206-3632

“Dessert is like a good song, and the best ones make you dance.” - Chef Edward Lee I am a 26 year old business owner—self taught baker—currently in my first year of culinary school. My dream as a one-woman business is to expand into a store front with an all minority women team. I started baking/cooking with my mother before she passed and decided to make it a full time career. Specializing in cheesecakes and coming up with flavors that no one would think to combine with a cheesecake. I wanted to start a business that would allow me to share my love and gift of baking with others and to have something I could pass down to my daughter. Sweetness Overload “Overload your tastebuds with Sweetness”




Owner/photographer Creative Images LLC TaTaneka Moore is the owner of Creative Images and officially began her career in photography in 2017. She received the best photographer award for 2020 from the Mississippi Gulf Coast Black-Owned Business Network. She also has been in the education industry, servicing students with recruitment and job placement, for over 15 years. Moore is a University of Southern Mississippi graduate with a degree in business administration. She became a full-time photographer this year in January. How are you making an impact in your community? I continue to mentor and advise adolescents in their career path choices. During senior session, I inquire about their future and provide guidance where I can. Last year, seniors were not able to graduate, which led to the creation of senior yard signs by Creative Images. The seniors could not thank me enough. I sponsor a senior each year with a free photo session. I also am known for creating in-loving-memory photos for families.


Chief experience officer Tenesha & Company Tenesha Batiste is the owner and chief experience officer of Tenesha & Company, a full-service event planning firm on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Tenesha & Company opened its doors in 2014, specializing in wedding planning, special events planning and conferences. How are you making an impact in your community? I’m a community advocate and recent mayoral candidate for my beloved hometown of Moss Point. I ran for public office in April 2021, and although unsuccessful, I learned a lot and plan to continue to promote and execute my platform.


Chief marketing officer Lodging & Leisure Investments Tessy Lambert is a wife, mom and Southern belle who loves storytelling through content creation. Her years of helping promote her family’s businesses on social media, along with new perspectives she’s received from travel, have given her a fresh look at content creation and marketing. How are you making an impact in your community? I donate my time and resources as an active member of the Junior Auxiliary of Biloxi - Ocean Springs to help build a family culture and legacy of giving back to the Coast.


July 2021


Real estate broker EXIT Magnolia Coast Realty Tiffany Burgess is a mother of two boys and owns two businesses. She is among the top 10 youngest owners of an international real estate company and one of 13 Realtors to be selected for this year’s leadership program put on by the Mississippi Association of Realtors. How are you making an impact in your community? I am very involved in giving back. I am the head of the nursery at my church and help plan the church events. I give back through my office often by hosting blood drives, fundraisers for the local neonatal intensive care unit or lunch for our first responders. I have done women builds and hangout fest for Habitat for Humanity.

“Helping You Establish New Roots.” - Southern Oaks Motto Taryn Pratt Flynt has been a licensed REALTOR since 2015 and became managing broker of the Southern Oaks Realty in Biloxi in October 2020. Since becoming a licensed agent, Taryn has been a multi-million dollar producer and continues to be passionate about educating buyers and sellers on the real estate process. She believes that as the real estate world changes, agents must change too, so she is dedicated to being innovative and efficient for her clients, who quickly become her friends. In addition to her exciting career in real estate, Taryn is an instructor at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, teaching Hospitality and Tourism Management to future industry leaders in South Mississippi. She is proud graduate of D’Iberville High School, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, and the University of Southern Mississippi Taryn prides herself in being a great brand ambassador for the Gulf Coast, and she loves helping others learn about new restaurants, places to shop, and things to do, so they can experience everything the region has to offer.


13109 Shriners Blvd, Suite B, Biloxi 39532 (c) 228.697.3862 | (o) 228.207.6496

Managing Broker, Southern Oaks Realty

“Success is doing what you love and appreciating those around you!”


Nurse Practitioner

1009 Tommy Munro Dr., Ste. A, Biloxi, MS 39532 P: 228-232-0872 F: 228-232-0874



Public relations specialist Harrison County School District Faith, family, education, and the Vietnamese community are at the center of Trang Pham-Bui’s life. For 20 years, she was the assignment education reporter for WLOX, and she won an Emmy award for her documentary about her return to Vietnam. She was inducted into the Mississippi Broadcasters Hall of Fame. As public relations specialist for Harrison County School District, she was named Mississippi Communicator of the Year. Pham-Bui and her husband are blessed with four amazing children. How are you making an impact in your community? As the public relations specialist for the largest school district in south Mississippi, I tell stories about all the wonderful people and programs in Harrison County School District. I work with staff and community organizations on projects to help students succeed. As an award-winning reporter for WLOX, I mainly covered issues relating to children and education. For over 25 years, I have served as a public speaker to raise awareness about the Coast Vietnamese community.


Mortician Southern Mississippi Funeral Services Valerie Mabry, 34, has been in the funeral profession since 2013. She was born and raised on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in Ocean Springs, attended St. Martin schools and graduated in 2005. She attended MGCCC and earned two associate degrees – one in funeral Service technology, and the other in computer science. She is happily married, no children, and loves what she does. How are you making an impact in your community? I serve the community by taking care of their deceased loved ones as I would my own. From the time they pass away to the time that they are buried or cremated, I am their primary caretaker. I understand how much it hurts to lose someone so beloved, so I strive to always treat them with the respect they deserve. I consider it my sacred duty, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.


July 2021


Co-owner, event coordinator, office manager White Pillars Restaurant & Lounge Tresse Sumrall recently retired her registered nurse badge after 10 years of working in various emergency rooms to come on full time at White Pillars, the restaurant she owns with her husband. They have one 5-yearold son, Ollie, and between him and the restaurant, they stay busy all the time. Sumrall and her husband manage the restaurant with a team approach, but she mostly handles the special events and office duties. How are you making an impact in your community? I believe I have made an impact at the restaurant, specifically during the last year through the pandemic, by bringing a creative approach to marketing and revenue generation in these uncertain financial times. My availability after leaving the hospital has allowed us to participate in more community-centered events, which are some of our favorite things to do.


Founder and CEO Gabrielle’s Wendy Figer is a lifelong Gulf Coast resident who started a women’s boutique over 19 years ago. She has a tireless passion for a curated customer experience and focuses on setting and leading trends for her loyal customers across generations. She prioritizes life experiences and has a penchant for travel with her husband and four children. In her spare-time, she enjoys entertaining friends, fitness, baseball and her pups, Cruz and Regis. How are you making an impact in your community? I give back to the Gulf Coast community through my creation and sponsorship of Gabrielle’s Trendsetters. The leadership development organization focuses on aspiring young women from local high schools looking to grow and realize their full potential. I feel fortunate to have impacted over 75 girls in the first three seasons of this innovative program. I am involved in multiple carnival organizations, school PTO and many other community clubs. I’m passionate about my community.

“Live a life that outlives you.” Ernest Hemingway

President of the Hancock County Republican Women’s Club, Board of Directors of the Republican Executive Committee of Hancock, Board Member of the Hancock Chamber of Commerce, Mentor for the Women’s Leadership Roundtable for the Hancock Chamber of Commerce, and member of St. Clare Catholic Church.

Rum Kitchen 324 Hwy 90 Waveland, MS 39576 228-467-909


“Life is going to hit you in the head with a brick, don’t lose faith.” - Steve Jobs Approximately 13% of Mississippians are uninsured. My goal is to make sure no one goes without any kind of health insurance, educate people around the state about their options and help them understand their coverage and what it really means. How did I get here? I left my full-time job in 2017 to help my husband open our office and start the agency. We chose to specialize in ACA, Medicare, Life, and Supplementals insurance options. Since founding the agency, we have grown to 16 agents and now have two offices in Mississippi. Our agency is built around character—you will always get the truth, and you will always receive compassion. And once you are a client, you are family. As the Chief Operating Officer, I make sure all our agents receive the top training they need and handle all the day-to-day operations. In 2020, I was honored to become a member of the ‘Elite Circle of Champions’ from the Health Marketplace, which is reserved for agents who have helped over 100+ members during Open Enrollment on the Marketplace. TAMMY HARRELL

COO & Insurance Broker Brent Harrell Insurance, LLC

175 D Lameuse Street, Biloxi, MS 39530 (228) 207-6053




Carleen Hall


any will remember Carleen Hall as “the hug lady.” But her warm embraces were just one way the beloved wife, mother, grandmother, greatgrandmother and prayer warrior ministered to others. “If touched lives were yardsticks, she would have circled the globe several times,” says her son, Jason Hall. Carleen, who died in April 2020 of leukemia, left a legacy of service to youth, military members and others. She was a leader in Aglow International, an interdenominational organization of Christian women active in 171 nations. She also was integral in Biloxi’s National Day of Prayer observance, which was held this year without Carleen’s involvement for the first time since its inception in 1994. “She always had a diverse lineup of people praying through different concerns …, and she treated each like family, like her kids to be exact, and treasured each one,” Jason says. “She had a gift of drawing people out, encouraging hidden talents and skills and leading them in wonderful ways of displaying them.” Faith was a hallmark of Carleen’s life, and she encouraged others to see their worth — both in her eyes and in the eyes of the Lord. “Being sure of her identity in Jesus, she was always looking to share the hope she had with anyone she met, however brief the interaction was,” Jason says. A small-town girl from western New York, Carleen blossomed into a


July 2021

“If touched lives were yardsticks, she would have circled the globe several times.” JASON HALL

world traveler alongside her Air Force husband, Stanley, and the couple experienced a couple dozen countries throughout their life together. In Biloxi, which she made her home in 1991, Jason says she actively pointed people to Christ and accompanied them on their faith journey. Through her adventures, Carleen made a point of keeping in touch with her hundreds of friends — maintaining a file of them that grew year by year. On a tribute wall alongside Carleen’s online obituary, Joe Collins recalled how supportive she was of the jail ministry during his time as chaplain in Harrison County Jail — always praying for the ministry and participating in special events. Sharon Roberts noted that Carleen counseled her to help her overcome her childhood and teenage trauma.

“Carleen always was amazingly available for praying for me and my family,” Roberts wrote. “We had monumental moments.” Jason remembers that his mom had a knack for turning life moments into lessons. Upon leaving a movie, for instance, she often would deliver a “sermonette” on what she had learned and how it could point others to Jesus. If a program was needed to teach and entertain children, young adults or seniors, she could be called on to come up with something inspired and inspirational. “Her creativity, whether fresh or the result of absorbing and filing away ideas over a lifetime, was fun to experience,” Jason says. To the last, her son adds, Carleen was concerned for others’ wellbeing first. She devoted her life to making others feel wanted and invited, and Jason is certain an eternal reward awaited her. “Hollywood inserts stars into their sidewalks to honor lives here on earth, but Mom has a huge mansion in heaven simply labeled ‘the hug lady’s house,’” he says. “All are welcome!”

“A Family Business With Over 70 Years of Success on the MS Gulf Coast.” D. Batia Interiors LLC was established on Howard Avenue in downtown Biloxi to continue a family business with over 70 years of success on the MS Gulf Coast. D. Batia Interiors LLC is a design studio and showroom carrying fine quality furniture, rugs and art while offering expert interior design services. There are also upscale lines for gifts, accessories and anything you could want for your home or office.

963 Howard Avenue Biloxi Formerly Merchiston Hall Galleries 228-385-2657


“I take pride in caring for each one of my patients. My patients love the fact that I actually take the time to listen to them thoroughly. What can I say, I love what I do!” Crystal Heathington is a Family Nurse Practitioner on the MS Gulf Coast. She recently opened her own practice, Elite Health Clinic, in Gulfport. She mainly specializes in OBGYN, but also offers a variety of other family services. Crystal is a native of Moss Point, MS; alumni of Moss Point High School. Crystal began her nursing career after graduating with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from University of Mobile. Shortly after, she obtained her Master of Science in Nursing with a Specialization in Family Nurse Practitioner from Walden University. Crystal has almost 10 years of experience in the healthcare field and has worked in various specialties throughout her career.



428 Courthouse Rd. Suite B Gulfport, MS 39507 228-207-0408



Kristen Crane

You can’t quite understand the word entrepreneurship until you’ve experienced it for yourself. 2020 was undoubtedly the most stressful, yet crazy beautiful, year of my life. I got engaged to the love of my life, Cody Crane; started a podcast with him called Couple of Subs; eloped in New Orleans in early March, then planned a big family wedding in October; became a full-time bonus mom to an adorable 7-year-old boy and went from full time to part time at my father’s company, Glass Inc., where I am head of public relations. This allowed me to follow my dream and start an event and interior design company called Smith and Crane Designs and a glamping company called Love Thy Glamper Co. with my neighbor, Amy Zender. Throw in all the Covid-19 drama, and y’all, I should’ve put professional juggler on my business cards! My passion is creating unique experiences for people. I love creating beautiful spaces through events, glamping and interior design where people spend time with loved ones and create lasting memories. I love cohosting our podcast with my husband — interviewing other entrepreneurs,


July 2021

I saw an opportunity and a need for my passions to become a reality during the pandemic, so I took it.

learning from them and sharing their stories with our listeners. I saw an opportunity and a need for my passions to become a reality during the pandemic, so I took it. My advice to others wanting to start their own business is this: If you wait until you’ve figured everything out before you start, then you never will become a business owner. Let yourself fail, and give yourself some grace. Also, don’t try to do everything yourself. I tried that in the beginning, and let’s just say that I’m not as good of a juggler as I thought I was. There definitely is power in numbers. So much of 2020 was both planned and unplanned for me, my new family and my new businesses. Being able to roll with the unforeseen punches and having a supportive husband throughout the trial-and -error stages of starting multiple businesses during a global pandemic helped me get through the tough days. Believe me — there is so much trial and error in entrepreneurship. No one sees the creative brainstorming sessions you have with yourself, the late and sleepless nights, the sweat equity, the

exhaustion and the self-doubt that creeps into your mind when things didn’t work out as expected. People only see the pretty social media pictures you work so hard to edit and show the world you’re “killing it” at your side hustle — or hustles in my case. But it is so worth it. It is so unbelievably gratifying to have a dream, give it your all, see your hard work pay off and know that no one can ever take that feeling away from you. Kristen Crane is Owner of Smith and Crane Designs, Couple of Subs Podcast and Love Thy Glamper Co. She can be reached at (601) 917-7990. Find her and her businesses on social media at @k_crane49.

“It is better to be looked over, than overlooked.” Leonie Johnston Simmons has always been called to make things beautiful and to make a difference. Those who know her call her “a force of nature”–a comment she embraces. After successful careers in public relations, marketing and media sales, she found her true passion in cosmetology and owning her own salon. She realized her dream on February 14, 2007 when she opened Lavish in a historic building in Downtown Biloxi, determined to be part of the Coast’s rebirth after Hurricane Katrina. In 2019, the self-professed entrepreneur, launched Dime Store Diva–making fashion and natural hair wigs and accessories. While her beautiful creations delight her clients, it was the medical benefits the wigs have on those dealing with cancer or other conditions that moves Simmons. “When I see the difference these wigs have on their self-esteem, recovery and outlook on life, medical hair replacement has become my heart song.” Now Simmons is embarking on the next chapter of her business–opening a new and improved Lavish Salon in the historic Creole Cottage on Biloxi’s Rue Magnolia, just three doors up from her previous location. “As a library, the Creole Cottage was full of stories, and we will be sure to continue that tradition!” Headline Title


Salon Owner


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NEW LOCATION! 132 Rue Magnolia, Biloxi, MS 39530 (228) 263-1571 Duis autem vel eum iriure dolor

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124 Rue Magnolia • Historic Downtown Biloxi North of Mary Mahoney’s

“People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Nikki Johns joined AGJ Systems & Networks in 2015 as the Business Development Manager, after a lengthy career in banking. Since then, she has steadily increased sales and awareness of AGJ’s comprehensive IT solutions and now serves as its Chief Business Development Officer. Nikki believes in giving back to the community and currently serves as the chair of the Gulfport Chamber of Commerce, is on the board of directors of the United Way of South Mississippi and serves as membership chair of the Ocean Springs Rotary. She is a member of the 2013 Class of Mississippi Business Journal’s 50 Leading Business Women, and was recognized as one of the Coast’s Top 10 Under 40. Nikki is also a life member of the Junior Auxiliary of Biloxi-Ocean Springs. She has shared her talents in programs such as Leadership Gulf Coast, Leadership Jackson County, and the Gulf Coast Business Council’s Masters Program. Nikki resides in Ocean Springs with her husband, Michael, and their children, Blaine and Isabelle. In her spare time, she loves boating, fishing, and watching SEC football.


Chief Business Development Officer AGJ Systems & Networks, Inc.

14257 Dedeaux Road, Gulfport, MS 39503 (228) 392-7133


When I grow up … Think back to when you were a child. What inspired you, and who or what did you want to be as an adult? Here, the Gulf Coast Woman team reflects on the hopes and dreams of their youth and how those aspirations led them to what they’re doing now.

I can remember in my childhood, all I wanted to be was a flight attendant. We lived very close to the airport in Augusta, Georgia, and I watched the planes fly over our house daily. I wanted to go, go, go! I wanted to see the world, and I wanted to meet people from all around the world. Well, I didn’t grow up to be a flight attendant, but I did retain a love of travel and have ventured SHERRY SEAMAN to many beautiful places and met Director of business many wonderful people. I still development enjoy it to this day. One of my most meaningful travel experiences was going to Guatemala for a mission trip; it was life changing! For more than 30 years, I have been in marketing/sales, mainly in the media world although I also have had many years of success in direct sales. In both, I have traveled many places, met many people and continued to help others market themselves and their brands. It feels good to serve others and help them in building their business. You can’t get to the top unless you take a lot of people with you, so while I may not be a flight attendant, I feel like I take flight and soar every day.

DOROTHY P. WILSON Publisher and editor

Even as a young girl, I recognized that I had a creative side. I loved most of my subjects in school, but I would light up in art and history classes. I loved discovering and creating new things. In high school, that inquisitiveness and creativity showed up in poetry and essays. I loved to write, but when it came time to apply for college, my interest in understanding people and their “why” won out. I completed that University of Georgia application and marked “psychology” as my major. But it’s funny how sometimes an unexpected turn of events can inspire a monumental shift in direction. In my final semester of high school at the Academy of Richmond County (Augusta, Georgia), I needed one more class to complete my schedule. It didn’t take much for me to decide that I was going to choose an “easy” class to ensure my grade-point average held. Knowing

JASMINE BALL Social media specialist, fashion stylist and columnist

This little girl wanted to help others from birth. My dream was to be an OBGYN, not even knowing what that really entailed beyond what I learned watching “A Baby Story” on TLC. Little did I know I would be helping others in another way. I’m so proud of the woman I have grown up to be — constantly helping others through media while empowering women through fashion.


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I loved to write, I chose journalism as an elective. And as they say, “the rest is history.” After starting that class, I realized that most of my classmates weren’t very interested in actually writing. Like me, I think they were looking for an easy out of that final leg of high school. As a result, I found myself coming to school early, staying late and even shortening my lunch break so I could craft articles for the student newspaper, “The Musketeer.” My teacher placed a desk out in the hallway, right outside her door, and put a typewriter on it so I didn’t have to disturb her class with my comings and goings. I found I loved everything about developing the stories. I had a chance to ask interview subjects any question I desired, fulfilling my need to understand what made people tick; after the interviews, my creative side came into play as I explored new techniques to make the articles interesting. I was hooked, and a change in major followed. I graduated with a degree in journalism and have worked as a reporter, editor, graphic designer, news director, managing editor and publisher during my 37 years in the communications field. But behind all of that is still the little shy girl who loved watching people and discovering new things.

JENNIFER GENTILE Contributing writer/editor

Growing up, I only ever wanted to be one thing: a writer. After taking my first out-of-state trip to California at age 6, I recounted the experience in a self-illustrated “book.” Overlooking the poor punctuation and the fact that I’d spelled San Diego “Sandy Ago,” my dad was effusive about my

future as an author. A few years later, my mom showed me the scrapbook she’d made in fourth grade after the Kennedy assassination. Reading the newspaper stories she’d carefully glued onto the pages, I could still feel the writers’ bewilderment, shock and sorrow. I knew then that I wanted to do what they had done — capture the most momentous events of my lifetime in print and preserve them for posterity. I went on to graduate from Kent State University with a degree in journalism. I’ve since worked for numerous daily newspapers across the country as a reporter and news editor. Today, as contributing writer and editor at Gulf Coast Woman, I get to do what I’ve always dreamed of: informing, inspiring and celebrating with words.

CRYSTAL SCRETCHING Digital content manager

For as long as I can remember I have always gravitated towards the arts. As a child, I explored my creative side in every way possible. From craft projects to making up dance routines to drawing, I was always trying something new. I dreamed of a world full of color. My mom recalls me telling her that I wanted to live in a rainbow house

I grew up in a small town where most women are nurses or teachers. My hope and dream at a young age was to become a flight attendant. I thought VERONICA RATCLIFF traveling the Success strategist world and seeing many different places and meeting new people would be fun. I love people, being around people and serving others. Today, I am a success strategist at Gulf Coast Woman Multimedia. I love helping others with our effective print and digital marketing campaigns. I love connecting women to women and helping their business grow. I am still providing a service, much like a flight attendant. I love what I do, and my days are never the same.

with a rainbow car and wear all of the colors. One of my favorite outfits as a kid was a matching T-shirt and shorts set with a rainbow-striped pattern. Of all of the creative mediums, I loved music the most. My parents bought me a little radio, and I remember listening to it for hours, switching from station to station. I'll never forget listening to this one station that had classical music and singers and standards. The beautiful string instruments and legendary vocalists like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone blessed my ears. I thought I'd discovered a secret, this glorious gift that took you on a ride. I mimicked what I heard and learned every lyric. Soon, I began writing my own songs. I filled up notebooks and journals. Music helped me express myself in a way I hadn't before.

In middle school, I was convinced I would pursue anything dealing with music. I wrote in a school essay that I would be a music producer and own a record label that would inspire people. Well, I didn't become a music producer, but I did combine my childhood desire to paint with all the colors and be an inspiration. Today, I am the digital content manager at Gulf Coast Woman. I love being able to utilize my creative skills while being part of telling women's stories. Celebrating people in our community is really special. I love knowing that when we spotlight someone, it affirms the greatness that already lives within them. By the way, I still occasionally write songs. It is still the best way to express myself.


Learning from BY RYAN GILES


I recently was asked to share my favorite leadership and business growth lessons with a group. As I thought back on the hundreds of leaders I’ve had the privilege of working with, many great lessons came to mind. However, some of the most striking lessons came not from the great leaders, but from the bad leaders. Here are some things they can teach us. DON’T BE A WIMP

The security company sold commercial cameras and other equipment to businesses, municipalities, and higher-education facilities. Sarah, the owner, had a great product and an outstanding network. The potential was high, but Sarah had a problem: She was unwilling to have difficult conversations. Her newest employee was late every day. Sarah complained but never addressed it with the employee. The sales manager asked for a budget increase; Sarah disagreed with the sales strategy but hoped that if she ignored the sales manager, he would stop asking her about it. Sarah’s poor communication skills left her employees frustrated and scared. The best employees stopped bringing up difficult subjects or quit. Real problems were ignored, and only superficial issues were discussed. Your ability to have difficult conversations is directly related to the value you create, and the dollars you are paid, as a leader.


Samuel owned a marketing agency. Like Sarah, Samuel didn’t have difficult conversations with his people. However, in Samuel’s case, he didn’t skip difficult conversations because he was a wimp, but, in his own words, because he was a benevolent dictator. Samuel made decisions. In fact, Samuel made every decision — without input from or consideration for anyone. Samuel considered himself a genius with a thousand helpers. In all honesty, Samuel would have preferred robots to employees. Unfortunately, this left Samuel’s team feeling inadequate and unappreciated.


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The best employees left while the rest learned to put their heads down and stay out of Samuel’s way. His agency never reached its full potential, and Samuel never learned to delegate. If you are doing the same tasks today that you were doing a year ago, you’re not growing. Heed the words of Richard Branson — “Two heads are definitely better than one, and by brainstorming as a team and sourcing ideas from each other, you have a better chance of coming up with a strategy that will allow your business to overcome a setback or challenge.”


Suzanne’s painting company did great work, but not very much of it. Her temper drove away most of her employees and customers. Suzanne described herself as a perfectionist, but she was really a jerk. If no one can make you happy, or the problem seems to always lie with someone else, maybe you should look in the mirror. Convincing someone to do something for your benefit is manipulation. Convincing someone to do something for their benefit is altruism. Convincing someone to do something for your mutual benefit is leadership. Everyone deserves to work for a great boss.

Ryan Giles is a CEO, professional EOS implementer, coach and author. Reach him at Ryan@RyanGiles. com.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” - Psalm 37:4 In 2018, after taking a close look in the mirror and literally cringing, I decided it was time to invest in premium skincare and stop the soap/water. Growing up a tomboy on the Gulf Coast, I didn’t care about skincare or sunscreen. After discovering Rodan+Fields and seeing my results, I became a consultant so I could share the huge change that is possible in your skin AND life. God has always been in the forefront of my life and this business has been a huge blessing in many ways, including financially so I could bless others. In the past year, I have worked up to the top of my Rodan+Fields team of 6500 members and in the top 1% out of four countries and over 366,000 members. But the greatest benefit is the relationships I have formed with my customers and RF family. If I can help you with your skin or an extra stream of income, reach out to me. Everyone deserves to be happy with their reflection in the mirror. KIM BINKLEY

Executive Consultant

(251) 599-5112

“You are the most important investment you will ever make.” At Mindful Matters, we believe that mental health is the cornerstone of overall wellness. At an early age, our parents instilled in us a passion to place ourselves in others’ shoes and understand that each person is unique and walks a different path in life. These beliefs have allowed us to care for each individual’s needs wholly. Our staff have numerous years of training and experience in safely and compassionately treating those suffering from mental illness. Joannie and Lauren are Board-Certified Advanced Practice Registered Nurses and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners. Our over 17 years of psychiatric nursing experience includes caring for a broad spectrum of individuals, beginning at the age three. We treat depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, dual diagnosis, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, OCD, PTSD, conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD, and autism spectrum disorder. We also have special experience dealing with the military and first responders. Make your mental health a priority today. We are gladly accepting new patients.


1613 23rd Avenue Gulfport, Mississippi 39501 (228) 284-4651



The Junior Auxiliary of Gulfport has announced the executive board of directors that will lead the organization for 2021-2022. The Junior Auxiliary of Gulfport works with the community to help families in need, focusing on children, and holds annual fundraising and community events to support the cause. The 2021-2022 executive board will include:

Amanda LeBatard

Angelica Espinal

Holly Schankin

Courtney Jacobs

Laura Renick

• President: Laura Renick • Vice-President, General Welfare: Leena Pande • Social Welfare Chair: Amanda LeBatard • Finance Chair: Holly Ford • Provisional Trainer: Angelica Espinal • Treasurer: Megan Mills • Corresponding Secretary: Holly Schankin • Recording Secretary: Gabe Snodgrass • Parlimentarian: Lindsey Brennan • Hours and Education: Courtney Jacobs: • Public Relations Chair: Gabrielle Rose

Gabe Snodgrass

Leena Pande

Gabrielle Rose

Lindsey Brennan



Gulfport Chamber of Commerce Director Tracy Yanez has received the 2021 Public Relations Association of Mississippi’s Professional Achievement Award. This award is PRAM’s top honor and recognizes excellence in public relations. It honors a public relations practitioner and PRAM member whose accomplishments have made a major contribution to the profession. Recipients embody the highest degree of professionalism, serve their communities, are committed to advancing the profession and have outstanding achievements in the practice of public relations.


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Holly Ford

Megan Mills

One of The University of Southern Mississippi School of Humanities’ top undergraduates has been accepted into a highly competitive and prestigious program designed to encourage college students and recent graduates from varying backgrounds to pursue graduate study in English language-literature. Abigail Jordon, a junior English licensure student, will attend the week-long Rutgers English Diversity Institute (REDI) program in June. Hosted by Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the program accepted only 15 students from a national pool of applicants this year. The institute’s programming will be delivered virtually on Zoom this year because of concerns related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Program participants will learn about the different subfields in English and American literature from Rutgers faculty members considered among the leaders in their fields. Program activities will include seminars, lectures, workshops on applying for graduate school and on digital resources in literary studies. Jordon is a first-generation American. Her mom, a veterinarian, and her father, an internal medicine physician, are originally from Guyana, South America. “I feel blessed to have this opportunity, and I’m honored to represent not only the English program but also USM as an institution,” she says. “It feels wonderful to be recognized as a high-performing English student out of a national pool of applicants. I’m excited about being accepted and getting started.”

You can be a number anywhere, but at The Peoples Bank, there’s a culture within all of the branches that they know me and the other customers by name when we enter. Dorothy Roberts Robin’s Nest in the Pass

It’s always been more than banking.

Learn more at



University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park history Professor Deanne Stephens tells the story of Mississippi’s world-famous seafood in her recent book, “The Mississippi Gulf Coast Seafood Industry: A People’s History.” The book is based on nearly 20 years of research, which includes her discussions with locals about their love for the water and their way of life. Stephens’ book acknowledges “the contributions of all people who worked to build the seafood industry along coastal Mississippi,” which includes waves of immigrants and others who made it an economic force that continues to drive the region. “Everyone who worked in the industry, from the pickers and shuckers to the fishers to the processing plant owners, all contributed and sustained it through hardships and good times,” she says. “Their efforts created a dynamic industry that supported generations and still lures people to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”


University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast history program graduate Kristen McGuire has earned a James Madison Graduate Fellowship, a highly selective national award that will aid her work as a teacher and in securing a graduate degree in history. The fellowship goes to teachers or those who plan to teach secondary education U.S. history and/or U.S. government and also wish to pursue a master’s degree in history, or a master’s degree that includes content areas in history and American government. The James Madison Fellowship Foundation presents the award to only one individual per state annually. “I’m so incredibly honored to receive this fellowship,” McGuire says. “It reinforces my desire to teach and be involved in history education. This will have a major impact on my teaching, giving me experiences and knowledge that will be invaluable to my students.” McGuire was a substitute instructor at Biloxi High School before transitioning into a full-time position at the school for the 2021/2022 school year. Next year, she will work as a mild to moderate Inclusion teacher in Biloxi High’s special education department, helping students with disabilities.


Chatelain tapped for Toastmasters leadership role Hancock County resident, Vanessa Chatelain has been chosen to serve as Toastmasters International District 68 program quality director for 2021-2022. Chatelain was elected during a council meeting in May, and her position started July 1. As program quality director, she will strive to have each club and member reap the benefits of Toastmasters and to have every club achieve the highest honors. She also will provide direction and counsel to division directors, area directors and club officers about the educational opportunities in Toastmasters and will design and conduct training programs, conferences, and other educational events. Chatelain says she is excited to get started. “I want to help create the next generation of leaders by helping members envision what is possible for their leadership development.”


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and to develop a road map for them to achieve their goals.”


Denise Howell


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15506 Lemoyne Blvd., Ste D | Biloxi, MS 39532 Howell CPA • PA is owned and operated by Denise Howell, CPA. Howell is licensed in Louisiana and Mississippi and is a member of the AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants).

You may not be able to change many of life’s problems… but you can change

How You Face Them Let’s talk about PLANNING FOR THE UNEXPECTED.

KATHY P. ROGERS, Life Planner | cell: 228.697.0786


Stacy Bullard-Casey’s favorite part of working at Hope Credit Union (HOPE) centers on building bridges between HOPE’s members, partners and businesses that fuel the Gulf Coast economy. In HOPE’s Biloxi Branch, she is well situated to accomplish this goal every day. “If an entrepreneur needs a business loan to start or expand, we have multiple HOPE lending specialists right here in Biloxi to work with them to meet their needs” says Mrs. Bullard-Casey. “Other financial institutions may be constrained in the amount of time their teams can spend preparing prospective business owners to borrow. Thankfully, at HOPE, we’re in a position to meet all people where they are

With over 25 years in the banking industry, starting as a teller and working her way into management, Mrs. Bullard-Casey recognizes the value of relationships and looks forward to deepening HOPE’s partnerships with local governments, nonprofit organizations, churches and other community based organizations. “Through the HOPE Affinity Network (HAN), we are able to offer HOPE membership as a benefit to employees of Gulf Coast employers at no cost to the business,” remarked Mrs. Bullard-Casey. Once a HAN site is established, HOPE works directly with employers to establish a process and a plan for meeting the financial needs of their associates A resource and a connector, Mrs. Bullard-Casey looks forward to meeting your financial service needs. If you are interested in a HOPE small business loan or in learning more about the Hope Affinity Network, contact Stacy BullardCasey at Stacy.Bullard-Casey@ or 228-374-1667.

Business Exit Strategy | College planning Retirement Planning | Life Insurance | Business Protection


Office: (228) 206-5902 | Fax: (228) 206-0150 15431 O’Neal Rd. Ste B | Gulfport, MS 39503

Mississippi Coast Branch 188 Porter Avenue | Biloxi, MS 39530 Phone: (228) 374-1554 | Fax: (228) 374-3387




coverage — prepare for a wave of change

As if flood insurance weren’t complicated enough, the whole rating process is changing again as of October. Elevation certificates won’t be required any longer, but knowing the elevation of your first floor will become very important. Replacement cost and construction type (frame or brick) will be used as part of the calculation, as well as the actual distance to any water source, such as a river, shore, coast, levee, dam, lake, etc. Prior claims also will be included as part of the rate for 20 years. Flood claims follow the property, not the owner, so be sure you know your property’s history. Owners still can transfer their flood policy to a buyer. The maximum coverage available still will be $250,000 for homes and $500,000 for a business building. We still will have flood zones and 30-day waiting periods for coverage to become effective unless there is a loan closing. The


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Federal Emergency Management Agency is simplifying the foundation types; your home either will be non-elevated or elevated. Policyholders will be able to select their coverage level for contents. So with all these changes, what’s the bottom line? Your new rate will be higher, but there still will be caps on how much of an increase you will see each year as you work your way up to the new higher rate, as long as you keep your coverage active. Credits to your rate will be available if you have flood mitigation such as a raised home or raised equipment and machinery, flood venting and flood proofing. You also will have a lower rate if you are in a more favorable flood zone or your home is farther from a possible flooding source. The most important thing to realize is that you will be penalized should your flood insurance lapse. FEMA is

reducing the number of days for reinstatement eligibility to a max of 29 days. If you forget to pay your flood premium and the coverage has lapsed over 29 days, you will need to immediately go to the new higher rates. So be sure your policy is in place, and don’t let it lapse! How will you be able to reduce your flood insurance rate? Add flood mitigation for your home, look into higher deductibles and private flood markets and pray for no flooding in our area. Angelyn Treutel Zeringue is president of SouthGroup Insurance Services, a CPA, PWCAM, CBIA and licensed Trusted Choice Insurance Agent. Reach her at, (228) 385-1177 or

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What Thank you for your continued support!

The unexpected happens… You have a stroke or dementia… Your child has special needs… You have the death of a loved one… You have an unexpected injury…


Biloxi Visitors Center - 2nd Floor/East Hall (228) 435-6149 Photo credit: Albert J. Henrion, Jr. - AJH Photography


KATHY BROWN VAN ZUTPHEN COASTWIDE LAW, LLC The Hancock Chamber Business Women’s Leadership Roundtable was founded in 2006 to offer professional women in Hancock County opportunities for networking and professional development. Under the direction of the Hancock Chamber, the group hosts quarterly meetings providing both personal enrichment and ideas for business development. All women in business are welcome, including newcomers.

428 Courthouse Road, Suite A | Gulfport MS 39507 Phone (228) 357-5227 | Fax (888) 486-3446 4603 South Carrollton Ave., Suite E New Orleans, LA 70119 Phone (504) 264-5899 | Fax (888) 486-3446

Covering Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana


Three self-help rules to live by In my practice, I often see clients who are in crisis. The recent COVID-19 pandemic and recent world events have left everyone’s sense of stability and temper on edge. Whether it is a divorce, the death of a family member, a family member with dementia, a financial crisis or a family fight, inflamed emotions often are involved. So, when considering what I wanted to address here, I decided on three selfhelp platitudes that will fit almost any situation. • First, you are not alone — even in solitude. Don’t think you are the only one falling apart or having a crisis. Know that whatever you are going through, you are far from the only one — especially if you are in the midst of a divorce. After the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown, the prediction is that we may see the largest singleyear divorce increase in decades. So, whatever you are experiencing or feeling, plenty of people are right there with you. There may be solutions that are easier than you realize and people willing to try to guide you or direct you toward help. • The second platitude is a variation on the old adage, “It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down; what’s important is that you get back up.” The adaptation is, “In order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you.” Remember that we all have been scarred, broken and knocked


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down, but what’s important is what happens next. After the initial shock of a family crisis, we must clear our heads and decide what to do. • The third platitude is a practical reminder that you should dance like no one is watching, but text and email like it will be copied in large print and read aloud in court. When people are in crisis, they initially strike out in anger and naturally want to retaliate. The old rule that it is best to “count to three” and calm down applies especially in this world of social media. Once you have sent a text or email, even if you delete it later, it is out in the universe and can later reappear. Kathy Brown van Zutphen of Coastwide Law LLC is an attorney licensed to practice law in Alabama and Mississippi. She focuses on the “elder law” areas of trusts, estates and conservatorships. Additionally, she litigates lawsuits and represents small business owners as part of her legal practice. Visit to learn more or reach her at her office: (228) 357-5227.


Know that whatever you are going through, you are far from the only one — especially if you are in the midst of a divorce.

How to budget your time wisely


We all can agree it’s easy to lose track of time and miss a deadline, forget a meeting or allow household chores to pile up. Poor time management makes us miss out on the extra things in life that spark joy as we spend valuable time catching up. As a wife, mother and entrepreneur, I’ve adjusted the way I view daily tasks in order to complete them easily and efficiently — thus making more time for my family and my home.

HERE’S SOME TIPS FOR MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR TIME: First, determine how you will document and manage your tasks. Grab a pen and a calendar or notebook to keep track of your schedule. Also, devices like a smart watch, tablet, or phone, can be used as a time-management tool. If you find yourself overwhelmed with chores and tasks with no time requirements, set a timer. Utilize your phone for reminders, lists and deadlines by using the built-in assistant. Speak a command to remind you of a task or activity or start a timer; it’s that simple. Whatever method you use to stay on track, I encourage you to follow three simple steps each day: prioritize, organize, and improvise. The simplest way to plan your day is to create a checklist of all your daily tasks. I find it helpful to rank each task by priority, or even by time of day that the tasks should be accomplished. If tasks do not have

a specific deadline, list those last. Once you have determined which tasks must be accomplished and ranked them by importance, assign them time windows. As you complete this step, you will see more clearly what time you have open to schedule downtime and non-essential tasks. Give yourself a time buffer for for any task that you can’t estimate exactly how long it will take. If you have difficulty finding extra time to fit everything in, refer to your priority list a second (or third) time and re-evaluate. If something unexpected arises or another task runs late, don’t fret — improvise. Remember that you allowed yourself extra time and made a list of items that were not urgent. Remove or delay one of those extra tasks. If you utilize the three steps mentioned above, you will use your time more wisely and may even create a little extra free time. If you can’t get to everything and have to put off non-essential tasks here and there, give yourself grace and be satisfied knowing that you completed the most necessary items. Jennifer Hearne is the owner and designer of Pixel Pop Designs, as well as marketing director for Chick-fil-A Edgewater Mall and marketing director and designer for Southern Taters: A Small Town Smock Company.

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Got life insurance? It’s time for a review In this space, I previously have listed the reasons I believe everyone needs life insurance. BY KATHY ROGERS This time, I want to remain on the life insurance theme and talk to those of you who already have life insurance, of any kind, about why you should review and update your policy and coverage. Many people who tell me they have life insurance don’t know the basic facts about their policy, who their insurance company or agent are, how much coverage they have, what type of policy they have, under what circumstances death benefits would be paid or whether the policy has any benefits besides basic coverage paid upon death. Here’s an example of why I am so passionate about life insurance policy reviews. I was answering questions after a recent talk, and I had a question about a policy on which the company had declined to pay the death benefit; it was only willing to return the premium that had been paid in. This story broke my heart. Unfortunately, those types of polices are out there, and they typically are written online and with no local agent. These are the ones advertised in mailbox fliers that boldly promise to cover almost anyone, but the fine print tells you that’s only if you live for two years after you purchase the policy. This is a great example of why it’s unwise to purchase a policy online or from someone you don’t know, like or trust.

HERE ARE SOME THINGS I RECOMMEND YOU DO ABOUT YOUR CURRENT LIFE INSURANCE POLICY. • First, find your policy, and make sure your loved ones know you have


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it and where it is. If you can’t find your policy but know who your agent is, call him or her and request a copy. If you don’t know who your agent is but know the name of the insurance company, look it up online and call to request a copy. You will need to take certain steps to verify your identity before someone will speak to you about your coverage. Once you have your policy in hand, read at least the first few pages, which should contain information about when the policy was purchased, along with basic information about the policy. • Next you need to make an appointment with your agent or another local life insurance professional to review your policy and coverage with you. I often conduct no-cost policy reviews for people who don’t have a local agent or aren’t comfortable with their agent. Before your appointment I encourage you visit life-insurance-needs-calculator. This nonprofit’s mission is to provide unbiased information to help you make smart choices about life insurance. The calculator will walk you through inputting information about your current policies, asking questions about debt and what you desire to provide financially in the event of your death, and it calculates how much additional life insurance you should have. Your information doesn’t go to anyone, and it won’t generate phone calls from people trying to sell you something. Armed with this information, you are ready for your review. Keep in mind that for your insurance professional to properly advise you, you must be transparent about your current financial, family and health situation. Here are some key questions I encourage you to ask: -What kind of a policy do you have?

Is it term or permanent (explain those terms)? - Do you own the policy, or is it simply something you purchased through your employer that you could not keep should you lose or change jobs? - Does it contain a rider that provides coverage for your spouse or children? - How much are your premiums? Do they ever end? - Does your policy have any cash value? If so, could you access it should you need to? How would that work, and what would it cost? - Do the needs still exist that caused you to purchase the policy in the first place? Have they changed, increased or decreased? - Do you have enough coverage? Is your coverage enough to cover debt and still provide for those you leave behind? - Do you have coverage on your spouse, partner or children? - Who are the owner and beneficiaries of your policy? Is your and their contact information up to date? - Does your policy have any benefits besides just payment at death? Should you experience a chronic, critical or terminal illness, would your policy let you access part of your death benefits while living? If so, which ones, and how would it work? These are just a few of the things I cover with my clients at policy review time. Keeping your polices up to date ensures that the money you leave behind is paid based on your life today — not your past circumstances. Kathy Rogers is the vice president of Marston Rogers Group, a life planner and business consultant. Reach her at (228) 206-5902 or


Emotions, money and the grace to handle both You made a mistake – an expensive one. You are flooded with embarrassment, anger, disgust, guilt, sadness, or some combination thereof. Are you a bad person for making a mistake? You probably feel that way, but the answer is no. If making a mistake made us all bad people, there would be no goodness in the world. How about an emotionally charged and impulsive financial mistake? The stakes are now higher, aren’t they? Now you must certainly be a bad person for behaving recklessly with your (or someone else’s) hard-earned money, right? Not necessarily. Firstly, as women, let us acknowledge that everything we do has an emotional tether. We will remember what is done or said based on how it made us feel. This emotion lodges the experience in our brains. Let us give ourselves grace for being wired in this way. We can’t change it, and it will forever shape our interactions with the world around us. Secondly, let’s be human and validate our feelings. Without feelings, we can’t be human. Our souls are what distinguish us from animals. Mistakes typically have a complex combination of negative feelings attached to them, and this is normal. However, it is what we choose to do with our feelings that separate the wise from the foolish, especially when it comes to money. The response that requires no thinking is to wallow in those feelings, indulge in self-pity or spend more in the hope of dispelling the negative feelings and ‘regaining control.” More expenditure, especially of money you may not have, will steep you further in the mire. This will add to the pressure and produce more poor money behavior. If we are not careful, we’ll find ourselves repeating this vicious cycle that will cause our money management to spiral out of control.

It is what we choose to do with our feelings that separate the wise from the foolish, especially when it comes to money. However, there is always hope. For some, it may not require any formal therapy, but for others, therapy may be necessary if the cycle has continued for too long or has an especially intense underlying cause. How do you escape the cycle? It is called ‘money grace.” Practicing money grace is one of the best habits that you can incorporate into your life and is the first step in recovering from your financial mistake. The first step is to own the mistake. The second step is to honestly identify your “money trigger”; what causes you make the decision to spend impulsively? The third step is to find or create a solution. The fourth step is to commit to taking action. The fifth step is to avoid repeating the mistake. We have all, at some stage, made impulsive and emotional financial decisions. There is always a means of escape; give yourself the grace and space to make these mistakes. In choosing to forgive yourself and commit to doing better, you give yourself the grace to not repeat the mistake. Janera Harvey is a money coach and certified credit counselor. Reach her at



Living with lupus

Stephanie Mathes is shining a light on autoimmune condition BY JENNIFER GENTILE

It all started with a bag of Doritos. After eating the nacho chips while watching July 4 fireworks, Stephanie Mathes woke up swollen. Now 50, she attributed the reaction to getting older and being diabetic. Her friends, some of whom are nurses, advised her to drink lots of water and laughed with her about the pitfalls of aging. But the problem didn’t resolve. “I continued to swell and began experiencing level 8, 9 and 10 pain,” the Long Beach resident recalls. Her primary care doctor also thought diabetes and her age were to blame, and Mathes agreed to avoid salty foods going forward. But the diuretic he prescribed didn’t work, and the pain and swelling intensified. Her condition deteriorated to the point that she lost consciousness at times and was forced to return early from a trip to Seattle. “The blacking out, the pain and travel were a horrible combination,” Mathes says. “People could look at me and see there was some kind of problem, and they were so kind and compassionate.” After numerous tests upon her return, Mathes was referred to a nephrologist, who scheduled her for additional testing. At this point, she classifies her pain level at a 50, and her swelling had now reached about 25 pounds. “I couldn’t open the door on my own. I couldn’t open a can of diet coke on my own, couldn’t drive myself to work,” Mathes says. “My husband drove me to work, and I had a great work team that helped me be there. I couldn’t shower without my husband’s help and could barely stand on my very swollen feet.” When she met with the doctor about the test results, Mathes received an unexpected diagnosis: lupus. An autoimmune disease that occurs when the body attacks its own tissues and organs, lupus is estimated to affect 1.5 million Americans and at least 5 million people worldwide. It affects women disproportionately, as nine out of 10 adults with lupus are female. “We felt an immediate relief because she didn’t say you have cancer or you’re dying, so in my head, in that split second, I thought, ‘OK — give me the medicine and let me rock on,’” Mathes says. When the doctor used terms like “no cure,” “chemotherapy” and “hair loss,” it dawned on her that the upcoming battle would be serious. Her initial treatment included lots of steroids, then progressed


July 2021

LUPUS FACTS • People with lupus can experience symptoms such as pain, extreme fatigue, hair loss, cognitive issues and physical impairments that affect every facet of their lives. Many suffer from cardiovascular disease, strokes, disfiguring rashes and painful joints. For others, there may be no visible symptoms. • One in three lupus patients suffer from multiple autoimmune diseases. • Ninety percent of people living with lupus are women. Most people with lupus develop the disease between the ages of 15 and 44. • Although lupus can develop in people with no family history, there are likely to be other autoimmune diseases in some family members. *Source: The Lupus Foundation of America (

to various chemotherapy agents, immunosuppressant medications and multi-hour infusions. She praises her medical team for monitoring her, caring for her and doing their best to reduce her treatments’ side effects. “After about a year of treatment, I began to slowly gain some strength back through working with a personal trainer,” Mathes says. “I make sure I work out, walk, stay active, volunteer and pray a lot, and I can do most anything now with some reservations. I have pain every day at a level less than three now, which is way better than 10.” Although she acknowledges that lupus turned her life upside down, Mathes considers herself blessed. Her condition is as under control as it can be, and her regimen involves one shot a week as opposed to steroids, shots, pills and infusions. She has responded well to treatment and can do more now, but even some simple activities tire her to the point that it takes days to recover. For those who have been newly diagnosed, Mathes recommends being kind to yourself, joining a support group, asking questions and making the necessary lifestyle changes. For loved ones of people with lupus, she suggests avoiding assumptions. The battle a lupus patient is fighting not only physically, but mentally and emotionally, is not always apparent. And conversely, instead of presuming someone with lupus can’t do something, Mathes urges silent support instead. “Let them decide (what they can do) because it may be the one thing they can do today,” she says. “Minimize the sympathy, and maximize the empathy.”




Paul Mace, MD

Hugo St. Hilaire, MD

The words “breast cancer” are the last two any woman wants to hear during a doctor’s appointment. Thankfully, with the evolution of medical technology such as 3-D mammograms, we are now recognizing and diagnosing most breast cancers at a smaller size and in a much earlier stage. In addition to improvements in our diagnostic modalities, the surgical treatment of breast cancer has seen tremendous evolution over the past 20 years. In 2015, three highly respected surgeons realized that there was a significant void in the options for breast cancer surgery and reconstruction for patients on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Dr. Paul Mace, an established Breast Surgeon in Gulfport since 1997, Dr. Michael Diaz, an accomplished Plastic Surgeon in Biloxi, and Dr. Hugo St. Hilaire, Chief of Plastic Surgery at LSU in New Orleans, joined forces to form the Southern Breast Specialists. Their mission was to bring the most advanced breast cancer surgeries and reconstructive procedures to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Since 2019, they have performed their surgeries exclusively through Memorial. The Southern Breast Specialists offer state-of-the-art surgical and reconstructive options for breast cancer treatment. The team specializes in nipple-sparing and skin-sparing mastectomies incorporating sentinel lymph node biopsies and immediate reconstruction with DIEP (Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator) flaps or implants. The DIEP flap is nicknamed the “tummy tuck flap”, utilizing the skin and fatty tissue that would typically be taken and discarded during a tummy tuck operation (abdominoplasty). The tissue is harvested

Michael Diaz, MD

with its feeding blood vessels and then transferred to the chest wall to replace the diseased breast tissue that is removed during a nipple sparing or skin sparing mastectomy. The blood vessels of the flap are connected to the blood vessels between the ribs to restore blood flow to the flap. The use of the patient’s own natural body tissues to perform the reconstruction eliminates the risks of foreign body reaction or scarring that can sometimes be seen with implant reconstructions. It is ideal for younger patients with breast cancer, as it eliminates the risk of the implant wearing out or needing to be replaced as the patient ages. Ideal patients for a DIEP flap reconstruction include: newly diagnosed breast cancer patients, patients with a BRCA mutation who are extremely high risk for the future development of breast cancer, patients who have had previous breast cancer and radiation, and patients who had a previous mastectomy and implant reconstruction with sub-optimal cosmetic results. The Southern Breast Specialists team was the first multidisciplinary surgical team to offer DIEP flap reconstruction in the state of Mississippi in 2015. After six years, they remain the most experienced and capable breast cancer team in the state, attracting patients from North Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. For a consultation regarding the most state-of-the-art breast cancer surgery and reconstruction available, please contact Dr. Paul Mace’s office in Gulfport at 228-822-6160 or Dr. Michael Diaz’s office in Biloxi at 228-396-2663.




ON-DEMAND TELEHEALTH SERVICE Sometimes, when the unexpected happens, you may need to see a provider fast. If your injury or illness is not life-threatening, and it doesn’t require an emergency room visit, Memorial offers multiple options to get the healthcare you need – fast. Visit one of our 15 Walk-In Clinic locations or book an online, on-demand, video appointment through MemorialConnectNOW. WHAT IS MEMORIALCONNECTNOW? With MemorialConnectNOW on-demand video visits, we bring our providers to you. See a physician within minutes from the comfort and safety of anywhere, for minor illnesses and injuries. If medication is required for treatment, we’ve got you covered for that as well. Our doctors will send your prescription to your nearest pharmacy for pick up. HOW DO I GET STARTED? If you are experiencing a minor injury or illness, and want to connect with a provider virtually, call 228-867-5000 to request an appointment. MemorialConnectNOW is available 7 days a week (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.).

HOW DO I CONNECT WITH THE PROVIDER? After you schedule your visit, you will get a text message with a link to access the video conference. Start your private virtual, face-toface visit on your phone, desktop, or tablet from anywhere that has internet access. WHAT CONDITIONS CAN I USE IT FOR? Based on your symptoms, your provider will ultimately decide to visit with you virtually or encourage you to schedule an in-person appointment. Common conditions include allergies, earache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat, skin conditions, and more. Providers can also visit with you regarding anxiety and depression. WHAT IF I THINK I HAVE COVID-19? If you are experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19 such as fever, cough, flu-like symptoms, body aches, loss of taste and smell, please visit one of Memorial’s COVID-19 testing locations. Locations are available on IS INSURANCE ACCEPTED? Yes – insurance is accepted. Terms, conditions and prices vary based on service and coverage. Cash pay options are also available.

When you need care, Memorial is here to take care of you. To learn more about MemorialConnectNOW, visit


July 2021

Center for OB/GYN The Center for OB/GYN is pleased to announce the addition of Aimee Watts, M.D. F.A.C.O.G. to our practice. Dr. Watts is originally from Baton Rouge, LA. She went to medical school in Shreveport, LA and completed her OB/GYN residency training in Memphis, TN. For the last ten years, she has practiced in North Mississippi. Dr. Watts is excited to settle on the coast with her husband, Chris. She enjoys being able to make a large impact on women’s lives at all ages, especially during adolescence, the reproductive years, and later in life. Dr. Watts performs all general areas of OB/GYN, including but not limited to, low and high risk prenatal care, vaginal and cesarean deliveries, open and laparoscopic hysterectomies and minimally invasive procedures. She is Board Certified and has been a Diplomat of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology since 2015. In her free time, Dr. Watts enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, and traveling.

Aimee Watts


(228) 818-0025

2113 Government St., Suite I-4


(228) 374-3749

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Be kind to your skin this summer BY DR. ANGELA WINGFIELD


kin is the largest organ of the body, and its microbiome (commensal bacteria, fungi, and viruses that live on the surface of the skin) plays a very important role in skin health. It’s possible you’ve heard about how to improve the health of your gut microbiome, composed of trillions of microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, fungi and other life forms, but the health of your skin’s microbiome should be part of your wellness plan, too. Keeping the proper balance of these organisms can protect your skin from oxidation and stress, maintain the proper skin pH, reduce inflammation, regulate skin barrier function, reduce infections and improve wound healing. There’s no better time to learn how to protect your skin than during the warm summer months in south Mississippi. Certain environmental factors can alter the skin microbiome, including loss of moisture, changes in ambient temperature, exposure to UV radiation, smoking and the use of topical antibiotics. Sunburns and exposure to chlorine or prolonged exposure to water can cause skin barrier dysfunction, which allows pathogenic bacteria to penetrate the skin and increases inflammation.


• Spend as much time in the shade as possible. Sand and water reflect UV rays, and you will continue to absorb rays even under shade. • Pick a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, specifically those that include zinc or titanium that block both UVA rays (which cause melanoma) and UVB rays. • Certain medications can make you susceptible to absorbing the sun’s rays more than you typically would, including heart medications and diuretics (fluid pills). • Limit your time spent in chlorine. To prevent negative effects from chlorine, be sure to shower after swimming, use moisturizer and consult a dermatologist or a pediatric dermatologist for your child if more severe reactions occur. • Keep an eye on moles that are changing in color, bleeding or breaking down in the middle. • As soon as you start to notice concerning skin damage, visit your dermatologist.

Be kind to your skin this summer, and stay tuned for more topical probiotics in skin care products. Dr. Angela Wingfield is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of The Dermatology Clinic PLLC in Gulfport. Schedule an appointment and learn more at


July 2021

When a loved one’s return to independence depends on you,

DEPEND ON US. Love is a powerful healer. We witness its benefits day after day as we partner with devoted caregivers to help restore independence to overcome the effects of a stroke or life-changing illness or injury. If you or someone you love has lost independence, depend on us for rehabilitation. We start by providing information you need to feel comfortable with our approach to advanced therapy and care. Then we create custom routines of recovery to address unique needs. Depend on us.

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DRINK UP! Here’s why hydration is so important



hen you leave the house, do you take water with you? You may care for your body by eating healthy and exercising, but do you ask yourself whether you drank enough water today? This question often is left out of the nutrition conversation, but hydration has an enormous impact on our health and day-to-day functioning. Our body is composed of roughly 60 percent water, and fluid balance affects every major system. Water is vital to our bodies. I am a committed water drinker with my own filtered water system at home and big bottles I fill daily and drink faithfully. Why? Because water balances everything. Water transports nutrients to organs and cells, carries away toxins, lubricates joints and bones, helps regulate our body temperature and even impacts brain function. Without water, we simply cannot survive. Even a 2 percent decrease in body weight due to fluid losses can impact physical and mental performance. The benefits of staying well hydrated include weight loss, more energy, headache relief, healthy skin, help with digestive problems and better exercise. Especially during the heat of the summer on our beautiful Coast, we must ensure we are drinking enough water, especially if we are outside at the


July 2021

beach, hiking, bike riding or out on the water. So, what counts as hydration? Roughly 80 percent of our hydration needs are met by fluids like water, milk and tea. The remaining 20 percent comes from high-water foods like fruits, veggies and yogurt. Some fluid and food choices are better than others for hydration. For example, alcoholic beverages increase water loss by blocking anti-diuretic hormones. My top fluid choices are water (including sparkling), tea and milk (especially for children). Foods that are good for hydration include lowsodium beef, chicken or vegetable broth, cucumbers, cabbage, zucchini, celery, lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, bell peppers and asparagus. Conversely, you have the fluid depleters, which include alcohol, exercise, warm weather, fever, diarrhea, vomiting and some medications that increase water losses and elevate your risk of dehydration. Remember to listen to your body, as it will show signs of dehydration that include thirst, fatigue, dizziness, dark yellow urine, dry mouth, headache, joint pain and cramps. What about hydration and exercise? Water losses happen via sweat, and the harder and longer you work out, the more water you lose. Water, however, is not the only thing that escapes from

us during exercise. We lose electrolytes like sodium and potassium, too. Before a workout, hydrate frequently throughout the day, and increase your water intake 15–20 minutes before exercise. While you work out, continue to consume fluids every 20 minutes of exercise, and afterward, drink at least two cups of water for every pound of body weight lost. You also can add a sports drink or electrolyte supplement during and after exercise if you’re a particularly heavy sweater or work out for more than 45 minutes. Make sure to read the labels to avoid the overly sugary sports drinks. So, remember to stay hydrated for a healthier you! Drink up, and get out there and enjoy our beautiful Coast. Happy summer! Here’s to sunny days and staying hydrated! Karol Brandt is an executive host with Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort, as well as co-author of the Amazon best-seller “The Struggle is Real: Finally Break the Dieting Cycle, Transform Your Mind and Body, and Evolve into The Person You Have Always Wanted to Be” and the “30-Day Evolve Challenge Journal.” Contact Brandt by email at karol., Facebook/ The Struggle Is Real or Instagram at karolbrandtnola.



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July 2021

Have you had your milk today? Remember the milk campaign of 1994? Milk industry advocates noted sagging sales and developed an advertising campaign with athletes and movie stars wearing white mustaches. Over the 20-year duration of the campaign, they promoted the wholesomeness and nutritious properties of milk and milk products. Unfortunately, although it’s true that milk is a good source of calcium and protein, it’s poorly tolerated by most adults and not necessary for our health. Roughly two-thirds of the world’s adult population can’t digest milk products. Milk contains a complex protein called lactose that requires a specific enzyme, lactase, to break it apart. While present in most children, as we age, most humans lose this enzyme. When someone without lactase consumes milk products, they may notice nausea, bloating, diarrhea, flatulence and abdominal cramping. Symptoms typically begin within an hour and depend on the amount of milk product consumed. One of the defining features of mammals is feeding their offspring mother’s milk. All mammals lose the ability to digest this milk while quite young, promoting weaning. Humans are an exception as over the centuries, we’ve evolved to tolerate milk as adults by incorporating milk products into our diets. Milk is species dependent, and infants given cows’ milk may develop anemia. The diagnosis of lactose intolerance is mostly by clinical history. That is, if the person has stomach issues whenever he or she consumes a milk product, lactose intolerance is likely to blame. Specific tests include a hydrogen breath test and stool acidity test, but they usually aren’t necessary to make the diagnosis. Certain conditions predispose someone to lactose intolerance, such

as celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease. Any recent diarrhea will damage the tips of the villi in the small bowel where the lactase lives, so drinking milk within 24 hours of diarrhea may perpetuate those symptoms. Fortunately, even during an episode of diarrhea in response to lactose intolerance, there’s no harm done to the body. Calcium is essential in our diets to build and keep our teeth and bones strong. Everyone should be consuming around 1000 milligrams of calcium daily — 1300 milligrams for teenagers. It’s true that milk, cheese and yogurt are all excellent sources of calcium, with a cup of whole milk providing around 350 milligrams. Fortunately, for those with lactose intolerance there are plenty of other sources of this essential mineral. The intensity of symptoms varies among individuals, and most adults can tolerate a single cup of milk or slice of cheese on occasion. Levels of lactose intolerance vary in people of different heritages, with those of European descent faring better than Asian or African. For those who are lactose intolerant, lactase pills can be obtained at your local pharmacy or health food store. Preferably taken before consuming milk products, they also work if taken soon after the meal. While milk products offer an excellent source of calcium and protein, the majority of adults are unable to digest them due to lactose intolerance. If you notice bloating and diarrhea after eating your pizza, consider next time ordering it without cheese. Dr. Philip L. Levin is a retired emergency medicine specialist in Gulfport. Learn more or contact him at



In recent years, outcomes for cancer patients have dramatically improved thanks to innovative therapies such as immunotherapy and molecularly targeted therapies. Yet, one of the best things we can BY DR. PAM TULI do to improve outcomes is cancer screening. This is because screening for cancer helps us to find cancer at its earliest stages when treatments are easier, often with fewer side effects and more effectiveness, thus improving the chance of cure and survival. Many people think they don’t need screening because they don’t have a family history of cancer in general or of a particular cancer such as breast. This is false. Most cancers are not caused by a genetic predisposition. For instance, hereditary breast cancer only accounts for 5-10 percent of all breast cancer. As it turns out the biggest risk factors for breast cancer are being a woman, as one in eight women will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime, and age. The majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer are over the age of 40, and this risk continues to increase with age. In general, I recommend that average-risk women begin annual screening mammograms at age 40. Not all organizations agree on when to start and how often to get mammograms, so women should discuss the benefits, risks and limitations of mammograms with their doctors to decide what is best for them. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer


July 2021

death in the U.S., but this can largely be prevented through screening. Traditionally, we started screening for colorectal cancer at age 50. However, we are seeing more colorectal cancer in younger individuals, and the new guidelines are to start colorectal cancer screening for averagerisk individuals at age 45. Several screening options are available, to include colonoscopy and stool-based tests. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of each to decide which is best for you. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, and unfortunately, for many years, there was no effective way to screen for lung cancer. In recent years, however, a test known as low-dose CT scan has helped to detect lung cancer at an earlier, more treatable stage in high-risk individuals. Lung cancer screenings are covered for individuals ages 55-77 who are current smokers or have quit within the past 15 years and have a smoking history of at least 30 pack years (This is the number of years you smoked multiplied by the number of packs of cigarettes per day. For instance, two packs per day x 15 years = 30 pack years). Cervical cancer screening should begin at age 25. Prostate cancer screening is less straightforward, and you should discuss this with your doctor to determine if it is right for you. Dr. Pamela Tuli is a hematologist-oncologist practicing with The Medical Oncology Group - Memorial Physician Clinics. She can be contacted at (228)-575-1234.



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BENIZZI, DC Dr. Benizzi is a native New Yorker, but she proudly calls Mississippi home, loving the hospitality and slower pace of life here. She started her journey as a chiropractic physician after a career on Wall Street, when she knew she needed more work/life balance for her growing family. “I love helping people. My approach is unique to every patient and every condition. I go beyond the normal typical protocol. I am proud to say that because of this I have been able to help patients alleviate chronic pain and avoid surgery,” Dr. Benizzi explains.

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As Mississippi’s largest and most trusted orthopaedic group since 1981, our all-star team of 19 doctors with varying specialties – including shoulder, knee, hand, and foot – form the backbone of the Sports Medicine Center.

For questions or to schedule an appointment, please call 228-230-BONE (2663) or visit Serving the MS Gulf Coast with 5 Locations: Gulfport | Biloxi | Gautier | Pascagoula | Hurley

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The top three causes of

summertime shoulder pain One of the main attractions of our beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast is the water, giving coastal residents and visitors access to activities like boating, fishing, paddle boarding, kayaking and swimming — just to name a few. While water sports are fun, they also increase your risk of an orthopaedic injury. Shoulder pain is among the most common complaints we see during this time of year and usually can be attributed to instability, impingement or rotator cuff injuries. Sometimes, one of the shoulder joints moves or is forced out of its normal position. This condition is called instability and can result in a dislocation of one of the joints in the shoulder. Those suffering from an instability problem will experience pain when raising their arm and may feel as if their shoulder is slipping out of place. Impingement is caused by excessive rubbing of the shoulder muscles against the top part of the shoulder blade, called the acromion. Impingement problems can happen during activities that require excessive overhead arm motion. Seek medical care immediately for inflammation in the shoulder, as it eventually could lead to a more serious injury. The rotator cuff is one of the most important shoulder components. It is composed of a group of muscles and tendons that hold the bones of the shoulder joint together.

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The rotator cuff muscles allow people to lift their arm and reach overhead. When the rotator cuff is injured, patients sometimes do not recover the full shoulder function needed to properly participate in an athletic activity.


• Is your shoulder stiff? Can you rotate your arm in all the normal positions? • Does it feel like your shoulder could pop or slide out of the socket? • Do you lack the strength in your shoulder to carry out your daily activities?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you should consult an orthopaedic surgeon for help in determining the severity of the problem. Dr. Jonathan Brown practices with Bienville Orthopaedic Specialists and specializes in arthroscopy, sports medicine and general orthopaedics. Reach him at him at (228) 230BONE (2663) and learn more at https://www.bienvilleortho. com/.

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Luxury for less

Anna Lombard

From furniture to designer clothes, Anna’s Closet offers treasures galore BY JENNIFER GENTILE

As a new mom in 1997, Anna Lombard quickly realized she had to become a smart shopper and stretch her dollars further. She stumbled upon a consignment store in Gulfport, which allowed her to purchase high-end pieces on a budget. Soon, she didn’t let a week pass before stopping in to see what new treasures had arrived. “At the time, I had no idea what consignment meant, but I knew the merchandise I was shopping for was used, but in really great shape, and sold for a reasonable price,” Lombard says. “After a month of shopping consignment, I started to study this process and had a yard sale myself one day.” The yard sale got her thinking: If she could make several hundred dollars in an hour, what if she did the same thing six days a week? That a-ha moment put her on the path to entrepreneurship, and in 2001, she started looking for a place to open her own store. Today, she is the owner and manager of Anna’s Closet Upscale Consignment Boutique, located near the heart of downtown Gulfport. The boutique offers gently used furniture and home décor

pieces, clothes, formalwear, shoes, handbags and more. Her patrons, Lombard says, are typically tourists or locals looking to upgrade their lifestyle on a budget. Like her, they have an appreciation for nice things. “My eye has always been drawn to that dress made of the highest-quality silk or linen fabric,” she says. “I find that when I’m watching older movies, I love the design of the clothing and the quality of the merchandise.” At a very young age, Lombard recalls flipping through Vogue magazine, wishing she owned or designed the clothes in the photographs. While attending the University of Southern Mississippi on an athletic scholarship, she discovered her passion for fashion merchandising. So far, watching her business grow has been the biggest reward of entrepreneurship for Lombard. Once a shop offering a few gently used items, Anna’s Closet has become a shopping destination for women enjoying a girls’ day or weekend. The owner delights in the joy she sees on new customers’ faces when they stumble upon her store, which they call a “hidden jewel.’’

“My desire is to offer a place where everyone in the family can visit and find a unique, one-of-akind bargain.” With many couples now frequenting the boutique, Lombard says, the store has added a “man cave” dedicated to guys. Another space has been carved out for readers to enjoy their favorite books. “Our next goal is to offer an even larger area for our brides-to-be,” Lombard says. “Currently, our brides have gowns to select from, and we desire to offer a more upscale selection of wedding gowns, flowers, bridal items and shoes.” Above all, she aims to provide what she discovered during her first consignment store experience — a way to acquire beautiful, unique things at an affordable price. “My desire,” she says, “is to offer a place where everyone in the family can visit and find a unique, one-of-a-kind bargain.”



g n i l l i p S

her secret

recently left her corporate bank job to pursue her dream of being a personal stylist. She was first exposed to the fashion industry as a young teenager when she began modeling and has loved it ever since. She has modeled locally and recently served as a guest speaker for a group of executive women over 50 who sought fashion advice and insight. She shares the latest fashion news and tips on her Facebook page: Here are the items she keeps on hand to ensure she looks and feels her best:


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Gua sha has been practiced in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Perfected throughout the


July 2021

centuries, the gua sha tool was built to have a firming, lifting effect on the skin. Use it every night after applying your moisturizer. Hint: keep it in the refrigerator so it is cool on the skin and feels good.

dulging. Due to the change in texture, light hits the hammered metals beautifully, creating shine and depth and adding interest to the piece.


Wearing masks for the past year took a toll on my skin, especially my lips. This oil keeps my lips hydrated and soft and reduces chapping.

Hammered metals are a spring trend, and I am in-



If I could only have one beauty product, this would be IT! If you want your lashes to stay curled, try this heated eyelash curler. I use it on my lashes and follow up with a manual curler for extra staying power. It keeps lashes curled all day and night.

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Independent Sales Director or



A Gallery Gift Shop Celebrating the Creative Spirit!

High-waisted suits are owning the summer BY JASMINE BALL


Sash-tie high waist bikini bottom - Kona Sol - $19.99; Bandeau bikini top - Kona Sol, blue tropical print - $19.99

I MY CUSTOMERS ARE THE MOST SPECIAL GIFTS! Dorothy Roberts, owner, with customers Brenda and Tony Morrow.


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July 2021


High-waisted bikini bottoms with knot detail $19.99; Bikini top - $19.99

t’s the best time of the year — summertime! I may be biased because it’s when my birthday falls, but July is by far the greatest month. Nothing beats fun in the sun, relaxing on the beach and, most of all, sporting the cutest swimwear. The Coast enjoys summer weather most of the year, so having a great swimsuit or two in our wardrobe that’s perfect for every occasion is a must. While shopping, I’ve noticed that high-waisted swimwear is everywhere. From Target to Zara, brands are now giving us what we want and need. Not only do high-waisted bottoms have a vintage feel and flatter most body types, but they offer support and coverage you won’t get from something stringy and skimpy. As a midsize girl, I tend to fall in an in-between area. I can wear a bikini, but I may not be fully comfortable, or I could put on a one-piece suit and feel at ease. Now that high-waisted suits are trending, and hopefully here to stay, I can have the best of both worlds. That’s not to say high-waisted suits


High-waisted bikini bottoms - $19.90; Bandeau bikini top - $29.90

are anything new. Stars like Marilyn Monroe made them iconic decades ago. The style dominated throughout the 1960s and ‘70s. Barely-there bikinis have had their moment, too, but now that this super chic alternative is on the rise, it’s time to snap up several for your collection. High-waisted suits come in so many styles and colors that complement many different figures. And whether you have a designer budget or a lower price point, you can easily find a suit that fits your unique style. This trend truly is perfect for anyone and every size. We all deserve to feel comfortable as we stroll in the sand or lounge by the pool. This summer, let’s show up and show out, feeling confident in our swimwear! Jasmine Ball is a Mississippi fashion, beauty and lifestyle blogger. Connect with her via Instagram (Miss_Ball23), her blog site ( or by email at

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What’s in your


Most people have a conglomerate of different products in their makeup bags, but what are your top five? Let’s talk about a few of my favorite products that I can’t live without. Grab your makeup bag along with me, and let’s dig:

BY LAUREN RILEY Lauren Riley is a makeup artist and hairdresser on the Coast, specializing in on-location wedding and event makeup, blondes and handtied extensions. Contact her or learn more at www.laurenrileyhairmakeup. com or facebook. com/laurenrileyhairmakeup.


July 2021

• When I open my bag, the first thing I grab is moisturizer. Moisturizer preps my skin so that my makeup goes on smoothly and keeps my skin hydrated. • Secondly, I grab a gripping primer because the mask life rubs my makeup off without it. I’ve been using Cover FX Gripping + firming primer from Ulta Beauty ($38), and it has easily become one of my goto products. Not only does it have a ton of staying power, but it also helps control oils and mattify the skin. • Next up is foundation, and personally, I love a good matte formula. With the humidity levels on the Coast, controlling the oil on my skin is an absolute

must! My favorite matte foundation is a drugstore find by Elf Cosmetics. The Camo CC Cream ($14, Ulta, Walmart or Walgreens) is matte and totally buildable, which is my favorite part about it. • Bronzer is one of my favorite topics because it’s so versatile, and I don’t know about you, but it’s a must-have in my beauty bag. You can use it to sculpt out your cheeks, or even as an eyeshadow to tie your whole look together. I have been using Physcians Formula Bronzer from Target ($11.99), and it is so natural and easy to apply. Depending on your skin shade, you can get the color you need to look sun-kissed yearround.

• Last up is mascara, and my all-time favorite, ride-ordie pick is Benefit BADgal BANG volumizing mascara from Ulta ($26). It really puts all of the other mascaras I’ve tried to shame. It lengthens, lifts and makes your lashes look so full. Just two effortless swipes of this mascara, and you are good to go for the rest of the day. Next time you go shopping, add some of these products to your cosmetics collection. You won’t regret it. If you need another reason to try them, most of these products are super affordable and last forever.






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Owner / Master Stylist / Color Specialist




From left, Kacie Suber, Sheila Runnels and owner Tonya Hamby. David Hamby, Tonya’s husband

MON AMIE BOUTIQUE: Friends offering fashion for all BY TAMMY SMITH

A few months after moving to Bay St. Louis from the Jackson area in April 2020, Tonya Hamby and her husband, David, were riding in his golf cart (a birthday present) in Old Town. When they reached 130 Blaize Ave., Tonya was smitten with the old building near the train depot. She envisioned it as the home of a project she and a couple of friends recently had undertaken. “This is so cute!” Tonya recalls exclaiming. “Why is there nothing here?” After meeting and talking with an electrician working in a nearby business location, they contacted the building’s owner and got the ball rolling to expand an online enterprise into a brick-and-mortar store. Tonya and her friends, Sheila Runnels and Kacie Suber, had launched Mon Amie Boutique online in late September 2020, with sales starting not long after. “It kept growing, and my family got tired of moving racks of clothing,” Tonya says.


July 2021

“We were working out of her house originally,” Kacie adds. The Hambys and friends began interior work on the building, doing everything but the electrical and plumbing themselves. Tonya, Kacie and Sheila let the building’s late-1920s origins guide them to finding Art Deco furnishings. Mon Amie’s soft opening was Feb. 1, and the store’s grand opening was June 3. A licensed cosmetologist, Tonya chose fashion merchandising and marketing as elective courses in high school, where she advanced to national competitions in DECA. At Mississippi State University, she studied interior design. “So I’ve always had an interest in this area,” she says. Mon Amie’s goal is to offer fashions and an atmosphere that appeals to everyone, especially locals. “We want to cater to everybody — every size, every shape,” Kacie says. “We want people to feel comfortable













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1001 North Halstead Road | Ocean Springs, MS 39564












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in here.” “Of course, we love our visitors, but we wanted to offer a good shopping experience for everyone, especially locals,” Tonya adds. “Locals didn’t really have anywhere to shop locally, so we wanted to offer a good mix of clothing that’s appropriate for all ages. It’s hard to find that.” Mon Amie’s most popular offerings include the Reversibles shoe line by Modzori; Rubber Band denim, made from recycled water bottles, and their own private label fashions. Tonya, Kacie and Sheila have the sort of friendship where each one has the uncanny ability to know what the others are thinking, so working together has been easy. Sheila is considered the online guru, and Kacie takes photos of fashions and especially enjoys finding clothing that flatters plussize customers.


July 2021

Men are represented at Mon Amie with the Devil-Dog brand, which donates to the Wounded Warrior Project. “A lot of things we carry have stories behind them, like the DevilDog items, like the locally made candles and some of our jewelry, which is made by employees,” Sheila says. “There’s a purpose behind every purchase.”

WANT TO GO? Mon Amie Boutique 130 Blaize Ave., Bay St. Louis (228) 304-2118 10 a.m.-7 p.m. MondaySaturday, 1-6 p.m. Sunday monamiebsl


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What's new in Coastal MS boutiques

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Cropped denim jacket with bleach ombré and raw edges by Ramy Brook $345 Bleach ombré wash denim cutoff shorts, low rise with raw hem by Ramy Brook $195


One shoulder, puff sleeve “Pleats Please” dress $65 "Rose' All Day" beaded clutch, $60


White Keshi pearl necklace $146


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Toarmina dinnerware collection is all about fun and bright days. This fine stoneware is made in Portugal.

TAMARA CHILDS DECORATIVE GLASS VASES Embellished by hand in an assortment of colors and patterns, each art glass vase is a treasure that can be filled with flowers or left as a stand-alone.

JOHN HART BAG This roomy, stylish bag is handcrafted in the U.S.

GOOD EARTH DINNERWARE Good Earth’s appealing colors and textures are sure to compeiment every room in your home.

CASAFINA EIVIASSA SEA BLUE DINNERWARE Eivissa showcases a special artisan look found only in European-made stoneware. This minimalist style is sure to wow!

TAMARA CHILDS STEMMED MARTINI GLASS Keep the cocktail party festive in these pedestal stem martini glasses.


July 2021

LE CREUSET DUTCH OVEN AND OVAL CASSEROLE BAKEWARE The iconic Le Creuset Dutch oven is individually crafted by French artisans and is an indispensible addition to the kitchen. Le Creuset stoneware casseroles offer superior, highly functional performance in the oven and at the table.


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Outpatient Mental Healthcare for the Gulf Coast

WE PROVIDE CLEAN AND MODERN, READY-TO-GO CAMPERS Camper trailer rentals come with camper delivery and set up service WE DELIVER ANYWHERE FROM COVINGTON, LOUISIANA TO DESTIN, FLORIDA! Enjoy the excitement of camping without the headache of camper ownership. Retail shop for all your camping needs 10381 Hwy 603 | Suite A | Bay Saint Louis, MS 39520 Email: | 228-463-3200 Visit our website: www.

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GOOD SHEPHERD CHRISTIAN ACADEMY Enroll your child today in the safe, healthy, cheerful environment of our school. We use the “Beginnings” curriculum and computer programs to enhance preparation for kindergarten.

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Call us for pre-approval today! Valerie Galle | Senior Vice President M: (228) 860-3524 | O: (228) 215-1365 NMLS# 658281 | This graphic is for information purposes only and is not an advertisement to extend customer credit as defined by Section 12 CFR 1026.2 Regulation Z. Program rates, terms and conditions are subject to change at any time. Delmar Mortgage NMLS# 30998 Licensed by Miss. Dept. of Banking & Commerce

Our loving and professional staff works with every child provides quality education partnered in a caring, positive, and encouraging manner. with a Christian environment • Chapel each morning 80 48th St. • Gulfport, MS 39507 • Christian environment to students in the Gulfport, MS area. Hours of Business: • Low child/ teacher ratio • Child care from 6 weeks to completion of Pre K

Mon. thru Fri. 6:30 AM to 5:45 PM

We use the “Beginnings” curriculum and computer programs to enhance preparation for kindergarten. Enroll your child today in the safe, healthy, cheerful environment of our school. Our loving and professional staff works with every child in a caring, positive, and encouraging manner. Chapel Each Morning Christian Environment Low Child/Teacher Ratio Child Care for 6 Weeks to Completion of Pre K

80 48th Street • Gulfport, MS 39507 Hours of business: Mon. thru Fri. 6:30 AM to 5:45 PM

James D. Wilson, owner/operator

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home & family



Regina Nedas

is first and foremost an artist, whose work has been displayed locally and internationally. That creative bent extends to her property, located on Windlo Circle in Ocean Springs’ Gulf Hills community, where she takes pride in cultivating color and beauty. “For me, designing a garden is almost like painting pictures (by) mixing a lot of different colors,” says Nedas, who has lived on the Coast since 2004. CONTINUED ON PAGE 154

Gardening provides another creative outlet for Regina Nedas BY JENNIFER GENTILE


July 2021



Andrew Geotes, Broker/Owner 228.365.5506 | Brittany Geotes, Brk. Assoc./Owner 228.263.5424 | NextHome Simplicity 228.357.5888 |

HOW TO BUILD WEALTH CONSISTENTLY USING REAL ESTATE A little over 10 years ago, our country was dealing with one of the worst economic crises of the 21st century, and it felt like the market would never recover. In 2020, 5.64 million existing homes were sold according to data from the National Association of REALTORS®. 2021 will be defined by low interest rates and low inventory, which will continue to push home prices higher. This is creating opportunities for massive amounts of wealth to be built in real estate, and by ordinary people like us. Appreciation of the rising prices of homes over time is how many people build wealth through real estate. Appreciation combined with leverage offers large returns. If you are buying an investment property in which you are collecting rent, you are making a profit on the amount leftover after making the mortgage payment and covering all other monthly expenses. That will continue to build as you pay down the mortgage and over time, means more money in your pocket. Depreciation is a tax benefit that gives you the ability to write off part of the value of your real estate every year. This can reduce the amount of taxes you pay on the money you make, which means real estate can actually protect your wealth. Check with your CPA to learn how you can benefit from this. As you pay down your mortgage or improve your property, you are gaining the ability to leverage the wealth you have created. The safe way to leverage is to have a positive cash flow. If you leverage property by borrowing less than you make each month, that is a positive cash flow. Inflation also plays a significant role in why real estate builds wealth so consistently over time. As the value of money decreases, the price of goods and services increases. The use of inflation to build wealth in real estate relies on the consistency of your large expenses. Your mortgage and property taxes, for example, stay fixed for the majority of your ownership of the property. If you are interested in learning more about investing in real estate for your future please give me a call or text. I’d love to help!

Joplyn Roberts Kim, Realtor

NextHome Simplicity Realtor Cell: 228.424.4377 | Office: 228.357.5888


Soon after Nedas and her husband, Al, arrived in Ocean Springs, Hurricane Katrina destroyed their house and garden. Nedas designed the current home, which was built over a four-year period, and set about re-establishing the garden section by section. She continues to design, manage and maintain its appearance. Nedas is a fan of azaleas, particularly the encore variety that bloom three times a year, and she says that “perennial summer flowers are a must.” “I have many azaleas by the road between two oaks in the front of our house, and camellias blooming in autumn,” she says. “In the backyard and blooming at different times of the year are different types of bushes and trees.” A lifelong nature lover, the Lithuanian native was once taught botany and microbiology at an agricultural college, and she earned a master’s degree from Timiryazev Agricultural Academy in Russia. Over the years, she has educated herself on folk medicine and

collected recommendations


July 2021

from around the world about healthy lifestyles, ethnic medicine and natural curative techniques. The culmination of her learning was her book, “The Therapy of Natural Living,” which was released in 2019. Her green thumb and design talent were recognized the same year, when her property was included in the annual Spring Pilgrimage — an opportunity for the public to tour some of the region’s most beautiful homes and gardens. Nedas’s artwork is displayed throughout the property, including mixed media paintings, painted furniture, lamps and ceiling fixtures. In her every pursuit, the artist is continually inspired by nature. “It does not matter if we live in the countryside or in the city,” she says, “since the scent of flowers, grass, and trees delights us — allowing us to feel free from stress and bad thoughts and increasing good emotions.”

“For me, designing a garden is almost like painting pictures (by) mixing a lot of different colors."


Don’t forget to check out LEXI’S BOUTIQUE located inside the store. Be sure to follow Lexi’s Boutique on @Lexi’s Boutique @lexisboutiquebiloxi

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Focus more on making memories, less on your ‘summer body’


t’s officially summer! The kids are out of school, and the outside world has mostly reopened. Although I’m super excited to get out and enjoy it all, I can’t lie; I was a little apprehensive. The thought of baring my post-quarantine body had me feeling some type of way. We’ve all struggled with accepting our bodies as they are, right? I blame social media. It has us believing we will magically “snap back” from having a baby stretchmark-free and return to our pre-baby weight in no time. I wish women didn’t take this fallacy to heart; it’s not the case for most of us. Did you know the average size of a woman in the United States is a size 16? Also, experts say that after giving birth, it can take anywhere from three months to a year on average to shed the excess weight. Add to that the extraordinary circumstances of 2020, when American adults, according


July 2021

to one study, gained more than half a pound for every 10 days under a shelter-in-place order — which amounts to nearly two pounds a month So, this whole idea of the perfect summer body is unrealistic — even in the best of times. There is beauty in the fact that we are all unique. We have this amazing ability to bring life into the world. Our bodies and minds change — and they are supposed to. I think it’s time we control the narrative of how our bodies should look. This year, I have decided that my body is already a summer body. Instead of focusing on what my body isn’t, I will concentrate more on what it is and on making memories with my family. At the end of the day, that is what matters most. My son will not care that mommy has love handles or stretchmarks; he just wants to have a good time. So, I will be enjoying my summer,

Instead of focusing on what my body isn’t, I will concentrate more on what it is and on making memories with my family. At the end of the day, that is what matters most.


with my shorts and my two-piece swimsuits, and I encourage you to do the same. I know that once summer is over, I’m not going to look back and remember how I looked. I only will remember all the fun I had this time around as opposed to last year. Give yourself a little grace and love yourself just as you are, because your body is already a summer body. Ariel Chamberlain is mom and lifestyle blogger based on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Connect with her via Instagram (@thelemonsoflife1, her blog ( or by email at



mother daughter mortgage duo

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MOSS POINT - $210,000 17116 PIERCE ST, MOSS POINT, MS 39562 Country living with access to I10 and US 90, lots of green with trees, shrubs and room to run, play, party, entertain or simply relax. House is spacious and comfortable, central heat and air, two car carport, lots of storage and if you like to tinker, work with your hands, play games, use tools, work on cars, have a hobby that needs room to enjoy or need extra storage for a boat, a car or antiques, the 2,400 square foot storage building adjacent to the house is ready!

Coldwell Banker Alfonso Realty, Inc Cynthia S. Joachim, REALTOR Office: 228-287-1000 Direct: 228-760-6865



428 COURTHOUSE RD. SUITE B GULFPORT, MS 39507 228-207-0408 Formerly the office of Dr. Donna Alexander 162

July 2021

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Baudier’s Flooring Beacon Insurance Susan Siemontowski Renew Exteriors

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The housing market is struggling to keep up with demand, as the scarcity of houses for sale has created a buyer backlog. With so many motivated buyers house hunting, you often end up with multiple bids on the same property, which triggers a price increase. Combined with other factors, this backlog has created a “seller’s market.” WHO ARE THE HOMEBUYERS?

Millennials constitute more than one-third of today’s homebuyers. Many are getting married and having children, making their first home purchase appealing. Others have growing families and seek a larger home to meet their needs. Interest rates are still at all-time lows, giving renters the incentive to buy as well. After sheltering in place, many owners have re-evaluated their must-haves in a home, including size, amenities and location. Another type of motivated buyer has decided to move away from city life, making coastal Mississippi, the Secret Coast, an ideal place to settle.


If you have lived in your residence for five years or more, this may be a terrific time to sell and invest in your dream home. There is a shortage of houses available for first-time homebuyers. If you are looking to upsize, your house may be the perfect fit for those just getting into the real estate market. Were you considering downsizing? Families looking for more space after being cooped up during lockdown may find your house the perfect fit.


July 2021

According to CoreLogic, homeowners gained more than $1.5 trillion in equity in 2020. The number of mortgages in negative equity fell by 21 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, and the average annual equity gain of $26,300 per homeowner was the highest since 2013. People who owned their homes for five to 14 years sold them last year for approximately $50,000-$80,000 more than their original purchase price. Those who lived in their homes for 16 to 20 years before selling earned an average profit of $85,000. Homebuilders are trying to keep up with demand despite obstacles, including higher lumber prices, limited lots, supply shortages and a lack of skilled labor. “These challenges make it almost impossible for a custom home builder to construct entry-level homes,” says Michael Baudry, builder for Acadian Homes. “However, it creates the perfect opportunity for those with a preexisting home with equity to build their dream home.” If you’ve dreamed of building a new home that suits your family’s needs, now may be a perfect time. Apply the equity gained in your existing residence toward a new home. Myriad buyers are seeking a home today. Your first step is to contact a Realtor to determine what your home is worth in today’s hot market. Next, make a list of your favorite things about your current home and those you would like to change. This exercise will help you when searching for your dream home in a market rife with opportunity. Susan Siemiontkowski is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Alfonso Realty. Reach her at (228) 239-2621.

Thank you for supporting local family-owned businesses!

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or submit your request at What our customers say about us Excellent moving skills, and great customer service! On top of that great prices. I will definitely be using Mighty Men Movers in the near future. Just wanted to let the owner know that the 3 men who cam and moved us were very professional, prompt, friendly, and very efficient! I will strongly recommend your company to anyone who needs to move. Thanks again!! - G. & B. Etchison Mighty Men Movers did an excellent job with my long-distance move. They were fast, efficient, and... - R. Thornton We have worked with Mighty Men Movers for several years and are never disappointed with their service. They are always accommodating to our moving needs and have the best price around. When I have to find a moving company for my personal move, there was no hesitation, I called Mighty Men because they are the best! - N. Bedsole, Mental Health Assoc. of South Mississippi


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Tidy for takeoff:

a simple way to organize your suitcase


Preparing for a trip may be exciting, but packing can get pretty stressful. Give yourself a few days to follow these three steps, and you’ll be traveling like a tidying pro! PLAN IT ON PAPER

List all the activities you’ll be doing, then list the clothing and accessories required. Are you hanging out at a beach? Attending a formal event? Climbing a mountain? Don’t forget to include toiletries and makeup specific to the event, like waterproof sunscreen or your favorite knock-’em-dead lipstick.


Gather all the items on your list, then spread them on a bed or table. Now, try to reduce the number of items if you can, keeping the following in mind: • Stick with a basic color scheme to create coordinating outfits. • Favor fabrics that won’t wrinkle. • Avoid the “What if I need it?” pitfall. • Assume you can do laundry (unless you know you truly can’t). • Keep pairs of shoes to a minimum. One casual, one comfortable and one dressy usually suffices. • Transform outfits into several great looks using different accessories.


Imagine your suitcase is a drawer, and your goal is to make that drawer


July 2021

totally user-friendly. These guidelines will help: • Fold clothes that hold their shape into small rectangles, and pack them upright. (Search the internet for “file folding clothes” to see how.) • Roll fabrics that wrinkle or are delicate. • Use packing cubes to keep clothing categories organized. • Wrap shoes individually to protect clothing from any dirt. • Use the space inside shoes for socks, jewelry, glasses, chargers, etc. • Bring an extra zippered bag for laundry. • Pack only the toiletries you absolutely need, in only the amounts you will use. • If flying, know the TSA 3-1-1 rule, and keep that airtight bag easily accessible. Pro tip: Take photos of what you pack and how you pack it. This makes repacking so much easier, and you’ll be

less likely to leave something behind. It’s said that travel isn’t about what you take with you; it’s about the memories you bring home. However, there’s no denying that a wellorganized suitcase will add joy to your journey. Happy travels! Heather Young, of Tidy and Calm LLC, is a professional home organizer, certified in the KonMari Method® popularized by Marie Kondo. Reach her at




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Five tips to avoid the

“summer slide”

A long, strange school year has ended, and for many students, an especially welcome break begins. While summer break is a good time for students to relax, it’s important to use summer as a chance BY ERIN GIBSON to catch up and avoid the “summer slide.” Every year, students lose several months’ worth of reading and math skills over summer break, and the problem is compounded this year because of the “COVID-19 slide” that has occurred during the last year of on-and-off remote learning. More than ever, parents must help their children get back on track if needed and keep their brains working during the time they’re not in school.


If you’re unsure where your child stands academically, a checkup is worthwhile. Such an assessment can pinpoint exactly where your child could use support and where they are succeeding in school. Then, a personalized learning plan can be created that addresses weaknesses and nurtures strengths.


Your child may resist, but this year is an anomaly, so reviewing work (with the purpose of improving retention) is wise. Have your child review saved worksheets or other assignments even just a few minutes a day. That math or English textbook also will come in handy. Even a little effort


July 2021

to retain what was learned throughout the last nine months will make a difference and help your child remember what he or she learned upon returning to school in the fall.


Summer is the best time of year to encourage children to activate their love of reading, and best of all, reading is one of the easiest ways to deter learning loss.


While summer is a good time to close any skill gaps and correct any problems that arose during the school year, it is also a chance for students to get ahead and fortify their strengths. So, if your child is taking any challenging classes next year or wants to solidify knowledge gained last year, summer learning can help them do that.


The key to successful summer learning is getting your children consistently doing something that stretches their minds and uses their skills. Follow their lead by suggesting a summer science project, a class at a local community center or a self-directed research project on a favorite topic. There are opportunities to learn all around if your child is creative and willing. And when they’re your child’s ideas, that’s even better.

Erin Gibson is operations manager with Huntington Learning Center. Reach her at (228) 832-1226 or GibsonE@HLCmail. com.




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Give your children


power tools for life success All parents and caregivers want their children to have successful and productive lives as they journey to adulthood. Many do not realize that they have access to power tools that ensure not only their children’s success, but also enable them to become future contributing members of our society. What are those power tools, and how are they obtained? Self-esteem, self-confidence, resilience and perseverance are the power tools needed for life success. Parents can nurture and foster these tools from birth up through adulthood. Children learn to love and accept themselves from significant others in their home — namely parents. During their early years of development, children learn from what they see and hear. They are literally soaking up everything in their environment. Parents are walking billboards and role models for their children. If they are not loved and valued in their family, they are less likely to feel loved and develop strong self-esteem. Successes and acceptance help children gain confidence in their abilities as they learn how to do simple tasks, such as tying their shoes, dressing themselves, brushing their teeth, recognizing/writing their name or counting to 10. Parents and caregivers need to provide positive experiences and appropriate tasks that are developmentally appropriate for children. Remember, they are learning and need your patience as


July 2021

well as instruction to become skilled doing the assigned tasks. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from failures and disappointments. Sometimes, we as adults want to fix everything for our children. We want everything to be perfect and hover over them

— blocking the opportunity for them to develop coping skills and learn how recover from mistakes or failures. We forget about the coping skills we acquired over time to help us adjust or modify if needed. Start with simple things to help them develop resilience. For example, if your child keeps leaving homework at home, he or she should face the consequences of this action. Let your child come up with a plan with

your guidance. Praise him or her for solving the problem. Share how you bounced back from a disappointment or failure. Children learn from parents’ actions and personal experiences, too. Learning how to stick to something or accomplish a goal no matter how long it takes is an important tool. Children will face many situations throughout life, and as they mature, events and situations will test their willingness to persevere despite difficulties. Adults in their lives can nurture and assist children in developing perseverance. As children show an interest or talent in areas like sports, dance, or music, for example, provide resources needed to strengthen that aptitude. Do not allow them to quit when things are hard or tiring. Encourage them to stay and see a project, activity or goal to its completion. Being a parent or caregiver is rewarding and challenging. Equipping children with power tools for future life success is critical for the overall health and well-being of children and families. Dr. Sheila E. Sapp is a retired educator and former school administrator who has served as a reading specialist, elementary curriculum director, adjunct college instructor, author and speaker. Dr. Sapp owns Sheila E. Cares Educational Consulting and Services LLC. Learn more at https://

food & fun

TEX-MEX elevated

Rooftop Taco & Tequila Bar serves Latin favorites with a unique flair BY CHRIS DEARMAN

With a fun atmosphere and tasty Tex-Mex specialties, often featuring a unique twist, the Rooftop Taco & Tequila Bar in Ocean Springs is the perfect place for creative dishes that will have you returning for more. Located in the heart of the downtown entertainment district, Rooftop Taco & Tequila Bar allows you to relax and unwind while enjoying expertly prepared dishes using only the finest and freshest ingredients. Rooftop is owned by The Nicaud Restaurant Group, which is striving to make it a regular hangout for locals and a destination for tourists. It’s an environment where patrons can listen to good music, eat great food and enjoy drinks while spending time with friends and family — all while surrounded by the cool, colorful Mexican folk art that adorns the walls. While Rooftop launched in January 2020, it didn’t live up to its name until January of this year, when the actual rooftop dining experience opened. With a large bar and tables covered by a pergola, the rooftop is an elevated oasis overlooking Government Street, and the perfect spot to imbibe with a margarita or specialty cocktail. It is especially delightful if you time your visit to catch the sunset while sipping a refreshing pineapple jalapeno

margarita. When you come to Rooftop, you definitely should enjoy an appetizer or two. The homemade chips and salsa can be enhanced with queso and guacamole. There’s also a seven-layer dip served in a large martini glass and fried tortilla Mexican pizza, just to name a couple of options. On my visit, I had the Mexican street corn dip, which is a delicious combination of fire-roasted corn, poblano peppers, onions and three kinds of cheese. I also tried the crispy salmon skin chips, something I haven’t seen on a menu before. The pan-seared salmon skin was served with a roasted garlic bacon jam, guacamole, queso fresco and pico de gallo, all topped with a drizzle of avocado ranch and served on a bed of fried lettuce. It’s perfect for those on a Keto diet looking for a little something different. After my delightful server, Memarie Graves, delivered a couple of specialty cocktails from the full-service bar, manager Jake Watson presented such an appetizing plate of tacos that it was hard to decide which type was my favorite. The tuna poke taco was a standout. Served in a wonton shell, it features fresh tuna and seaweed salad topped with charred




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pineapple salsa, house-made spicy mayo, tobiko and black sesame seeds. The veggie taco also was remarkably good. Served on a soft shell with black bean puree and shredded cheese sandwiched between a crunchy shell with spinach, fire-roasted corn, pico de gallo, guacamole and chipotle ranch, it made eating meatless a pleasure. If pressed to choose my favorite, I would have to go with the crawfish taco, which also includes sauteed shrimp with roasted garlic, spinach and corn topped with chipotle ranch. The carnitas taco with braised, slow-cooked pork shoulder was the closest of the four to traditional Mexican tacos. While I had to get a to-go box to bring some of the goodness home, I couldn’t quite leave yet after hearing about the apple pie empanadas served with vanilla ice cream. Two warm empanadas come with an apple orange marmalade dusted in cinnamon and maple sugar, topped with house-made caramel sauce. It was a great way to end a highly satisfying meal. Rooftop Taco & Tequila Bar opens at 11 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday, closing at 9 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday, 11 p.m. on Thursday and at midnight Friday and Saturday. Every Tuesday, guests can take advantage of all-day taco specials, and on Wednesday, they can indulge in the popular, one-dayonly birria tacos. Five-dollar quesadilla specials are featured on Thursday, as well as $1 margaritas for ladies’ night. Weekends feature a special late-night menu, with live bands performing during the day and a DJ playing until close.

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Treat your tastebuds to an



Some Coastians prefer to stick to the old-fashioned burger with all the trimmings, while others are game for a taste adventure. Across the country, the tried-and-true ground beef burger on a bun with lettuce, onions, tomato and cheese is the hands-down favorite. Some no longer eat ground beef and opt for a veggie or bean burger. Some like to add mushrooms, Swiss or bleu cheese. Others prefer a slice of pineapple on top, plus all the fixings. A few, like me, dig into a chili cheeseburger that requires a stack of napkins. While the best burger debate continues, summer is the time to fire up the grill and get those patties sizzling. Instead of the favorite, why not try something different — maybe even a burger with an Asian or Hispanic twist? Here are some more unconventional burger recipes that are sure to please even diehard patty, bun and mayo folks. For those not eating meat, a simple veggie burger can pack flavor, too. This one also is lower in fat and perhaps better for the waistline.


1 (16-ounce) can Goya black beans 1/2 cup fresh, small green bell peppers 1/2 cup chopped onion 3 cloves crushed garlic 1 egg 1/2 teaspoon chili powder or more to taste 1/2 teaspoon or more cumin 1/2 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs Wash and dry beans, then mash. Finely chop peppers, onion and garlic. Add to mashed beans. Beat egg with chili powder and cumin. Add to beans, then mix in breadcrumbs. Shape as a burger patty. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes on each side, or place on grill for eight minutes on each side. From


Burger: Burger patties Burger buns Mushrooms Onions Crispy bacon Whiskey sauce


July 2021

Whiskey Sauce: 1 tablespoon butter 1/4 cup chopped onion 1/2 cup whiskey 1 cup of beef stock 1/2 bay leaf 1 tablespoon roux 1 teaspoon tomato paste Salt Fresh ground pepper

To make sauce: In a small saucepan, melt butter and sauté onion until transparent on medium heat. Add whisky and simmer for about two to three minutes. Add beef stock, bay leaf and tomato paste. Using a silicone-covered whisk, stir until combined. To make the roux, combine one-half tablespoon soft (not melted) butter and 1/2 tablespoon of flour. Stir together very well. Whisk in the roux, salt and pepper. Simmer for about five minutes, whisking often. Take out the bay leaf before serving. Burger: Cook the burgers to your preference. I like to combine beef and pork ground meat and add some chopped onion, garlic clove, fresh herbs and a little bit of breadcrumbs. Sauté mushrooms and onions until caramelized and add a little bit of whiskey sauce. Top the burger off with sauteed mushrooms and onions, bacon and whiskey sauce. From


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1/4 cup ketchup 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce 1 tablespoon brown sugar 1 tablespoon unsweetened crushed pineapple 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh gingerroot 1 garlic clove, minced 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, pineapple, ginger, garlic and sesame oil; set aside. In large bowl, combine the egg white, breadcrumbs, onions, crushed pineapple and three tablespoons ketchup mixture. Crumble beef and turkey over mixture. Mix well. Shape into six burgers. Using long-handled tongs, moisten a paper towel with cooking oil, and lightly coat the grill rack. Grill burgers covered over medium heat, or broil four inches from the heat for five to seven minutes on each side (or until a thermometer reads 165 degrees and juices run clear), brushing occasionally with remaining ketchup mixture. Grill or broil pineapple slices for two to three minutes on each side, or until heated through. Serve burgers and pineapple on buns with lettuce and tomato. From Taste of Home Magazine

Burgers: 1 egg white, lightly beaten 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs 3 green onions, chopped 2 tablespoons unsweetened crushed pineapple 3/4 pound ground beef 3/4 pound ground turkey 6 sliced unsweetened pineapple 6 hamburger buns, split and toasted 6 lettuce leaves 6 slices tomato Andrea Yeager is a freelance writer who lives in Gulfport with her daughter, granddaughter, three cats and two dogs.

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July 2021

fill your cup


Divinely rooted We’ll be discussing roots here — but not in the context you might think. Rather, we’ll be addressing the necessity and benefits of being rooted in Christ. Colossians 2:6-7 says: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Growth is the process of development and maturing, and in this passage, it refers to the progress of the kingdom of God and the spiritual development of his believers. In the Bible, scripture uses examples and images of growth, such as seeds, plants and infants, to explain the dynamic nature of our personal faith and the kingdom of God. The use of plants and roots in these instances is symbolic of our connection to Christ and the necessity and advantages of being rooted in him, as well as what happens if we’re not. Roots are essential for plants to live, and similarly, being rooted in Christ is necessary for having a healthy spiritual life and, in turn, living life to the fullest. Just as plants flourish or perish depending on the health of their roots, we exhibit Christ-like qualities when we are rooted in him. Jeremiah 17:7-8 says, “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Now we understand a plant that is not rooted in its life source eventually will wither and die. This metaphor of vegetation with no root system demonstrates that if we are not rooted in and remain disconnected from Christ, our only life-source, we are more susceptible to life’s issues during

Roots are essential for plants to live, and similarly, being rooted in Christ is necessary for having a healthy spiritual life and, in turn, living life to the fullest. turbulent times and could wither and die. In our spiritual walk, we must be rooted, grounded and grow deeper in our life source so we may stand taller and accomplish what God has called us to do. I pray that out of his glorious riches, he may strengthen you with power through his spirit in your inner being. I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:16-19). Robin Killeen is founder of W.O.W. (Women of Wisdom). W.O.W. meets every second Wednesday of the month at noon at the Knight Nonprofit Center in Gulfport.


5 questions with

ST. VINCENT DE PAUL COMMUNITY PHARMACY Sam Burke, executive director of the St. Vincent de Paul Community Pharmacy, tells us all about the nonprofit and its efforts to provide free pharmacy services for thousands of people, who would otherwise go without. WHAT DOES YOUR ORGANIZATION DO, AND WHAT IS ITS MISSION? The St. Vincent de Paul Community Pharmacy’s Mission is to provide prescription medication and wellness education to those in need. The pharmacy fills a void in the healthcare process, ensuring underinsured and uninsured patients receive the much-needed medication they need. The organization has two permitted pharmacies in Biloxi and Hattiesburg, as well as extension sites in Bay St. Louis and Moss Point. The pharmacy does not dispense any controlled drugs.


The organization was founded in 1998 as a special works mission of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. The SVDP is a volunteer organization within the Catholic Church that works with the poor of the community. In the mid to late 90s, local churches were experiencing a substantial increase in requests for prescription medicine assistance. It was decided at that point to create a central pharmacy location to serve residents in South Mississippi. The pharmacy continues to operate with primarily volunteer labor, including licensed pharmacists, technicians, eligibility screeners and front office staff. The organization has three paid staff and over 100 volunteers. There really is no other program like St. Vincent de Paul Community Pharmacy in Mississippi.


Since opening in 1998, the St. Vincent de Paul Community Pharmacy has filled over 275,000 prescriptions for 4,336 clients in


July 2021

Left side: Linda Anderson, Nancy Carson, Craig Lobb, Dr. Larry Drawdy, Gerald Strayham; right side: Ann Thibodeaux, Carlotta Hewes and Kalin Lloyd

South Mississippi. The value of the medicine that has been dispensed is nearly $15.4 million. The organization has positioned itself to be as accessible as possible by providing multiple pharmacy locations, as well as extension sites for eligibility screenings. Even during the past 12 months of COVID-19, the pharmacy has remained open. We filled nearly 28,000 prescriptions in 2020. Not a single client went without his or her medicine being filled. We are quite proud of this fact, especially given that volunteers do the work.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE GREATEST THING YOU HAVE LEARNED OR GAINED BY BEING INVOLVED IN THIS ORGANIZATION? There are some truly selfless and amazing people in the world. Being an organization so dependent on volunteers, I continue to be amazed by the people that live in and around us who are willing to share their time, talent and treasure for the sake of their fellow man. The individuals we serve aren’t that different from us; one or two factors in life have led them to our door. The professionalism and empathy our volunteers show have long set the tone for our operations. It is the most dedicated “personnel” I’ve ever had the pleasure of

working with. Another great thing is the true appreciation our clients have for the services they receive. Many of them would not have a very high quality of life if not for the medicine they receive from us.


Like the rest of the world, St. Vincent de Paul Community Pharmacy has had to adapt to the changing world around us. At the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, we had to scale down our operations. We minimized the number of people in the building by spreading the workload across multiple days per week. In doing so, we now have a pharmacist available on multiple days each week, whereas before, we only had one once a week. In the coming weeks, we will be reopening our lobby to conduct the eligibility screening process. This has been on hold for the past year, as it involves a 45-minute interview process in close proximity. Once the lobby is safely reopened, we will then look to reopen our extension sites. These steps will bring us closer to resuming full operation.

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