Class Notes


Susan Follett (B.S., M.S. computer science; ’74, ’76) earned a McKnight Artist Fellowship for Writers from the Loft Literary Center. The honor recognizes her work in creative prose and comes with a $25,000 award. A Meridian native, she is an advocate for using stories to increase understanding of history and to dismantle stereotypes.

The American Institute of CPA’s June 2017 edition of the “Journal of Accountancy” included an article about James “Jim” Koerber (B.S. banking and finance, ’74) and the development of his niche practice. He is a shareholder in The Koerber Company of Hattiesburg, which limits its work to business valuation and litigation support services.

Lynn Phillips-Gaines (B.A. communication, ’78) a certified financial planner at Phillips Financial and adviser with Raymond James was named to Forbes’ list of the Top 200 Women Wealth Advisors. She also was named to Barron’s list of the Top 1,200 Advisors in the country for the third consecutive year. She manages more than $200 million in client assets and offers comprehensive financial planning, wealth management and investment management, and specializes in retirement income, education planning, long-term care insurance, PERS, and business planning and exit strategies.

Sara Anne Ford (B.S. horticulture, ’79) was named a “Top Flight Attorney” by Birmingham, Alabama-based B-Metro Magazine. She is a partner at Lightfoot, Franklin and White LLC and specializes in complex commercial litigation.



Kimmie Miller VanWyck (B.S. forestry, ’81) reigned as Queen Kimmie XXXV during Mardi Gras festivities for The Order of Osiris in Mobile, Alabama. Her costume reflected her love for Mississippi State in many ways, most obviously with the logo and cowbell displayed prominently on the train. The emerald green color of the costume and train were representative of her degree in forestry along with the embroidered pine bough and cones in the crest. Maroon crystals accented the trim. Her introduction to the nearly 1,800 guests at the Treasures of the Caribbean Ball was punctuated with the call of “Hail Queen Kimmie” & “Hail State!”

David Pittman (B.S., M.S. civil engineering; ’83, ’88) was appointed director of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center headquartered in Vicksburg. He also serves as chief scientist and head of research and development for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The center includes seven laboratories in four states, with more than 2,100 employees, $1.2 billion in facilities and an annual program exceeding $1 billion. He joined ERDC in 1983 and has held numerous roles within the center, most recently deputy director.

Daria Pizzetta (B.S. architecture, ’83) was named to the American Institute of Architects’ College of Fellows, which recognizes architects who have advanced the science and art of planning and building by advancing the standards of architectural education, training or practice. A native of Biloxi, she is principal at H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture in New York.

Davis “Dave” Dickson (B.S. banking and finance, ’87) is the 2017-18 chairman of the Arkansas Bankers Association. He is president and CEO of Union Bank and Trust Company in Monticello, Arkansas, and is also a member of Union Bank and First Union Financial Corp.’s board of directors.

Jon C. Carr (BBA ’88, MBA ’90; Ph.D. ’01) is now the Jenkins Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship in the Poole College of Management at North Carolina State University. He previously worked at Texas Christian University in the management, entrepreneurship and leadership department of the Neeley School of Business.




Mike Cresap (B.S. civil engineering, ’91) earned the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ 25-Year Award of Meritorious Service. He serves as the director of transportation information for the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

Jason J. Young (B.S. risk management, insurance, financial planning, ’92) has been named a “top producer” for 2017 by Insurance Business America. He is in his 25th year with Fisher Brown Bottrell Insurance where he’s built his career managing contractors’ bond and risk management programs. He previously served on the staff of former U.S. Senator Trent Lott.

Anne Marie Decker (B.S. architecture, ’94; adjunct faculty) was elected to the American Institute of Architects’ College of Fellows. Her Fellowship falls into the category of design, which recognizes architects who have produced distinguished bodies of work through design. She is principal of Duvall Decker Architects, P.A. in Jackson, a firm she founded in 1998 with her husband, Roy Decker.

John E. Walker (BPA ’94) was named managing director of MSLGROUP’s Atlanta office. He previously served as vice president of global marketing communications for Syniverse. Prior to 2010, he led Edelman South’s corporate practice, as well as the agency’s global telecommunications practice.

Germany Kent (B.S. marketing, ’98) was inducted into the Hall of Fame at North Panola High School during a ceremony at the Batesville Civic Center. She is the first female inductee and is best known for her work as a social media expert and influencer. She has been featured in numerous media outlets and made guest appearances on radio and television including NPR, CBS, FOX, The CW, ABC and NBC.



Richard Dodd (B.S. business information systems, ’02) was promoted to senior vice president of Information Technology at First Bank in McComb. He has 13 years of experience in banking, including nine years at BankPlus.

Wendy Huff Ellard (B.A. political science, ’03) has been named a shareholder in the Jackson office of the Baker Donelson law firm. She is a member of the company’s government relations and public policy group where she focuses on disaster recovery and state-level public policy. She is president of the Mississippi Women Lawyers Association.

Jason Scott (B.A. communication, ’04) was named the Emerging Practitioner of the Year by the Public Relations Association of Mississippi Central Chapter in Jackson. The annual award is reserved for those with five or fewer years of experience in the field who have exhibited outstanding contributions to the knowledge, skills and abilities of the public relations profession. A native of Raymond, he is the public information officer for the Mississippi Department of Transportation and previously worked for the Mississippi State’s Extension Service and Foundation.

Amy Blaylock (B.S. forestry and wildlife management, ’04; M.S. wildlife science, ’07) was named wildlife resources director by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. She joined the department in 2007, most recently serving as biologist for the East Central Region Wildlife Management Area.

Lauren Black (B.S. marketing, business information systems, ’07; MBA, ’08) was named president of the Starkville Business Network, an organization she helped found in 2015. She is a certified financial planner at Phillips Financial and boasts nine years of experience in the industry.

Gov. Phil Bryant appointed Stephanie Cummins (B.S. business administration, ’07) to the Mississippi Personnel Board. She was approved by the state senate to fill an unexpired term through June and begin a five-year term as an at-large member in July. She is co-owner and associate broker at Front Gate Realty and serves on the board of directors for the home builders associations of Jackson and Mississippi. She is also a member of the Mississippi and Central Mississippi associations of Realtors and was named one of the 50 leading business women by the Mississippi Business Journal in 2016.

Kristen Ley (B.F.A. art, ’07) now has an exclusive collection available at Target through Thimblepress, a Mississippi-based paper, gift and lifestyle brand she founded in 2012. Prior to moving back to Mississippi, she co-owned a branding and marketing firm in Charleston, South Carolina.

Megan McKinnie (BACC, ’09; MPA, ‘10) was promoted to senior manager at BKD CPAs & Advisors in Jackson. She is a member of the BKD National Financial Services Group and focuses on taxation and consulting services for financial institutions and bank holding companies.

Nisma Mujahid (B.S. biochemistry, ’09) was the first author on a recent article in Cell Reports about UV-independent, topical approaches for boosting melanin production in human skin. She is a third year medical student at the Boston University School of Medicine.



Joseph G. Short (B.B.A. marketing, ’10) is now the orthopedic device coordinator at New York University Hospital for Joint Diseases, NYU Langone Medical Center. He previously worked for Altus Spine in the New York City area as a surgical support specialist.

Scott Waller (B.S. interdisciplinary studies, ’10) is now interim president and CEO of the Mississippi Economic Council following the retirement of Blake Wilson. He’s been with the council for 11 years, most recently serving as executive vice president and chief operating officer. He pioneered the Legislative Scrambler program and played pivotal roles in managing various Blueprint Mississippi research projects.

Alyson Franklin McMullan (B.S. human sciences, ’11) was named client services manager for the GodwinGroup. This newly created position is meant to bridge delivery of services between the agency and its clients in today’s digital environment. A native of Gulfport, she came to the company in 2015 from a position with Target Corp.

A Columbus-based personal finance strategy firm owned by Karina Jackson Dorn (B.S. accountancy, ’13; M.S. taxation, ’15) was named an American Small Business Champion by SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors. Winners received a $1,000 Sam’s Club gift card to help with business growth and an all-expenses-paid trip to a training and networking event in Dallas.

Nicole M. Harlan (B.A. English, ’13) has joined Carr Allison as an associate in its Gulfport office. She will focus on workers’ compensation and other litigation matters.

Monica Marlowe (Ph.D. community college leadership, ’16) has been named executive director of the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation. A native of Wiggins, she most recently served as chief advancement officer at William Carey University in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Prior to that, she served as district director of institutional relations and strategic communications, special assistant to the president, and coordinator of institutional development at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.



Natalie Jean Chandler, July 31, 2016, to Allison Barrett Chandler (’07) and Grant Chandler (’07) of Madison, Alabama.

Robert Gregory Moore III, Sept. 28, 2016, to Bob Moore (’05) and Haley Huggins Moore of Corinth.

Mary Somers Crawford, Dec. 20, 2016, to Wilkins M. “Will” Crawford Jr. (’05, ’06) and Melanie Smith Crawford of Madison.

William Jacob Craven, March 31 to Tracy Craven (’01, ’02) and Anthony Craven (’01, ’08) of Starkville.

George Edward Sanderson, May 4 to Marie Thomas Sanderson (’01) and Brian Sanderson of Ocean Springs.

Alexandra Ruth Patilla
, May 22 to Sophie Kershaw (’04) and Michael Patilla of Starkville.