Dr. Rolando Herts
Dr. Herts is the director of The Delta Center and executive director of the Mississippi DeltaNational Heritage Area, a Congressionally designated partnership with the National ParkService. As an Executive Academy Fellow with the Delta Regional Authority’s DeltaLeadership Institute, he was awarded an executive education certificate from the AuthenticLeadership for the 21st Century Program at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy Schoolof Government. He also is a Research Fellow with Tourism RESET, a multi-university andinterdisciplinary research and outreach initiative focused on race, ethnicity, and socialequity in tourism.
Dr. Herts is a university-community engagement scholar who is committed to stimulatingdiverse, equitable, and inclusive cultural heritage development activity in the MississippiDelta and throughout the United States. His community engagement and partnershipdevelopment expertise has strengthened university collaborations with the National ParkService, the Alliance of National Heritage Areas, the National Endowment for theHumanities, the National Humanities Alliance, Mississippi Delta Blues Festival Brazil, andvarious regional and community-based organizations. He serves on the Alliance ofNational Heritage Areas governing board, the Delta Regional Authority’s Delta LeadershipNetwork Regional Advisory Council, the Association of African American Museums Boardof Directors, and the Advisory Committee for the Center for the Center of Southern Cultureat University of Mississippi. He also has served on the Mississippi Historical Society Boardof Directors, the Mississippi Blues Commission (statutory member), and the MississippiCommission for Volunteer Services (gubernatorial appointment).
Previously, Dr. Herts served as Associate Director with the Office of University-CommunityPartnerships at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. As a Leadership NewarkFellow, he received the Berkowitz Distinguished Service Award for his commitment to theGreater Newark community. He also is an alumnus of the Teach For America MississippiDelta corps and the Engagement Scholarship Consortium's Emerging EngagementScholar Program.
Dr. Herts holds a Ph.D. in planning and public policy from Rutgers Graduate School-NewBrunswick. He also holds a M.A. in Social Science from The University of Chicago and aB.A. in English from Morehouse College. A product of the Great Migration, he grew up inthe Chicagoland area and in the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta region. His interest areasinclude university-community engagement and partnership development, community-based tourism planning, place branding/marketing, and regional development.
Grants Compliance & Community Capacity Building Manager, Mississippi DeltaNational Heritage Area
Todd Campbell is the Grants Compliance & Community Capacity Building Manager for theMississippi Delta National Heritage Area. Todd graduated Phi Beta Kappa from MorehouseCollege and an Oprah Winfrey Scholar, where he studied Economics. He also obtained aMaster’s of Business Administration in Personal Financial Planning from Georgia StateUniversity, a Certificate in Financial Planning from Emory University, and obtained theCERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER designation in March 2020.
Todd previously worked in the securities industry as a Compliance Examiner for a nationalself-regulatory organization and as a Senior Compliance Officer for different brokerage andinvestment advisory firms. Most recently he worked in the financial planning field as aSenior Financial Coach and as an Associate Wealth Advisor for a large wealthmanagement firm. Todd is also a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. wherehe serves as the Treasurer and Financial Literacy Program Chair for his local chapterwhere he conducts financial planning seminars and CashFlow 101 board game clinics.
Brian is a passionate advocate for thriving local communities who grew up around small business owners in the charming Gold Rush town of Placerville, CA. As an MBA research project at the University of Washington's Foster School of Business, he sought to tackle "the local marketing problem".
As the founder and CEO Locable, he works to simplify local marketing and he is also the author of “Marketing 3-4-5™: The Business Owner's Guide to Effective Local Marketing in 15-Minutes or Less.”
Locable’s software powers nearly 200 local media websites, over a hundred Main Street and Destination Marketing Programs, and thousands of small businesses across the US.
Brian and his family recently concluded a multi-year cross-country tour in which he taught Marketing 3-4-5™ to small businesses through workshops nationwide and now resides with his family of 7 in Middle Tennessee.
Senator Derrick T Simmons
Derrick T. Simmons is a trial lawyer and Mississippi State Senator. He is the co-founder/co-owner of Simmons & Simmons, PLLC, Attorneys at Law, a personal injury and criminal defense law firm based in Greenville, Mississippi, (www.simmonspllc.com). Senator Simmons was elected to the Mississippi Senate on March 1, 2011 and currently serves as the Mississippi Senate Minority Leader. Serving in his third term, Senate Minority Leader Senator Derrick Simmons (D-Greenville) represents Washington, Bolivar, and Coahoma counties in the Mississippi Delta. He is the chairman of the Senate Municipalities Committee, vice-chairman of the Senate Constitution Committee, and he serves as a member on the following committees: Corrections, Finance, Insurance, Judiciary A, Judiciary B, Interstate and Federal Cooperation, Ports and Marine Resources, and Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks
Senate Minority Leader Simmons has championed laws expanding the list of crimes eligible for expungement, removing barriers to pretrial release, and creating second chances. He has secured tens of millions of dollars to improve the Mississippi Delta and his senate district. He continues to fight for full funding for public schools, comprehensive infrastructure funding, economic development and tourism in depressed areas of the state, juvenile and criminal justice reform, Medicaid expansion, voting rights, women’s rights, and workers’ rights. Leader Simmons was nationally recognized last year as “Legislator of the Year” by the National Black Caucus of State Legislators and was most recently named “Top 50 Mississippi” for his outstanding leadership, service, and contributions to the state of Mississippi.
Senator Simmons studied at Jackson State University and Howard University where he received a Bachelor in Business Administration degree in accounting, a Masters of Business Administration degree in accounting and finance, and a juris doctorate degree. Senator Simmons is married to Cuwanda and they have two boys – Derrick, Jr. and Carter Jace.
Award-winning singer/songwriter Tricia Walker spent 25+ years in the music industry in Nashville before returning to her native Mississippi to develop the Delta Music Institute entertainment industry studies program at her alma mater, Delta State University. She retired as Director Emeritus in 2019 and now, as Music Ambassador for Cleveland, she is focusing her creative energies on developing and promoting the Deep Roots music project through a partnership between the City of Cleveland and her company, Big Front Porch Productions.
Becky Nowell retired from Baxter Healthcare Corporation in 2014 with thirty-one years of experience in quality management and regulatory compliance.
Becky has a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Business Administration from Delta State University.
Becky has been active in the Cleveland community for many years. She currently serves as President of The Cleveland Music Foundation (dba Grammy Museum MS). Becky is also currently serving on the Community Foundation of Northwest MS Board of Directors, the Cleveland Development Foundation Board of Directors, the Delta State University School of Nursing Advisory Board, the Cleveland Tourism Commission Board of Directors, and Chair of the Nights of Lights Committee.
Becky is a member of King’s Daughters and Sons Circle #2, the Delta Home and Garden Club, the MS chapter of the International Women’s Forum, the Red-Carpet Guild at Grammy Museum MS, the Delta State University Alumni Association, and the Kappa Delta Alumnae Association.
Becky is active in the Cleveland First United Methodist Church and is married to Billy Nowell. They have two children and four grandchildren.
Laura Jane Giaccaglia
Laura Jane Giaccaglia received her B.S. in Family and Consumer Sciences from Delta State University in 1996. She majored in Child Development and minored in Special Education. She later received her M.S. in 2002 from Mississippi State University in Health Education and Health Promotion. Her career with Mississippi State University Extension Service began in 1999 where she started as a 4-H Agent I in Coahoma County. In 2002 she became the 4-H Agent for Bolivar County. In 2007 she was named Interim County Director in addition to her 4-H duties. She was named Bolivar County Coordinator in 2010. She currently serves as the Extension Coordinator and Extension Agent IV for Bolivar County and her focus area is in Family and Consumer Sciences, 4-H and Community Resource Development. Throughout her Extension Career, Giaccaglia has received special trainings in Health Rocks, Southern Region Community Development, Southern Region Water Quality, Natural Resources Enterprises, Character Counts, 4-H After-School, Incident Management Systems, Disaster Relief, National Center for Biomedical Research and Training Academy of County Terrorist Course, and Alzheimer’s Educational Program. Her awards and recognitions consist of the Team Award for the 4-H Afterschool Promo. She is a six-time Congressional Award winner including both the Governor and Lt. Governor Award for various 4-H conservation projects. First place award from MSU’s College of Public Relations for ATV Safety commercial. She has been presented with a Proclamation from the Board of Supervisors for her 4-H Programs. Giaccaglia is a co-author for “Building a Successful ATV Safety Education Program Utilizing Youth and Community” in the Journal of Extension and an Extension publication as well as p3364 “Creating a Farm to Table Event”. She received the Hunter Education Volunteer Instructor of the year award from the Mississippi Wildlife Federation. Her 4-H Bird Conservation Project was recognized by DSU and the Delta Research and Scholarship Symposium. She has received the Distinguished Service Award from the Mississippi Association of 4-H Extension Agents. She participated and supported legislators and safety organizations in efforts to pass the first ATV Safety Law by the Mississippi Legislature. She presented ATV safety training program perspectives supporting ATV Safety Law to Mississippi House of Representatives Transportation Committee. She received the Excellence in Promoting Rice Award from USA Rice Federation. She was filmed by Canadian Food Network cooking show “Pitchin’ In” with Chef Lyn Crawford which featured rice. She was also named Delta State University 2011-2012 Outstanding Alumnus for the College of Education. Over her Extension Career, Giaccaglia has been featured in various publications and has written for Delta Wildlife. She is a 2012 graduate of the Cleveland- Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce. In 2009, she was selected into honorary membership in the Cleveland Career Development and Technology Center Chapter for her outstanding service. In 2019, she received the Franklin T. Burns Outstanding Extension Community Resource Development Award. Giaccaglia is a member of Calvary Episcopal Church where she serves as alter guild and TLC. She is a Past President of the Cleveland Rotary Club, a Bolivar County Farm Bureau Advisory Board Member. She is a member of Delta Rice Promotions, INC., a life member of the Cleveland Junior Auxiliary, Mississippi Association and National Association of County Agriculture Agents. She served many years as the chair of the Farming Division for United Way. She serves on both the Board and Executive Board for Cleveland/Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce. She represents the Chamber on the City Beautification Commission and the Mayor’s Long-Term Planning Committee. She is a member of the Merigold Town’s Action Committee. Giaccaglia is married to Jeff Giaccaglia. Jeff is a salesman at Planters Equipment Company in Cleveland, and they have lived in Merigold snice 2005.
Angie has been the 4-H Program Associate in Chickasaw County with the Mississippi State University Extension Service for over 30 years. Angie has also been involved with the Chickasaw County Agri-Center in Houston, MS for several decades.
Angie’s main priority with the Agri-Center is the liaison between the Chickasaw County Board of Supervisors and the Agri-Center Committee. She is the contact person for rental and various other facility operations.
Through her job with MSU Extension, Angie received the Extension Spirit of Excellence Award for outstanding innovation, achievement, and exceptional programming.
Through her job as the 4-H Associate she has started many horse programs within the county that have grown to meet the needs of youth throughout North Mississippi. Not only working with youth but adults in the horse programs at the Agri-Center, Angie has been a consistent driver for rural tourism in her community by creating quality safe events that draw competitors and audiences of all ages to the area. She is an example of how to take what you have in your community and make it great.
Gina Wills has worked for Mississippi State University Extension Service for 29 years. She has been an extension agent in Union County since 1998. She and her office actively work with the Union County Fair Board to produce the Union County Fair each year. Gina works to plan activities at the fairgrounds and the Union County Arena to help draw more people to Union County and our downtown area of New Albany. Gina has an active 4-H Horse Club and works to promote the program by having various horse events at the fairgrounds and joining up with other counties to host horse programs to benefit more youth and provide them with opportunities to exhibit their horses. Gina received the Dr. Duane H. Tucker Outstanding 4-H Livestock Program Award for excellent performance and outstanding contributions to the Extension Mission and the Paul F Newell award from the Mississippi Cattleman’s Association for providing outstanding leadership to the Mississippi Livestock Program.
Scott Coopwood is a seventh generation Mississippian and lives in Cleveland, Mississippi.
He grew up in the small Mississippi Delta town of Shelby, and attended both public and private schools in nearby Cleveland. In 1984, Scott graduated from Ole Miss with a B.A. in English. From there, he moved to Jackson, Mississippi and started a record company, N-Beat Records. From 1984 until 1990, Scott's record company released albums by a variety of recording artists from all over the South.
In the Fall of 1989, Scott entered the magazine and newspaper publishing business in Jackson, Mississippi with his first magazine Forward Mississippi and later a newspaper, the Jackson Business Journal. In the mid-nineties, Scott sold his Jackson publishing concerns and moved back to his home in the Mississippi Delta where he started the Delta Business Journal in 1998 (the first and only business journal in the history of the Mississippi Delta); Delta Magazine in 2003 (one of the South's premier lifestyle magazines); The Cleveland Current Sunday morning newspaper (2009-2017); The Oxford Enterprise, Oxford’s first Sunday morning newspaper (2010-2011); and the Delta Ag Journal, (2016). Scott is also the owner and publisher of Cleveland and Bolivar County’s only newspaper, The Bolivar Bullet. Scott’s company also publishes three e-newsletters: The Bolivar Bullet (sent to 7,200 email addresses every morning in Bolivar County); The Delta Business Journal Business Brief (sent to 17,000 email addresses every Wednesday morning); and the Delta Magazine e-newsletter, The Edit, sent to 30,000 email addresses every other week. Scott’s magazines and e-newsletter ventures now reach some 150,000 people.
In addition to his publishing ventures, Scott is the founder and owner of Coopwood Communications, a full-service advertising, marketing, and public relations firm based in Cleveland. He has also been appointed to numerous boards.
Scott and his wife, Cindy have three children: Thomas (28) who lives in Oxford, Miss. and is in the construction business; Jordan (26), who lives in Jackson, Mississippi and is with the governmental affairs firm Ten One Strategies, and daughter Travis (21) who is going into her senior year at Ole Miss.
Scott and his family are members of Covenent Presbyterian Church in Cleveland.
Steve Azar, a Mississippi delta native, is a hit songwriter, recording artist, and music producer. He has released seven critically acclaimed studio albums including Waiting’ on Joe which rendered a hit title track and #1 music video as well as the smash hit “I Don’t Have To Be Me (‘Til Monday)”, a recipient of three coveted BMI Million-Air awards. The hit single “Sunshine” (also a #1 video) and the album Slide On Over Here were featured in the 2011 “Oprah’s Favorite Things” edition of O Magazine. The Steve Azar & The Kings Men album titled Down At The Liquor Store is backed by veteran bandmates of B. B. King, Elvis Presley, and other icons of music with a feature documentary, Something in the Water, chronicling the making of the record. His latest, My Mississippi Reunion, winner of the 2021 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters award for best contemporary album, features a collection of past and new songs inspired by Azar’s roots. The song “One Mississippi” is the official state song of Mississippi.
Steve and his wife Gwen founded the Steve Azar St. Cecilia Foundation in 2006 which produces the annual Delta Soul Celebrity Golf & Charity Event raising funds for arts and educational organizations. An accomplished golfer, Steve has been ranked one of the top five musicians that play golf by Golf Digest Magazine numerous times, and he is a frequent guest at charity golf tournaments across the country.
He currently serves as brand ambassador for the award-winning Dancing Rabbit Golf courses and Pearl River Resorts in the rolling hills of Choctaw, Mississippi as well as Mississippi based food company Sherin Foods.
Azar is the official Music & Culture Ambassador of Mississippi and is an in-demand keynote speaker. He hosts his own radio show and podcast titled In a Mississippi Minute with Steve Azar, available on Super Talk Mississippi radio and all podcast platforms.
For more information visit: www.steveazar.com.
Craig A. Johnson
Craig A. Johnston is the Director of Workforce Development Training & Advocacy for Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association and Training Specialist for Holistic Performance Group and the Flawless Delivery Program. Craig is an experienced senior leader in various areas of corporate and community leadership, leadership coaching, training & development, and business & quality management. Craig is driven by the idea that training builds knowledge, knowledge builds power, and knowledge with action builds success. His passion for the growth, development, and success of people within their role, their community, and beyond is what drives his success. His passion and work ethic are clearly shown through the various programs, community events, training activities, and leadership development he has delivered throughout his career. Craig also founded Life Center Fellowship ministries in Moulton, AL in 2020.
Marty Marbry currently serves as West Tennessee Division Manager for the Tennessee Department of Tourism Development, a position she has held since 2005. In this role she works with twenty six counties developing both domestic and international tourism opportunities. She works to create and implement strategic marketing plans, works with media to inform of the importance of tourism to the local and state economies. She also serves as the department of liaison to Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association for the planning of the annual Governor’s Conference. Prior to joining the state she spent ten years in retail-tourism management as marketing/tourism director for Urban Retail Properties, Wolfchase Galleria. In this position she was selected to work with eleven other premier shopping destinations across the United States in the Ultimate Shopping Excursions Program. This rewards program promoted shopping as the international and leisure tourist activity, offering discounts and shopping rewards.
Marty graduated with a B.S. in Communication from the University of Memphis. She currently serves on the AL MS TN Rural Tourism Conference Board. In 2012 she was appointed to the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway Authority Board by Governor Bill Haslam and has served on the Southeast Tourism Society board of directors. Additionally, she serves on the metro Memphis Attractions Association, as well as the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau Tourism Foundation board of directors. Marty and her husband Greg live in Bartlett, TN.