Board of Directors

Advisory Council

Jim Burkes

Haddox, Reid, Eubank, Betts PLLC

Jim Burkes is an expert business adviser, accountant, and dedicated community servant.

Jim is a partner with Haddox, Reid, Eubank, Betts PLLC certified public accountants and business advisers. Jim is responsible for the firm’s compliance with its system of quality control (practices and procedures) for the assurance and accounting practice of the firm. His extensive experience of over forty years includes providing assurance and business advisory services to privately held entities in the retail, wholesale, manufacturing, non-profit, and life and casualty insurance industries.

Jim is a past president, board member and council representative for the Mississippi Society of Certified Public Accountants (MSCPA) to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). In addition, Jim is in his second term as a board member of the Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy (MSBPA) and, as such, is also a member of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). He is active in both organizations, having served as chairman of the board and chair of several committees for the MSBPA, and currently serves as a member of the Compliance Assurance Committee and National Regulatory Concerns Committee of NASBA. Jim is also a member of the National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts.

His public service passion is the Magnolia Speech School which is dedicated to the oral education of hearing impaired children and children with language disorders where he has served as a board member for over thirty-five years and currently is serving as president of the Magnolia Speech School Foundation. Jim is an active member of the First Baptist Church of Clinton, Mississippi.

Lamar Weems

Long Range Planning Chair

Dr. Lamar Weems is a physician and educator as well as a lifelong board member of Magnolia Speech School.

Dr. Weems is an Emeritus Professor of Surgery and a retired urologist who served as Director of Urology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center for many years. Subsequently he engaged in private practice with the Mississippi Urology Clinic. He is a graduate of Millsaps College and Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr. Weems is a Lifetime Board Member at Magnolia, where he has served since 1968, and was Board President from 1971-1976.

He is married to Nanette Weaver, also a Millsaps alumnus, and they have three daughters and four grandchildren. They reside in Jackson and attend Galloway Methodist Church.

Jean Williams

Jean Williams is a philanthropist and lifetime board member of Magnolia Speech School.

Jean is a native of Hattiesburg, a graduate of Mississippi College, and a former music teacher. She is a lifetime Board member at Magnolia Speech School and received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Volunteering for her generous work with the school. She is a member of the Board of Trustees at Mississippi College and has also been a recipient of the Goodwill Award for Volunteerism.

Jean is married to Kelley Williams, and they have 3 sons and 4 grandchildren. They live in Jackson and attend Northminster Baptist Church.

Executive Committee

Donna Kaye Byrd

Interior Design & Consultation

Donna Kaye Byrd is an interior designer. philanthropist, and proud parent of a Magnolia Speech School graduate.

Donna Kaye Byrd, Interior Designer, spent 30 years with Navarro-McLean until the company closed in 2009. For the past two years she has been a self-employed designer.

Donna Kaye has served on the board of Magnolia Speech School for 15 years, serving on many different committees, and is also past President. Donna Kaye is a member of the Madison Ridgeland Junior Auxiliary and has served on PTA Executive Boards at Madison Middle and Rosa Scott schools. In 2008, she started Hope Hollow Ministries, a camp for children and young adults with special needs in Madison and currently serves as President of their Board of Directors.

Her daughter Amanda, now 18 years old, was born with a viral infection, CMV, resulting in profound hearing loss bilaterally, mild cerebral palsy, and developmental delays. She attended Magnolia Speech School for 5 years and is currently in the 11th grade at Madison Central High School. Her daughter Melissa, 20, is a junior at Mississippi State University.

Donna Kaye has been married to Robert Byrd for 25 years, and they attend Broadmoor Baptist Church.

Anita Gowin, PhD

Retired Professor at Mississippi College
Vice Chair

Anita Gowin is a Professor Emerita who has served Magnolia Speech School since 2003.

Prior to receiving her Ph.D. in Spanish from Louisiana State University, Anita graduated from Georgetown College (KY) and the University of Kentucky. She served Mississippi College as a faculty member for thirty-two years and as chair of the Department of Foreign Languages for twenty. During her tenure, she presented scholarly papers and served as an officer in regional and state modern language associations. Anita was also active in a number of civic organizations that included being a charter member of the Arts Council of Clinton and an officer in professional organizations, such as the American Association of University Women and the Mississippi Association of Women in Higher Education.

Upon retiring from Mississippi College in 2002, Anita was awarded the title of Professor Emerita. Experience gained from teaching and administration as well as from a wide variety of assignments outside her academic field, such as membership on the campus steering committee for SACS accreditation, has served Anita well as a member and officer of the Magnolia Speech School Board since 2003.

Jimmy Robertson

Personnel Chair

Jimmy Robertson is an Air Force veteran and a retired educator.

James Robertson is a native of Jackson who graduated from Millsaps College and completed his Masters in Reading Education from Syracuse University.

Mr. Robertson spent 30 years with Jackson Public Schools, starting as a Reading and Social Studies teacher at Whitten Middle School and ending his career as the Executive Director of Human Resources. He also served in the U.S. Air Force, 172nd Military Airlift Group.

Mr. Robertson is very involved with New Stage Theater and Mississippi College’s Theatre and Music Departments doing set design and construction. He attended Capitol Street United Methodist Church until they closed and currently is a communicant of Galloway United Methodist Church, having served as a member of their administrative board and board of trustees.

Marcy Scoggins


Marcy is a parent of a Magnolia Speech School alumnus as well as the Executive Director of the Mississippi Republican Party.

Marcy Scoggins is the Executive Director of the Mississippi Republican Party. She has two children, one of whom attended Magnolia Speech School. Marcy is married to Kirk, and they live in Madison.

Additional Members

Brian Cronin

Copeland and Johns

Brian is a graduate of Magnolia Speech School.

Brian P. Cronin is a Shareholder/Board Member of Copeland and Johns, Inc., where he oversees
executive management and financial operations of the company. He also is CEO and President of BPC
Capital, a holding company, that holds several real estate portfolios, as well interests in privately held
companies. In addition to his entrepreneurial background, Brian has served as Head Men’s basketball
coach at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School since 2009, leading the Saints to their first ever State
Championship in school history in 2018.

Brian started his career in business at SPB Partners in Las Vegas, a Family Office – Private Equity Fund for
several high-profile families. While serving as analyst for SPB, Brian was exposed to many mergers and
acquisitions of companies in the Southwest Region of the US, with his primary role involving assisting
with growth capital, restructuring, and management reorganization. After graduating from BYU, Brian
went on to consult with several other family offices involving mostly real estate, debt restructuring, and

In May 2009, Brian started along with his cousin Thomas Cronin, Prosperity Construction, LLC, a civil site
work construction company that grew rapidly under his management until they merged with Copeland
and Johns, Inc., a premier general construction company headquartered in Mississippi with licenses in
13 different states. Brian oversaw management, finance, and other aspects of Business Development.
Prosperity Construction is now the civil division of Copeland and Johns, Inc. as of Dec. 2018.

Brian earned his degree from Brigham Young University in 2006. He is a gold medal winner of the 2009
Taiwan Deaf Olympics USA Basketball team. Brian has served on many non-profit committees and has
participated within many disaster relief projects throughout the years.

Marsha Barbour

Former First Lady of Mississippi

Marsha Dickson Barbour served with distinction as First Lady of Mississippi from 2004-2012.

Born in Selma, Alabama, Mrs. Barbour grew up in Monroeville, Alabama, where her parents were in the timber and lumber business. She and her family moved to Canton, Mississippi, in 1965, where her parents bought a creosoting mill. She graduated from Canton High School in 1967, where she played on the basketball team and was voted “best all-around student” and “Miss Canton High.”

Mrs. Barbour attended Mississippi State College for Women (today Mississippi University for Women) for one year, and then transferred to The University of Mississippi where she was a member of Kappa Delta Sorority. She graduated in December, 1970, with a Bachelors of Business Administration with a major in Marketing.

She and her future husband, Haley Barbour, met while students at Ole Miss and married on December 18, 1971 in Canton. They moved to Yazoo City, his hometown, the following year and continue to reside there.

Before their marriage Mrs. Barbour worked in a stock brokerage firm in Dallas, and, while raising their two sons as a stay-at home mom, she managed the family’s retirement and other investment portfolios.

A very active First Lady, Mrs. Barbour is most remembered for her deep involvement in the recovery of the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. Visiting the Coast seventy of the first ninety days after the storm, hers became the face of recovery… the person who was universally recognized for making plain that all Mississippians and State Government, in particular, were doing everything possible to ensure families and communities recovered and the Coast came back bigger and better than ever.

Among the boards on which Marsha Barbour serves is that of the Magnolia Speech School, which she joined after her husband’s term ended in 2012. Mrs. Barbour also has served on the Board of the Sale of Champions for the Dixie National Rodeo since 2012, and she joined the Board of the Delta Wildlife Foundation in 2017.

Marsha and Haley Barbour have two sons, Sterling 42, and Reeves 37, and six grandchildren, with a seventh one due in late July. Marsha is a twin, and her twin sister, Dr. Marie Chatham, is a pulmonologist residing in Cockeysville, Maryland, with her husband, Meridian native Dr. Frank Chatham, a cardiologist. The Barbours belong to the First Presbyterian Church of Yazoo City, where he is a deacon and she serves as a Member at Large of the Board of the Women in the Church.

Kim Burke

Dean, Else School of Management, Millsaps College
Finance Committee Chair

Kim Burke is a professor and scholar of accounting at Millsaps College.

Dr. Kimberly Burke is Professor of Accounting and an active scholar –co-authoring five continuing education courses offered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and numerous articles published in prestigious academic journals. For her dedication to teaching, Dr. Burke has been recognized as the Mississippi Professor of the Year by CASE and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the Distinguished Professor from Millsaps College, and Outstanding Educator by the Mississippi Society of CPAs.

La’Verne Edney

Baker Donselson

La’Verne Edney is a venerated trial lawyer known for her civic and professional leadership as well as her service to the community.

La’Verne Edney is a Shareholder at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC. She graduated from Mississippi College School of Law in 1996 and was admitted to the Mississippi Bar in 1996. Ms. Edney has significant trial experience in state and federal courts, and has tried to verdict numerous cases, including medical negligence, premises liability, legal malpractice, employment discrimination, and bad faith insurance cases. She is often called upon to participate in mock trial exercises to determine trial strategies as well as valuation of cases. In addition to her trial practice,

Ms. Edney serves on the board of the American Board of Trial Advocates, is on the faculty of ABOTA’s Masters in Trial program, and the ABOTA Trial Academy in Reno, Nevada. She has been named one of the Best Lawyers in America in the area of Mass Torts/Class Actions. She is also a Certified Mediator. La’Verne is currently a member of several professional and civic organizations including Leadership Jackson, Mississippi Women Lawyers’ Association, and Metro Jackson Black Women Lawyers’ Association. La’Verne was chosen as Outstanding Woman Lawyer of the Year by the Mississippi Women Lawyers’ Association in 2011 and Mississippi College School of Law’s Young Lawyer of the Year for 2005-2006. She was also chosen as one of the top African American “Movers and Shakers” in 2005 by the Mississippi Business Chronicle. In 2007, La’Verne received recognition as One of Mississippi’s 50 Leading Business Women by the Mississippi Business Journal. In 2010, she received the Outstanding Service Awards from the Capital Area Bar Association, the Magnolia Bar Association, and the Black Law Student Association. She is a Fellow of the Mississippi Bar Foundation. In July 2012, she received the Mississippi Bar Association’s Distinguished Service Award. In November 2012, she was selected as one of Mississippi’s Fifty Leaders in the Law by the Mississippi Business Journal.

La’Verne serves on numerous boards and committees including the Board of Trustees of Mississippi College; the Mississippi Center for Justice board (Chair); the Mississippi Bar Foundation board; the March of Dimes board; the Magnolia Speech School board; and the Greater Jackson Chamber board. She is a Supreme Court appointee to the Access to Justice Commission, and was elected by the Mississippi Bar to serve as a Bar Commissioner. She has also served as Chairperson of the Ethics Committee of the Mississippi Bar Association, Chairperson of the Black Lawyer Participation Committee of the Capital Area Bar Association, Chairperson of the Education Foundation Trust Advisory Committee, and a member of the Mississippi Bar Association’s Committee on Professional Responsibility. She was appointed by former Governor Haley Barbour to serve on the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee and the Supreme Court’s Task Force for Gender Fairness and the Commission on Bar Admissions Review.

La’Verne is the proud mother of 2 sons, Jaylon (20) and EJ (28); and 2 grandchildren, Rocky (5) and Nora (2).

Ted Dearman

Dearman Services, Inc.
Board Vice Chair; Building & Grounds Chair

Ted Dearman is a construction business consultant and visual artist using his skills to support business and education initiatives in Mississippi.

Ted Dearman is recently retired from W.G. Yates and Sons Construction Company after twenty-three years as Senior Vice President. A native Mississippian, Ted graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a B.S. degree in Industrial Management and further course study in the Wharton School of Management Executive Development program.

Ted has served in many roles that support education, including the University of Southern Mississippi Construction Technology Advisory Board and Magnolia Speech School Board of Directors. Ted has also been active throughout his business career in business development in Mississippi, serving on the board of directors of the Madison County Foundation, membership in the Madison County and Jackson Chambers of Commerce, and President, Mississippi Association of Builders and Contractors, Board of Directors and National Board of Directors.

Mr. Dearman is a member of the Clarion-Ledger Reader Editorial Board and a writer and photographer with photos exhibited at various venues, most notably the MS State School of Architecture, Starkville and Jackson, and in the 2009 USM “Photographs from the Islamic World” exhibit.

He is married to Carla Dearman, Ed.D, an educational consultant specializing in leadership training and school improvement. Ted and Carla live in Madison County and have three sons and seven grandchildren.

Stephanie Henderson, PhD

Adjunct Professor at Mississippi College

Stephanie Henderson is an educator with rich experience in a variety of instructional and leadership settings.

Dr. Stephanie Henderson is a recent member of the Magnolia Speech School Board of Directors. Stephanie received her B.S from Spelman College in Atlanta, GA; M.B.A. and Ed.S. from Millsaps College in Jackson, MS; and Ed.D. from Mississippi College in Clinton, MS. Stephanie has served in the Brookhaven School District, Yazoo City School District, and as an employment counselor at the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. Her leadership skills and educational experience led to her service as Deputy Superintendent of the Brookhaven School District from January 2014 – June 2015.

Stephanie has provided teacher coaching and professional development in various areas of education. She exhibits specific strengths instructing current and prospective teachers on the PRAXIS Core and the PRAXIS Special Education licensure exams. She brings a wealth of knowledge in Special Education as a transition coordinator and positive behavior specialist. Stephanie is very involved in her local community through the Junior Auxiliary of Brookhaven, PTA, Mt. Wade Baptist Church, and the Mississippi Chapter of the National Alumnae Association of Spelman College. She and her husband have 2 sons.

Arthur Charles Jackson, MD

Dr. Jackson is a dedicated, active volunteer in the community.

Dr. Jackson is a retired urologist and veteran of the United States Navy. As a 33° Scottish Rite Mason, he represents that body on the Magnolia Speech School board. They are charter members of the school’s founding and have been contributing through uninterrupted support for decades.

M. Scott Jones

Adams and Reese LLP

Scott Jones is the parent of Magnolia Speech School student and an attorney. He is the most recent member to be elected to the Magnolia Speech School Board of Directors.

Mitch Stringer

Economic Development Manager at Cooperative Energy
Relocation Chair

Mitch Stringer is an entrepreneur and energy expert dedicated to the economic development of Mississippi.

Mitch joined Cooperative Energy as the Economic Development Manager in July of 2014. Cooperative Energy is a generation and transmission cooperative providing wholesale electric power to 11 member cooperatives serving members in 55 of that state’s 82 counties. In this position, Mitch oversees the recruitment and expansion of industrial projects by promoting the assets within the members’ service territories.

Prior to joining Cooperative Energy, Mitch was a Global Project Manager with the Mississippi Development Authority where he was responsible for recruiting new industrial clients to the state. Before joining the Mississippi Development Authority, Mitch worked as the Director of Business Development for the Madison County Economic Development Authority. Mitch holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Mississippi State University. He and his amazing and wife Kelly have a daughter and son, Elizabeth and Harmon, and reside in Madison.

Walter Weems

Brunini, Grantham, Grower & Hewes

Walter Weems is an attorney and philanthropist who has served as a professional and civic leader in Jackson, MS for over 25 years.

Walter is a member of the Jackson law firm Brunini, Grantham, Grower & Hewes, PLLC. He served as Chairman of his firm’s Board of Directors from 1999-2010.

Walter has more than 25 years of experience in representing business clients in commercial transactions. He serves as principal outside counsel for both traditional corporate entities as well as a number of entrepreneurs, and his practice also regularly includes representation of national and international clients in transactions involving business activities in Mississippi. He is currently listed in Woodward/White’s Best Lawyers in America for his work in Corporate Law and Mergers and Acquisitions Law, Chambers USA for Corporate/Commercial Law, and Mid-South Super Lawyers for Business/Corporate Law.

Leadership positions he has held in professional and civic activities include President of the Young Lawyers Division of the Mississippi Bar Association, Chairman of the Mississippi Law Institute, President of Magnolia Speech School, President of Jackson Academy, President of the Country Club of Jackson, and Chairman of the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership. He is currently on the Executive Committee of the Methodist Rehabilitation Center and a member of the Board of Directors of the Jackson Heart Foundation.

Walter received his B.A. degree, Magna Cum Laude, from Vanderbilt University, where he also received his J.D. degree, First Honors. He and his wife, Susan, have two sons and they attend Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church.

Thomas Woods

Trustmark National Bank
Board Chair

Thomas Woods is Vice President and Regional Credit Administrator at Trustmark National Bank. He is a Magnolia Speech School alumnus and has been a board member since 1992.

Thomas Woods attended Millsaps College and graduated in 1982 with a B.B.A. degree in Accounting. He has been employed by Trustmark National Bank for 29 years and is currently Vice President and Regional Credit Administrator working with Trustmark’s community banks.

Born profoundly deaf, he is an alumnus of Magnolia Speech School where he attended from 1960-1966. He has been on the Board of Directors at Magnolia Speech School since 1992 and is also a past President. He was recently elected President of VSA Arts of Mississippi, where he has been a board member since 2003 and Treasurer since 2005.

Thomas is a lifelong resident of Jackson and attends St. Andrews’ Episcopal Cathedral.