Board of Directors

Board of Directors


Advisory Council

Advisory Council

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.

Jim Burkes

Haddox, Reid, Eubank, Betts PLLC

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

Jim was a partner with Haddox, Reid, Eubank, Betts PLLC certified public accountants and business advisers. Jim was 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 included providing assurance and business advisory services to privately-held entities in the retail, wholesale, manufacturing, non-profit, and life, and casualty insurance industries. Jim retired in 2019.

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 two daughters and four grandchildren. They reside in Jackson and attend Galloway Methodist Church.

Executive Committee

Chuck Bell

President of AIS Healthcare
Finance Committee Chair

Chuck Bell is President of AIS Healthcare and proud parent of a Magnolia Speech School graduate.

Chuck Bell is a native of Belzoni, MS. , the founder of AIS (Advanced Infusion Solutions), now serves as President of AIS Healthcare. Chuck started in the home infusion industry in 1992. Since then, he has been involved in pharmacy and healthcare senior management, and owned multiple healthcare-related businesses as well as other businesses.

Chuck received his Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and his PharmD from the University of Arkansas. Licensed in multiple states, he has more than 30 years of pharmacy experience. Chuck also is actively involved with various industry and community committees and boards.

He and his wife, Cindy, have three sons, one that is a MSS graduate.

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Donna Kaye Byrd

Interior Design & Consultation
Board Chair

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. Since 2009, she has worked as a selg=f employed interior designer traveling the eastern United States.

Donna Kaye has served on the board of Magnolia Speech School since 1994, serving on many different committees, and is also past President. Donna Kaye is a lifetime 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 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 a budding, young artist. She is also proud of her daughter Melissa, a graduate of Mississippi State University.

Donna Kaye is married to Robert Byrd, and they attend Broadmoor Baptist Church.

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Grace G. Sturdivant, AuD

OtoPro Technologies, LLC

Grace Sturdivant is an audiologist and founder of OtoPro Technologies, LLC.

Grace Gore Sturdivant, a native of Grenada, MS is a graduate of the University of Mississippi (BS in Communicative Sciences) and Vanderbilt University (Doctorate of Audiology).  She was formerly Assistant Professor and Vice Chief of Audiology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center where she developed a clinical niche working with patients struggling with both cognitive decline and hearing loss.  This led to involvement in research studying the neurophysiology effects of untreated hearing loss on varying forms of dementia. Her work in this area has been nationally published.  It was this work that compelled Grace to create OtoPro Technologies in the Fall of 2018 to prevent and delay the neurological changes that result from auditory deprivation.

While her audiology practice has focused on the adult population, Grace is a long-time advocate for children with speech and hearing difficulties. In 2007, she founded Graceful Sounds, Inc. to provide hearing aids and audiology services to children whose families were in financial need.

Grace is married to Micajah Sturdivant and has three daughters; Eleanor, Garnett and Sykes.

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Shannon Miller

Marketing Manager, Brookhaven Academy

Additional Members

Anita Gowin, PhD

Retired Professor at Mississippi College

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.

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Dr. Bill Sellers

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Brian Cronin

Brightstar Capital Partners

Brian Cronin is a graduate of Magnolia Speech School.

Brian has been the Founder and President of BPC Capital since April 2007, which participates in real estate, capital raises, consulting, private equity investments, including leading direct investments by family offices in real estate portfolios and interests in privately held operational companies. Brian is also a Principal at Brightstar Capital Partners, a NYC based private equity fund focused on closely held businesses.
In addition to his entrepreneurial background, Brian previously 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 as well as a second State Championship in 2020 in his last season.
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 an 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 management.
In May 2009, Brian started along with his cousin Thomas Cronin, Prosperity Construction, LLC, a civil site work construction company that grew rapidly under their management until they merged with a regional general construction company in 2018.
Brian earned his degree from Brigham Young University in 2006. He is a gold medal winner of the 2009 Taiwan Olympics USA Basketball team. He currently resides in Nashville with his wife Kristy. They have three children, Cole, Ava Grace, and Camden.
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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.

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La’Verne Edney

Bulter Snow

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 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. In addition to her trial practice, Ms. Edney is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, the International Society of Barristers, and the American Board of Trial Advocates. She serves on the following boards: Mississippi College; the Mississippi Bar Foundation; the Magnolia Speech School; Origin Bank; the Baptist Hospital Board of Regents; and the Greater Jackson Chamber. La’Verne is a member of Butler Snow Law Firm’s litigation department and practices within the Pharmaceutical, Medical Device, and Healthcare Group.

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Mac Deaver

Retired Association Executive

Mac Deaver retired from the Mississippi Bankers Association after serving for 27 years as chief executive officer.

Mac Deaver served as chief executive officer of the Mississippi Bankers Association for 27 years. He is the proud grandparent of a Magnolia Speech School student.

Marcy Scoggins

Marcy works for the State of Mississippi and is a parent of a Magnolia Speech School alumnus as well.

Marcy Scoggins works for the State of Mississippi. She has two children, one of whom attended Magnolia Speech School. Marcy is married to Kirk, and they live in Madison.

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Mendez Nelson

Occupational Therapist

Mendez Nelson is an Occupational Therapist and has worked with children with learning difficulties for 25 years in Mississippi school systems.

She is a lifetime member of the Brookhaven Junior Auxiliary, serves as Board Secretary for the Crisis Pregnancy Center in McComb, MS, and is on the Mississippi Occupational Therapy Association Board. She is a Madison County resident and is married to Kevin, and they attend Fondren Church in Jackson, MS.

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Mitch Stringer

Economic Development Manager at Cooperative Energy
Immediate Past 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 wife Kelly have a daughter and son, Elizabeth and Harmon, and reside in Madison.

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M. Scott Jones

Adams and Reese LLP
Vice Chair; Building Committee Chair

Scott Jones is the past parent of Magnolia Speech School student and an attorney.

Scott Jones currently serves as a partner at Adams and Reese, LLP.  As a past parent of an MSS student, Scott experienced the life-changing education children receive at Magnolia Speech School.  He stated, “Magnolia Speech School changed my daughter’s life. After she graduated, I wanted to give back in a tangible way to help see this great school continue flourishing and accomplishing its mission to help children with communicative disorders.”

Scott is married to Maggie and they have two daughters (Lucy and Jane Helen).  Lucy and Jane Helen attend Christ Covenant School and are excelling both academically and socially.

Rebecca Vaughan

Treasurer/Finance Chair

Rebecca Vaughan is a CPA and parent of a Magnolia Speech School alumni.

Rebecca Vaughan received her Bachelor’s and Master’s of Accounting from the University of Mississippi. She is a CPA and is currently employed at Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation. Prior to Farm Bureau, Rebecca worked in public accounting, internal audit for a publicly traded company, and was the Director of Finance for a non-profit organization.

In 2017 her youngest son, Barrett, was born with profound hearing loss. He received cochlear implants when he was 6 months old and started Magnolia Speech School when he was 15 months old. Barrett graduated from MSS in 2022 and enrolled in K-4 at Madison Ridgeland Academy. She states, “Without Magnolia Speech School, Barrett would not be where he is today. He is thriving both socially and academically which is a testament to the dedication of the teachers and staff at Magnolia Speech School.”

Rebecca lives in Madison with her husband Adam, and their two sons, Ethan and Barrett.

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Thomas Woods

Trustmark National Bank

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

Thomas Woods was recently promoted to Senior Vice President and Senior Credit Officer at Trustmark National Bank, where he has been employed for 40 years. He attended Millsaps College and graduated in 1982 with a B.B. A. degree in Accounting.

Born profoundly deaf, he is an alumnus of Magnolia Speech School where he attended from 1960-1966. He has been on the School’s Board of Directors since 1992 and has been a Board President two times. He also served on the Board of Directors of VSA Mississippi from 2003 to 2013.

He is a lifelong resident of Jackson, and attends St. Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral.