Coast’s Movers & Shakers of 2010

The Gulf Coast of Mississippi is filled with all kinds of interesting people. Good will, good works, and generosity of spirit and of monetary means is delivered in huge doses here. Folks are always willing to give of themselves, do a little more, and go the extra mile for their fellow man. Our Movers and Shakers of 2010 introduced you to extraordinary people that don’t just talk the talk…they walk the walk.
We chose people for a myriad of reasons. For some it was because of their outstanding contributions in the business world. For others, it was because of their unique talent. We introduced you to natural born leaders who helped reshape and revitalize the Coast after Katrina. In 2011, we will continue to bring you fascinating stories about the exceptional men and women who embody strength of character, and give 110% each and every day for the betterment of South Mississippi.
In January, we focused our attention on the Gulf Coast Women’s Center for Nonviolence. Executive Director, Sandra Morrison, could not have been more candid in this revealing article. The horrors of domestic violence were openly and honestly discussed at great length, with no stone unturned. GTP took you inside the women’s shelter, and inside the system, laying out the cold hard truth of this very prevalent problem within our community. We honor Sandra Morrison for her service and dedication. She makes a huge difference in the lives of countless women and children, helping them to stay safe and begin again when their lives have been disrupted with the vicious brutality of domestic violence.
Costume designer, Sheila Gray, is famous for her breathtakingly beautiful and opulent Mardi Gras costumes. She has dressed “kings and queens” and their royal attendants for over 30 years. She creates one-of-a-kind masterpieces that are often laden with jewels and adorned with the finest ostrich and peacock feathers and plumes. Everything Gray makes exemplifies Southern culture and decorum, this is her hallmark. Each costume commands a price tag in the thousands. A full wardrobe for an entire Mardi Gras Court is usually made at one time! This encompasses gowns, men’s attire, capes, headdresses, matching shoes, masks, hats, crowns…everything! GTP is very proud to once again honor Sheila Gray, Costume Designer Extraordinaire from Vancleave, who we featured in the February issue.
Wendy Swetman the 3rd is a delightful guy who represents all that is good in America. A devoted family man, he studied hard and then worked his way up through the ranks in Law Enforcement. Swetman is also a seasoned business man.  He serves on the Harrison County Board of Supervisors, is on the Board of Directors for the Boys and Girls Club of the Gulf Coast, is the President of the Biloxi Rotary Club, and the list goes on. We honor him for being known as the most “hands on” dedicated public official in South Mississippi. He works around the clock and demands excellence from himself and those around him. “Don’t tell me you tried, don’t tell me you couldn’t…tell me it’s a Done Deal!” Swetman is also a man in perpetual motion, ready and able to take on whatever life throws at him. He goes above and beyond the call of duty and wouldn’t have it any other way.
In 1983, Roy Mattina established his own Insurance Agency after 12 years as a sales representative for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. The agency has developed into a full service, “trusted choice” independent insurance agency that specializes in auto-home-life-health-group and commercial coverage. Over 40 insurance companies are represented by Mattina. GTP is proud to honor Roy Mattina for his outstanding customer service and for being a leader in his field. MIA, Inc. is a member of the Independent Insurance Agents of America.
Judge Felicia Dunn Burkes was chosen for our Mover and Shaker for the month of April. She presides over the Gulfport Municipal Court, with experience as an attorney in both civil and criminal law. Community involvement is very important to Judge Burks. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Make A Wish Foundation for South Mississippi, the Association of Retarded Citizens of the Gulf Coast, and the Gulf Coast Community Action Agency. The Municipal Court has undergone significant changes to make the court more accessible to the general public, thanks to her leadership. GTP is pleased to honor Judge Felicia Dunn Burkes for her commitment to justice and fairness for all citizens.
Bob Taylor, President of the Gulf Coast Restaurant Group is a man who has contributed to the growth and prosperity of the Coast for many years. He is the owner of several very popular restaurants. Following Katrina, he brought new life to the otherwise struggling downtown area, with exciting new places for great food, adult beverages and live entertainment. Bob has opted to make some changes in his restaurant empire recently, but it continues to thrive. GTP honors Bob Taylor for his belief in the Gulf Coast, and his business acumen.
In June we put the focus on Linda Hornsby and her remarkable career. For 26 years, Linda has been the Executive Director of the Mississippi Hotel and Lodging Association. She was chosen as one of the Top Women Over 40 in the Mississippi Business Journal, and received the “Excellence in Tourism Award in 2009. She fought tooth and nail to preserve the Coast Tourism Industry following the BP oil spill – developing wonderful promotions across the board that bolstered the attendance numbers for Coast Fishing Charters and other points of interest. We applaud the efforts of Linda Hornsby and honor her for working tirelessly to keep tourism up and running in 2010.
Vice President of Marketing and Gaming Operations for the IP, Brad Rhines was our Mover and Shaker for September. Always the consummate professional, he took over immediately following Katrina and was a key figure in repositioning the casino as a market leader under the new brand, IP Casino Resort and Spa. Rhines has direct responsibility for nearly 500 employees. He is deeply committed to The Boys and Girls Club of the Gulf Coast, as well as the American Heart Association, and the American Cancer Society. “What means the most to me is doing something that will really have an impact, something that will stick and make a positive difference.” We are proud to honor Brad Rhines for his charitable work, and his powerful work ethic.
Romy Simpson of Negrotto’s Gallery was featured in our November issue. She was recognized as one of the Top 50 Business Women in the state by the Mississippi Business Journal. Her volunteer work earned her the 2009 Volunteer of the Year Award for the American Advertising Federation, and the March of Dimes highlighted her many professional accomplishments in November of last year. Her Gallery has won the prestigious award of Top 100 Art and Framing Galleries in the United States by Decor Magazie, and the 2007 Chamber of Commerce Tapestry Award. Romy Simpson credits her successes with a combination of her Army service, upbringing and family influences, her husband, five sons, and her dedicated staff at the Gallery.
In October, we became acquainted with Juanita Hood of Josette’s Costume Shop in Biloxi. She is the manager of the Costume and Theater Department. The woman can do ANYTHING. She blew us away with her precision, speed, and knowledge in the work place. Juanita has been at the helm of the premiere costume shop for over 13 years. She is the epitome of cool, calm and collected in an environment that is often a whirlwind of intense chaos. Juanita is never frazzled, regardless of circumstances, and she always comes through. GTP is extremely proud to have had Juanita Hood as our October Mover and Shaker of 2010.
Todd Trenchard, Executive Director of the Bacot McCarty Foundation, was our most recent Mover and Shaker subject. He honored us by sharing his remarkable life story. He could not have been more open or candid, holding nothing back, which could not have been easy. Hard knocks and bad choices gave way to a life of unparalleled selflessness and generosity. This gentle man is one of South Mississippi’s top community leaders. He has dedicated his life to helping those suffering with alcohol and drug addictions.
Please help GTP locate more outstanding members of the Gulf Coast. We want to pay homage to the unsung heroes, the most dedicated, and those that make this world a better place for us all. If you know of someone who deserves special recognition, and they would like to tell their story – contact us and perhaps they will be selected as a Mover and Shaker in 2011.  E-mail us @  Thank you.

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