Board of Directors
President, Gulf Coast Business Council
Jack Norris is President of the Gulf Coast Business Council – a private, non-profit corporation. The Business Council engages over 200 top business executives to be the united voice on public policy issues important to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Previously, Jack served as Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Renewal, coordinating Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts for the Governor’s Office. As Executive Director, he served as the principal advisor to Governor Barbour on recovery policy development and funding decisions.
Prior to joining the Governor’s Office, Jack served on the staff of former Senator Trent Lott in Washington DC. As Projects Director and Policy Advisor he managed the Senator’s special projects staff, which involved coordinating and developing strategies to assist Mississippi communities and entities achieve federal initiatives.
In January 2013, Jack was appointed by Governor Phil Bryant to serve on the Mississippi State Port Authority Board of Commissioners. In December 2014, he began serving a one year term as president of the Commission.
Chief Administrative Officer, Mississippi Development Authority
Manning McPhillips serves as the Chief Administrative Officer of the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA), the state’s lead economic and community development organization. In this role, he oversees priorities ranging from community development, infrastructure, and energy programs to human resources, operations, and IT. He is involved in many of the state’s ongoing economic development projects as part of the response to Hurricane Katrina, including the Restoration of the Port of Gulfport.
Manning coordinates the inter-governmental affairs of the agency, including working closely with the Office of the Governor, other state executive agencies, the state legislature, and the federal Congressional delegation. At the state level, he pursues the funding and policy priorities of the agency with key legislative leadership. At the federal level, he advances state economic priorities in aerospace, military spending and base/mission realignment, energy policy, and optimization of state assets such as NASA’s Stennis Space Center.
Prior to joining MDA, Manning worked in the consulting field in Washington, DC, where he was engaged in tele¬communications, tax, and small business policy matters. He specialized in advocacy, grassroots, coalitions, and e-campaign strategies. In addition, he has a background coordinating operations at national political conventions and in politi¬cal campaigns at the national and state level. Manning is a graduate of the University of Mississippi.
Northern District Commissioner, Mississippi Department of Transportation
Mike Tagert has a broad background in intermodal transportation and economic development spanning the public and private sectors. Prior to being elected Commissioner in February of 2011, Tagert was Administrator of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority, responsible for promoting intermodal transportation and attracting private investment for job creation and economic growth. He signed an International Agreement with the Panama Canal Authority to promote future trade and transportation via the Gulf of Mexico and Northeast Mississippi. The agreement strengthens Mississippi’s strategic position for handling freight in anticipation of the Panama Canal widening and changing global freight patterns.
Other accomplishments include leading the successful designation of the Marine Highway (M-65) Corridor, an all-water route from the northern terminus of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and the Port of Mobile, Alabama, to enhance freight capacity while reducing highway congestion. Tagert spearheaded various legislative initiatives, including Mississippi's Interstate Pest Control Compact, aimed at promoting trade while protecting the environment and agriculture.
Tagert is a former member of the Trade and Transportation Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Earlier in his career Tagert served as the Executive Director of the State Bureau of Plant Industry; a member of the Alabama Intermodal Infrastructure Advisory Board; Vice President of the Coalition of Alabama Waterway Associations; Vice President of Inland Rivers, Ports, and Terminals, Inc. He is a current member of the Civil Air Patrol and Mississippi’s Representative on the Export Trade Advisory Council for the Appalachian Regional Commission.
In representing the Northern District, Commissioner Tagert’s constituency includes a population of one million people who reside in 33 counties.
Tagert served in the United States Marine Corps and the Reserves for six years. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Millsaps College in Jackson, and a Master of Science and Master of Public Policy and Administration from Mississippi State University.
Tagert is married to the former Mary Love Mortimer of Kilmichael. They are the proud parents of Frances, Harlan, Wilkes and Henry. They live in Starkville and are active members of the First United Methodist Church.
Executive Officer, Mississippi Wireless Communication Commission
Vicki Helfrich serves as the Executive Officer for the Mississippi Wireless Communication Commission. In this role, she oversees the deployment and operation of the statewide communication system for first responders - the Mississippi Wireless Information Network (MSWIN). Vicki also serves as the Statewide Interoperability Coordinator and the FirstNet Single Point of Contact for the State of Mississippi. She is involved with a number of different committees working on national and regional public safety communication issues.
Prior to joining the WCC, Vicki served as Strategic Planning Coordinator for the Mississippi Department of Information Technology Services and as Director of Communications for the Mississippi Public Utilities Staff. During her career with ITS and the Staff she was involved in numerous significant initiatives including management of the Mississippi broadband mapping project and management of federal high-cost/low-income universal service funds provided to Mississippi carriers.
Vicki has worked with several committees focusing on communications including the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service, the Mississippi Broadband Task Force, the Mississippi Broadband Connect Coalition, the Mississippi Telehealth Association, and the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials’ Broadband Committee.
Vicki holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. In 2008, Vicki received the honor of being named one of Mississippi’s 50 Leading Business Women by the Mississippi Business Journal.