TTW Conference Speakers
Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Conference
August 9 – 11, 2023
Grand Hotel Marriott | Point Clear, AL
Golf tournament will be held on Wednesday, August 9
Inland Rivers, Ports & Terminals, Executive Director
Aimee is Executive Director of the Inland Rivers, Ports and Terminals (IRPT). IRPT is a trade association for the nation’s inland waterway, port and terminal professionals. She has extensive contact with the 300+ members of the Association in order to identify points of interest or concern and to optimize their benefits. Representing the interests of members in each river basin, Aimee encourages continued cooperation with local, state and federal authorities, as well as other waterway associations to promote the value of the inland waterway system.
Aimee is an Accredited Maritime Port Executive awarded by the International Association of Maritime Port Executives and recognized by the Maine Maritime Academy and Loeb-Sullivan School of International Business and Logistics. She serves on the Board of Directors for the International Association of Marine Port Executives and has previously served on the Board of Directors for the National Waterways Conference. In 2018, she was awarded the ‘40 under 40’ recognition by the inland river industry.
Recent accomplishments include: developed the inland port manager curriculum in conjunction with the International Association of Maritime Port Executives; strategic partnerships with Panama Canal Authority, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and American Short Line Regional Railroad Association; authored the Coastal and Inland Ports and Terminals Commerce Improvements Act; and developed the first industry-related mobile application for the use of emergency broadcasts.
In August of 2019, Aimee became a successor in-line to her family’s-owned short line railroads, the Indiana Eastern Railroad and the Ohio South Central Railroad. Since being so named, Aimee has worked with rail crews on infrastructure improvement projects, state and regional funding programs, customer relations, and new business development, including marketing and project construction. She has strengthened terminal and railcar management, regulatory reporting, and policy enhancements.
Neel-Schaffer, Vice President
Richard B. (Dick) Burleson is Vice President of Neel-Schaffer, one of the leading Engineering firms in the United States.
He is a native of Alabama and was inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. Dick graduated from Georgia Tech with a Civil Engineering degree.
Besides his engineering career, Dick also rose to the Army Reserves highest rank, that of Major General. He graduated from the Army War College and was Commanding General of the largest Army Reserve Command in the World. His command covered eight states, 40,000 troops and included over 5,000 soldiers placed on active duty during Desert Storm. General Colin Powell personally decorated General Burleson’s units.
One of his highest personal honors came, when General Burleson received the Spirit of America’s – Audie Murphy Patriotism Award. He was only the 23rd American to receive this award.
In addition to his engineering and military careers, Dick Burleson has been a football official in the Southeastern Conference for 25 years and worked a full schedule of top SEC games every year as head referee. Dick has served as Chief Referee and President of the SEC. He officiated fifteen major bowl games and the SEC Championship game.
His last game on the field was as the head referee for the National Championship Rose Bowl game.
He is now an SEC staff advisor on officiating and evaluates officials performance each Saturday from the SEC Command Center.
His book, “You Better Be Right”, has reached the #1 Best Sellers list at Barnes & Noble Bookstores.
Representative Jerry Carl
United States House of Representatives, Alabama’s First Congressional District
Congressman Jerry Carl is a native of Mobile, Alabama, and currently represents Alabama’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Jerry was sworn in on January 3rd, 2021.
Jerry has been married to Tina, also a native of Mobile, since. Together, they have two children and two grandchildren. Jerry was raised by a single mother, so he learned the values of hard work and perseverance at an early age. This work ethic is what led him to start his first of many businesses at the age of 25.
Before his time in Congress, Jerry created and grew dozens of small businesses primarily dealing with home health care equipment and specialty pharmacies. He also has experience with timber management and real estate development. Until his son joined the Marines, Jerry never had any ambition of getting involved in politics. When his son returned from Afghanistan, Jerry decided it was time to do more for his community.
Jerry serves on the House Appropriations Committee, where he works to ensure our tax dollars are spent wisely and that the Committee passes conservative bills to address the needs of the American people. He is also a staunch advocate for the defense interests of Alabama and the United States as a whole.
Jerry served two terms on the Mobile County Commission before running for Congress. During his time in public office, Jerry has fought to restore common sense to government, and he has been a consistent fighter for job creation, lower taxes, and family values. Jerry is a staunch defender of our fundamental constitutional rights, and he is committed to limiting the size and scope of the federal government by eliminating wasteful spending and doing away with burdensome rules and regulations.
Jerry also serves on the House Committee on Natural Resources, where he works to promote offshore energy production, protect and expand land for recreational hunting and fishing, advocate for Alabama’s timberland, manage and sustain our oceans and fisheries, and oversee tribal lands.
United States Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District, Chief, Project Planning Branch
Craig Carrington serves as Chief, Project Planning Branch, US Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District. As the Chief of Planning, Craig oversees the completion of decision documents and implementation of multiple water resource projects for the Nashville District. He is responsible for implementing policy of the Corps of Engineers (Corps) including economic justification, environmental compliance per state and federal regulations, and quality standards. He oversees civil engineers, planners, economists, biologists, and archeologists. His office manages the water resources development for the Cumberland and Tennessee River basins covering 59,000 square miles. His office covers projects in all Corps authorities including flood risk management, navigation, ecosystem restoration, streambank stabilization, water supply, and support to other federal agencies such as the National Park Service, Department of Energy, and the Department of Defense.
Craig has served the Corps in multiple capacities for 21 years including as a project manager, Emergency Response Mission Manager, Chief of Programs, and Chief of Project Delivery. He has deployed to the Gulf coast after Hurricane Katrina, Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, and Germany in support of Military Construction where he managed construction in Israel, Germany, Poland, and Norway for NATO.
Craig received his Bachelor of Science degree in History and Master of Science in Urban & Regional Planning from the University of Tennessee. Craig is a Tennessee native who lives in Franklin, TN with his wife Melissa and two children: Anna and Baker.
Colonel Jeremy Chapman
United States Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, Commander
Colonel Jeremy Jiggs Chapman assumed command of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District as its 54th Commander on June 28, 2021. Chapman graduated and received his commission from the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, in May 1998.
Col. Chapman assumed command of the Mobile District following his prior assignment as Deputy Commander of the Mississippi Valley Division, Vicksburg, Miss. Previous assignments include senior maneuver support trainer at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California; commander of the 2nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, Fort Bliss, Texas; command inspector general for the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss; and battalion executive and operations officer for the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, Fort Drum, New York.
His civilian education includes a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from the United States Military Academy and a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from Stanford University, Stanford, California. Chapman’s military education includes the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College. He is a registered professional engineer in the state of Missouri.
Chapman’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal (2 oak leaf clusters), Meritorious Service Medal (6 oak leaf clusters), Army Commendation Medal (3 oak leaf clusters), Global War on Terror Expeditionary and Service Medals, Afghanistan Campaign Medal (3 campaign stars), Humanitarian Service Medal, NATO Medal, Combat Action Badge, Senior Parachutist Badge and Ranger Tab.
Global Location Strategies, Consultant
Cedric began his career in economic development with the Alabama Department of Commerce, where he recruited strategic industries to the state, managed its multifaceted incentive programs, and administered its compliance reporting process for incentivized companies. Through these experiences, he developed a unique appreciation for the entirety of the economic development process.
As a consultant at GLS, he addresses clients’ location, workforce, and incentives inquiries by taking the time to understand the company’s process, key cost drivers, preferences, and key risk considerations. Cedric takes pride in matching companies and communities for mutual, sustainable prosperity, knowing that his work will leave a legacy for years to come.
Originally from Massachusetts, Cedric completed his undergraduate studies at Auburn University with a B.S. in Economics. Later, he received his Master’s degree in Applied Economics from Auburn University at Montgomery.
In his free time, he enjoys reading, hiking, and cheering on the Auburn Tigers.
Global Location Strategies, Principal
With years of experience attracting major capital investment to both metropolitan and rural communities, Tess has an eye for impact. While at the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, she recruited jobs and investment into the state, evaluating the long-term returns that could result from $14 Billion of potential new business investment from manufacturing and industrial projects. She recommended competitive sets of tax credits and economic incentives that could be offered to business investors and supported by the community and state. She also coached communities across the state to help them advance towards investment readiness and has a passion for helping rural communities succeed.
Advising on the best match between business investment and communities and states is at the heart of the GLS investment advisory practice. For companies, Tess advises on their next competitive location. For communities, she advises on the sectors and companies their assets can attract. The GLS point of view is that all parties ought to earn a positive return on their investments. Tess implements that vision every day.
Tess puts her experience to work for the communities we guide, helping to execute site competitiveness, readiness, and benchmarking studies; lead site identification efforts; and a multitude of other economic development services.
As a principal, Tess has a deep understanding of workforce, infrastructure, and supply chain needs within the global sectors we serve and is passionate about matching companies and communities for mutual, long-term success. She is an invaluable resource to the decision-makers GLS works within manufacturing site selection.
Before transitioning to site selection and economic development, Tess spent four years in manufacturing at the illustrious Big Ass Fan Company, makers of innovative and award-winning cooling and lighting products for industrial and residential use. Her focus there was primarily on public relations, marketing, and business development.
Hailing from Kentucky, Tess graduated from Centre College with degrees in English and French. She has an MBA from the University of West Georgia. In her free time, she can usually be spotted in her garden or out discovering new breweries with her husband Michael, son Emmett, and two dogs, Charlie and Cooper.
RiverWorks Discovery, Executive Director
Errin Howard began her career in the river industry as an educator in a booth at Tall Stacks for the first public presentation of RiverWorks Discovery in 2006 and is now the RWD Executive Director. This adventure began with one single sponsor and the vision of Mark Knoy who at the time was president of American Electric Power’s River Operations. Today Errin promotes, markets, and oversees all aspects of RiverWorks Discovery.
Errin also serves on the board of directors for the Central Ohio River Business Association. She has a passion for the river industry and the people who make it what it is. Currently, the RWD program has over 180 sponsors, 40 non-profit partners and has reached more than one million people since its inception. Errin lives in Cincinnati, Ohio and has 3 adult children: Taylor (22), Hannah (20), and Zach (18).
Associated Terminals & Turn Services, Vice President of Marketing & Public Relations
Dawn Lopez is Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations of Associated Terminals and Turn Services, premier providers of marine services in the Gulf South region. The companies provide maritime services including stevedoring, logistics, terminal and port operations, towboat, fleeting and barge-related services.
Ms. Lopez joined the companies in 2012. Prior to joining Associated Terminals and Turn Services, Dawn served in roles focused on marketing, community and government relations. Her previous roles include Director of External Relations at Morrison Energy Group, an energy services company and Manager of Community and Government Relations of Storage USA, a Memphis-based publicly-held company. Dawn holds a Juris Doctorate from LSU Law School and graduated from Louisiana State University with degrees in English and Political Science.
Currently, Ms. Lopez serves on the boards of directors of the World Trade Center New Orleans and Junior Achievement of New Orleans. She is on the advisory board of RiverWorks Discovery® and Who Works the River, nationwide programs that educate youth about the commerce, culture, conservation, and careers of the nation’s rivers. She previously served as Vice President of MPact Memphis.
She is currently serving on the United Way of Southeast Louisiana’s Campaign Cabinet. She has been instrumental in fundraising for the expansions of New Heights Therapeutic Riding Center, ArcGNO and Raphael Village, three organizations in the New Orleans region that serve individuals who are differently-abled.
Captain Ulysses Mullins
United States Coast Guard, Sector Mobile, Commander
Captain Ulysses Mullins has served in the U.S. Coast Guard for over 27 years. As the Commander of Sector Mobile he is responsible for 18 sub-units, including cutters, stations, Aids to Navigation Teams, and a Marine Safety Detachment spanning over 420 miles of coast and 1,900 miles of inland waterway across the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Georgia. The Sector has 594 Active Duty, 206 Reserve, 33 Civilian personnel and 390 Auxiliarists. He holds the title of Captain of the Port, Federal Maritime Security Coordinator, Federal On-Scene Coordinator, Officer In Charge of Marine Inspections, and the Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator and Active
Suspension Authority. Under these authorities he leads the Sector in carrying out operations in support of Maritime Safety, Homeland Security and Federal Law Enforcement.
Prior to reporting to Sector Mobile he served as the Coast Guard Fourteenth District’s Prevention Division Chief, where he was responsible for oversight of operations protecting the public, ports, the environment and U.S. economic interests in Hawai’i, Guam, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Japan and Singapore. He has also served as the Deputy Commander and Prevention Department Head at Sector Honolulu. He has completed numerous other operational and staff tours in Washington, DC, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Norfolk, VA. Captain Mullins also completed Port Safety and Security Industry Training at the Port of New Orleans.
Captain Mullins holds a Master of Science in Technology Management, General Services Administration Executive Chief Information Officer’s (CIO) Certificate from the University of Maryland Global Campus. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Hampton University. He is an alumnus of the Naval Post Graduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security’s Pacific Executive Leaders Program.
Captain Mullins’ personal military awards include four Meritorious Service Medals, two Coast Guard Achievement Medals, the Marine Safety Designator, and other personal and team awards.
United States Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, Operations Project Manager
Justin is a native of Clarksdale, MS and he earned his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Mississippi State University. Justin began his career in January of 1997 as a co-op student with Mobile District’s Construction Division at Columbus Air Force Base. After graduation, he worked for 5 years as a Mechanical Engineer and Project Engineer at Redstone Arsenal, AL, where he was involved in large construction projects for agencies such as the FBI, Missile Defense Agency, Space and Missile Defense Command, and the Army. In 2006, Justin moved back to Columbus, where he served as a Project Engineer at Columbus Air Force Base. After obtaining his PE license in 2008, he became the Resident Engineer for the Corps of Engineers at Columbus AFB. While the Resident Engineer, he administered contracts for the construction of the Mission Support Group building, Child Development Center, Fire Station, and various other projects on Columbus AFB. In 2012, Justin transitioned over to Operations Division, where he became the Site Manager at the Bay Springs Site Office on the north end of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. As the Site Manager, he managed the navigation, natural resources, and recreation business lines from Amory, MS to the north end of the project at Pickwick Lake. In 2018, Justin became the Operations Project Manager for the waterway. As the Operations Project Manager, Justin is responsible for the management of the entire waterway, which includes navigation, recreation, and wildlife mitigation business lines.
Black Warrior-Tombigbee & Alabama River Waterway Project, Operations Project Manager
Mr. Perkins serves as Operations Project Manager for the Black Warrior-Tombigbee & Alabama River Waterway Project. His responsibilities include oversight of navigation channel maintenance, lock and dam operation and repair, recreation areas, and natural resource management programs. Mr. Perkins is responsible for management, operation, and maintenance of the Project; setting overall goals and objectives for one of the largest operations projects in the Corps of Engineers. The Project encompasses 758 miles of navigable waterway, nine locks and dams, four natural resource management offices, and 62 Corps operated recreation areas.
Mr. Perkins holds a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering Degree from Auburn University with over 32 years of project engineering experience in the public and private sector. A native of Alabama, he joined the Mobile District Corps of Engineers in February 2004, and has been in his current assignment since October 2018. Prior assignments with the Corps of Engineers include serving as Navigation Manager and Chief, Lock and Dam Operations and Repair, for a combined 18 years with the Corps of Engineers. Prior to the Corps of Engineers, he worked in the private sector with U.S. Pipe & Foundry Company, Birmingham, Alabama. He started his engineering career in 1990 as a mechanical/nuclear engineer with the Department of the Navy at the Charleston Naval Shipyard in Charleston, South Carolina.
Maritime Administration’s Office of Ports & Waterways Planning, Operations Development Manager
Tim joined the Maritime Administration’s Office of Ports & Waterways Planning in 2015 as the Operations Development Manager for the United States Marine Highway Program. His Program Office seeks to fully integrate waterborne transport into the nations surface transportation network. He works with public and private entities to develop freight services on the America’s Marine Highway System. His office makes Marine Highway Route recommendations to the Maritime Administrator and Secretary of Transportation. He also manages the Marine Highway Program’s Grant Program.
Before coming to MARAD, Tim worked for over 20 years at the Navy’s Military Sealift Command as the Transportation Officer. His office chartered commercial ships and activated ships from the government-owned surge fleet to support operations and exercises around the world. He is also a retired naval reserve officer, who served 23 years as a Supply Corps Officer.
Tim is a graduate of West Virginia University’s Institute of Technology and has a master’s degree from the Naval War College in Newport, RI. He is married to Dr. Yana Rachinskaya and they reside in Owings Mills, MD.
America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association, LLC, Director
Kim Russo has been involved with AGLCA for about 15 years and has been the Association’s Director since 2015. She has presented on the Great Loop at many of the nation’s largest boat shows, including Miami, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, and New England, as well as TrawlerFest and Cruisers’ University.
Kim’s own Great Loop adventure is underway! You may have seen her on the Tenn-Tom heading down in fall of 2022 and back up in June of 2023. She’ll be heading back down this fall aboard The Perch, a 41’ Silverton Cockpit Motor Yacht, and plans to complete her Great Loop later this year.
United States Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, Operations Division Chief
Nelson is currently the Chief of Operations Division, Mobile District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which he manages over $170M worth of Operations and Maintenance services for Navigation, Hydropower, Natural Resources, Emergency Management, Flood Control and Environmental Stewardship for the States of Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and the pan handle of Florida. He graduated in 1985 from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering.
Nelson began his career with the Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, in 1985, He served as a Civil Engineer in Construction Division before transferring to Mobile District in 1991 into the Operations Division. Nelson has played a vital role in the District’s navigation program, serving as Chief of the Navigation and Chief of Coastal Management Branch were after Hurricane Katrina he partnered with the US Coast Guard and Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association to develop a successful Hurricane Protocol that has been used as a model for other navigation recovery efforts after an hurricane disaster. In 2011 he was the Recovery Field Office Commander leading over 450 team members to perform recovery efforts in the aftermath of the devastating Tornados in Alabama on April 27, 2011 where they removed over 5M cubic yard of debris within 100 days.
Among Nelson’s awards and recognition are Planning Team of the Year Award, South Atlantic Division Winner, 1998; South Atlantic Division Outstanding Planning Achievement Award for 2004; Commander’s Awards for Civilian Service, 1999, 2000 and 2002; and Superior Civilian Service Award 2005, the 2006 HENNAC Civil Engineer Distinction Awarded and Commander’s Awards for Civilian Service 2011. In 2017 received the Outstanding Public Agency Member of the Year from Society of American Military Engineers.
University of New Orleans Transportation Institute, Associate Director
Carol Short is the Associate Director of the University of New Orleans Transportation Institute (UNOTI) and administrator of the Master of Science in Transportation (MST). Under her purview is the development and implementation of program criteria; curriculum development; coordination of related conferences, seminars, and continuing education programs; public relations, and community outreach. She has extensive personal and professional experience with the maritime industry and serves as the Institute’s liaison to the maritime community.
Ms. Short, an advocate for education, workforce development and community outreach, has worked throughout Louisiana on federally funded work-based learning programs for middle and high school students. She continues this work through similar programs designed to introduce, educate and create linkages for students to the transportation industry. Ms. Short has served on the organizing committees of several national conferences and seminars on transportation and women’s leadership issues. She is a founding host of the National Evacuation Conference and the Louisiana Women Leaders Conference on Small Business Entrepreneurship and a founding member of both the Louisiana and Greater New Orleans’ Chapters of the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS). Her civic and philanthropic interests are fulfilled through her extensive board and committee service with the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Ballet Resource and Volunteer Organization (BRAVO), Cancer Crusaders, Inc., Men and Women of Fashion, Louisiana Center for Women in Government and Business, Key to the Cure, and the St. Elizabeth’s Guild.
Dr. Bethany Stich
University of New Orleans Transportation Institute, Director
Dr. Bethany Stich is the Director of the Transportation Institute (UNOTI) at the University of New Orleans. Dr. Stich has served as the Principal Investigator of UNOTI’s two University Transportation Centers, the Maritime Transportation Research & Education Center housed at the University of Arkansas and the National Center for Strategic Transportation Policies, Investments and Decisions housed at the University of Maryland. Additionally, Stich served as the Principal Investigator for the Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence for Maritime Resiliency housed at Louisiana State University. Dr. Stich has published and presented globally on issues associated with intermodal transportation as it relates to economic, business, and workforce development. Her research ranges from work on Cuban trade to E-Navigation integration, Container on Barge supply chain integration to Liquefied Natural Gas development. Additionally, Dr. Stich serves as a committee member for the Transportation Research Board’s AMR20 – Standing Committee on Disaster Response, Emergency Evacuations, and Business Continuity and as a board member for HandsOn New Orleans.
Small Town Solutions Consulting, Founder, Author
Having led economic development and chamber of commerce organizations (in Alabama and Mississippi) for 40+ years, David Thornell has enjoyed success in every aspect of building better communities. Since graduating from the University of Alabama in 1981 he was directly involved in recruitment/expansion efforts resulting in the creation over 18,000 new jobs representing approximately $3 Billion in capital investment, all within communities of less than 25,000 population. He retired in February of 2021 after serving for 10 and a half years as the President-CEO of the Northwest Alabama Economic Development Alliance, a Public-Private organization representing three counties of 15 communities, the largest of which was 5,500 people (60,000 in the entire three counties).
Thornell earned the designation of Certified Economic/Community Developer in 1990 and now holds permanent status as a CEcD Emeritus. He is a graduate of the Economic Development Institute held at the University of Oklahoma, the University of Georgia’s Institute for Organizational Management, and completed the National Development Council’s E.D. Financing Professional Program. Thornell has operated his own grant writing firm and also holds a real estate license, with post-license training in Commercial Real Estate. In 2022 he received the Honorary Lifetime Membership Award from the Southern Economic Development Council. He currently serves on the Advisory Committee for the Community Development Institute- Southeast, based at the University of Alabama, where he also teaches institute classes.
In February of this year, he completed his first book, based on his rural experience and desire to help rural communities and their leadership reach their full potential. The book, Small Town Solutions, is available on Amazon.
United States Senate, Mississippi
Roger F. Wicker has represented Mississippi in the United States Senate since December 2007. During his time in the Senate, Wicker has championed pro-growth policies to create jobs, limit federal overreach, protect life, and maintain a strong national defense.
Wicker is the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee for the 118th Congress. Wicker is also a senior member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, having served previously as the chairman and ranking member for the 116th and 117th Congresses, respectively. His other committee assignments include the Environment and Public Works Committee and the Rules and Administration Committee.
Wicker is the ranking member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission and Vice President of the OSCE’s Parliamentary Assembly. Wicker also serves as a member of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Congressional Board of Visitors.
Wicker authored the “Securing the Homeland by Increasing our Power on the Seas (SHIPS) Act,” which made it the policy of the United States to achieve the Navy’s requirement for a 355ship fleet. This legislation, which was designed to bolster national security and increase American shipbuilding capacity, was signed into law by President Trump as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.
Senator Wicker has been a strong advocate for economic development initiatives to help keep Mississippians competitive in a global marketplace. He has been honored by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) for his work on pro-growth, pro-manufacturing policies in Congress.
Senator Wicker has actively supported cancer survivorship programs and efforts to fight heart disease with the American Heart Association, diabetes, childhood obesity, and Alzheimer’s. He has been recognized as a “champion” of polio eradication for his work to wipe out polio worldwide. Senator Wicker is the co-founder of the Senate Malaria and Neglected Tropical Disease Caucus and the co-chair of the Rare Disease Caucus.
He has been instrumental in bringing more research funding to Mississippi universities for a wide range of health-related projects to fight disease and improve quality of life. Most notably, Wicker authored the Muscular Dystrophy Community Assistance, Research, and Education (MD CARE) Act of 2001, which created NIH centers of excellence to coordinate and enhance muscular dystrophy research. The Wicker Project at Children’s National Medical Center is a leader in muscular dystrophy research.
Prior to his service in the Senate, Wicker was elected seven times, beginning in 1994, to represent Mississippi’s First Congressional District in the House of Representatives. Before being elected to Congress, he served in the state Senate on behalf of Lee and Pontotoc counties.
Senator Wicker served on active duty in the U.S. Air Force and then joined the Air Force Reserve. He retired from the Reserve in 2004 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
A native of Pontotoc, Mississippi, the Senator is the son of the late Circuit Judge Fred Wicker and Mrs. Wordna Wicker. He was educated in the public schools of Pontotoc and received his B.A. and law degrees from the University of Mississippi. Wicker is a member of the First Baptist Church Tupelo, where he served as chairman of the deacons, taught Sunday School, and where he still sings in the choir.
Senator Wicker is married to the former Gayle Long of Tupelo. They have three children: Margaret and son-in-law Manning McPhillips; Caroline and son-in-law Kirk Sims; and McDaniel Wicker and his wife Kellee; and eight grandchildren: Caroline, Henry, Maury Beth, and Virginia McPhillips; Evelyn and Joseph Sims; and Philippa and Julia Wicker.