2022 Conference Speakers



Rans Black has over 28 years’ experience with the FAA’s Airports Division, having served in staff and management positions in both the Atlanta and Jackson Airport District Offices. He has been the manager of the Jackson Airports District Office (JAN-ADO) since 2003. The JAN-ADO assists communities with the planning and development of 150 airports in Alabama and Mississippi to ensure a safe and efficient system of airports. His work experience also includes 6 years as an Army Officer and 2 years as an airport engineering consultant. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, a registered professional engineer, and a private pilot.

John Caldwell

Transportation Commissioner Northern District of Mississippi

Commissioner Caldwell was elected as our Transportation Commissioner in November 2019. He serves the 33-county Northern District with offices in Tupelo, Batesville, and Jackson.

Commissioner Caldwell is a retired colonel, a combat veteran of Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Bronze Star and the Legion of Merit among other honors. He recently published his memoirs in a book titled, SEMPER ODYSSEY – CONFLICTS OF A MARINE RESERVIST.

Commissioner Caldwell is a former business owner, a former Desoto County Supervisor, and the former Transportation Director for Mississippi’s largest school system. He has a lifetime of leadership experience and decades of logistics, transportation, and fleet management experience. He graduated from Arkansas State University, Command and Staff College and has an MBA from Columbia Southern University. He lives in Nesbit with his wife Lee. The couple has four adult children and eight grandchildren

Ken Chapman, Ph.D.

Founder and Senior Partner of Ken Chapman & Associates, Inc.

Along with more than forty years of consulting, Dr. Chapman brings the following experiences to client service: supermarket bag-boy, frontline supervisor, corporate vice president, and university professor. As a consultant Dr. Chapman focuses on heavy industry, having provided leadership and team development in over 500 facilities on four continents, including more than 230 electric generating stations, plus foundries, paper mills, refineries, manufacturing facilities, and corporate headquarters.

Dr. Chapman is a graduate of Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia and Columbia University in New York.

He is the author of several books including: The Leader’s Code, The Shoulders of Giants, Personality: Making The Most Of It, The Respectable Fish, and Small Town Graces.

He and his wife make their home in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.



Mr. Madison Dixon is Research Director at Mississippi State University’s (MSU) Raspet Flight Research Laboratory (RFRL). In this role, Madison is responsible for the successful execution and strategic growth of Raspet’s research portfolio while supporting the broader research and economic development objectives of MSU. Prior to joining MSU he worked in both industry and academia since 2010 as an Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and Remote Sensing expert. His research interests focus on the interdisciplinary application and advancement of these technologies to solve modern geospatial challenges. Madison holds a BS degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Delta State University and a MS degree in Geospatial Technologies from MSU. He is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) licensed Remote Pilot with multiple FAA Certificates of Authorization/Waiver and over 1,800 hours of UAS operations conducted across the U.S. In addition to his role at MSU, Madison also serves as President of the Mississippi Chapter of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).



Matt Dowell, A.A.E., is the Executive Director of the Golden Triangle Regional Airport. Dowell received both his Bachelor of Commercial Aviation and Masters in Aviation Management from Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi. He is an Accredited Airport Executive who has been involved in airport management since 2012. He is also an FAA licensed Flight Instructor and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle pilot. In addition, he volunteers with the local Civil Air Patrol.


Dr. Edney is a board-certified general Internist with subspecialty board certification in Addiction Medicine. He is a summa cum laude graduate of William Carey University and the University of Mississippi School of Medicine-Class of 1988. He then completed his internship and residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Virginia. He has practiced general primary care Internal Medicine since 1991, becoming interested in the national opioid crisis and working with patients with complications of chronic opioid use since 2013, and working in the field of addiction as a teacher and clinician. He currently serves as the Addiction Medicine specialist for inpatient residential facilities, outpatient programs, drug court and has a private practice at Medical Associates of Vicksburg.

He is a former president of the Mississippi State Medical Association, a Fellow and Laureate of the Mississippi Chapter of American College of Physicians, currently serving as a board member on the Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure and recently joined the Mississippi State Department of Health as the Agency’s Chief Medical Officer.

He is the husband of 38 years to Lori, has three adult children and two wonderful grandsons.

Special Agents Tara Ford and Brian Walker

Federal Bureau of Investigation

The FBI is the lead federal agency for investigating cyber attacks and intrusions. They collect and share intelligence and engage with victims while working to unmask those committing malicious cyber activities, wherever they are.

The FBI Cyber Division’s strategy is to impose risk and consequences on cyber adversaries. Their goal is to change the behavior of criminals and nation-states who believe they can compromise US networks, steal financial and intellectual property, and put critical infrastructure at risk without facing risk themselves. To do this, they use their unique mix of authorities, capabilities, and partnerships to impose consequences against the cyber adversaries.

Special Agent Brian Walker has been with the FBI since 2003 and has been assigned to the Jackson Cyber Task Force since 2019 and Special Agent Tara Ford joined the Jackson Cyber Task Force earlier this year.

Stephen Gay

Stephen Gay is a native of Ridgeland, Mississippi. He graduated from the Manship School of Mass Communications at Louisiana State University with a degree in Political Communication.

Stephen currently works for the Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, where he holds the titles of Opioid Program Specialist as well as Human Trafficking Program Manager in the Public Education and Community Engagement Division.

Before joining the Attorney General’s Office, Stephen served as a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps.

Stephen and his wife Evan have a two-year-old son, Owen, a three-week-old daughter, Della-Ruth, and reside in Madison, Mississippi.

Justin T. Grieve


Col. Justin T. Grieve is the Commander at 14th Flying Training Wing, Columbus AFB, Mississippi. He is responsible for conducting Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training for U.S. Air Force and allied officers. The wing is composed of 241 aircraft flying more than 40,000 sorties and 60,000 hours per year while training over 400 pilots and combat system operators annually. Col. Grieve manages an operations and maintenance budget of approximately $115 million with capital assets exceeding $2.3 billion.

Col. Grieve received his commission through the United States Air Force Academy in 2000. He attended Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance AFB, Oklahoma, earning his wings in 2001. Following pilot training, Col. Grieve was assigned to the 33rd Flying Training Squadron, Vance AFB, Oklahoma, as a T-37 Instructor Pilot.

Col. Grieve was accepted to join the 509th Bomb Wing and the B-2 program at Whiteman AFB, Missouri, in 2005. He served in several squadrons as a B-2 Instructor Pilot and T-38 Pilot. In 2012, he served as Chief, Bomber Aircraft and Nuclear Programs for the Secretary of the Air Force at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. This was followed by an assignment to work with the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University as an Air Force Foreign Policy Fellow for the 2013-2014 academic year. Col. Grieve commanded the 509th Operations Group after attending National War College on Ft. McNair in Washington, D.C.

Prior to this assignment, Col. Grieve served as the Chief, Nuclear Mission Planning Division, Plans and Policy Directorate, United States Strategic Command, Offutt AFB, Nebraska.

The colonel is a command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours in the B-2, T-37 and T-38.

Steven E. Hicks

Director of Airports for the FAA, Southern Region

Mr. Hicks oversees Airports Programs including over $600M in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding, planning, environmental, design standards, and safety for605 airports in the eight states and two U.S. Territories’ (U. S. Virgin Island and Puerto Rico), covered by the FAA Southern Region.

Mr. Hicks has over 31 years of Aviation and Airport Management experience. He began his career with the FAA as an Airport Certification Safety Inspector in the Honolulu Airports District Office. Later he moved to Atlanta to fill the position of Manager, Safety and Standards for the Southern Region. He was promoted to Director in February 2017. Before joining the FAA, Steve was the Airport Director at Stockton Metropolitan Airport in California. He also served the Pacific Air Forces Regional Airports Manager, Where he was responsible for 155 airport operations personnel, 9 Class I airports, and more than $10 Billion dollars in airport construction during his tenure. Mr. Hicks holds, a Bachelors’ Degree in Business Management, and a Masters of Business Administration in Aviation from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.


Federal Security Director of Mississippi, Transportation Security Administration

Kim D. Jackson is the Federal Security Director (FSD) at Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport (JAN) in Jackson, MS. His role with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) places responsibility under his care for the day-to-day screening operations, at six federalized airports (including one SPP) and in the state. Mr. Jackson became the FSD at JAN on November 1, 2019. He began his service with TSA on July 10, 2016, as a Human Resources Specialist at JAN where he provided guidance on a wide range of areas, including staffing needs, disciplinary actions, compensation and benefits.

Prior to working with TSA, Mr. Jackson built an impressive 33-year career of achievement and advancement in a variety of command and staff positions. In his last assignment, he formalized action plans that led and directed over 3100 personnel in completing daily directives and overall missions. He developed and implemented security, emergency procedures and policies key to protecting high profile personnel and assets worth over $2 billion. He also served as a Brigade Executive Officer, a Military Police Liaison Officer and a Commander. He completed one combat mission in Iraq, in support of the Global War on terrorism. Mr. Jackson retired at the rank of Brigadier General.

Mr. Jackson earned a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice from the University of Southern Mississippi. He is a native of Hattiesburg, MS, is married to Sheila, and is a father of two sons and a proud grandfather of two. As an avid cyclist, he enjoys biking on the Natchez Trace and tailgating during football season.

Tom King


Tom King is in his third term as Southern District Transportation Commissioner. He previously served as a state lawmaker since 1993, when he was elected to the House of Representatives where he remained until 1999. In 2000, he began his tenure in the Senate, where his leadership brokered many bills designed to better the lives of Mississippians. As Chairman of the Senate Highways and Transportation Committee, King authored resolutions that honored the achievements of persons throughout his district and the state. Most notably, King authored Senate Bill 3181 – the $300 million bond bill for highways and bridges – and Senate Bill 3014, known as the John Paul Frerer Bicycle Act, which promotes safety for cyclists on the roadways.

King also authored Senate Bill 2514 that created the Mississippi Wireless Communications Commission, which ensures that the state’s emergency responders and law enforcement have the means to communicate regardless of any disaster that may occur.

Commissioner King is a Veteran of the Vietnam War, having served his country in the Air Force as an Air Policeman. He is affiliated with the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, American Legion and VFW. He has received many professional awards and honors including 2011 Mississippi Municipal League Legislator of the Year; 2010 Hattiesburg’s Veteran of the Year; American Legion Meritorious Service Award in 2007 and Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Legislator of the Year in 2002.

Commissioner King is no stranger to South Mississippi, as he was born in Hattiesburg. He attended Petal High School and graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1973. He currently lives in Hattiesburg with his wife, the former Susan Lynn Patterson, and has two children and two grandchildren.

Michael O’Harra

Regional Administrator for the FAA, Southern Region

Michael O’Harra is the senior agency official within the eight-state Southern Region that also includes Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He is the FAA Administrator’s primary representative to elected officials, civic groups, aviation industry, educational institutions, and other Federal agencies for the region. He is responsible for outreach activities to stakeholders and local communities regarding environmental impacts and noise management issues, as well as information sharing on initiatives such as airspace and procedure modernization, UAS integration, commercial space activities and other critical agency initiatives.

He has over 30 years of experience in the aviation and space industry, which includes prior leadership on major capacity and policy initiatives for the FAA and previous positions in private industry. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland.

Scott Rush

Scott Rush is an Associate Professor in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Aquaculture at Mississippi State University. Through his current work Scott strives to understand the function and resiliency of ecological communities especially within the context of human-wildlife conflicts. Scott received his Ph.D. from the University of Georgia (2009). His post-doctoral training, completed at The University of Windsor’s (Windsor, Ontario) Great Lakes’ Institute for Environmental Research, addressed changes in energy mobility through Great Lakes ecosystems. Scott and his students continue to work within an expanding research framework addressing landscape and trophic ecology relative to wildlife populations. Some current work strives to understand the effects of climate change on avian population regulation, and management of ecological communities supporting threatened and endangered species.

Selena Shilad

Executive Director of the Alliance for Aviation Across America

Selena Shilad currently serves as the Executive Director of the Alliance for Aviation Across America. In that role, she has built relationships with leading transportation and aviation organizations, as well as a coalition of over 7,000 individuals, businesses, FBOs, airports, elected officials, agricultural and charitable organizations across the country. Prior to that, Selena coordinated initiatives and high profile campaigns for leading corporate and non-profit clients in the transportation, defense, telecommunication, and education sectors. She also directed communications for a number of political campaigns, including in Arizona and Texas, and previously worked for Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), focusing on healthcare, banking, housing, and trade issues. She has two Master’s degrees, one from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, and the other from the University of Chicago, with a focus on public opinion and International Relations.

Lynn Spruill


Lynn Spruill is a native of Starkville, MS, and a graduate of Starkville High School and Mississippi State University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Business in 1974. She is a former U.S. Naval Officer and pilot, Mayor of Addison, TX, pilot for Delta Air Lines and Starkville city administrator. She is currently a businesswoman and realtor in Starkville.

Lynn co-owns and managed Spruill Property Management, where she oversaw operations for more than 350 apartments around Starkville including property maintenance and marketing, until her election as mayor. She is also a property developer for Greenbriar Subdivision and has been a contributing journalist for the Starkville Dispatch.

As a U.S. Naval Officer and pilot, she became the first woman in the history of the Navy to qualify as a carrier pilot in 1979.

She also served as a Councilman and then Mayor of Addison, Texas from 1985 to 1993 where she was named Woman of the Year in 1993. Under her administration Addison became a hub for special events including a Grand Prix race and Oktoberfest. Under her leadership, the town initiated and completed a charter amendment including term limits for elected officials. She oversaw the initiation and completion of construction of a Conference Center and Theater complex and instituted Town Meetings for citizen input and quarterly newsletters for residents. Instead of running for re-election, she attended law school received her JD/MPA joint degree from Georgia State University.

In 2004, Lynn moved back to Starkville and took over Spruill Property Management from her late father and later became Chief Administrative Officer for both Mayor Dan Camp and Mayor Parker Wiseman. In this role, she managed the 250+ member work force for the City of Starkville. She was also part of a team that managed to keep Starkville property taxes some of the lowest in the state while seeing record community development and economic growth.

Lynn is and has been involved in the local community with roles in several organizations such as the Greater Starkville Development Partnership board, the Starkville Community Theater Board and the Volunteer Starkville Board. In 2004, the Mississippi Business Journal named her one of the 50 leading businesswomen in the state.


Director of Aeronautics and Rails, Mississippi Department of Transportation

Josh Stubbs has been at MDOT since 2009. After a short stint in highway safety, Josh spent the next 11 years working on railroad related matters, primarily focused on railroad crossing safety issues around the state of Mississippi. He began serving as the Director of the Aeronautics and Rails Division in September of 2021. He is a 2008 graduate of Mississippi State University and a registered professional engineer.



Jeff Wagner, a shareholder in the Firm’s Jackson office, focuses his practice on public/governmental law and commercial transactional work. Mr. Wagner has extensive experience in public law matters, including the financing of public projects, public procurements and construction matters. Mr. Wagner regularly works with airports on all types of procurement, contracting and regulatory issues. Mr. Wagner served as counsel to the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority for over twenty years and has served as special counsel to the March Joint Powers Authority and the March Inland Port Airport Authority (Riverside, California) on Federal Aviation Administration regulatory issues. Mr. Wagner is general counsel to the Mississippi Airports Association. Mr. Wagner also helps clients in complying with regulatory requirements in other transportation infrastructure projects.

In addition to his public/governmental law work, Mr. Wagner helps clients in structuring and closing all types of complex financial transactions. Mr. Wagner has significant experience working with lenders and borrowers using federal and state loan guaranty programs, including programs through the United States Department of Agriculture, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and the United States Small Business Administration. Mr. Wagner also represents clients in all types of affordable housing development.

Mr. Wagner’s experience has allowed him to develop an understanding of the organizational and practical considerations necessary to the achievement of a successful and timely result in all types of large and complex projects.


President, Meridian Airport Authority

Tom Williams has been the leader of the Meridian Regional Airport since December 1986. Beginning as an employee of the City of Meridian Public Works Department in charge of the Key Field Airport, Williams brought the airport to profitability by eliminating unnecessary expenses and updating leases. In 1992 he led the evolution of the Airport from a division of the city public works department to an independent airport authority.

As President, Williams executed the Authority’s revenue diversification effort which acquired Meridian Aviation, a full service fixed-base operation in 2004 and Dean Aircraft Service, an aircraft maintenance facility specializing in jet and turboprop aircraft maintenance, in 2009. Both organizations have tripled sales since acquisition. More recently he acquired 165,000 square feet of warehouse space adjacent to the airport and successfully implemented airline ground handling to ensure excellent customer service for airline passengers in Meridian. Tom was selected as the 2002 Commercial Service Airport Manager of the Year by FAA Southern Region and became an accredited airport executive in 1995. In 2017 he was named Airport Manager of the Year for Mississippi.

Williams graduated from Mississippi State University in May 1982 with a major in Communication with emphasis in Public Relations. The same year Williams began work at Great Southern National Bank as a management trainee working in each department of the bank while flying as co-pilot on the bank’s Turbo Commander.

Tom is two-time president of the Mississippi Airports Association and is a member of the American Association of Airport Executives, the Experimental Aircraft Association, the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association, the Air Force Association, the Navy League and Central United Methodist Church. He is married to Teresa Thornhill and together they have 4 children.


P.O. Box 16803, Jackson, MS 39236 | 877-397-3929