2024 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.


Associate Director, Agricultural Autonomy Institute, Mississippi State University

Mr. Madison P. Dixon is Associate Director of the Mississippi State University (MSU) Agricultural Autonomy Institute (AAI). Mr. Dixon joined AAI in June 2023 to combine two of MSU’s largest and most impactful research areas – agriculture and autonomous systems. Mr. Dixon has served in multiple roles at MSU since 2016, most recently as Research Director of the MSU Raspet Flight Research Laboratory where he led the development of MSU’s premier Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS) research portfolio.

Mr. Dixon has worked in both private industry and academia since 2010 as a subject matter expert in UAS, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and airborne remote sensing. His research interests focus on the interdisciplinary application of autonomous systems and related technologies to solve modern geospatial and agricultural challenges while creating economic and workforce development opportunities for the State of Mississippi.

Mr. Dixon holds a B.S. degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Delta State University, a M.S. degree in Geosciences from MSU, and is currently a Ph.D. student in the MSU Department of Agricultural & Biological Engineering. Mr. Dixon is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) licensed Remote Pilot with multiple FAA Certificates of Authorization/Waiver and over 2,000 hours of UAS operations conducted across the U.S. Mr. Dixon is an active member and former President of the Mississippi Chapter of the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and serves on multiple committees of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE). In addition to his role at MSU, Mr. Dixon is a UAS consultant, aerial photographer, and a 5th generation farmer in the Dixon farming family of Merigold, MS.

Sara Doss

Executive Director, Aerospace and Defense Alliance of Mississippi

Sara Doss has worked in Economic Development for the state of Mississippi for the last 13 years. She is the Executive Director of the Aerospace and Defense Alliance of Mississippi (ADAM). ADAM is an industry trade association that serves as the convening entity for Mississippi’s aerospace, aeronautics, and defense industries. Sara also serves as the Director of Business Development for Mississippi Enterprise for Technology (MSET). Together, ADAM and MSET foster collaboration between industry, academia, and state and federal partners to enhance the growth of the aerospace and defense industry in Mississippi.

Prior to joining MSET and ADAM, Sara spent 12 years at the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA), the state’s lead economic development agency focusing on global business investment and existing industry support for the state of Mississippi. In her most recent role at MDA, Sara served as the primary business development representative in Mississippi for aerospace and defense, one of the state’s most essential target markets. She was responsible for recruiting new aerospace companies to Mississippi and providing support and expansion assistance to the state’s existing aerospace industries. Previously, Sara was in the Community Services Division where she was responsible for various federal and state funding programs administered by the agency.

Sara is a 2009 graduate of Mississippi State University where she received a degree in Management of Construction and Land Development in the College of Business. She has also received her Economic Development Finance Professional Certification (EDFP) from Grow America and serves on the Board of Directors for both the Mississippi Economic Development Council and the Southern Economic Development Council.

Sara and her husband Matt, along with their two sons, Mason and James, live in Madison, MS. They enjoy watching their sons play sports, attending various Mississippi State sporting events, and spending weekends at Lake Piomingo.

Emily K. Field

Herpetologist, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks

Emily Field is the Mississippi state herpetologist based out of the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. Her research is focused on the conservation of threatened and endangered reptiles and amphibians in Mississippi and how the environment influences a species survival and physiology. Currently she is conducting research on the status of the endangered Alabama Red-Bellied Turtle in Mississippi. She graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a Bachelors of Science and from Arkansas State University with a Masters of Science.

Michael H. (Mike) Forster

Partner, ForMIng AgRotors

Mike is a native of Louisville, MS, and an electrical engineering graduate from Mississippi State University. He began his business career with IBM, achieving the level of Vice President during his 24 years with the company. He and his wife Bettye then relocated to Munich, Germany where he served as President of International Operations for a very large high-tech company. After 3 successful years of leadership for both the company’s European and Asian operations, he returned to the USA in 1993. He then led two software companies as CEO & Chairman, taking both to successful exits for their investors.

Upon returning to his hometown in Mississippi in 1998, Mike spent 10 years doing venture capital work as a Managing Director of the Internet Capital Group. Mike’s career in aviation began at age 59 when he became an instrument rated private pilot. He has more than 3,500 hours in the cockpit, flying his Cirrus SR22 aircraft for both business and philanthropic work. Mike and his son David are partners in a rotary wing ag company, ForMing AgRotors, owning and operating 4 de-militarized OH-58 aircraft.

Mike became the president of the Louisville-Winston County Airport board in 2014 and under his leadership, more than $12 million in local, state and federal funds have been invested in the airport. He became a board member of MAA in 2017 and currently serves as its Treasurer. Mike is a ruling elder at First Presbyterian Church in Louisville and is a member of the Louisville Rotary Club.

Lt Col (ret.) Michael “Mike” P. Hainsey

Founder and CEO, Northstar Aerospace Solutions

Mike Hainsey is the founder and CEO of Northstar Aerospace Solutions, LLC. He retired after 19 years as the Executive Director at the Golden Triangle Regional Airport and volunteers his time as an Aiport Cooperative Research Program Ambassador. He is a retired Air Force pilot with more than 5,500 hours in various military and civilian aircraft, including B-52, T-38, T-37 and others. He is also a former Assistant Professor of Aerospace
Science for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Hainsey is the past President of both the Mississippi Airports Association and the Mississippi Intermodal Council. He is the recipient of the FAA Southern Region Airport Manager of the Year Award and the Mississippi Airports Association Outstanding Airport Professional of the Year Award.

Hainsey has served as the Director of Search and Rescue for the state of Mississippi Civil Air Patrol and is the co-founder of Dreams On Wings, a charity that provides the thrill of flight for children battling serious illnesses.

Hainsey is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and holds a Master’s degree in
business from Webster University in St Louis, Missouri. He is an Accredited Airport
Executive with the American Association of Airport Executives. He and his wife Brenda have been married for more than 45 years.


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.


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.

Keith W. Turner

Attorney, Watkins & Eager, PLLC

Prior to practicing law, Keith was an environmental consultant with over ten years‘ experience working with clients on water, air, hazardous waste and water and groundwater remediation matters. His practice focuses on environmental law, and also includes energy, real estate and economic development. Keith has represented clients before federal and state courts, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Besides serving as an adjunct professor at Mississippi College School of Law in the area of environmental law, hazardous waste law and the Clean Water Act, Keith has lectured on environmental issues in real estate development, Brownfields and related environmental issues.



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.



The Mississippi Transportation Commission appointed Brad White Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Transportation effective July 1, 2021, and he received unanimous confirmation from the Mississippi Senate the following Legislative Session. A native of Simpson County, White is a four time Chief of Staff having previously managed the staffs of the Mississippi Department of Audit, U.S. Senator Thad Cochran, US Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves.

During the administration of Governor Haley Barbour, White served as Chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party and as a member of the Republican National Committee.

White has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from Belhaven University and resides in Madison where he is a member of First Baptist Church serving on both the Church Council and the Personnel Committee. He is past President of the Southern Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (SASHTO).