Partners for Stennis elects new chair, provides annual report, sets initiatives

Published 7:00 am Saturday, February 8, 2014

Partners leadership change: Partners for Stennis outgoing Chairman Al Watkins passes the gavel to the organization’s incoming Chairman, Mark Schloegel during the recent annual meeting. Partners for Stennis is a multi-state organization comprised of U.S. taxpayers who support America’s investment in space, ocean and Earth exploration.  They work to ensure local, state and federal lawmakers, and the community, are aware of Stennis Space Center’s economic importance to the region. Submitted

Partners leadership change: Partners for Stennis outgoing Chairman Al Watkins passes the gavel to the organization’s incoming Chairman, Mark Schloegel during the recent annual meeting. Partners for Stennis is a multi-state organization comprised of U.S. taxpayers who support America’s investment in space, ocean and Earth exploration. They work to ensure local, state and federal lawmakers, and the community, are aware of Stennis Space Center’s economic importance to the region.
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During the Partners for Stennis Annual meeting held in January at INFINITY Science Center outgoing Chairman, Al Watkins of A2R at Stennis, passed the gavel to the newly elected Chairman, Mark Schloegel. Schloegel is an Account Executive at Stewart Sneed Hewes Insurance in Gulfport.

“Al Watkins has been a great leader for the past two years, and I look forward to continuing the important work of Partners that was initiated under his leadership,” Schloegel said.

“As Chairman, I saw first-hand the impact that Partners has on advocating for regional growth through Stennis Space Center,” said Watkins.  “I look forward to supporting these efforts over the coming years in a new role as past chair,” he said.

Other officers elected for the coming year will be Nan Hardin with Lockheed Martin as Vice Chair, John Smith with the City of Slidell as Treasurer, and Tish Williams with the Hancock Chamber of Commerce will continue as the board’s Secretary and Executive Director. Randy Holland retired from the position of Treasurer, and will remain a board member. Holland has been a member of the Partners for Stennis Board of Directors for 17 years and the board recognized him for his years of service during the meeting.

This year’s board of directors will also include Jason Brady with AB Computer Solutions, Mike Haas with Haas and Haas Attorneys, Dave Hartley with Lockheed Martin, Jim Conner with SAIC, Keith Beck with Jacobs, Dave Treutel Jr. with Treutel Insurance Agency, Billy Walley with Billy Walley Attorneys, Guy Johnson with Coast Electric Power Association, Ernie Lovell with the PRCC Development Foundation, Michael McDaniel with Aerojet Rocketdyne, Debbie Benefield with Mississippi Power Company, Ned Peak with Edward Peak and Associates, Lee Reid with Adams and Reese, and Clay Wagner with Hancock Bank.

During the annual meeting, the board reviewed accomplishments from 2013 and announced initiatives planned for 2014. This year the board is forming a new strategic planning team to set forth new initiatives for 2015 and beyond. This team will work to devise plans to expand the economic, technical and academic growth and stability of Stennis Space Center.

It was announced that Myron Webb, NASA Legislative Affairs Officer, recently retired from NASA after 29 years.  The board unanimously named her as a Lifetime Honorary Member of Partners for Stennis to thank her for her work over the years.

This year, the board will sponsor a number of networking and advocacy events to promote Stennis Space Center and the economic impact it has on the region.  On Feb. 13, at 8 a.m., Partners will sponsor the Stennis Directors Breakfast meeting at the INFINITY Science Center. In March, representatives of Partners will head to Jackson to participate in Capitol Day to meet with Coast Legislators.  The Stennis Gala is set for 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 5 at Hollywood Casino. During this event, George S. Schloegel will be honored with the Roy S. Estess Public Service Leadership Award.

In May, Partners representatives will conduct a DC fly-in as part of a national coalition, Citizens for Space Exploration, to meet with members of Congress. Stennis is not only America’s largest rocket engine testing facility, but it is also home to many other agencies and companies operating out of the federal city, like the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC), Naval Meteorology & Oceanography Command, Naval Oceanographic Office, the Naval Research Lab, Jacobs, Aerojet Rocketdyne, A2R and Rolls Royce, just to name a few. The facility’s network of waterways also provides prime opportunities for water-based military training for Special Boat Team 22.

Keynote speakers during the meeting were Stennis Director Rick Gilbrech and NDBC Director Helmut Portmann.

For more information on Partners for Stennis and find out how to join, visit the webpage at http://www.partnersforstennis.org/ or visit the facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PartnersForStennis?ref=hl.