About Us

Mission Statement

Coast Young Professionals is a division of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce, Inc. dedicated to developing leaders along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Coast Young Professionals is dedicated to:

  • Connecting their network of over 250 diverse and dynamic young professionals along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Alabama, and Louisiana
  • Implementing programs, community service projects, and special events that are valuable to the growth and development of young professionals
  • Keeping members involved and engaged in issues that are affecting the region
  • Empowering members by providing them with the proper tools to excel


Coast Young Professionals was created in 2007 by a group of highly regarded young leaders within the community. The committee held a kick off on May 31, 2007 with over 300 people in attendance at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino. Immediately following the event, an interest survey was distributed with over 100 responses. Shortly after, the Board of Directors was established. The most critical factor in the start of Coast Young Professionals was its partnership with the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce, Inc. Through this partnership, the organization was able to grow with the support of the business community. Still today, Coast Young Professionals is a division of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce, Inc.

Currently, Coast Young Professionals has over 250 members. The programs offered to membership include professional development courses, political forums, networking events, community service days, and major fundraisers such as the Black Tie & Blue Jeans Gala. There are a variety of ways to get involved in the organization. For more information on specifics, contact current Director, Olivia Munn. On behalf of the Board of Directors, we look forward to speaking with you soon!

Board of Directors:

Executive Committee:

  • Katie Widdows, Chair, Hancock Bank
  • Jakavious Pickett, Chair Elect, Praise Temple Biloxi
  • Heather Sanders,  Past Chair, BancorpSouth
  • Brad Cates, Treasurer, Mississippi Power
  • Nick Moody, Leadership & Learning Chair, Machado Patano
  • Christina Carson, Projects & Networking Chair, D.R. Horton America’s Builder
  • Lauren SantaCruz, Policy & Government Chair, Memorial Hospital
  • Stopher Haug, Ex-officio, Haug & Farrar, PLLC
  • Olivia Munn, Coast Young Professionals Director

Board Members at Large:

  • Narissa Behrens, IP Casino Resort Spa
  • Hunter Easterling, The Mortgage Connection
  • Sam Evans, United Way of South Mississippi
  • Jenifer Freridge, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
  • Sondra Gayle Hicks, Sondra Gayle Allstate
  • Teckie Hinkebein, Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport
  • Erin Kenna, Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast
  • Alex Le, Merit Health Biloxi
  • Cale Merrill, Allen & Smith Insurance
  • Shay Smith, Harrah’s Gulf Coast
  • Danielle Thomas, Yates Construction
  • William Van Kirk, Van Kirk Wealth Advisors
  • Chris Vignes, City of Gulfport