Cal Christian, PhD, CPA is Professor and Chair of the Accounting Department at East Carolina University (ECU) teaching Cost Accounting and Accounting for Decision Makers. He has over 10 years of experience in both the public accounting profession with the former international accounting firm of Ernst & Whinney in Houston, TX, and Jackson, MS, and in industry with LDDS (the predecessor to WorldCom) and the Mississippi law firm of Holcomb, Dunbar. Cal has his PhD from Florida State University and his BAccy from the University of Mississippi. Cal teaches continuing education classes for the North Carolina Association of CPAs (NCACPA), AICPA, CPA firms, and publicly traded companies—and has been recognized as a NCACPA Outstanding Conference Speaker. Cal has been named an ECU College of Business Fellow and he has been awarded the University of North Carolina Board of Governor’s Outstanding Teaching Award and The College of Business ECU Scholar/Teacher.
Brian Clark is Chief Technology Officer & Chief Information Security Officer for Software Consulting Services, LLC. Brian started his career in 1996 doing freelance development work and contributing to some of the early open source projects. He was one of the first 5,000 people in the world to obtain the MCSA certification and did so at the age of 21. He went on to obtain over 16 certifications from vendors such as Microsoft, Cisco, EMC, Citrix, and VMWare. Brian was responsible for leading the active directory migration as well as a WAN with NASA, Executive Office of the President, Nucor Steel, Honda, and countless others. He has a wide range of expertise around the Medical, Industrial, and Financial sectors. Brian has worked for IT service providers and consulting companies for nearly the entirety of his career. He brings forth a wealth of expertise that he uses to ensure our clients realize the often promised but hardly delivered ROI from their IT expenditures.
W. Coy Gauthier founded Software Consulting Services, LLC in 2003. In his role as CEO, Coy has worked to revitalize the technology industry within Jackson and the surrounding areas by providing efficient solutions to complex problems. Coy has over 25 years of software development experience beginning as a C++ and Assembler developer at Exxon Chemical Plastics and going on to work for some of the world's largest corporations including Exxon Chemical Americas, Entergy Nuclear Power, and AT&T. Through these experiences, Coy has mastered the craft of provisioning the right combination of Business Intelligence and Information Technology to meet today's demanding strategic business planning and evaluation needs. In 2017, Coy was one of a select few to receive the Mississippi Business Journal, Top In Tech Award in recognition of his contribution to driving the technology industry in Mississippi.
Bob Mims, CPA is a financial consultant and VP of finance for promising enterprises. For 20 years, Bob has worked with numerous startup ventures and nonprofits in the roles of strategic planning, business modeling, controller and CFO. His focus is understanding the fundamentals of profitability. Bob worked for 19 years as the controller and director of investments for Ducks Unlimited, Inc. He was also the CFO of DU’s sister organization, Wetlands America Trust. Bob began his career with KPMG as a senior assurance manager in the financial services field. Bob was the primary recruiter and local office training coordinator for the Memphis, Tennessee and Jackson, Mississippi offices. Bob also was extensively involved in KPMG training, earning National Instructor of the Year honors on three occasions. He has chaired the Not-for-Profit conference for the AICPA and has served on the Environmental Roundtable, the Not-for-Profit Advisory Council of FASB, and was appointed to FASAC.
Dan Prater, CPA is Senior Managing Consultant at BKD CPAs and Advisors in Springfield, Missouri. Dan has an extensive background in nonprofit leadership and higher education. He was the founder and executive director of the Center for Nonprofit Leadership at Drury University (Springfield, MO). In this role, he organized workshops and conferences, consulted nonprofit organizations, and wrote and spoke on industry-related topics. He co-created the university's popular Master of Nonprofit and Civic Leadership and continues to serve as an adjunct instructor in the program. Dan provides consulting services to numerous nonprofits, NGOs and governmental organizations. He works with a variety of types and sizes of groups. Throughout the past few years, he has provided assistance to large institutions/organizations such as the Mississippi State University, University of Texas, Belmont University, and healthcare systems, as well as to mid-sized and small organizations that have no paid employees. Dan is a graduate of the Georgetown University Nonprofit Management program, has a Master of Art in Communication from Drury University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Evangel University.
Secretary of State Michael Watson was born in Pascagoula and grew up as the son of a shipyard worker and bank teller. Michael went on to earn a BBA and a JD from the University of Mississippi. During the summer of 1999, he served as an intern for then U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Trent Lott. That experience strengthened his desire to one day serve the people of Mississippi as an elected official. Secretary Watson was elected to the Mississippi State Senate in 2007 to represent District 51. In the Senate, Michael became known as a conservative fighter for his work to preserve Mississippians’ rights and religious liberties and to limit government overreach and spending. Then-Governor Phil Bryant asked Michael Watson to introduce legislation adding "In God We Trust" to our state motto. Michael’s strong record in the legislature played a large role in his election as Mississippi’s Secretary of State in 2019. Since taking office, Secretary Watson has wasted no time making an impact on the state in several areas including protecting elections, promoting small businesses, managing state lands, and fixing the driver’s licensing system.