Tish Haas Williams – Executive Director
Linda McCarthy –Assistant Director
Sally Isaacs – Business Resource Center
Mary Wilson Cowand – Digital Marketing
Kathryn Corr – Marketing & Event Coordination
Lisa Jones – Accountant
Tish Haas Williams
Tish Haas Williams is the Executive Director of the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce and the Hancock Community Development Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation with a focus on economic and community development in the post disaster environment. She has 30 years experience in non-profit management and economic development and is recognized as one of the leading forces in producing solutions and strategies to address serious capacity delivery needs caused by and exposed by Katrina and the BP Oil Spill to support existing businesses as well as sustain long term growth in the county and region.
On August 29, 2005, business as usual changed for the businesses of Hancock County. Hurricane Katrina hit Hancock County, Mississippi the hardest wiping out residences, businesses and parts of the cities of Waveland and Bay St. Louis. Out of 1,600 businesses countywide, at least 50% were either damaged or destroyed. Overnight, the county’s economy was incomprehensibly shattered as was the capacity, membership, and resources of this countywide economic focused organization.
Ms. Williams, only weeks following Katrina, launched an innovative effort to contend with the storm’s devastation and challenges beginning with the Chamber re-emerging as the first Business Recovery & Assistance Center on the Mississippi Coast, funded through creative leveraged partnering of the Mississippi Development Authority with a grant from the Economic Development Administration. This effort was recognized as a national model for disaster recovery. In 2006, she was the recipient of the prestigious Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contribution to Disaster Recovery by a Public Official by the US Small Business Administration. She was also recognized during that same year by the Mississippi District Office of the US Small business Administration as Mississippi’s Outstanding Official for Disaster Recovery. The Sun Herald named her one of the region’s Top Ten Community Leaders in South Mississippi during 2005.
With the business recovery effort stabilized, Williams then undertook to establish needed new delivery capacity for the county and region by the creation of a new 501(c)(3) non-profit as an economic and community development corporation which is the Hancock Community Development Foundation. This successful endeavor resulted in 2009 in being able to establish the HUD funded Katrina CDBG $3 million low interest/forgivable loan program, the only program if its kind, now a model for other communities in the Country to assist small businesses still struggling to recover from the storms. In 2012 this program was recognized with a state economic development award.
Williams also serves as Secretary and Executive Director for a two state regional non profit organization, Partners for Stennis, promoting growth and jobs for NASA-Stennis Space Center. Following Katrina, she managed the Governor’s Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal for Hancock County. Over the years, she has served on numerous panels on disaster recovery for the EDA, International Economic Development Council, and the US Chamber. She is a member of the Mississippi Governor’s Oil Spill Commission and a member of the economic development committee. In 2009, she was named as the Inaugural recipient of the Jody Compretta Person of Passion Award for her persistence and leadership to rebuild Hancock County.
Executive with 20+ years of experience leading the day-to-day operational success and long-term growth of national convention centers, special event facilities and tourism impact initiatives. Expertise in achieving efficiencies across operations, financials, marketing, event presenting, and human resources to ensure the highest level of service while optimizing profitability. Manage multimillion-dollar budgets and direct teams of up to 200 exempt and non-exempt employees. Operate at the highest levels of the organization to lead major capital improvement projects that range in value from $100K to a $65 million major expansion. Proven ability to establish and maintain strategic relationships with key community leaders, corporate partners, vendors, suppliers, exhibitors and internal associates to ensure facilities exceed revenue and brand identity objectives.
McCarthy holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications from University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, MS. She also is a graduate of the International Association of Venue Managers, Facility Management School in Wheeling, WV.
A business owner for over twenty years, Isaacs has over a decade of experience in real estate (development and construction), quality management consulting and healthcare management and direct patient care. She is adept in strategic planning, management/administration, customer service, problem solving, process improvement and training/education; this includes excellent skills in facilitating communication and coordination between different job positions.
Isaacs holds a Masters of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Alabama in Birmingham. She also holds a Bachelors of Science in Biology from Millsaps College in Jackson.
Mary Wilson Cowand
A graduate of the Art Institute of Charlotte, Cowand started working with the Chamber as a technology intern through the Teachup! program, an initiative of the Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) in 2011.
Now, Wilson is responsible the online presence of the Hancock Chamber of Commerce, Partners for Stennis, MS Gulf Coast Scenic Byways, Hancock MS My Home and Kiln Business Council. Since arriving Cowand has created and maintains 20 + social media accounts for all Chamber, Partners for Stennis, Byways and Hancock MS My Home as well as, maintaining their websites and online calendars. Cowand is also in charge of coordinating all Hancock Chamber Business After Hours and Ribbon Cutting events.