To further its mission of empowering women, the SUCCESS Women will recognize 18 Top Influencers at this year's conference. Of the 18 selected, one will receive a Lifetime Achievement honor of The Coast's Most Influential Woman. And an up-and-coming power leader will be named a One-To-Watch Influencer.
Amber Olsen is the founder of Nextaff Gulf Coast and mother of a child diagnosed with Multiple Sulfatase Deficiency. Amber formed United MSD Foundation and travels the world in search of treatment to help children, like her child, with the devastating disease.
Amber is past President of Singing River Chapter of American Business Women’s Organization, Past President of the Ocean Springs Rotary Club, Past President of the Gulf Coast Human Reserve Association, member of Gulf Coast Chamber and founder of Women Entrepreneurs Gulf Coast.
Angelyn Treutel Zeringue is a Trusted Choice independent insurance agent and President of South Group Insurance Gulf Coast and AST Solutions, Inc. She has been recognized as One Coast Top Community Leader, Person of Passion for Hancock County, Hancock County Citizen of the Year and many more. She actively serves in her community through many organizations from the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce to publicly speaking on technology, leadership, insurance and business issues. Angelyn is passionate about continuing to help shape the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She feeds this passion by mentoring women and young people while being guided by the objective “Aspire to Inspire.” This passion is shown through involvements as major sponsor and mentor for Alpha Omega Robotics Team of Our Lady Academy, speaker and leader for Business Retention and Expansion Project, and Women Entrepreneurs, Church Prayer Group Leader, Junior Achievement Advisor to name just a few.
Cheli Strumila, the owner/editor of Coast Observer for 19 years, Magnolia Leisure & Entertainment for 9 years and the new owner of Coupon Concierge, is a self-made entrepreneur. In 2004, Cheli launched the Observer’s first “Covey Awards.” A Grammy-MTV award style ceremony complete with red carpet arrivals, award presentations, and performances by local musicians. In 2016, she founded an all ladies parading mardi gras krewe, Krewe of Salacia. Salacia being Neptune’s wife and the Goddess of the Sea seemed perfect for our coast. Krewe of Salacia is modeled after the Krewe of Muses in New Orleans but instead of decorated shoes, Krewe of Salacia is and will be known for their decorated Bikini Tops as well as many other unique sea and mermaid themed throws. Cheli has received several awards including being named one of Mississippi Business Journal's Top Entrepreneurs for 2018 as well as being named one of their first Top CEO's of Mississippi in 2016, and in 2017 she was named LBPW Women of Achievements-Woman Entrepreneur of the Year; the Coast Chamber’s Tapestry award, the Intrepid Angel award, the Biloxi Chamber Business of the Month spotlight, and the Forever Young award for Coast Young Professionals.
Christen Duhé is a Mississippi Gulf Coast native and a recognized name on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She is Vice President of Institutional Relations at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. She is a graduate from The University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor degree in public relations and a Master degree in mass communication. Christen is a graduate of Leadership Gulf Coast, Business Council’s Masters’ Class, MEC’s Leadership Mississippi and Mississippi Community College Leadership Academy. Christen is also Vice Chair of the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce and will serve as president for the upcoming year. Christen also serves the Mississippi Gulf Coast community through her involvement as member of the Mississippi Beach Chapter of Public Relations Association, chair of Education for the 2018 United Way of South Mississippi Campaign Cabinet, treasurer of Junior Auxiliary of Gulfport, Leadership Gulf Coast Board of Trustees, Harrison County Junior Leadership Advisory Board and others. She is most proud of her Junior Auxiliary Pajama Drive that supports the Harrison County Children’s Emergency Shelter. The Pajama Drive and shoe drive helps support children at the shelter who often come in the middle of the night with no belongings or clothing. Christen used her resources to partner with Chik-fil-A to hold a series of pajama parties at their locations to help with this project.
Christene Brice is busy on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The Tupelo native and Mississippi Valley State University alum is Harrison’s County’s District 4 Election Commissioner. Ms. Brice moved to the Gulf Coast in 1974 and began teaching in the Harrison County School District. While teaching, Ms. Brice created the Learning Shop program to enhance academic ability, develop decision-making skills, enhance self-esteem and improve behavior of students and has since become an active community leader. She is an active member of Greater Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Gulfport, is a 1995 Leadership Gulf Coast graduate, founder of WHY (Workers Helping Youth), organizer of the Teens for Christ Radio Show that broadcasts on WQFX on Saturdays, and publishes the South Mississippi Minority Business Telephone Directory. Ms. Brice is also a member of the Mississippi State Democratic Executive Committee, the Harrison County Executive Committee, and is actively involved in Gulfport’s Feed the Needy and Toys for Tots programs. Ms. Brice is also a member of the Harrison County Sheriff ’s appointed God-squad whose goal is to help resolve conflict between policemen and spring breakers. North Gulfport Outstanding Community Service Award, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Dreamer Award, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Leadership Award, Omega Citizen of the Year, Harrison County Alumni Chapter of MS Valley State Outstanding Service Award, Magnolia Bar Association’s Harriet Tubman Award, Medgar and Myrlie Evers Ambassador Award are just a few of the awards and recognitions bestowed on Ms. Christene Brice.
Dr. Christine Coker is a 17-year member of the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center. Dr. Coker is a graduate of University of Tennessee at Martin with a B.A. in Biology, received a Master of Science in Biology from Austin Peay State University, and earned a PhD in Horticulture from Auburn University. Dr. Coker regularly mentors students of all ages (children and adult learners) helping them to graduate and to complete graduate level work. Dr. Coker also serves on advisory boards for Loaves and Fishes, the Mississippi Farm to School Network, the New Orleans Farm and Table Experience, Lighthouse Business and Professional Women Board of Trustees and regularly volunteers for the Mental Health Association of South Mississippi and Earth Team Volunteer for Harrison County Soil and Water Conservation District. Dr. Coker is passionate about feeding people. She believes “through education about food production, sustainable agricultural practices, nutrition, food safety, and creative gardening strategies, the community can be transformed into a healthy place with access to safe and affordable food for all.”
Dr. Vickie Tiblier is a career educator who has served elementary and secondary levels as teacher, coach, counselor, and administrator and is devoted to working with children in school and in the community. She is a past community softball coach and board member of the Ocean Springs Parks and Recreation Department. Dr. Tiblier promotes the arts in Mississippi and strives diligently to improve the public perception of education. Dr. Tiblier is the 2017 Administrator of the Year for Ocean Springs School District and 2017 Congressman District 4 Administrator of the Year.
Elise Deano, a native of Poplarville, Mississippi graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and a Master’s from the University of Mississippi. After deciding to pursue a law degree, she obtained a Juris doctorate from the University of Mississippi with the intent of becoming an education attorney. In 1998, she purchased the law firm that employed her and continues that private practice today. In addition to owning her own law firm and practicing law, Elise has taught at William Carey, has owned a home security, home automation/theatre company, and was a Hancock County Youth Court Referee. While serving as Hancock County Youth Court Referee, she received state and national recognition for Ruth’s Roots, a gardening project for drug court participants. She was also instrumental in Hancock County’s 1.1 million dollar grant award to stop the cycle of drug abuse.
Elizabeth Joachim is a believer in giving back to the community. She has worked to make the coast the best place in the state. For her service to the community, she received the Lorillard Citizen Award for Volunteer Service to the Community, the key to the City of Biloxi for serving as chairperson of the Biloxi Community Development Commission for 15 years, Boys and Girls National Service to Youth Award, Biloxi Chamber Director Emeritus Award, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce Pat Santucci Spirit of the Gulf Coast Award to name just a few. Liz runs Corso, Inc., her family’s 94-year-old wholesale distribution and full-line vending company and is actively involved in various business, civic, and cultural organizations. She has been named First Lady of Biloxi, Biloxi Mother of the Year, 1992 Leadership Gulf Coast graduate, Mississippi’s 50 Leading Business Woman Executives, Mississippi Leadership Class graduate, Sun Herald’s South Mississippi Outstanding Community Leader, and American Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year. Liz is a strong proponent of education.
Jennifer Sutton, a Coast veterinarian, Lighthouse Business and Professional Woman Finalist, One Coast Community Leader Award, and The Society for Collegiate Leadership Achievement, is an active member of the Gulf Coast Community. She is a PTO president, Boogie on the Beach Printing Chair, Board of Directors for Open Door Homeless Coalition, prison ministry volunteer, 2011 – 2012 Leadership Gulf Coast graduate among many other community affiliations. Jennifer is a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer, serves as the voice of more than 26 children in foster care and mentored more than 30 community CASA volunteers. She is an active mentor through Open Doors Homeless Coalition and Bridges Out of Poverty Program. Jennifer is a member of the current Leadership Mississippi class.
Jenny Levens is a lifelong resident of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, a University of Southern MS alum, and winner of many honors including 2014 Leadership Gulf Coast Class, 2017 True South Economic Development Class, 2016 Top 10 Under 40 One Coast Awards, and 2018 Mississippi Business Journals Top 50 Under 40. Jenny is passionate about informing her community through projects like Long Beach Wheel Way that will provide beach access to wheelchair bound citizens and visitors and other revitalization efforts that help promote businesses in Long Beach and Pass Christian.
The Pink Lotus Project is an organization founded by Jocelyn Gavin-Lane to empower women and mentor girls. Jocelyn has used this project to give free prom dresses to girls who may not be able to afford them, mentor high school girls through monthly meetings with a curriculum tailored to their needs and development, and host a yearly Gulf Coast Youth Leadership Symposium to emphasize leadership and service. Jocelyn was born and raised in Bay Springs, MS and is a graduate of Jackson State University (Bachelor of Social Work) and The University of Southern Mississippi (Master Degree in Public Health – Healthcare Administration). She is the owner and clinical director of Premier Professional Counseling Services, LLC. Jocelyn is also a 2012 graduate of Leadership Gulf Coast and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Leadership Development Institute. She has received numerous awards for her philanthropic efforts including the Spirit of Ivy Award and the Daughter of the Year Award. Jocelyn is actively involved in her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc, serves on the Board of Directors of Mental Health Association of South Mississippi, National Association of Social Workers, Gulf Coast Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Gulf Coast Chapter of the Links, Inc. and many others.
Award-winning Gospel Artist and passionate community organizer only begins to describe LeKeisha Cotten. This founder of the Gulf Coast Gospel Music Awards was born and reared in the Mississippi Delta in the home of blues legend, B. B. King, Indianola, Mississippi. LeKeisha holds degrees from Mississippi Valley State University and Capella University in Business Administration. Her passion for business and music has afforded her the opportunity to share the stage with many famous entertainers including CeCe Winans, Tamela Mann, Vicki Yohe, Rance Allen, and Lyle Lovett. LeKeisha’s community involvement is just as colorful as her music industry involvement. Executive Chair of Blessed Gyrls Rock Women’s Conference, member of Women’s Resource Center Development Committee, Mercy Housing Advisory Board, Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Art Center’s Events Planning Committee are just some of her involvement.
Sharon Sigalas, one of four children born to very young and uneducated parents, spent what would have been her college years as a young wife and mother. At the age of 38, she decided to attend law school and become a youth court judge in order “to make a difference” instead of just making money as an attorney. She did just that in 2002 when she was elected as Jackson County Youth Court Judge. Now a grandmother, Judge Sigalas has continued her efforts of working to make a difference in the lives of children through innovative programs like the Heartbeat Program that assists courts move younger children through the court process more quickly, Fostering Futures Program, and the Parent Representation Team Approach.
Sonya Williams Barnes was born into a family whose life routine included service and concern for community. Sonya shines in serving others as Vice President of her family’s mortuary and District 119 as she speaks on the floor of the Mississippi House of Representatives. There she champions for proper funding for public and early education in addition to her MS Gulf Coast community involvements with programs like Saving or Sisters, Organize for America and Boys and Girls Club of America. Representative Williams-Barnes is also passionate about STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) exposure for young ladies. She has partnered with local industries to host week long summer camps for 11-14-year-old girls to encourage their interest in STEM fields. She is most passionate about ensuring all children have opportunities to be successful despite their situation.
Shelia Rivers is owner and chief therapist of Rivers Psychotherapy Services and believes in community involvement. This is evident in her volunteer efforts with Special Olympics, Harrison County Youth Shelter, Gulf Coast Women’s Center for Nonviolence (group instructor for domestic violence victims) and others. Shelia lists her most significant community achievement as her involvement with the Gulf Coast Women’s Center for Nonviolence where she learned her true passion of empowerment and the importance of being a social worker. She watched women oppressed by violence and assault discover their own power and voice. Because of that experience, it has become Shelia’s mission to continue to empower and inspire women to discover their voice and their identity. Shelia feels as if she has just begun to make her impact on the Mississippi Gulf Coast although she has been actively involved for several years. She lives by her motto “Empowered to make a difference” which guides her passion of helping others live their best lives to the fullest by making positive changes.
Velma Johnson, award winning Federal Programs Coordinator, is not only committed to working with the youth in her school district and church parish, but is also committed to helping her community live a better quality of life by encouraging and promoting physical fitness. Velma earned a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and Master’s degree in Education Administration from the University of South Alabama. Velma’s community involvements include 2015 Leadership Gulf Coast graduate, Vice President of Gulfport Kiwanis, member of Junior Auxiliary of Gulfport, Youth Director and confirmation teacher at her church where she has led youth involvement in March for Life in Biloxi and Washington, D.C. Velma’s achievements include Blessed Gyrls Rock Emerald Award Recipient, United Way Trailblazer Award, and Junior Auxiliary’s Pearl in Our Crown Spotlight. She strives to live by the words of the late Rita Pierson, “Every child deserves a champion…”
From board member of the Mardi Gras Museum to former elementary and middle principal, Susan Hunt has been very involved on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Because of her community involvement, Susan has been awarded many awards including 2017 One Coast Award, 2016 Biloxi Outstanding Citizen, 2018 Leadership Mississippi Graduate and 2014 Forever Young Award. Susan is passionate about preparing our children and has been instrumental in Biloxi’s community certification for Excel by 5, an innovative early childhood community certification process that emphasizes the importance of parent roles and the roles of early childhood educators in the lives of children during the birth to age 5.
SUCCESS Women's Conference has been named one of the top conferences for professional women in the U.S. It is a unique experience designed to inspire, empower, connect and recharge women.