JANS – The Mississippi Tourism Association (MTA), the state’s voice of tourism for over 30 years, announced its elected board of officers for 2023-2024. Visit Jackson’s President & CEO, Rickey Thigpen, PhD has been selected to serve as the state association’s president-elect starting July 1.
For the past 33 years, Thigpen has served in multiple management positions within the administrative and marketing disciplines. Since February 1, 2019, he has served as President & CEO.
Thigpen is a member of numerous professional organizations, including Destinations International, where he serves as an association executive board member and co-chairman of its CEO Diversity and Inclusion sub-committee. He is a member of the U.S. Travel Association Board of Directors, Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership Board of Directors, and the Downtown Jackson Partners Advisory Board. He also serves as an officer of the Capital Area Tourism Association
Thigpen is also engaged civically, including Rotary International – Jackson Chapter; 100 Black Men of Jackson, Inc.; Mississippi Valley State University National Alumni Association (Life Member); Greater Leadership Jackson Alumni Association; Alpha Foundation, Inc. (Vice-Chairman); and a Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., where he served as the 10th Mississippi District Director.
Thigpen is a native of Jackson, Mississippi. He holds a baccalaureate degree in Computer Science from Mississippi Valley State University, a master’s degree in Leadership from Belhaven University, and a Ph.D. degree in Organizational Leadership from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.
In 2019, Thigpen was named Mississippi Tourism Association’s Member of the Year. He has appeared multiple times in Black Meetings & Tourism magazine as one of the most influential African Americans in the tourism industry. In 2020, he received its coveted APEX Award and was featured on the publication’s cover in 2021. Thigpen was recognized by the Events Industry Council in 2020 and was honored to receive its Social Impact Award.
Thigpen is a member of Cade Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, where he serves on the music staff and public relations ministry. His life mission is “to be a lifelong learner dedicated to imparting knowledge to, uplifting and empowering those he is so fortunate to influence.”
The executive board also includes the following members:
• Christy Burns, Executive Director – Visit Corinth: MTA President
• Laura Beth Strickland, Executive Director – Visit Vicksburg: Vice President
• Kurt Allen, President & CEO – Mississippi Aquarium: Secretary/Treasurer
• Chris Chapman, President & CEO – Visit Ridgeland: Past President
In addition to executive board leadership, the MTA Board of Directors is comprised of three members from five regions throughout the state, as well as three at-large positions.