The Mississippi Economic Council (MEC) has named its future leadership for 2021 and beyond. Elected officers include:
- Augustus L. (Leon) Collins – Chief Executive Officer, MINACT Inc., and 2021-2022 MEC Chair
- Martin Williams – Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Corinth Coca-Cola Bottling Group, and 2022-2023 MEC Chair
- Jeff C. Bowman – President and CEO, Cooperative Energy, and 2023-2024 MEC Chair
- Pat Thomasson – CEO, Thomasson Company and MEC Treasurer. Thomasson will also serve as Treasurer of the Mississippi Economic Council’s subsidiaries, the M.B. Swayze Foundation and the Public Education Forum of Mississippi.
Prior to his role at MINACT, Inc., Augustus L. (Leon) Collins was the Adjutant General of Mississippi and served as the Commanding General of both the Mississippi Army and Air National Guard. He commanded a force of more than 12,275 citizen soldiers and airmen.
Collins served on active duty in Operation Desert Shield/Storm as well as commanding the 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team during combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004-2006. Collins was promoted to brigadier general on May 10, 2005, while in Iraq, making him the first African American to attain the rank of general officer in the history of the Mississippi National Guard.
Following his deployment to Iraq, Collins was assigned as Director of Mobilization, United States Army Forces Command, in Fort McPherson, Georgia. He held that post from February 2006 until October 2007.
In 2007, Collins was appointed by Governor Haley Barbour to serve as one of the three Commissioners for the Mississippi Worker's Compensation Commission. He held that post until July 2010 when he accepted a position with MINACT Inc., where he served as the Executive Vice President for Strategic Planning.
When Governor Phil Bryant took office in January 2012, he appointed Collins the Adjutant General of Mississippi. He was promoted to the rank of Major General on March 14, 2012.
Collins received an Associate of Arts Degree from Northeast Mississippi Junior College, a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree from the University of Mississippi, a Master of Business Administration Degree from Jackson State University, a Master of Strategic Studies Degree from the United States Army War College and has completed studies at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government as well as the Harvard Business School.
Collins has received numerous awards and honors over his career.
Collins and his wife, Debra, live in Madison and have two sons, William and Benjamin.
Martin Williams serves as the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Corinth Coca-Cola Bottling Group. The company is an independent, fourth-generation, family-owned beverage distributor established in 1907 in Corinth, Mississippi. The company distributes refreshing beverages to all or part of 41 counties in Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri.
Williams worked for Coca-Cola Enterprises and Western Union in Denver, Colorado, and for America Online in Northern Virginia in various roles of escalating responsibility in corporate finance before joining the family business in 2009.
He has been involved with MEC since 2009, serving on the Board of Governors since 2013 and on the Operating Board since 2016. His father, Kenneth Williams, served as Chairman of MEC from 1991 to 1992, which will make Martin only the fourth second-generation Chair in the organization’s history.
Williams has been active in many civic and professional organizations in his career. He currently serves as chair of the Arkansas Beverage Association, having previously served as chair of the Tennessee Beverage Association. He is Vice-Chair of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation and serves on the Coca-Cola Bottlers Association Board of Governors. Williams previously served on the Coca-Cola North America Executive Steering Committee for Future System Operational Design.
He is a member of the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the BSA West Tennessee Area Council Board of Directors in Jackson, Tennessee. He was previously a member of Rotary International and the Elvis Presley Memorial Foundation Board in Tupelo, Mississippi.
Williams has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from the University of Denver. Born and raised in Corinth, Martin and his wife, Adriene, have one daughter, Avon, named for his great-grandfather, who started their Coca-Cola business.
Jeff Bowman is the President and CEO of Cooperative Energy, a role he assumed in November 2019. Bowman is only the fourth person to serve as CEO in the company’s history. Cooperative Energy is a not-for-profit, member-owned generation and transmission cooperative that provides electricity to 55 counties throughout western and southern Mississippi.
Bowman previously served the company as senior vice president and chief administrative officer after joining Cooperative Energy in 2012. Before joining the Cooperative, Bowman was a partner in the law firm of Jackson, Bowman & Arrington of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, during which time he served as the Board attorney for Cooperative Energy’s Board of Directors. Bowman previously served as a captain on active duty in the United States Army, which included service as a military prosecutor and a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.
Bowman, a Hattiesburg native, graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a specialization in accounting. He earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi School Of Law and a Master of Laws in Taxation from the University of Florida.
Bowman and his wife, Christa, have two children, Molly Cate and Corbett. They reside in Hattiesburg.
Pat Thomasson currently serves as the MEC Treasurer and is the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Thomasson Company (TC), a certified woman-owned business specializing in industrial wood products for the energy sector.
Thomasson grew up in the lumber business and was seven when her parents established their wholesale lumber company.
“TC was truly a family business,” Pat said. “Many of my memories center around time spent at the office and the different jobs I would be given. My parents were better at different things, but they both helped me to appreciate that every business function is essential and important. We had a lot of ups and downs, but my parents taught me to be strong, work hard, and appreciate my co-workers.”
The early business experience and a solid moral compass have given Pat a lot of credibility throughout the business community. Prior to assuming the role of CEO leading the family business, Pat worked at Arthur Anderson in New Orleans, the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office in Jackson, and held many other hats at Thomasson Company.
Under her leadership, Thomasson Company was recognized with the 2012 Mississippi Governor’s Cup Award for Small Business, 2015 Neshoba County Large Business of the Year Award, 2016 ONCOR Omnis Supplier Award, 2016 Iberdrola Diversity Supplier of the Year finalist, 2017 Vistra Energy Supplier Diversity Gold Star Supplier Award, and the 2019 Women’s Business Enterprise Council South’s Supplier of the Year.
Thomasson was the recipient of a 2014 Champion Award from the Women’s Business Enterprise Council South, was named 2014 Business Woman of the Year by the Mississippi Business Journal, received the 2014 Volunteer of the Year Award from the Neshoba County Literacy Council, was named the 2016 Mississippi Volunteer of the Year by Women’s Business Enterprise Council South, and was named 2017 WBEC South Volunteer of the Year.
Over the course of her career, Pat has been active in many civic and professional organizations. She is the 2021-2022 chairperson of the Mississippi Manufacturers’ Association, past-president of the Mississippi Lumber Manufacturers’ Association, past-president of the Community Foundation of East Mississippi, and is an active member of the Board of Directors of the Women’s Business Enterprise Council South.
Thomasson, a licensed CPA and Neshoba County native, received her Bachelor of Accountancy and Master of Accountancy degrees from the University of Mississippi.