John M. Hairston

2025-2026 Chair
Mississippi Economic Council

President and Chief Executive Officer
Hancock Whitney Corporation

John Hairston will serve as the 2025-2026 MEC Chair.

John M. Hairston is President and Chief Executive Officer of Hancock Whitney Corporation, the $35 billion parent company of Hancock Whitney Bank. Hancock Whitney has earned recommendations as one of America’s strongest, safest financial safest financial institutions from BauerFinancial, Inc. — the nation’s leading independent bank rating and analysis firm — for 138 consecutive quarters.

John Hairston has served as CEO since 2006. He also served as Chief Operating Officer (2008-2014). He joined the company in 1994. Earlier in his career, he specialized in financial services consulting with Andersen Consulting (now Accenture).

Hairston is active in business, community, economic development, and educational initiatives throughout his native Mississippi. In 2004 and 2009, Governor Haley Barbour appointed him Director of the Board of Mississippi Information Technology Services, which he chaired in his second term. He received appointments in 2005 and 2010 to the Mississippi Gaming Commission, one of the three-member body regulating the state’s gaming industry; and in 2012, Governor Phil Bryant appointed him chair of that commission. Hairston also co-chaired Governor Bryant’s GoCoast 2020 Commission Tourism Committee and continues to serve as co-chair of Governor Tate Reeves’ Tourism Committee for reinvesting the proceeds of BP oil spill funds. He is past chairman and currently a member of the Gulf Coast Business Council board of directors

Hairston is also active in South Louisiana economic activities and a member of the New Orleans Business Council Board of Directors.

He is a past member of the American Bankers Association Board of Directors and Audit Committee, past chair of the Financial Education and Advocacy Committee in Washington, D.C., past chair of the American Bankers Council, and currently a member of the Audit/Risk Committee, and Executive Committee member of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. He currently serves as first vice chair of the Mississippi Economic Council. He also served on the faculty of the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University and the American Banker magazine advisory board.

Hairston is a past commissioner of the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission, appointed by Chief Justice Jim Smith; past commissioner of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Recovery and Revitalization Commission; past co-chair of the Gulf Coast Business Council Premier Destination Initiative, which sponsored legislation to form the first Gulf Coast Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau; past co-chair of the American Bankers Association Dodd-Frank Task Force; and past chair of the Mississippi Bankers Legislative Committee.

He has served on the board of the Mississippi Enterprise for Technology, Partners for Stennis Space Center, and numerous Mississippi Gulf Coast charitable and civic organizations and Washington, D.C., based banking organizations. He was chair of the 2012 United Way of South Mississippi campaign and past chair of the American Heart Association Heart Walk.

One of The Sun-Herald’s Top 10 Business Leaders under 40, Top 10 Community Leaders, Mississippi Business Journal’s Top 40 under 40 Business Leaders, recipient of the Pat Santucci Spirit of the Coast award, New Orleans Junior Auxiliary Laureate award, and Appleseed Foundation Good Apple award, Hairston is a Gulfport High School graduate and magna cum laude graduate of Mississippi State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering.

Hairston is a past member on the Bulldog Foundation Board and past chair of Mississippi State University College of Business Executive Advisory Board.

A sixth-generation Mississippian, Hairston resides in Gulfport, Mississippi, with Ann Hairston, his wife of 32 years.

Share This Page
Scroll to Top