Youth Leadership Summit

The Palazzo Youth Leadership Summit gives high school juniors and seniors from schools across Mississippi's 4th Congressional District the opportunity to hear the success stories of our prestigious guest speakers. 

The event will take place Thursday, October 27th at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. I hope to see you there!

Past Speakers

Fred Wallace Haise, Jr.
Astronaut, Pilot, and American Engineer       

Fred Haise was born in Biloxi, Mississippi on November 14, 1933. 

During his 20-year NASA career, Haise served as an Aeronautical Research Pilot
and Astronaut, and flew as the Lunar Module Pilot on the famous aborted Apollo 13
mission in 1970. He also flew five flights as the Commander of the Space Shuttle
Enterprise in 1977 for the Approach and Landing Test Program at Edwards Air
Force Base. He is one of only 24 humans to have ever flown to the moon. 

Haise is a 1959 graduate of the University of Oklahoma with honors in Aeronautical
Engineering. He is also the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Haley Astronautics Award, the General Thomas D.
White Space Trophy, the Society of Experimental Test Pilots Kinchloe "Test Pilot of the Year" Award, the NASA
Distinguished Service Medal, the NASA Exceptional Service Award, the NASA Special Achievement Award, the
Aerospace Walk of Honor and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. 

Haise's career also includes time flying as a pilot in the Air Force, the U.S. Marine Corps, and the Ohio Air National
Guard.  He retired in 1996 as President of Northrop Grumman Technical Services and continues to promote space
exploration and education with his work on the board of Infinity Science Center located just outside of NASA's
John C. Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, Mississippi.

Hannah Roberts
Miss Mississippi 2015

Hannah Roberts is Miss Mississippi. She is a junior majoring in biochemistry.

As Miss USM, Hannah has promoted a book donation program she began in 2005 called Pages of Love. Through Pages of Love, Hannah has donated over 17,000 children’s books around the state of Mississippi as well as other south eastern states.  This program has won several national awards including the National Young Role Model of the Year award in 2010.  

Among her accomplishments at USM, Hannah has been involved in Freshman Associates, the American Chemical Society, Women in Science and Engineering, and Eagle Connection. Hannah recently won a Barry M. Goldwater National Scholarship for her research in chemistry, making her one of about 90 women in the country to receive the award. Hannah has maintained a 4.0 GPA and plans to take the MCAT and apply for medical school in the coming year with hopes of becoming a trauma surgeon.


Randy G. Pierce
Associate Justice, Mississippi Supreme Court

Randy G. Pierce grew up in Greene County, Mississippi, where he still resides. He is A 1982 graduate of Leakesville High School, attended Jones County Junior College in 1984-1985, and received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting in 1987 from the University of Southern Mississippi. He also became a Certified Public Accountant and received his Masters Degree in Business Administration from USM before graduating from Ole Miss Law School where he served as President of the Law School Student Body.

Currently, Randy serves as an Associate Justice on the Mississippi Supreme Court for the Southern District, Place Two, which covers twenty-seven Mississippi counties. He co-chairs the Commission on Children's Justice and chairs the Rules Committee on the Legal Profession. He is a regular speaker for continuing education seminars and is an adjunct professor at the University of Southern Mississippi and the Mississippi College School of Law.  His past public service includes time spent as the Chancery Court Judge for the Sixteenth Chancery Court District of Jackson, George and Greene Counties. He also represented District 105 in the Mississippi Legislature where he served as chairman of the House Education Committee and Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Education. 

In his spare time, Randy follows his passion for the arts by writing. His first novel, Pain Unforgiven, was released in May 2011. His second novel, Magnolia Mud, will be released April 1, 2014. 

Sarah Thomas 
Permanent Official for the National Football League 

Sarah Thomas was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi in 1973, and has lived in the Reservoir area since 1999 with her husband, Brian. She is currently a member of the National Football League’s Officiating Development Program and is a finalist to become a permanent NFL game official. Should she accomplish this feat, Sarah would become the first woman ever to do so.

The NFL Officiating Development Program identifies top-level officials with NFL potential and seeks to aid in their officiating development through a series of on and off-the-field training programs. The most advanced officials in the program, including Sarah, are considered finalists for NFL openings when they arise.

Sarah’s football officiating career dates to the early 1990s, when she attended a meeting for aspiring football game officials with her brother, Lea. Then in 1996, Sarah became the first female to officiate in Division 1-A High School football game in the state of Mississippi. 

Sarah began officiating at the college level when she was hired by Conference USA in 2007 and will officiate as a line judge in the conference this season. She also was the first female selected to officiate a bowl game when in 2009 she took the field in Detroit for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. In addition, she has twice been selected by the NFL to officiate the Under Armor Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

In addition to her Conference USA position, Sarah worked two seasons in the United Football League. She was twice selected to work in training camp with the New Orleans Saints and will do so again in 2013 as part of the NFL Officiating Development Program.

Sarah is a graduate of the University of Mobile, where she received a full scholarship to play basketball. She and her husband Brian are blessed with two handsome, healthy boys, Bridley (12) and Brady (9) and a newborn baby girl, Bailey (10 months).  Off the field, Sarah works as a pharmaceutical representative for Novo Nordisk, Inc. She is an active member of Pinelake Baptist Church in Brandon, Mississippi.  She is heavily involved in the Upward Basketball ministry at Pinelake where she has served as a commissioner, coach for each of her boy’s teams, and officiates the Friday night games. Sarah and all her boys love spending time together – which usually means attending a basketball, baseball, or football game. And now with the newest addition to her family, they are beginning to love “pink”.

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