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5/21/14 - Gelston to lead alma mater's corporate engagement efforts

The chief financial officer of the State of Mississippi’s lead economic development agency is taking a top executive post at Mississippi State University.

After a national search, Kathy Gelston has been named associate vice president for corporate engagement and economic development at the land-grant institution, pending formal approval by the Board of Trustees, State Institutions of Higher Learning.

Gelston is expected to begin serving in her new role Aug. 1.

Kathy Gelston

“We are very pleased that Kathy will be joining us and leading our corporate engagement team,” said David Shaw, MSU’s vice president for research and economic development.

“As our economy grows and diversifies, our researchers, resources and leadership are playing vital roles. Working to meet the needs of business and industry by connecting them with our research enterprise is a clearly-defined priority at Mississippi State,” he explained.

In her current role as CFO for the Mississippi Development Authority, she oversees the agency’s Financial Resources and Accounting and Finance divisions.

“I have truly enjoyed serving my state during the last nine years in my role at MDA, and I will miss all the great people I work with on a daily basis. Joining the team at Mississippi State is an exciting move to continue the work I love, which is growing our state’s economy. It feels like coming home,” she said.

Additionally, Gelston is responsible for coordinating state-funded incentive programs and developing incentive packages for industry. Gelston has been an integral part of the MDA team since 2005.

“Kathy has been a great contributor to the state’s job creation and retention efforts during her time at MDA. She is highly respected in the economic development arena for her policy knowledge and her ability to produce positive results. I wish her all the best in her new endeavors at Mississippi State, and I look forward to working with her and the university in the future,” said MDA Executive Director Brent Christensen.

A Mississippi State alumna, Gelston holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting. She also earned an MBA at Mississippi College in Clinton.

Gelston previously worked at KPMG, where she served as a state and local tax manager for two years, and at the Mississippi State Tax Commission, where she worked for 12 years. She served as deputy director of audit and compliance while at the commission.

Melvin Ray, who served previously as associate vice president for economic development, is retiring this summer after a career at MSU that has spanned nearly three decades.

“I cannot say enough about the contributions Mel has made to our office, this institution and our state,” Shaw said.

Among the nation’s leading major research universities, Mississippi State has been designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as “a very high research activity university,” which represents the highest level of research activity for doctorate-granting universities in the U.S. Mississippi State is the only school in the state with the distinction, and one of only 108 nationwide. MSU’s research expenditures totaled $233 million in 2012.

Jim Laird | Public Affairs

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