By LYNN LOFTON
s she assumes the duties of executive director of the 500-member Mississippi Economic Development Council, Mary McDaniel Swoope feels honored, excited and respectful.
“I’m honored and humbled to fill the role of MEDC Executive Director and to serve the economic developers and chamber executives of Mississippi,” she said. “I’m excited to be serving our members and finally pulling together all the years of preparation from my different careers and using my skills to assist our members to better their communities and the state. I respect each member of this organization and I do not want to let any of them down.”
Swoope (pronounced swope) arrives at the MEDC with a varied work background. She’s worked in business outreach, marketing, real estate and in business and nonprofit leadership at the state and local level.
“Every job in my career, whether private or public, has prepared me for this position,” she said.
“Economic development is about teamwork, and I’ve had to be a collaborative leader in every position to accomplish results.”
She hopes to use Gov. Phil Bryant’s inaugural theme of Imagine Mississippi, for MEDC members to help them not only imagine what they can do for their communities, but to help make this a reality.
“My basic goals are simple: manage a professional organization, add value to the membership and be a resource for economic transformation,” she said.
MEDC serves as the voice for Mississippi’s economic development and chamber of commerce professionals and other constituents, providing professional development training and bring consultants to work with community leaders. Collaborating with other entities, the organization is an advocate for Mississippi’s economic and community agenda.
Speaking of her early life, Swoope said, “My crazy life began as a toddler growing up on the campus of Terry Elementary/High School campus. My father was the principal, and it was a charmed life.” Her high school years were spent in Clinton after her father moved into administration with Hinds County Schools.
“I believe I always envisioned myself serving others. Therefore I went into education. I feel that I have followed that vision as I have moved from different communities and states,” she says. “My father and mother established a servant attitude in our home, and I feel that I will accomplish that dream in my current position.”
Swoope received a bachelor’s degree from Mississippi State University in vocational education and marketing and a master’s in vocational education.
“I guess you can see from my degrees where my true passion lies, workforce development and work-force education,” she said.
“I look forward in my new role to work with leaders throughout our state to continue to develop a quality workforce in Mississippi.”
She credits Gray Swoope, her husband of 31 years and a long time economic development leader, with her passion for economic development. The couple has two daughters, Grace Elizabeth, who lives in Los Angeles and is currently working in costuming on the television series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on the CW, and Anne Carrie, a senior at Madison Central High School who has an offer to play collegiate golf next year.
People might be surprised to know that Swoope ran the Chicago Marathon and ran the half-marathon in the first Mississippi Blues Marathon.
“The year I completed the Chicago Marathon was the year officials shut the marathon down due to extreme heat,” she said.
“As they were trying to direct us off the course, I just happened to be with a group of runners who defied the advice. We kept running and completed the entire marathon. Having accomplished such a goal was the best feeling I could ever imagine.”
She feels life is like a marathon, a person should be constantly learning and preparing for the next adventure, eager to see what lies ahead and sometimes defying the direction that people tell them to go.
“I am blessed with a wonderful family that includes three dogs, Max, Obi (named for our love of Star Wars) and Paski,” she added. “As cliché as it sounds, I love spending as much time as I can with my family. But I also love to travel, find a good red wine, read and spend time on the golf course with Anne Carrie. I hope to find my golf game at some point.”
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