The Woodward Hines Education Foundation (WHEF) has elected two new members to its board of directors, Robert E. Leard, IV, and Debra Barnes McGee. WHEF’s mission to help more Mississippians obtain postsecondary credentials, college certificates and degrees that lead to meaningful employment.
Leard has 22 years of banking management and financial experience with Regions. He held several positions at Regions prior to his current role as Commercial Banking Executive for Mississippi. He is an Executive Board Member for Habitat for Humanity of the Capital Area and the Andrew Jackson Council, Boy Scouts of America. He was on the Executive Board of the Metro Jackson YMCA and is a former member and president of the Capital Optimist Club of Jackson, former annual campaign co-chair for the United Way of the Capital Area, and former board member and finance committee chairman of the Central Mississippi Red Cross.
Before joining Regions, Leard served in various roles at Trustmark Bank in Jackson. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.
McGee was the Senior Vice President and Director of Minority Business Development at BankPlus in Jackson. Her career in banking spans more than 30 years, and she currently develops programs and initiatives geared toward minority businesses. McGee has been voted Jackson Advocate Woman of the Year and featured in Who’s Who in Black Mississippi; she has also been named Financial Women International Woman of the Year, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Mississippi Financial Services Champion of the Year, and Woman of Distinction for the Girl Scouts of Greater Mississippi.
McGee is a native of Hattiesburg and holds a degree from the William Carey University School of Business with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She also holds certificates of banking from the American Institute of Banking and the University of Mississippi School of Banking. McGee is a graduate of Leadership Hattiesburg and Leadership Jackson and is an active board member for numerous service organizations including Dress for Success Metro Jackson, Jackson State University Development Foundation Board, Mississippi Food Network, Mississippi Minority Business Alliance, Inc., Nissan Community Advisory Group. She is a member of the Links Incorporated LeFleur’s Bluff Chapter.
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