Whit Hughes’ family first came to Mississippi over two hundred years ago and, over the course of time, settled in counties like Adams, Amite, Franklin, Hinds, Leflore, and Madison.
Whit was born in Jackson at the old Baptist Hospital. He and his wife, Shelley, were both raised in Jackson and went on to receive undergraduate degrees from Mississippi State University. While at Mississippi State, Whit also received a Master of Business Administration degree while playing two years of baseball and five years of basketball for legendary coaches Ron Polk and Richard Williams.
Among the many highlights of his time as a student-athlete, Whit was recognized multiple times as Academic All-SEC. Of course, Whit is most well-known for playing valuable minutes on a team that made it to the 1995 Sweet Sixteen and contributing as "Sixth Man" for the celebrated team that made it to the 1996 Final Four. At the close of his career, he held the university record for Games Played.
After college, Whit and Shelley began their lives together and Whit launched his professional career by getting involved in politics…helping elect conservative candidates around the country. This path involved stints as Deputy Director of the Republican National Committee’s Eagles Program and Finance Director of Elizabeth Dole’s initial U.S. Senate Campaign. Eventually, Whit and Shelley returned home to Mississippi and Whit served as Finance Director for Haley Barbour’s successful Gubernatorial Campaign in 2003.
Whit is viewed as one of the top business leaders, economic developers, and advocates for the State of Mississippi. Since 2003, his professional focus has been making the state a better place to live, work, and raise a family. Whit quickly ascended to the Deputy Director position at Mississippi Development Authority where he worked relentlessly, alongside others, to retain and locate tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of investment dollars in Mississippi.
From there, Whit transitioned into owning and operating his own consulting firm concentrating on economic development, business development, marketing and communications, public/private sector networking, strategic planning, fundraising, and more. His firm’s listing of clients featured a broad and diverse roster reflective of important industry sectors (automotive, aerospace, energy, healthcare, manufacturing, and tourism), non-profit foundations, and both community-based and multi-state economic development organizations.
Since 2013, Whit has fulfilled a leadership role in the Christian healing mission and ministry of Baptist Health Systems. As Foundation President and Chief Development Officer, Whit has helped care for patients and their families as part of an organization with a one-hundred-plus year legacy of exceptional care and service. Having merged with Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation just months ago, Whit has recently been part of a team that is now one of the top-five employers in the State of Mississippi in terms of size and strength.
Whit and Shelley, his wife of twenty years, reside in Madison with their three children (Phillip, 15; Pax, 13; Presley, 10). Shelley is a teacher at Trinity Preschool & Kindergarten in Jackson. Whit stays active in the community serving on a number of local and statewide boards of directors. In addition, he has enjoyed serving as a volunteer coach in metro area recreational leagues – coaching all three of his children in basketball, baseball, football, and soccer.
Whit and Shelley are members of Highlands Presbyterian Church in Ridgeland.