About the Speakers



Keynote Speaker: U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (invited)

Cindy Hyde-Smith was appointed by Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by long-time Senator Thad Cochran, who resigned in April 2018. She took the oath of office on April 9, 2018. With her selection, Hyde-Smith became the first woman to represent Mississippi in Washington, D.C. Prior to her selection, Hyde-Smith was elected to the Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce in 2011. She easily won reelection to that position in 2015.

Before leading the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, Hyde-Smith served 12 years in the Mississippi State Senate, including eight years as chairman of the Agriculture Committee. As a legislator, Hyde-Smith championed policies to promote and protect all facets of the agriculture industry. She fought to protect private property rights, supported tort reform, and earned respect for her advocacy of conservative budget and pro-business initiatives. She has a strong social conservative voting record, and a 100 percent pro-life rating. Hyde-Smith is a lifetime member of the NRA.

As Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce, Hyde-Smith worked to ensure fairness and equity in the marketplace and protect Mississippians through sound regulatory practices. She successfully streamlined government regulations to ease the financial burden on Mississippi farmers and small businesses. Her tenure was also highlighted by her efforts to reopen Chinese markets for American beef exports, advocate for country-of-origin food labeling, and ensure the USDA food safety standards for imported catfish. Under her leadership, the agency has been recognized as a “model agency” in terms of effectiveness and budget control. Hyde-Smith held agency spending below 1 percent growth her entire tenure.

Hyde-Smith previously received numerous awards and honors for her work as a legislator and champion of agriculture, including the highest grade for a strong pro-business and fiscally conservative voting record from the Business and Industry Political Education Committee.

Additionally, Hyde-Smith has received the Agriculture Legislator of the Year Award from the Mississippi Association of Conservation Districts, the Ambassador Award from the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, the Achievement Award from Delta Council, and the Outstanding Service to Small Farmers Award from Alcorn State University.

Hyde-Smith a graduate of Copiah-Lincoln Community College and the University of Southern Mississippi, and maintains close affiliations with the Mississippi Cattlemen’s Association, Lincoln County Forestry Association, Lincoln County Livestock Association, and the Mississippi Nursery and Landscape Association.

Hyde-Smith and her husband Mike have a daughter, Anna-Michael. They reside in Brookhaven and are active members of Macedonia Baptist Church. A fifth-generation farming family, the Senator’s family raises beef cattle and are partners in a local stockyard auction market in Brookhaven.

Sidney "Sid" Salter

Sidney L. "Sid" Salter is Chief Communications Officer and Director of the Office of Public Affairs at Mississippi State University.
In that role, he leads a team of marketing and communications professionals in producing print, broadcast, and new media content designed to advance MSU's reputation as a nationally prominent research university. Salter is also the university's spokesman and the administrator of both the University Television Center and campus radio station WMSV-FM.

MSU's 2004 National Alumnus of the Year, Salter has enjoyed a unique career as an award-winning journalist, political columnist, television commentator, talk radio host, author, educator, and university administrator. He was a John C. Stennis Scholar in Political Science as a student at MSU.

The Washington Post called him "one of the nation's best state political reporters." He is a member of the Miss. Press Association's Hall of Fame. His syndicated political columns have been published in Mississippi and a number of national newspapers since 1983.

He formerly served as MSU's first journalist-in-residence at the MSU Libraries and was the inaugural holder of the Kelly Gene Cook Chair in Journalism at the University of Mississippi, where he served on the Journalism faculty in the 1990s.

Salter represents MSU on the board of directors of the University Press of Mississippi and serves on the Southeastern Conference Communicators Executive Committee. He also serves as vice president of the Pushmataha Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, where he received the 2017 Silver Beaver Award for distinguished service. 

He is a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and PRSA’s Counselors to Higher Education. In 2017, he was named one of “Mississippi’s Top 50” most influential leaders in the state. 

In 2011, Salter wrote the highly-successful biography of legendary MSU broadcaster Jack Cristil, which funded MSU's Jacob S. "Jack" Cristil Endowed Scholarship.
Salter is a member of the board of directors and chairman of the audit committee of Community Bancshares of Mississippi, Inc., a multi-bank holding company operating in four states. He is also a member of the board of directors of the G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery Foundation. He is president-elect of the Starkville Rotary Club.

Salter and his wife, Leilani, are the parents of four grown children and have six grandchildren. They are members of Starkville's First United Methodist Church.

Todd Greene

Todd Greene is vice president and leads the community and economic development department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Greene has oversight for research, policy, and outreach initiatives that promote inclusive economic growth with a focus on small business, housing, community and economic development finance, and human capital and workforce development in all or portions of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.  At a national level, Greene leads the Federal Reserve System’s human capital/workforce development working group in the Community Development function. He has published and presented on various economic and workforce development related topics and is the coeditor of the recent book Transforming U.S. Workforce Development Policies for the 21st Century.

Previously, Greene was a member of the general faculty at Georgia Tech where he led various centers and programs related to applied economic development, including the Community Policy and Research Services group, the Center for Manufacturing Information Technology, and the Program in Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy.

Greene earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard University and holds master’s degrees from Washington University and Georgia State University. He has completed executive education programs at Stanford University Graduate School of Business and Universidad ESAN (Lima, Peru). Greene is on the board of directors and is a member of the governance committee of the International Economic Development Council, is vice chairman of the Atlanta CareerRise Leadership Council, and is a member and past chairman of the Georgia Economic Developers Association. He currently serves on the Augusta University Board of Visitors and the board of directors for the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students (GEEARS), and is a member of the Southern Economic Development Council.