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2/16/2015 - Jackson, Miss.

Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias to deliver keynote address

Brian Cuccias

Blake Wilson
JACKSON, MISS. -- The 28th Annual HEADWAE program has been scheduled for February 17, 2015. Outstanding students and faculty members from 34 Mississippi public and private universities and colleges will receive special recognition from the Mississippi Legislature during this annual event.

Mississippi Economic Council President and CEO Blake Wilson chairs the event. Brian Cuccias, corporate vice president of Huntington Ingalls Industries and president of Ingalls Shipbuilding, will deliver the keynote address at the luncheon.

Higher Education Appreciation Day-Working for Academic Excellence (HEADWAE) was established by legislative resolution to honor individual academic achievement and the overall contribution of the state's public and private institutions of higher learning.

The honorees will begin the day with a visit to the State Capitol where they will be welcomed and recognized by the Senate and House of Representatives and given a tour of the Capitol. The awards luncheon will begin at 11:45 a.m. at the Marriott Hotel, 200 East Amite Street in Jackson.

Blake Wilson serves as President & CEO of the Mississippi Economic Council and is only the third executive of the State Chamber of Commerce in more than 60 years. He came to MEC in 1998 from the Florida Chamber of Commerce where he served as Executive Vice President directing membership, marketing, government affairs and grassroots legislative activities.

The key focus of MEC under Blake's leadership has been to shrink the miles that separate Mississippi and utilize the interconnections among Mississippians to make progress in education, economic development and business climate and image. Blake lives in Brandon with his wife, Ann, a public school teacher. They have three grown children.

Brian Cuccias was named to his current position in 2014 and is responsible for all programs and operations at Ingalls, including U.S. Navy destroyers, amphibious assault and surface combatant programs and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter program. He began his shipbuilding career in 1979 with Litton Data Systems and has held a number of positions of increasing responsibility since then. Most recently, Cuccias served as Ingalls' vice president of program management and was responsible for program execution and financial performance for all ships produced by the shipyard.

Cuccias earned a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of South Alabama and has attended executive education programs at Harvard Business School and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. He serves on the board of directors for the Jackson County Economic Development Foundation.

Huntington Ingalls Industries is America's largest military shipbuilding company and a provider of manufacturing, engineering and management services to the commercial and non-commercial oil, gas and energy markets. For more than a century, HII's Newport News and Ingalls shipbuilding divisions in Virginia and Mississippi have built more ships in more ship classes than any other U.S. naval shipbuilding. Headquartered in Newport News, Va., HII employs approximately 39,000 people operating both domestically and internationally.

Corporate sponsors for the HEADWAE program include: Atmos Energy, Jackson; AT&T, Jackson; BancorpSouth, Tupelo; Chevron Products, Pascagoula; ERGON, Flowood; Georgia-Pacific (KOCH Companies), Baton Rouge, LA; Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula; Mississippi National Guard, Jackson; Mississippi Power Company, Gulfport; Nissan-Canton; Sanderson Farms, Laurel; Trustmark Bank, Jackson; and Valley Services, Inc., Flowood.

Click here for a list of 2014-15 HEADWAE honorees.


The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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