Stakeholders’ Input & Perspectives on H&T Workforce Challenges & Needs Gaps

Dr. Heather Annulis

Dr. Heather Annulis
Professor of Human Capital Development
University of Southern Mississippi

Dr. Heather Annulis serves as Professor of Human Capital Development at The University of Southern Mississippi. Annulis directs the Human Capital Development Master of Science degree program and the Human Capital Development Professional Development Series.  She holds a doctorate from Southern Miss in International Development with a concentration in workforce training and development and a Master’s degree in Communication from The University of Louisiana at Lafayette.  Heather has been instrumental, in generating over $5 million in external funding for Southern Miss.  Associated with this funding was research conducted through NASA to help develop a well-trained geospatial workforce.  Heather’s work has also been funded through the U.S. Department of Labor and the MS Department of Employment Security.  Heather's research interests include developing and implementing competency models, determining return of investment of performance improvement programs, and creating change readiness in organizations.  She regularly speaks at regional, national and international conferences on these subjects.  Her research has been published in the International Journal of Workforce Development, Performance Improvement Journal, Change Management Journal, Conference Board, and Human Resource Development International.  Awards recognizing her professional efforts and research include: the Best Published Case Study Award, ROI Institute; American Society for Training and Development Award of Meritorious Service; Distinguished Professor of e-Learning; Innovator in Workforce Development, Southern Growth Policies Board at the Governor’s Association; and Mississippi Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40. 

Dr. Cyndi Huff Gaudet

Dr. Cyndi Huff Gaudet
Chair and Professor of the Department of Human Capital Development
University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast

Dr. Cyndi Huff Gaudet serves as Chair and Professor of the Department of Human Capital Development at The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast. Cyndi’s passion is developing people through academic programs of excellence that prepare HRD professionals for the workplace.  She championed the development and implementation of the MS and PhD in Human Capital Development at Southern Miss in 1998 and 2006, respectively, programs designed to prepare senior learning leaders who can strategically lead and manage talent in organizations.  She is an active researcher with more than $5M in external funding, 75 publications, 100 presentations, and national awards of research recognition.  Cyndi’s commitment to excellence and innovation has earned numerous awards, including the Southern Miss Distinguished Professor of e-Learning, College of Science and Technology Outstanding Research Award, You Rock! Professor of the Year, Students’ Choice Award, University Commencement Grand Marshal, Gulf Coast Women of Achievement Woman of the Year Award, LSU Alumnus Award of Excellence, Southern Growth Policies Board Innovator in Workforce Development, U.S. Department of Labor Recognition of Excellence—Educating America’s 21st Century Workforce, and the NASA Public Service Group Achievement Award.   Among the organizations with whom Dr. Gaudet has worked as a consultant are NASA, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, HRI Properties, Inc., Smoothie King Corporate, and MasterCard International. Gaudet holds ROI Certification from the ROI Institute, a B.S. and M.Ed. (1976, 1988) from Southern Miss and a Ph.D. (1991) in Human Resource Education and Workforce Development from Louisiana State University. 

Edward M. Rodriguez

Edward M. Rodriguez
President & CEO
Coastal Alabama Business Chamber

A graduate of the ​U.S. Chamber's Institute for Organization Management​ (IOM) with two more years in its Advanced Management program, Ed has led numerous workshops and seminars for chamber professionals sponsored by chamber associations in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Colorado, and others. He is a past board member of the ​Florida Chamber of Commerce Executives (FCCE​) and the ​Florida Association of Membership Executives (FAME).​ He currently serves on the national board of directors for the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) and the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama (CCAA).

Prior to his move to Alabama to become President & CEO of the ​Coastal Alabama Business Chamber, ​Ed was President & CEO of the ​Robins Regional Chamber of Commerce, ​a regional chamber in Warner Robins serving several counties and cities in Middle Georgia. In Georgia, Ed helped develop a chamber-based educational foundation, created an annual statewide political HobNob, and helped his chamber and its service area rebrand itself from the “Warner Robins area” to “Georgia’s Robins Region,” a multi-county region centered around that state’s largest employer, Robins Air Force Base. Ed led the Chamber to its first Five-Star Accreditation with the US Chamber, with that chamber being the only one in Middle Georgia to hold that status.

In the 1990’s and early 2000’s, Mr. Rodriguez was a founding partner in a firm that specialized in fundraising and development for chambers throughout the U.S., with over 200 chambers of commerce in 14 states, where he conducted hundreds of membership campaigns and scores of board retreats. Ed was also founding editor of a statewide quarterly journal for chamber professionals. He has served as a CEO of the ​Amelia Island Chamber​ in his hometown of Fernandina Beach. His efforts there led to the chamber being presented the Award of Excellence as the Number One Small Chamber in America (pop. 200,000 & under) by the National Association of Membership Directors (NAMD). Earlier in his career, Ed was a membership executive for the ​Daytona Beach Chamber,​ and a communications executive for the ​Greater Miami Chamber.

Ed has lived on both sides of the chamber “fence”. Upon leaving his position in Amelia Island to work for 15 years as a chamber consultant, he was elected to a three-year term on the Board of Directors and to the Executive Committee (as Treasurer) of the Amelia Island Chamber and served as the Chamber's Accreditation Chairman.

He served on the Advisory Board for Citizens for a Sound Economy, the Board of Directors for the Nassau County (FL) Economic Development Board, and on the Alumni Board for Miami Country Day School for over a decade. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Miracle League of Pleasure Island, a group working to create a baseball league for disabled children. He enjoys giving back to the profession by conducting board retreats for his friends at other chambers.

A Florida native, Ed earned his bachelor’s degree from ​Florida Southern College​ and his masters from ​Florida State University.​ Although he enjoyed his time in Georgia, he had never lived away from the coast. So with family and friends all along the Gulf Coast, ​he is very happy to be back at the beach!

Bill B. Sisson

Bill B. Sisson 
President and Chief Executive Officer
Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce

Bill B. Sisson is president and chief executive officer of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce.

Sisson earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA and a master’s degree in business administration from The University of Alabama. He also holds a diploma from the Institutes for Organization Management, and is a graduate of Leadership Mobile and Leadership Alabama. 

Sisson is the Chair elect of the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama and a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100. He also serves on the boards of many community organizations throughout the state.