Mississippi DMR hires tidelands program coordinator

jphampton@sunherald.comAugust 9, 2013 

BILOXI -- The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources has hired a Jackson County woman to coordinate its $9 million a year tidelands program.

Sonja Slater, 46, who started Monday, will be paid about $55,000 a year, said Executive Director Jamie Miller. She had been the compliance and regulatory officer for the Gulf Coast Renaissance Corp., which was founded in 2007 "to facilitate the development of mixed income communities that provide safe, quality, affordable housing for the workforce of the Mississippi Gulf Coast," according to its website.

DMR spokeswoman Melissa Scallan said prior to working at GCRC, Slater worked for Kinetic Staffing in Biloxi and was contracted out to Horne CPAs and Business Advisors, the firm that did a 60-day review of DMR earlier this year. There she was a project coordinator in the Small Rental Assistance Program administered by the Mississippi Development Authority after Hurricane Katrina.

A 1986 graduate of Pascagoula, she worked for the city of Pascagoula, including some time when Miller was there, but she did not work for Miller, Scallan said.

Scallan said Slater has a master's in public administration from Troy University and a bachelor's in business administration from the University of Southern Mississippi.

She said the position wasn't advertised because Miller can directly hire someone if he knows someone who is qualified.

"She has some really strong credentials and she spent a lot of time in grant management," said Miller. "And also some policy and procedures for financial accounting ... so she has a real strong background suited to do the work here for us.

"Since I got here I've been trying to find high-functioning, quality people to help manage the agency and she certainly fits in that realm and we're glad to have her."

Slater will manage a grant program that pays roughly equal amounts each year for public access projects, such as the Lighthouse Park in Pascagoula, and research projects such as the aquaculture program at the Lyman Fish Hatchery.

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