BILOXI -- Most of the more than 600 people in the sold-out ballroom at Beau Rivage Resort & Casino had no idea who would be selected as the 25th recipient of the Pat Santucci Spirit of the Coast Award on Tuesday -- including winner Dorothy Wilson.
With each comment made by Kimberly Nastasi, CEO of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce, some of the people in the room knew she wasn't describing them.
"Specialist in conceptualization and execution of printed and digital products, strong communicator, strategic marketer and public relations manager," Nastasi said, "Highly skilled as editor, graphic designer, project manager and people manager, creative and innovative, able to exercise good judgment and lead in a rapidly changing environment -- these are facts that describe this year's recipient."
Karen Sock, president of Sock Enterprises, was sitting at the table with Wilson and said, "It took her a little while to realize (Nastasi) was talking about her."
The presentation to Wilson is "really well deserved," Sock said. "She's positive and creative. It's been wonderful to watch her grow,"
Wilson said she had no idea she would win the award and declined to address the crowd as she strode from her table near the back of the room to the stage to collect the eagle award and the congratulations of the Chamber board.
Wilson later said she was humbled by her selection when so many people in South Mississippi have made notable contributions to the community.
Wilson is the fifth woman to win the award that began in 1989 and is named for one of those women, Pat Santucci.
Wilson is a past managing editor and special publications manager of the Sun Herald and was a founding member of the American Copy Editors Society. She now owns DWilson & Associates Publishing and Marketing Solutions, and develops and serves
as editor/manager, marketing director and interactive content manager for Gulf Coast Woman and PlayTheCoast magazines. She and her husband, James, own and operate Mighty Men Movers.
Nastasi said Wilson donates her time and talents to MLK Fire Prevention Canvassing project, NAACP, Mental Health Association of South Mississippi, Lighthouse Business & Professional Women, the Women's Initiative Advisory Council of United Way and Boys & Girls Club of South Mississippi.
Also during the annual Coast Chamber meeting, outgoing Chairwoman Angie Juzang listed the organization's accomplishments over the last year and its quest to become one of about 225 accredited chambers out of 7,000 chambers in the United States.
"We're going to finish what we started," said incoming Chairman Eric Kravette. The group also will focus on the outcomes of the legislative session and look to advance leadership among women in business, he said.