Rachael Seymour has served as acting director since former CEO Kimberly Nastasi left to take a job with Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula. Seymour continues as director of the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce.
Lyons will begin her new job in a few weeks.
“I’m very excited about working with the chamber,” Lyons said. “I’ve been a member for a number of years and have volunteered and participated as a member. It’s exciting to be on the other side of the table with this organization.”
Lyons has served as the director of development and communication for Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast since 2010. Her experience with fundraising and grant-writing efforts, donor relations, volunteer management and marketing and communication skills are the qualifications needed for the chamber CEO.
“It’s going to be emotional (leaving),” Lyons said. “Habitat is very passionate and I’ve put a lot of time, effort and energy into it. But they’ll be in good hands.”
Lyons said she isn’t sure who will succeed her at Habitat for Humanity.
“Chris (Monforton, chief executive officer) is very good about getting great team members and he’ll do another great job here,” Lyons said.
Before Habitat, Lyons was the Mississippi Gulf Coast program director for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation from December 2006 to March 2010. Over her tenure, more than 33 proposals were awarded in South Mississippi totaling $14 million in grants. Lyons also served as the executive director of the Gulf Coast Business Technology Center and the Greater Biloxi Economic Development Foundation.
Among her leadership roles in the community are chairwoman of the Knight Donor Advised Fund committee, president of the board of the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, president of the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce and chairwoman of the board of the National Business Incubation Association.
She has also been a member of the board for the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits, the University of Southern Mississippi Foundation, the Knight Nonprofit Center and the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Business Advisory Board.
Kate Magandy contributed to this report.