Coast Chamber CEO headed to Ingalls

Kimberly Nastasi
Kimberly Nastasi

After 15 years of working with the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce, CEO Kimberly Nastasi has accepted a position as director of communications in the Communications and Public Affairs Department at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula.

A breakfast and reception in her honor will be Sept. 2 from 9-11 a.m. at the Knight Nonprofit Center, 11975 Seaway Road, Gulfport.

Rachael Seymour, director of the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce, is serving as interim CEO while the search committee looks for Nastasi’s successor. The job is posted on the chamber website for three weeks.

Nastasi will start in her new position Sept. 6 and report to Jim McIngvale, who recently was named director of communications and public affairs at Ingalls Shipbuilding.

Nastasi said she is an “Air Force brat” whose family was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base when she was young. Her father is retired military, her brother is a member of the Hurricane Hunters at Keesler and her new position is an opportunity to work with the military contractor and remain local, she said.

Her first job after earning her master’s degree in communications from University of Southern Mississippi was as executive director of the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce in 2001. She became CEO of the Coast Chamber of Commerce in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina.

“After Katrina, Duncan McKenzie led the organization for two years and really consolidated the organization into a true regional chamber,” she said.

Since then, the chamber has become one of the owners of the Knight Nonprofit Center in Gulfport and created the Chamber Foundation and Coast Young Professionals, she said. Under Nastasi’s direction and board leadership, the chamber also became the first and only one in the state to receive the four-star accreditation with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

She also chaired programs of the U.S. Chamber and is a member of the United States Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100. Among her many awards, she was named the 2015 Executive Director of the Year for Hands On Mississippi and she is a past participant of Rotary International’s Group Study Exchange program, where she spent time in Brazil.

“It's been a wonderful journey,” Nastasi said. “I learned early on to listen and watch.”

In her job, she’s been exposed “to the best of the best leaders of the Gulf Coast,” Nastasi said, and volunteers who, like her, are life-long advocates of the chamber.

“It's been a privilege to be a part of this,” she said.

She leaves the chamber strong and financially sound.

“I think somebody’s going to come in and take it to the next level,” Nastasi said.