Mississippi Public Universities
IHL Press Release
29TH ANNUAL HEADWAE PROGRAM SCHEDULED FOR FEBRUARY 2
1/27/2016 - Jackson, Miss

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi Vice President Sean Suggs to deliver keynote address

Higher education in Mississippi is the focus of the 29th annual HEADWAE program, which will honor outstanding students and faculty members from 34 Mississippi public and private universities and colleges on Tuesday, February 2, 2016.

Mississippi Economic Council President and CEO Blake Wilson chairs the event. Sean Suggs, Vice President of Manufacturing for Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi, Inc., will deliver the keynote address at the luncheon.

Higher Education Appreciation Day-Working for Academic Excellence (HEADWAE) was established by legislative resolution to honor individual academic achievement and the overall contribution of the state's public and private institutions of higher learning.

The honorees will begin the day with a visit to the State Capitol where they will be welcomed by Governor Phil Bryant at 10:00 a.m., recognized by the Senate and House of Representatives and given a tour of the Capitol. The awards luncheon will begin at 11:45 a.m. at the Marriott Hotel, 200 East Amite Street in Jackson.

Blake Wilson serves as President & CEO of the Mississippi Economic Council and is only the third executive of the State Chamber of Commerce in more than 60 years. He came to MEC in 1998 from the Florida Chamber of Commerce where he served as Executive Vice President directing membership, marketing, government affairs and grassroots legislative activities.

The key focus of MEC under Blake's leadership has been to shrink the miles that separate Mississippi and utilize the interconnections among Mississippians to make progress in education, economic development and business climate and image. Blake lives in Brandon with his wife, Ann, a public school teacher. They have three grown children.

Sean Suggs was named vice president of manufacturing at Toyota Mississippi in December 2015. In this role, Suggs is responsible for all areas of automotive manufacturing including body operations, paint and assembly and encompasses all areas of engineering, production and maintenance.

Prior to taking over as manufacturing vice president, Suggs served as the vice president of administration at Toyota's Blue Springs plant that produces the Corolla, Toyota's highest volume selling vehicle in the world.

Suggs' automotive career began in 1998 at Toyota's vehicle assembly plant in Princeton, Ind. where he was hired as a Team Leader. During his 10 year tenure, he served several roles and was named general manager of quality planning in 2008. In this leadership role, Suggs oversaw professional development, vehicle quality and manufacturing quality for current and new model production.

Prior to rejoining Toyota, Suggs most recently served as director of strategy, administration and human resources from 2011 to 2013 at Nissan's North American headquarters in Franklin, Tenn. During his five years with Nissan, he also directed production quality at the company's manufacturing and assembly plant in Canton, Miss.

In addition to helping shape Toyota Mississippi's future, Suggs is also building on the advancement of the Toyota Way in the community through personal service. He currently serves as a board member for the Center for Manufacturing Excellence at the University of Mississippi, the Toyota Wellsprings Endowment Committee, the Community Development Foundation and the Tree of Life Clinic. In the past, Suggs supported several state and regional nonprofit and economic development organizations in Tennessee and Mississippi.

Suggs earned his Masters of Business Administration degree from Auburn University in 2010 and a Bachelor of Science degree from Oakland City College in Oakland City, Ind. in 2000. He and his wife, Janet, reside in Tupelo, Miss., which places him close to his six children and their families.

Corporate sponsors for the HEADWAE program include: Atmos Energy, Jackson; AT&T, Jackson; BancorpSouth, Tupelo; Chevron Products, Pascagoula; ERGON, Flowood; Georgia-Pacific (KOCH Companies), Baton Rouge, LA; Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula; Mississippi National Guard, Jackson; Mississippi Power Company, Gulfport; Sanderson Farms, Laurel; The College Knowledge Project, Jackson; Trustmark Bank, Jackson; and Valley Services, Inc., Flowood.

Click here  for a list of 2015-16 HEADWAE honorees.

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.