Speaker Date Topic
Colin McKenzie Jul 07, 2022
Director of the School of Music, Conductor of the Symphonic Winds - USM
Director of the School of Music, Conductor of the Symphonic Winds - USM

Dr. Colin McKenzie is an educator, conductor, and music administrator, currently serving as Director of the School of Music and Conductor of the Symphonic Winds at The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, MS.

Before moving into an administrative role at The University of Southern Mississippi, McKenzie served as Associate Director of Bands, Associate Professor of Music, and Director of the Pride of Mississippi at the same institution.  He conducted the Symphonic Winds, administered all facets of the comprehensive athletic band program, taught course work in conducting, and assisted in student teacher preparation and observation.

Prior to his appointment at the University of Southern Mississippi, Dr. McKenzie served as Associate Director of Bands and Director of Athletic Bands at Georgia Southern University.  At Georgia Southern, he directed and administered all facets of the Southern Pride Marching Band and Hoop Troop Athletic Bands.  He also served as conductor of the Georgia Southern University Wind Symphony, founding conductor of the University Band, and taught graduate conducting and marching band techniques within the Department of Music.

Before teaching at Georgia Southern, McKenzie was on the faculty at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he was assistant director and, later, acting director of the Golden Wave Band, conducted the concert band, co-conducted the symphonic band, and taught undergraduate courses in music education and conducting.  In addition to his duties within the University Bands, McKenzie also served as Associate Conductor of the Waco Symphony Youth Orchestra.

Dr. McKenzie holds the Bachelor in Music Education from Valdosta State University, the Master of Music in Conducting from Baylor University, and the Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting from Michigan State University.  His primary conducting teachers are Dr. Kevin Sedatole and Dr. Joe Brashier.  His professional affiliations include the College Band Directors National Association, the Mississippi Bandmasters Association, honorary membership in Tau Beta Sigma and Kappa Kappa Psi, and membership in Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.

Akwete Muhammad Jul 12, 2022
Habitat for Humanity of the Pine Belt
Habitat for Humanity of the Pine Belt

Akwete Muhammad is responsible for outreach to the broader community and recruiting volunteers that support the mission of Pine Belt Habitat. She assists in grant writing, serves as project manager for fundraising events, is responsible for press releases, and maintains a constant social media presence. She also assists Pine Belt Habitat in offering families, sustainable and affordable housing solutions throughout the Pine Belt Area.


Akwete is a current member of the ADP’s Leadership Pinebelt Class of 2022. She is a recipient of the class of 2022, Mississippi Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40 for business leaders. Akwete is a proud member of Pine Belt Young Professionals (PBYP). She is also a chair for the United Way of SEMS Economic Mobility Council. She prides herself on being involved in her community and pushing the mantle of increasing the quality of life for families across the Pine Belt Area.


Akwete is a proud graduate of Tupelo High, and she attended the University of Mississippi as a Bio-Chemistry Pre-Med Major. In her spare time, she enjoys basketball, cooking, reading, traveling, art, and binge-watching Netflix. She also has two amazing parents who are veterans of the United States Army. She has two siblings, a younger sister and a twin brother.