President & Chief Executive Officer
A recognized leader in economic development, Gray Swoope has served both the public and private sectors for more than three decades, most recently as Florida’s Secretary of Commerce. He has held leadership roles for a variety of organizations, as well as managed successful economic development entities. His management style is described as focused and steadfast when it comes to solving problems and winning competitive projects. Swoope is also known for building highly effective teams noted for their ability to devise and implement strategic plans, and to get results. His expertise is international in scope, with a proven track record of successfully conducting business abroad.
Prior to joining VisionFirst, Melissa worked four years with Enterprise Florida (EFI), the state’s primary economic development entity as chief marketing officer and an active member of the executive leadership team. Not only did she lead EFI’s marketing and communications divisions, she was effective in guiding collaboration across Enterprise Florida divisions and external stakeholders to support successful business development and international trade efforts.
Griff Salmon serves as Principal for VisionFirst Advisors, LLC in its Orlando office. Griff’s extensive background in operations and business development allow him to offer a unique prospective to both the economic development organization and private company looking to expand or relocate.
Nancy brings more than a decade of executive-level marketing, communications, government relations and economic development expertise to VisionFirst. Prior to joining VisionFirst, Nancy served as the National Director of Communications for the Foundation for Excellence in Education in Tallahassee, Florida. ExcelinEd is a national leader in education reform that designs and promotes sound education policy and implementation strategies.
Greg complements the existing team with a scope of experience is that is both broad and specialized in product development, research and analysis, industrial building and site evaluations, lead generation, economic research packages, GIS-based mapping as well as 3-D modeling and virtual reality profiles.
With close to 30 years of executive-level public-sector experience, Kathy brings to VisionFirst a depth of understanding of public and private-sector finance particularly in the execution and compliance of economic development programs. Prior to joining VisionFirst, Kathy served as Associate Vice President of Corporate Engagement and Economic Development at Mississippi State University working with industry to identify university and business partnership opportunities in research, training, or problem resolution.
Molly brings more than 25 years of administrative and executive support to VisionFirst in fast-paced, results driven environments. Just before joining VisionFirst, Molly provided executive support to the chief marketing officer of Enterprise Florida for five years to meet key organizational objectives through strategic planning and coordination. While there she played key roles in a variety of projects including coordination of the Governor’s Business Development mission to Philadelphia, the Aerospace Alliance Spring Summit and the Rural Economic Development Boot Camp.
Chairman of the Board
In his eight years as Governor, Haley Barbour made Mississippi a better place to live, work and play through strong support of job creation, schools, health care, energy, safer communities and stronger families.
His approach produced results including $13 billion in investment from new and expanding businesses, significant civil justice reform and prudent management of the state’s health care program. Governor Barbour focused on long-term economic success for Mississippi by supporting innovative manufacturing techniques and he welcomed a variety of energy projects to prepare the state and country for future energy needs.