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Top 50 Under 40 Highlights Four Gulf Coast Women

(left to right) Melissa Russo, Jenny Levens, Megan Burkes, Christen Duhé

Mississippi Business Journal’s 26th Annual Top 50 Under 40 awards recognized some of Mississippi’s best and brightest up-and-coming business leaders. Four of those recipients honored were Gulf Coast leaders: Melissa Russo, Christen Duhé, Jenny Levens, and Megan Burkes.

Melissa Russo is Vice President of Communications, Public Relations and Member Services for Coast Electric Power Association, where she has been for 15 years. She shared, “The award is about service to our communities, something that I am very passionate about. I have served on many different boards and participated in numerous leadership activities throughout my career. I enjoy being a part of making a difference in the community in which I work and live.”

Christen Duhé is the Associate Vice President of Institutional Advancement for Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. After a 10-year career in Public Relations, Christen reflected back on thinking, “One day, maybe I’ll get that.” And now, having achieved this honor, she shared, “winning the award was great but seeing how far everyone has come, it’s such an awesome feeling.”

Jenny Levens, the Director of Community Affairs for the City of Long Beach, added to this sentiment, “I was truly honored and humbled to stand next to a great group of talented ladies from the Mississippi Gulf Coast. They are more than just peers to me, they are friends.” Levens explained, “The four of us have worked with each other the last five years in some capacity from the MS Gulf Coast Chamber, Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, and Junior Auxiliary of Gulfport and many other groups along the coast.”

Megan Burkes is The USM Foundation Associate Director of Public Relations and Donor Programs. Working in the field of Public Relations for 15 years, 5 of which were at USM, Burkes also reflected, “To be amongst such a dynamic group of leaders, and to have been nominated by a colleague, meant so much to me. I love what I do, so this award is like an exclamation point at the end of a delightful sentence.”