From left, Chase McGill, Haley Fisackerly and Lea Turnipseed Photo by: Courtesy photos
September 21, 2019 9:59:39 PM
There was a time when Chase McGill, Haley Fisackerly and Lea Brigham Turnipseed reported to Heritage Academy every day for classes. Soon, however, they'll return to the Columbus school as respected alumni and guest speakers for the 28th annual Hazard Lecture Series. McGill, Class of 2005, is a Grammy-nominated songwriter in Nashville, with multiple co-writes topping the charts. Fisackerly, Class of 1983, and Turnipseed, Class of 1990, are at the helm of Entergy Mississippi, which serves power customers in more than half of Mississippi's 82 counties.
McGill will be featured at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 30 in part one of the two-part lecture series at Heritage Elementary School. Fisackerly, president and CEO of Entergy Mississippi, and Turnipseed, vice president of Entergy Mississippi customer service, will speak Monday, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m.
"Every five years, the lecture series highlights the achievements of Heritage graduates. The school is 55 years old this year, and three accomplished graduates are presenting our programs," said George Hazard Jr. He, with his siblings Eulalie Davis and the late Florence Winton, established the series in honor of their late father, George Hazard Sr. With an intent to inspire, lectures have encompassed three broad rotating themes -- The Voyage of the Artist, The Voyage of the Mind and The Voyage from the Past. Guests have ranged from archaeologists and surgeons to actors and ambassadors.
"In some years, the two presentations share a theme," Hazard said. "In 2019, the programs are pretty different -- musical creativity and the future of electricity in our state. As always, we invite the public to join us. We hope this year's programs will be enjoyable and also informative."
"The Hazard Lecture Series serves as a unique forum for students, faculty and community members to explore the arts, history and the mind," remarked Heritage Academy Headmaster Greg Carlyle. "These engaging lectures provide insights for all involved, allowing them to enter into the experiences of the presenter. We are truly grateful to partner with the Hazard family to make this exceptional series available."
The Voyage of the Artist
By any definition of "hot streak," McGill has been on one. The Columbus native living near Nashville, Tennessee, signed his first publishing deal with Universal Music Publishing in 2012. He garnered two 2018 Grammy nominations for Country Song of the Year -- for "Break Up in the End," recorded by Cole Swindell, and "When Someone Stops Loving You," by Little Big Town. He's been nominated for Academy of Country Music Awards for Songwriter of the Year 2018, Music Row Songwriter of the Year 2018 and ACM Song of the Year. On Tuesday at the famed Ryman Auditorium, the Nashville Songwriters Association International presented him an award for the 2019 NSAI Song of the Year, for "Break Up in the End."
Other McGill co-writes hitting No. 1 include "The Ones That Didn't Make It Back Home," recorded by Justin Moore; "Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset," by Luke Bryan; and "Lose It," by Kane Brown. Other artists recording his songs include Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Luke Combs, Brett Young and Jon Pardi, among many others.
Ironically, a Hazard Lecture McGill attended as a student in 2003 helped point him toward his path. The speaker was acclaimed songwriter/producer Dan Penn, a force behind Southern soul music for decades.
"When Dan Penn was there, that was the first time I ever heard that you could write songs for a living," McGill said. "It definitely was kind of a seed that inspired a lot of where I am now."
Now it's his turn to be the speaker, to pay it forward. In "Writing Today's Music with Nashville's Chase McGill" Sept. 30, he'll talk about what a songwriter's life looks like day-to-day, how a song gets recorded and a few ins and outs of the business. And yes, he'll perform a song or two.
"I'm just very honored to be even thought of for it. I think I'm a living example of how (the lectures) can affect even just one person," said McGill, who also graduated from Mississippi State University. "If I can inspire one person, that's a success."
The Mind of the Scientist
On Oct. 7, the focus turns to power. In a talk titled "Powering our State's Electric Future with Entergy Executives," Fisackerly and Turnipseed offer their outlook on their industry.
"I'm excited to have the opportunity to return to my hometown and alma mater and share Entergy's story," said Fisackerly who holds a degree in business administration from MSU and a master's degree in public policy administration from George Washington University. He served for several years on the staff of U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi prior to joining Entergy at its Washington, D.C. office in 1995.
After serving as director of system regulatory strategy in Little Rock, Arkansas, Fisackerly returned to Mississippi in 2002 as Entergy Mississippi's vice president of customer operations. In 2007, he began a year at Entergy Nuclear as vice president of governmental and regulatory affairs.
A recognized business leader, Fisackerly was named in 2016 to the inaugural class of Mississippi Top 50 and as the MSU College of Business Alumnus of the Year. He is passionate about workforce development in his home state and has championed initiatives working with the Mississippi Economic Council and other partners to improve educational opportunities and job growth. He has committed Entergy's support of more than $1 million toward workforce development efforts and led the way for a partnership with C Spire and the Mississippi Public Service Commission to help bring rural broadband services to underserved areas.
The Heritage alumnus serves on numerous local and statewide boards, including the Mississippi Economic Council, the MSU College of Business Advisory Board, the Foundation for Mississippi History and the Nature Conservancy. He served on the steering committee to establish the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.
"Electricity powers our lives, our community and our future," he said. "Hopefully the message Lea and I leave will enlighten and inspire (someone) to not only explore the opportunities within the utility industry and Entergy, but also help them understand the importance the industry has played in our economy."
That industry is an evolving one, Turnipseed noted. After graduating from Millsaps College in 1994, she became a certified public accountant and joined Entergy in 1997. Prior to her current role, she was director of Entergy Mississippi finance. She serves on the Mississippi Economic Council Board of Governors and the Mississippi Manufacturers Association board and has served on the Girl Scout Council of Middle Mississippi.
"I consider it to be an honor to be invited to speak at Heritage Academy, the school that provided my educational and leadership foundation," Turnipseed said. "Having the opportunity to talk about the ever-changing electric utility industry and Entergy's role in it is exciting."
Hazard said, "Both lectures will feature people who got their start here in Columbus at Heritage and have been successful in their professions. The school is certainly proud of Chase, Lea and Haley, and they represent our city very well."
"We're delighted to have them all back," added Beth Lucas, director of admissions and public relations at Heritage. "They certainly show the diverse paths taken. We're glad to have these successful alumni who have made an impact on various industries return to our campus and share with our students and community."
Hazard Lecture Series events are free to the public and take place at Heritage Elementary School, 623 Willowbrook Road, Columbus.
For more information, contact Lucas at 662-327-1556, ext. 211.
IF YOU GO:
■ WHO: Hazard Lecture Series
■ WHAT: Free talks
■ WHEN: Chase McGill, 7 p.m. Sept. 30; Haley Fisackerly and Lea Turnipseed 7 p.m. Oct. 7
■ WHERE: Heritage Academy Elementary School, 623 Willowbrook Road, Columbus. Contact Beth Lucas, 662-327-1556, ext. 211.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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