Hattiesburg's Brock Graduates with Mastery Certificate from MSU Extension's Inaugural Tourism Leadership Program

Kristen Brock, Director of Programs and Promotions for VisitHATTIESBURG, has successfully graduated from the inaugural Excellence in Tourism Leadership Program at the MSU Extension Service for Government and Community Development.

The program celebrated its first graduates on Oct. 5, 2023, during a ceremony hosted at the Mississippi State University Riley Center in Meridian, coinciding with the 2023 Mississippi Tourism Association Governor’s Conference on Tourism. Brock, along with her fellow class members, completed the mastery level coursework, marking an important milestone in their commitment to advancing Mississippi's tourism industry.

"This program has been an incredible journey of growth, collaboration and learning. It's an honor to be part of this select group of professionals dedicated to advancing Mississippi's tourism industry,” said Brock. “I’m eager to apply this knowledge to the already significant work we are doing in Hattiesburg.”

With 20 years of experience in the tourism industry, Brock engages with organizations and events in the community through her role at VisitHATTIESBURG to enhance tourism offerings and grow visitation to the community. She also serves as director of the Mississippi Miss Hospitality Competition and Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art.

The Excellence in Tourism Leadership Program offers two certification options: a one-year associate certificate and a two-year advanced mastery certificate. This program, which combines advanced training, additional coursework, a capstone project, and a presentation to the class, was developed and executed through a partnership between the MSU Extension Center for Government and Community Development and the Mississippi Tourism Association. Industry experts and professionals provided training throughout the program.

“I am incredibly impressed with the creativity, professionalism, and dedication of the class,” said Dr. Rachael Carter, MSU Extension Service Center for Government and Community Development Specialist. “The projects they have implemented to enhance tourism and quality of life in Mississippi will generate positive economic impacts and are truly examples of excellence in leadership.”

For those interested in joining the next Excellence in Tourism Leadership Program, applications will open on November 1 at Additional information about the program can be found on MSU Extension’s website at