MSU-hosted data summit features major policymakers, leaders

Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, MSU President Mark E. Keenum, NSPARC Executive Director Domenico “Mimmo” Parisi, and Mississippi Speaker of the House Philip Gunn pose for a picture following Reeves’ keynote speech at the inaugural ‘Mississippi – A Data Driven State’ summit in 2016, held at Mississippi State University. (Photo by Russ Houston)

Contact: Laura McPhail

STARKVILLE, Miss.— Data-driven planning and development, data science, and the value of using data to inform solid policy will take center stage Sept. 15 at the second annual Data Summit, hosted by the National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center (NSPARC) at Mississippi State University.

Sessions at the summit will cover a variety of topics, including how data can transform student progress in early education, help build “smart cities” and guide job seekers into fulfilling careers.

Legislators and representatives from multiple agencies, businesses and organizations, including some from outside of Mississippi, will meet at The Mill Conference Center, 600 Russell St., in Starkville for a full day of presentations, panel discussions, product demonstrations and breakout sessions — all focused on the undeniable value of data in economic and education decision-making.

“We are happy to welcome back old friends and to meet some new faces as we work collaboratively to use data-driven solutions to improve the quality of life for Mississippians and beyond,” said NSPARC Executive Director Domenico “Mimmo” Parisi. “Unlike opinions or personal biases, data have the best potential for leading to innovative answers to a wide variety of challenges, and it’s exciting to see a data-driven approach being embraced.”

Elected officials scheduled to attend the 2017 Data Summit include 3rd District Congressman Gregg Harper, R-Miss.; Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives Philip Gunn; Rep. John Moore, chair of the Mississippi House Education Committee; Rep. Angela Cockerham, chair of the Mississippi House Energy Committee; Rep. Chris Johnson; and Cecil Brown, Public Service Commissioner.

Gunn will share the morning keynote address, Congressman Harper will be the lunch keynote speaker, and Parisi will give the final keynote address in the afternoon.

Other scheduled speakers include public agency leaders, including Mark Henry, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Employment Security; Kevin Cook, CEO of the University of Mississippi Medical Center; Craig Orgeron, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Information Technology Services; John Q. Porter, CIO of the Mississippi Department of Education; and Mike Mulvehill, associate superintendent of MDE.

Key speakers from the business world include Stephen Bye, president of C Spire, and Breck DeWitt from Dell. Other special guests include Andy Van Kleunen, CEO of the National Skills Coalition; Quentin Suffren, director of next generation learning for the Foundation of Excellence in Education; and Patrick Sullivan, president of the Mississippi Energy Institute.

The Data Summit is free to attend, but registration is required by Sept. 10. For registration and additional information, including a full list of sponsors, visit, and follow the summit on Twitter with #msdatasummit2017.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

The National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center (NSPARC) at Mississippi State University is where information meets innovation. The center is committed to making positive impacts in people’s lives through practical solutions based on data science. At NSPARC, scholars and professionals from diverse backgrounds work together to examine 21st century challenges that affect Mississippi, the United States, and the world. For more information, visit