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AccelerateMS Announces Promotions 


JACKSON, MS — AccelerateMS, the lead office for workforce development strategy and coordination, is pleased to announce the promotions of Shelika Hooker and Dr. Cliff Thames, effective April 15, 2024. Hooker has been appointed as the Director of Grants Management and Thames has assumed the role of Director of Data and Insights.  

“I am thrilled to announce the promotions of Shelika and Cliff,” said Dr. Courtney Taylor, Executive Director of AccelerateMS. “Both have consistently demonstrated exceptional leadership, dedication, and innovation in their roles. These promotions are a testament to their hard work and the high regard in which they are held by their colleagues and the executive team. We are excited to see how their continued leadership will help shape the future of our office and Mississippi.” 

Collaborating with community colleges and external partners, Hooker will oversee the entire grants process and funding from the office ensuring compliance with regulations, alignment with organizational goals, and efficient distribution of funds. 

Hooker joined AccelerateMS in 2022 and has over 15 years of workforce education experience, most recently as the director of workforce education for the Mississippi Community College Board. Before that, she was the workforce development coordinator at Copiah-Lincoln Community College.  

She holds a Master of Science in Human Capital Development and a Bachelor of Applied Science in Applied Technology from the University of Southern Mississippi.  

Working with project managers and external data offices, Thames will manage the strategic data activities, including state-level credentialing, ROI studies, and data management, aligning workforce education outcomes with organizational goals. 

Thames joined AccelerateMS in 2022 after 16 years in education, most recently as a research associate and project manager of the Research and Curriculum Unit at Mississippi State University. He also served in administrative and teaching roles in K-12 throughout Mississippi.  

He holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Human Development and Family Science from Mississippi State University, a Master of Education in Educational Leadership and Administration from the University of Southern Mississippi, and a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education from Mississippi State University. 

AccelerateMS serves the people and businesses of Mississippi by developing and deploying workforce strategies to connect individuals with transformative, high-paying careers. By leveraging resources and partnering with organizations that hold complementary missions, AccelerateMS effectuates positive change, creating sustained individual, community, and statewide economic prosperity.