Just two years ago, Marlo Dorsey, who serves as executive director of Visit Hattiesburg, was elected as treasurer of the Mississippi Main Street Association, where she was able to use her experience leading tourism and destination marketing efforts.

Dorsey followed that up the next year with a one-year stint as vice president, and has now been elected as president of the association, an organization dedicated to the preservation and economic revitalization of Mississippi’s historic downtowns and districts. Dorsey’s election was part of a new executive committee, two at-large board members and a director’s representative for the MMSA.

“I’m thrilled to officially be a part (of this organization) as president,” Dorsey said. “They’re champions throughout our entire state at the community level that work so hard to revitalize communities and really enhance curb appeal.

“I’m really interested in getting to learn more about them and their success stories, but also listening to what things we can do in the Main Street organization to really help spur additional investment or create new opportunities.”

Dorsey earned a broadcast journalism degree from Louisiana State University before receiving an MBA in executive management. She is a graduate of Leadership Mississippi and has served on its advisory board.

Dorsey was recognized as a 2017 50 Leading Woman by the Mississippi Business Journal and served as the chief marketing officer for the Mississippi Development Authority. At MDA, she led the state’s global marketing and communications efforts for both economic development and tourism.

She also serves on the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association executive committee, serving on both the design and economic vitality committees. She is past president of the Mississippi Tourism Association, advocacy chair for the Mississippi Destination Marketing Organization, and serves on the dedicated funding advisory board for Visit Mississippi. In addition to board president, Dorsey serves as the advocacy chair for MMSA. 

Previously, Dorsey served as the director of marketing and communications for both Visit Hattiesburg and the Hattiesburg Convention Commission before being named to her current position in 2017. At Visit Hattiesburg, she and her team focus on growing business and leisure travel in Hattiesburg through multi-state marketing campaigns, regional sales strategies and cooperative alliances with Hattiesburg’s hotel and tourism partners.

“When we spent so much time during the (COVID-10) pandemic trying to just react to the many curveballs we were thrown, we wanted to make sure our local businesses had a voice,” Dorsey said. “And we wanted to share the importance of supporting local at that time, because we were facing so many barriers.

“But as we’ve come out of the pandemic, and we’ve continued to grow and thrive, we don’t need to take our foot off the gas pedal of supporting local. When people look for new places to invest, when they look for new places to live, they always want to feel a sense of connection and community, and a downtown is the epicenter of connectivity and creativity in all communities.”

As an example of that, Dorsey pointed to the eight new businesses that have opened in downtown Hattiesburg since the beginning of this year.

“That is a testament to the support, the connectivity, the story-telling, that organizations like downtowns or tourism offices can really share with other people looking for those authentic and unique experiences,” she said. “So we’re onto something, and it’s really exciting to able to see what other parts of Mississippi are doing.

“As president, I’m really excited to just have that opportunity to listen, to meet a lot more people at the community level, to see what things they need to continue progressing their part of the state forward.”

The Mississippi Main Street Association leads a network consisting of more than 1,600 neighborhoods and communities across the United States. Since 1993, the association has provided more than $6 billion in public and private reinvestment back into Main Street communities.

In addition to Dorsey, other newly-elected MMSA executive officers are vice president Chris Hinton, treasurer Kelle Barfield and past president Michelle Jones.

Coney Island Hot Dog
Coney Island Hot Dog