PEARL – Statement from Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Robert Latham:

As you all know by now, Gov. Bryant released a statement today that I have officially informed him of my retirement effective Jan. 31, 2016. Last month I met with Gov. Bryant to tell him my intentions to retire. Nearly four years ago, Gov. Bryant called and asked me to return to MEMA. After retiring in 2006, and moving to the private sector, I never had any intentions of returning to MEMA. The one thing that I never factored into the equation was being asked by a governor to return.

When I accepted the position, I wanted to help transition MEMA to Gov. Bryant’s vision for the state and for the agency. MEMA has become a very important part of state government, and we have come from a point where no one knew MEMA to where now everyone knows MEMA and what we do. Because of our efforts, the state is better prepared. The agency and staff have been met with many challenges, from Hurricane Katrina to a major reorganization to budget cuts, and a reduction in staffing.

The MEMA staff is resilient, much like Mississippians. When met with disaster or hardship, MEMA staff have made the tough decisions and made personal sacrifices to ensure that the state can prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. I cannot say enough about how much I appreciate every staff member at MEMA, from the executive staff to the administrative assistants, and the sacrifices and contributions each one of them have made in times of crisis to get the job done, and help citizens and communities get back on their feet.

There are several people that I need to thank:

First and foremost, my family: My wife Charlotte put her life on hold to let me do what I love to do. My two sons, Robert Jr. and Steven, have stood by my side when I had to come into the office for anything from a hurricane to an ice storm. I look forward to spending more time with my family in the coming months and years.

The MEMA staff: The director can only provide the leadership and foster a positive work environment that allows employees to succeed. When provided a vision, driven by a moral compass, and the tools, employees can achieve the unimaginable.

The people of Mississippi: I have seen Mississippians when things couldn’t be any worse. I have never seen a more resilient group of people. They have taught me so much about strength and perseverance.

Gov. Phil Bryant: Thank you for your leadership and the opportunity to serve. This has been an experience that I will treasure for my entire life. Thank you for believing in me, and I look forward to spending more time with my family traveling.

Thank you! – Robert Latham, Jr.