Gulf Coast Lighthouse GIG

2013 Officers:    

Janea McDonald





Janea McDonald is the owner of Edge Consulting, LLC, a human capital consulting firm. The firm provides human capital management and development services to organizations. She has over 15 years of experience in various aspects of Human Resources. Janea’s extensive Human Resources experience allows her to fill HR voids for companies that might not be large enough to have their own HR departments and for companies that have HR requirements that cannot be achieved with current staffing. In addition to Edge, Janea is also a graduate assistant at The University of Southern Mississippi where she is currently pursuing her PhD in Human Capital Development.

Janea is a certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR) through the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and is a certified training professional through The Jack and Patti Phillips Workplace Learning and Performance Institute. She has been on the Board for the Gulf Coast Lighthouse Chapter of ASTD for five years.



John Kmiec, Ph.D., CRP





John serves as Research Associate at the Jack and Patti Phillips Workplace Learning and Performance Institute at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Gulf Park Campus in Long Beach, MS. He is a 27 year veteran of the United States Air Force, having retired in the highest enlisted grade of Chief Master Sergeant in 2005. John has broad experience training, educating, evaluating and developing human capital resources in order to improve work processes, products, services, productivity and performance. John’s performance improvement accolades include the United States Air Force Chief of Staff Team Quality Award and the Rochester Institute of Technology/USA-Today Quality Cup. John was the first graduate of the USM Ph.D. in Human Capital Development program in 2010. John also holds a Workplace Training and Development Master of Science Degree and he is a graduate of the Training and Development Certificate Program, both from USM. John is a Certified ROI Professional with the ROI Institute. He has published articles for the International Society of Performance Improvement’s Performance Improvement Journal, and he recently authored a book chapter for The American Society for Training and Development’s (ASTD’s) Measuring ROI in Learning and Development: Case Studies from Global Organizations. The case study featured in Measuring ROI in Learning and Development: Case Studies from Global Organizations won the ROI Institute’s 2011 award for Best Published Case Study.  John facilitates the Workplace Training and Development Master of Science Workforce Analysis course, and he facilitates the Training and Development Certificate Program Evaluation segment. He is a featured facilitator for the 2012 ROI Institute Evaluation Week, held on USM Gulf Park Campus in Long Beach, MS.

John was the ASTD Mississippi Chapter Gulf Coast Lighthouse Group President in 2012. He served on the Lighthouse Group Leadership Team as Administrator/Coordinator from 2005 to 2010, when he was elected to Lighthouse Group President. John made an ROI Methodology presentation to the ASTD New Orleans Chapter in 2010, and in 2012, at the annual joint meeting of the ASTD and Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) chapters in Jackson, MS. John is a featured speaker at two panel discussions during the 2012 ASTD International Conference and Exposition in Denver, CO: Measuring the Success of Coaching Panel-An ROI Approach and Global ROI Studies-Reports from the Trenches.  In 2012, John and the rest of the Lighthouse Group Leadership Team are working towards the following objectives: (1) expand our representation and influence to a wider, more diverse group of business and professional organizations in Harrison, Hancock and Jackson Counties; (2) increase individual memberships by 10-percent; (3) incentivize ASTD membership over non-membership; and (4) implement business process improvements to improve member service and our Leadership Team’s efficiency and effectiveness. Our goal is to be sought out for our reputation as the premier network of learning and performance professionals serving the Mississippi Gulf Coast. 




Susan Bush

Public Relations

Susan Bush is the Student Services Coordinator at Gulfport High School’s Technology Center (GHSTC). She has been with the Gulfport School District (GSD) for 17 years. Susan’s current responsibilities include identifying and assisting students who may have barriers to achieving success in their Technology Center program. Susan has served in leadership positions at GHSTC; most recently as co-chair of the SACS/AdvancEd and Office of Civil Rights committees. She received both her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Master of Education degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi and is currently a student in the Human Capital Development Ph.D. program.



Warren W. "Rusty" Russum




Rusty is currently employed by the Naval METOC Professional Development Center, as a civilian employee, on-board the Naval Construction Battalion Gulfport Responsible for the development, editing and publishing of all METOC courses. Additionally, responsible for the grammatical and syntactical accuracy of all courseware development, ensuring that the standard that was created is met or exceeded. The courseware’s subject matter is of a technical nature, dealing with meteorology and oceanography and their effects of the decision making process of officer and senior enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He is responsible for the development of an automated template for curriculum developers to build their courses (i.e., instructor guides, Presentation materials, testing strategies). Additionally, responsible for the NKO/LMS courses sponsored by the Professional Development Center.

Rusty has degrees in Broadcast Journalism and English from the University of Southern Mississippi. I am currently working on the final stages of my Master's degree in Instructional Technology, via distance learning from Fort Hays State University. He is a Certified Training Professional from the University of Southern Mississippi, and I hold Bronze Certification in the Kirkpatrick Four Methods of Evaluations.  Rusty intends to pursue a Doctorate in Workforce Development.

Member, board of directors of the ASTD Lighthouse chapter professional training development organization; Wife Ginny, three great children and seven wonderful grandchildren.


Robert Newton





Robert Newton was employed for twenty-five years at Mississippi Power Company in Gulfport, working mostly in Corporate Training as a trainer and then as an HR generalist. Previously, Robert was an Instructor of English for ten years at Jackson County Campus, Mississippi Gulf Coast Junior College. Robert retired from Mississippi Power in June, 2006, and now has his own consulting company, Business Resource Solutions.

Robert has a BS and MA in English and a BBA in Accounting, all from USM. Robert is a Certified Public Accountant, a Certified Management Accountant, and a Senior Professional in Human Resources.

Robert has been married to Joyce Brown for thirty-six years and has a daughter, Melida, and two grandchildren, Hailey and Nicholas.




Nicole Harris

Meeting Planner

Nicole Harris is the Wholesale Banking Training Specialist at Hancock/Whitney Bank in Gulfport, Mississippi.  She is responsible for assessing training needs, developing, designing, implementing and delivering training solutions for Wholesale associates.  Nicole earned her Master of Science degree in Workforce Training and Development from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2011. 


Ashley Pinegar

Meeting Planner





Donna Valestro 




Donna is currently the Direction of Business and Finance at The University of Southern Mississippi – Gulf Coast and the CFO of Valestro Building Group LLC.  Donna serves on the University Assessment Committee, Dual Campus Committee – Strategic Vision and Mission, Clery Compliance Committee and several other committees





Ashley Halferty




Ashley Halferty is the Budget and Compliance Analyst at the University of Southern Mississippi, Gulf Coast Campus.  Ashley also currently serves as the staff advisor for the Accounting Society of Southern Mississippi, a USM Student organization.  She received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in Accounting and intends to pursue a Master’s degree in Business Administration at the University of Southern Mississippi. 


The Lighthouse GIG meets the second Thursdays of February, April, August, October, and December.             All Mississippi Chapter locations meet together in June, with the date and location changing each year.

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      Announcements, Updates and Events:

Annual Membership Dues Update: Regular membership dues are $45. Regular membership dues plus meeting lunches are $60 (save $15*). Full-time student membership dues (with copy of picture ID) are $25. Full-time student membership plus meeting lunches are $40 (save $15*). Contact Susan Bush for more information:  (*Savings based on six membership meeting luncheons annually. Prepaid lunches are non-refundable.)

Professional Development: University of Southern Miss. Workplace Learning and Performance Professional Development Opportunities. For more information: 

  • Training and Development Certificate Program – immediate transfer of knowledge. 

Spring 2014 Dates:

February 5-7

March 5-7

April 9-11

May 7-9

  • Workforce Training and Development Master of Science Program (executive format)
  • Human Capital Development Doctoral Program (executive format)


Mississippi Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development    PO Box 13115    Jackson, MS 39236-3115

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