CEOs show up, show off for United Way

Duncan McKenzie & the Hard Rock Staff
Duncan McKenzie & the Hard Rock Staff
Carl Chaney & the Hancock Bank Staff (Photo source: United Way of South MS)
Carl Chaney & the Hancock Bank Staff (Photo source: United Way of South MS)

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Talent was plentiful in the Hard Rock LIVE Thursday night as local business leaders, along with staff and friends, competed in the 2nd Annual United Way CEO Talent Show.

Twelve CEOs competed in one of three categories for a judging panel. Scores were based on showmanship, entertainment value, creativity, stage presence, and costuming.

At the end of the night, the audience applauded for their favorite from the panel's top choices in each category. The results were plain to see, as a real-time decibel meter was projected on huge screens in the theater.

The audience cheered Duncan McKenzie and his staff from Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi on to become the 2010 CEO Talent Show Grand Champion.

Category winners of the evening, based on judges' scores, were:

CEO Solo

1st Place: Connie Rockco, Harrison County
2nd Place: Reed Guice, The Guice Agency
3rd Place: Bobby Mahoney, Mary Mahoney's Old French House

CEO & Staff

1st Place: Duncan McKenzie, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi
2nd Place: Carl Chaney, Hancock Bank
3rd Place: Tim Allen, Mississippi Ballroom Dance Clubs

CEO & Friends

1st Place: Senator Billy Hewes, Billy Hewes Insurance
2nd Place: Rip Daniels, WJZD
3rd Place: Dr. Tim Bergman, Gulf Coast Symphony Youth Orchestra

Judges were Rick Amos, Amos & Associates; Wendy McDonald, Habitat for Humanity Bay-Waveland; Glen Nardi, Sun Herald; Bryan Rhodes, Kicker 108; Tuyen Tran, Hope CDA; Linda Watts, Mississippi Power; and Philip Wright, Boy Scouts of America, Pine Burr Council.

Other acts from the evening included: house band, Exit 34, a rock band of AT&T employees, Dave Vincent and staff from WLOX; Kimberly Nastasi and staff from the Mississippi Coast Chamber of Commerce; and Tony Caranna, from Chiquita, with his band, "Cut Bait."

The show opened with "Ladies Gone Gaga and Beyonce Too" featuring Alyssa Gates as Beyonce and Hannah Bell as Lady Gaga, along with CEOs Liz Joachim, Corso Vending; Cheryl Johnson, Regions Bank; Kathleen Shaughnessy, AT&T; Romy Simpson, Negrotto's Gallery, Karen Sock, Sock Enterprises, Inc.; Sue Suter, United Way of South Mississippi. The act also featured Josh and Luke Simpson as the "paparazzi."

"The evening was a huge success for United Way, and we are so thankful to the business leaders who performed, and their staff and friends for joining them," said Suter.

"Hard Rock Biloxi was the most gracious host, and the overall result of the event was that we increased awareness of United Way, and raised well over $20,000 that will directly support this year's United Way campaign, which is currently underway," she added.

The United Way campaign rallies resources to address the most pressing needs in South Mississippi: education, income (financial stability), health, and basic emergency needs like food, clothing and shelter. Funds are invested by trained volunteers and a 30-member board of directors in local programs that make measurable change in our community in specific, targeted priority areas.

The United Way CEO Talent Show was created in 2009 by Sock Enterprises, Inc. by Karen Sock.  William Sackett was the 2009 Grand Champion, and served as co-host of the 2010 show along with Krystal Allan of WLOX.

To find out more about United Way of South Mississippi, or to identify ways you can volunteer in our community, please visit or call (228) 896-2213.

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