While Moon spends most of her time at the Bay Town Inn, a business that she has owned and operated since the early 2000s, her career didn’t start in South Mississippi.
“For 30 years I was with the convention and visitors bureau in New Orleans. It was a fabulous job, but it was a 24-7 job, so I really never had any time to give back," Moon said. “When I found out the Bay Town Inn was for sale, I bought it in February of 2003. It was like a dream come true."
Two and a half years later, that dream come true was completely erased by Hurricane Katrina. Her home and business were destroyed by the catastrophic storm. It was in those weeks and months after the storm that Moon realized what she had to do.
“When I was lucky enough to rebuild and come back to the Bay as one of the first businesses on the beach, I felt like my job was to bring people here, give them a great opportunity, a nice place to go to bed at night, and relax in the mornings with a cup of coffee on the front porch and then go out and shop, see our galleries, and eat in our great restaurants and really become a lover of the Bay," Moon told WLOX.
That desire to bring people back inspired her community and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Since then, she has taken on additional responsibilities with her county chamber of commerce and local tourism board.
“She represents everything that says that South Mississippi is strong," said Tish Williams, executive director of the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce. “After Katrina, she was the first person that we saw that gave us hope to come back and rebuild Bay St. Louis and Hancock County."
So it was no surprise when the Hancock Chamber of Commerce voted Moon Citizen of the Year.
“Through her leadership, her courage, her persistence, her determination, she is truly an outstanding citizen" Williams said. “What she’s done is she’s put her heart and soul into not just rebuilding her business, but rebuilding Bay St. Louis and really the entire Gulf Coast."
“I can tell you that this next stage of Coastal Mississippi under Nikki Moon’s leadership is going to take us to the next level," said Milton Segarra, CEO of Coastal Mississippi. “Her dedication, her passion, her knowledge, but most important her phenomenal heart, it’s all here."
In Moon’s first year as president of the Board of Commissioners for Coastal Mississippi, she said that she’s working to get more funding so that the organization can reach more potential visitors than ever before.
Her love and dedication to the people and the places makes Nikki Moon South Mississippi Strong.
“It does make you proud. I love living here. I chose to live here and I have no desire to live anywhere else," Moon said.