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Hyde-Smith added to political elite list

A Brookhaven native has been selected to a national list of the top 25 women in politics.

Cindy Hyde-Smith, commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce, was named to The Governing Institute’s Women in Leadership Class of 2017, which brings together outstanding elected women leaders from across the nation to acknowledge their contributions, provide leadership development and to mentor the next generation of women leaders to run for office, said Paige Manning, director of marketing and public relations for the state Department of Agriculture and Commerce.

Cindy Hyde-Smith

Cindy Hyde-Smith

The program is aimed at nurturing future women leaders through speaking engagements and mentorships of those selected to the list, Manning said.

The class was selected based on career and educational accomplishments, recommendations, a commitment to actively participate and the goal of seating a diverse class in a number of categories. The Governing Institute established this program to encourage and support women in government.

“I am honored by it,” Hyde-Smith said, humbly. “But, I can’t tell you why they ever looked my way.”

Hyde-Smith was elected as Mississippi’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce in 2011, and is currently serving her second term in office. She is the first woman to ever hold this statewide position.

Prior to serving as the agricultural commissioner, Hyde-Smith represented District 39 in the State Senate for 12 years. While serving as senator, she was the chairman of the agriculture committee for eight years.

Before accepting the position as one of 25 in the elite class, Hyde-Smith agreed to use her position as a platform for encouraging other women who may follow her footsteps in politics.

She hopes to encourage women to run for office much the same way she was encouraged to run for that Senate seat, which led her to the state position.

“Sometimes women are a little intimidated because it’s a large field of men,” she said. “To me, the best candidates are the ones who never dreamed of serving in public office. We need good people, God-fearing people in office. We need people with faith. That’s the only thing that got me here and the only thing that has kept me here.”

As one of the women in the Class of 2017, she hopes to be the “extra support, the extra voice of encouragement” to women.

“Women have so much tenacity and many times they don’t know their own strength,” she said.

A Brookhaven-native who grew up in Monticello, she is at home in Brookhaven with her husband, Michael, and daughter, Anna-Michael.

The Governing Institute is a three-year-old initiative of Governing magazine and e.Republic, the nation’s only media and research company focused exclusively on state and local government and education. It is focused on improving state and local government performance and strengthening public-sector innovation, leadership and citizen engagement.