Kari Wilkinson becomes first woman promoted to president of Mississippi shipyard
PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) — An experienced naval architect and manager will become the first woman to lead a shipyard that is the largest private employer in Mississippi.
Kari Wilkinson will become president of Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula on April 1. She also will become executive vice president of the shipyard’s parent company, Huntington Ingalls Industries.
Wilkinson will become the first woman to lead the shipyard, the Mississippi Press reported.
Ingalls says that it has about 11,500 employees. Some commute from Alabama and Louisiana.
The company’s board of directors announced Friday that it is promoting Wilkinson, who has worked for Ingalls since 1996 and has been vice president of program management since 2016. She will succeed Brian Cuccias, who announced that he will retire after having been Ingalls president since 2014.
Wilkinson is originally from Jenison, Michigan. She earned a bachelor’s degree in naval architecture and marine engineering from the University of Michigan, and an MBA from Temple University.
Wilkinson began her Ingalls career as an associate naval architect and has worked in several jobs at the shipyard since then. A company news release said she coordinated equipment prioritization and operations processes during the Hurricane Katrina recovery effort. Wilkinson moved into program management in 2007 and became vice president for that in 2016.
Wilkinson will report to Chris Kastner, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Huntington Ingalls Industries.
“Kari is a respected leader with an impressive 25-year record of success managing programs and overseeing major shipbuilding initiatives at Ingalls,” Kastner said in the news release. “Her focus on operational excellence, exemplary leadership skills and ability to build effective customer relationships well positions her for this new role.”
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