The next time you are in a new city, hoping the GPS will guide your way, thank Dr. David L. Powe. In fact, his keen sense of direction could likely get you anywhere – and everywhere. The Chief Administrative Officer of University of Mississippi Medical Center in Fondren is retired – sort of – and is part of a leadership team responsible for the direction of Mississippi’s $1.3 billion city.

At the Young Professional Alliance of Jackson monthly luncheon yesterday, Dr. Powe told of how his career, spanning from administrative educational jobs to NASA, has helped to build a series of relationships and opportunities to engage people. Calling on the group to be “change agents,” Dr. Powe, also president of the metro Chamber board, said ‘spiritual interventions’ helped him have a hand in many incredible projects. Projects like developing national remote sensing GPS workforce standards while at NASA, searching for the world’s largest squid (75 feet), or holding in his hands original Native American maps in the library of Congress. As CAO, he is responsible for overseeing overall operations. “We are a city unto ourselves with a huge budget, and we have to be on 24/7,” the Tylertown native said. Dr. Powe said UMMC is poised to be an economic development engine for Mississippi. “Think about it,” he said. “As a teaching hospital, we turn out one doctor who then generates 20-25 jobs and $2 million in revenue in the home community, and it’s a win-win.”

Alluding to the future, Dr. Powe gave a sneak peek at a new project that will be announced in “about two weeks” that UMMC and Fondren will be a part of. With over 30 players coming to the table, the academic medical center’s location off Woodrow Wilson places it in a key position along with the other partners to take the state’s healthcare industry to an entirely new level. “It’s collaborative,” he said, “and puts Jackson at the cutting edge of the new urbanism movement.” Dr. Powe was quick to remind the young professionals that there were no back seat rides on this journey. “You are the group that will make this happen. You are the leaders.” Dr. Powe’s advice? “Work hard, work hard again, and work some more. Find something to focus on and get behind it.”