Thames named Riley conference sales manager

Michele Thames

The MSU Riley Center has named Michele Thames, a longtime Meridian executive with a strong background in business development, event planning, and sales and marketing, as its new conference sales manager.

The landmark facility in historic downtown Meridian is known as a performing-arts center because of its beautifully restored Victorian-era theater. But the MSU Riley Center is also a conference and meetings facility with exceptional technical capabilities wrapped in an architecturally striking package. It offers 30,000 square feet of meeting space to accommodate groups as small as 20 or as large as 1,000.

Thames moves to the MSU Riley Center from the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation, where she has been manager of the Chamber of Commerce since January 2011. Previously, she had been coordinator for the Arts and Letters Series and the Lifetime Quest Center for Learning in Retirement at Meridian Community College. She has also worked in sales and marketing for M’Prints Promotional Products and National Scrubwear in Meridian, and as a city planner for the City of Meridian with responsibility for administration of Meridian Main Street programs and events.

A native of Greenwood, Thames attended Mississippi State University. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in communication with an emphasis in public pelations and a master of public policy and administration degree with an emphasis in regional economic development. Earlier this year, she earned certification from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Organizational Management.

She and her husband, Hampton Thames, have two sons, Davis and Will.

Dennis Sankovich, executive director of the Riley Center, said Thames’ position is a very important one because the center solicits and attracts meetings and conventions from around the state and the region as well as from Meridian and Lauderdale County.

“Michele is just the person we need to continue our success in the meetings and conferences field, and to take it to an even higher level,” Sankovich said.

“Her broad range of experience and contacts will be a tremendous asset for us. I’m delighted to welcome her to the MSU Riley Center team,” he said.

For information about conference sales at the MSU Riley Center, please contact Thames at 601-696-2203 or

For more about MSU-Meridian, please visit

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