Rickey Thigpen headshot
Rickey Thigpen, MCTP
President & CEO
Visit Jackson

Rickey L. Thigpen joined Visit Jackson (formally the Jackson Convention & Visitors Bureau) in 1987 as the Information Systems Manager. For the past 34 years, Thigpen has served in multiple management positions within the administrative and marketing disciplines. In October of 2018, the Visit Jackson Board of Directors named Thigpen the Interim President of Visit Jackson. Before being named the Interim President, Thigpen served as the official destination marketing organization’s Executive Vice President. He was responsible for governmental & community engagement, stakeholder relationships, signature event management, and new & untraditional market initiatives. On February 1, 2019, the Visit Jackson Board voted to remove “Interim” from Thigpen’s title and make him the official President & CEO.

Thigpen’s leadership has included implementing strategy resulting in an internal organizational cultural shift and an external relationship and community positioning.

Thigpen is a member of numerous professional organizations, including Destination International. He serves as an Association Executive Board Member and a member of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee, where he serves as co-chair of the CEO sub-committee. He is also a member of the U.S. Travel Association Board of Directors, the Mississippi Tourism Association’s Executive Board, an officer of the Capital Area Tourism Association, Downtown Jackson Partners Advisory Board, the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership Board, and is an ex-officio member of the Capital City Convention Center Commission.

In 2019 Thigpen was named Mississippi Tourism Association’s Member of the Year. Thigpen has appeared in Black Meetings & Tourism magazine as one of the most influential African Americans in the tourism industry multiple times and, in 2020, received its coveted APEX Award. In 2021 Thigpen appeared on the cover of Black Meetings & Tourism with a feature story entitled “A Conversation with Rickey Thigpen.” In 2020 Thigpen was recognized by the Events Industry Council, receiving its Social Impact Award lauding his work to bring attention to the tourism industry and its lack of diversity. Under Thigpen’s leadership, in 2022, Visit Jackson was recognized by the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership as the 2021 Business of the Year.

Thigpen is a native of Jackson, Mississippi. He holds a baccalaureate degree in Computer Science from Mississippi Valley State University, a master’s degree in Leadership from Belhaven University, and a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, where his dissertation title was: Fraternity Member’ Affiliation with a National Pan-Hellenic Council Alumni Chapter after Leaving College.

Thigpen is engaged civically, including Rotary International – Jackson Chapter, 100 Black Men of Jackson, Inc., Mississippi Valley State University National Alumni Association (Life Member), Greater Leadership Jackson Alumni Association, Alpha Foundation, Inc. (Vice-Chairman), and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., where he served as the 10th Mississippi District Director, and National Chairman of Life Membership.

Thigpen is a member of Cade Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, where he serves as the Minister of Music and supports the Public Relations Ministry. Dr. Thigpen’s life mission is “to be a lifelong learner dedicated to imparting knowledge to, uplifting and empowering those he is so fortunate to influence."