Thursday, July 9, 2020


Jackson, Miss. – Over the last six months, our office has seamlessly transitioned from the last administration to the new. Much of that credit belongs to our Chief of Staff, Keith Davis, and our Deputy Chief of Staff, Carla Thornhill. About a week or two ago, our office received the bittersweet news of Chief Davis’ resignation. Davis has accepted a position as Deputy Commissioner of Operations with the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. Anytime a member of our team has an opportunity to do more for Mississippi, we support it wholeheartedly.

“Six months doesn’t seem like a long time; however, my time at the Secretary of State’s Office (SoS) will never be forgotten,” said Davis. I truly enjoyed every single moment working with the men and women who make up the office. I learned so much during my tenure, and I credit that to the Secretary and his team. My decision to leave did not come easy. However, my career dream is to work for the state’s top law enforcement agency, and the opportunity presented by Commissioner Tindell could not be turned down. My sincere gratitude lies with Secretary Watson for believing in my leadership abilities to help lead the office, and my departure from one office to another is truly bittersweet. However, I look forward to working with Commissioner Tindell and his staff at the Department of Public Safety.”

Davis joined the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office in January and has been a valuable and well-respected member of our team. He was instrumental in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and oversaw the creation of our COVID-19 Task Force. During his six months as Chief of Staff, Davis helped implement Secretary Watson’s conservative approach to governing by promoting a “reduce and reuse” work environment and restructuring several divisions to help cut expenses and boost efficiency. He also helped facilitate the conversation of moving SoS offices from privately-owned facilities to state-owned facilities, which will ultimately save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars on an annual basis.

“Any time you work with someone as talented as Keith Davis, you have to think it’s just a matter of time until they get a bigger and better opportunity to do more for themselves and more for Mississippi,” said Secretary of State Michael Watson. “Keith is a leader, a dear friend, a brother in Christ, and a trusted advisor. We’ll miss him at the Secretary of State’s Office, but I’m proud of and for him as he gets an opportunity to return to his true calling in law enforcement. Thankfully, we have another incredibly talented and dedicated public servant to fill his shoes. Without Carla’s steady leadership, the seamless transition would have been impossible. Every employee to which I mentioned her as a possible Chief of Staff had nothing but glowing remarks to offer. She’s earned my trust, and I’m thrilled she’s accepted her new role.”

Carla Thornhill will serve as the new Chief of Staff for the agency.  She is a native of Philadelphia, Mississippi, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and History, as well as a Master’s of Social Sciences from Mississippi College. While in college, Carla interned with the Secretary of State’s Office and officially joined the agency in 1997 as the Director of Human Resources. During her time at the agency, Carla has served as Interim Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff. 

“I consider it a great honor to continue to serve Secretary Watson in this new role,” said incoming Chief of Staff, Carla Thornhill. “It is truly a privilege to work for someone with such a passionate commitment to public service. I am confident about the direction he is taking the agency and look forward to carrying out his vision of a team-centered approach with the dedicated staff here at the SoS.”

With growth comes change, and we’re excited that both individuals are in a position to help make Mississippi the best it can be.