By Mark H. Stowers
Growing up on a family farm in Sunflower County, Katie Tackett Mills never wandered too far from the Delta dirt. A 1996 graduate of Indianola Academy, Mills attended Ole Miss and graduated with an English degree. She then procured a law degree from Mississippi College. Mills husband Jonathan is VP of Sales for Heartland Catfish in Itta Bena. The couple have two sons,William and Henry. Mills practiced law for the better part of two decades before a career shift—Executive Director of the Museum of the Mississippi Delta—the former Cottonlandia Museum in Greenwood.
“I practiced law for about fifteen years before taking this job last March,” says Mills. “I was helping them with a grant and I asked them if they would consider me for the position and they hired me.”
Hired first as the Interim Director, she was soon announced as the full-time Executive Director. Mills was a general practice lawyer with plenty of family law, estate and land work filling her docket. She also has served as staff attorney for former Leflore County Chancery Judge Jon Barnwell and also as an attorney for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. In 2018, she made an unsuccessful run for chancery judge.
The Sunflower County native had visited the museum as a child.
“This was probably the first museum I ever visited, says Mills. “The museum has been updated and renovated so it’s definitely different than when I was a child. It is fun to go behind the scenes and see how things are done.”
As Executive Director, Mills is the only full-time staff member and has three part-time and several volunteers that help out. Her duties and job responsibilities vary from the financial to the hard labor side of things.
“I manage everything from grant writing to painting a wall one day or I may be talking to an artist the next day. There’s always something different to do,” she says. “Which is what I like about it.”
When she’s not ferrying her children about the state with their extra-curricular activities, Mills finds time to play tennis and seek out restaurant ventures across the Delta and beyond.
“We have some fabulous restaurants. Going out to eat in the Delta is one of the best things you can do. Every town in the Delta has a great restaurant,” says Mills. “There are so many different cuisines as so many different groups settled in the Delta. There are so many cultures combined, we really have a unique food culture.”
Mills notes she, “enjoys playing tennis, loves to travel and likes to read.”
And she’s back in school, online through the Harvard Extension School.
“I’m working on a Masters in Museum Studies,” she says.