Board of Trustees

As a publicly owned organization, Singing River Health System is governed by a seven member Board of Trustees appointed by the Jackson County Board of Supervisors for five year terms. The system’s Chief of Staff and Chief of Staff-Elect serve as advisors to the board, which meets regularly each month.

Steve Ates


Steve is Managing Director of SBA-CCI, Inc. focusing on the group’s global polyester raw material and polyester polymer models. SBA-CCI, Inc. is a consulting firm specializing in the global polyester value stream from aromatic feedstocks through rigid PET packaging. The company also provides custom single client work in the areas of cost modeling, polyester recycling, M&A activity and specialty polymers.

Steve has been involved with the polyester industry for more than 25 years and was the former Chief Operating Officer at Wellman, Inc. from 2008–2011. His experience includes technical service, sales and management experience in the polyester fiber industry, the PET resin industry and the PET recycling industry. He has traveled extensively throughout his career and conducted business in Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

Don Barron

Vice President

A 1964 graduate of Pascagoula High School, Don attended the University of Mississippi on a baseball scholarship until an early injury cut short his playing and was a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity.

Vietnam interrupted his education, and he served in the USAF as a SERE (survival) Instructor and was honorably discharged. Upon returning home, he enrolled at The University of Southern Mississippi and received a Bachelor of Science degree in finance and marketing in August 1973.

Don has served in various executive leadership positions while living in Mobile, AL and Fairhope, AL. He was Commercial Lending Officer at First National Bank of Mobile, Vice President at Mobile Infirmary Medical Center, Gulf Coast Regional Manager for Baxter Health Care, Regional Marketing Manager for Coca Cola Bottling Company, and President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau.

During his professional and civic career, Don also served on many local, state and national boards and organizations. His areas of expertise are start-ups and reorganizations, lobbying, public affairs, strategic planning and marketing. Before retiring in 2000, he was Owner/Operator of a Quiznos Restaurant. In 2003 he moved to Pascagoula and has been employed as a Substitute Teacher with the Pascagoula-Gautier School District since 2004.

Don lives in Pascagoula with his wife, Debbie. Together they have three sons, one daughter and ten grandchildren. He is a member of First Baptist Church of Pascagoula where he has served as a Deacon, Usher, Sunday School teacher, choir member, and interpreter for the deaf.

Mary Martha Henson


Mary Martha Henson is an economic developer and public policy expert. Currently serving as deputy director for the Jackson County Economic Development Foundation, she has been instrumental in new capital investment of over $800 million and creating many high-value career opportunities while focusing on diversifying the economy. Her previous roles include a decade on Capitol Hill, serving as legislative director in the US House and to former US Senator Thad Cochran while chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Her legislative experience includes complex authorizing and appropriations legislation and a decade of work on healthcare policy. In addition to her legislative career, she served as executive director and chief operating officer of the Mississippi Economic Development Council.

She serves on the Mississippi Economic Development Council Board of Directors and, as a founding member of Women in Economic Development, has showcased her commitment to empowering women in her field and beyond. She is a governor’s appointee to the Mississippi Defense Communities Council.

She has received numerous accolades for her professional success, including her most recent selection as a Presidential Leadership Scholar (PLS), a highly selective leadership program founded by former U.S. presidents, and was recently selected to “Share Her Story” at the PLS alumni reunion held at the Bush Presidential Center. Mary Martha holds degrees and certificates from Mississippi State University, the University of Oklahoma, the Bush School of Public Policy at Texas A&M, and Cornell University. She was a fellow for the Education Policy Fellowship Program, a Leadership Mississippi alumnus, and one of MS’s Leading Businesswomen.

Auwilda Polk, Ph.D.


Dr. Auwilda Mason Polk is a native of Pace, MS, and resides in Moss Point. She graduated from Jackson State University with a bachelor’s degree in French and Spanish and from The University of Southern Mississippi with master’s and doctoral degrees in educational leadership. She also did coursework at Mississippi State University and the University of South Alabama.

She has an accomplished educational career, which began as a teacher in Harrison County, continued in Moss Point as teacher, principal and assistant superintendent, and carried on to the Indianola School District, where she retired as Superintendent of Schools. She is a recipient of several tributes and awards.

An active member of St. Paul United Methodist Church and the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., she is married to Norris Polk, and they are the parents of two children and five grandchildren.

Brian Fulton


W. Brian Fulton currently serves as the County Administrator for Jackson County, Mississippi. Appointed by the Board of Supervisors in 2012, Brian manages over 400 employees within 15 diverse departments including: Maintenance, Recreation, Solid Waste, Animal Shelter, Purchasing, Grants, Inventory Control, etc. He is also responsible for capital projects related building construction, recreational facilities, dredging and drainage, and various other projects associated with grant funding. Brian actively works with state and federal officials on behalf of Jackson County to help leverage tax dollars for local projects, as well as advocating for policy that is beneficial to Jackson County residents.

Prior to service with Jackson County, Mr. Fulton worked as a civil engineering consultant for 16 years where he worked on a number of large-scale public infrastructure projects. He holds a master’s degree and bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Mississippi State University. Brian maintains his license as a registered professional engineer, as well as a professional traffic operations engineer. Due to his love of the profession, Brian still enjoys getting involved with county engineering projects at the conceptual level and helping with funding opportunities.

Mr. Fulton is a resident of Ocean Springs and has consistently given of his time to serve on many boards and commissions over the past 20 years. Most notably, he has served on the Ocean Springs Planning Commission, the Gulf Regional Planning Commission, the Young Men’s Christian Association, the Jackson County Airport Authority, the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, and the Southern Rail Commission. Brian has been recognized with several awards for his work with professional organization and was most recently presented with the One Coast Community Leader Award in 2020 by the Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Fulton is blessed with two children and two grandchildren who all live in the Ocean Springs area.

Gary Evans


Gary S. Evans is a native of Pascagoula who resides in Ocean Springs. He served in the XVIII Airborne Corp of the United States Army, obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Southern Mississippi, and earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Mississippi.

Gary has worked as an attorney in private practice and has served as an Assistant District Attorney for the 19th Circuit Court Judicial District of Mississippi, special counsel in the Board Attorney’s Office, and as Board Attorney for the Jackson County Board of Supervisors.

April McDonald


April McDonald currently serves as Staff Attorney for Jackson County, Mississippi. Prior to her service with Jackson County, April practiced as an associate attorney for a local defense firm where her legal practice focused on general civil litigation, governmental, and estate law. She also has significant trial and appellate litigation experience on both the state and federal level.

She received her Doctor of Jurisprudence from the Mississippi College School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts in English from Delta State University. She is admitted to practice law before all Mississippi and Alabama State Courts, the U.S. Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Mississippi, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

April is a member of the Jackson County Bar Association, where she has served as president, vice-president and secretary. She is also a member of the Mississippi Bar Association, Alabama Bar Association, and Mississippi Women Lawyers Association, where she serves on the Board of Directors.

April is a native of George County and presently resides in Ocean Springs with her husband, Cole Andrews. In her community, April is a member of the Lucedale Fine Arts Club, Mistress of Ceremonies for George County Distinguished Young Women Program, Mississippi High School Mock Trial Competition Judge, and a member of First Baptist Church of Ocean Springs.

Ijlal Babar, MD

Chief of Staff

Dr. Ijlal Babar received his medical degree from Aga Kahn University and completed his training at the University of Arizona. He came to Ocean Springs from the University of Arizona in 2003 where he held an academic position as Assistant Professor of Medicine.

Dr. Babar is board certified in Pulmonology, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine. He is the Medical Director of Singing River Pulmonary Critical Care and the Regional Pulmonary Hypertension Center. Dr. Babar has been crucial in Singing River’s expansion of clinical trials and research initiatives and a key player in our fight against COVID-19.

Amber Colville, MD

Chief of Staff-Elect

Dr. Amber Colville is a primary care physician providing care in her own clinic, New Wave Internal Medicine, which opened in April 2013 and is affiliated with Ocean Springs Hospital.

Dr. Colville was born in Pascagoula, MS and attended school in Moss Point. She obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. She went on to receive her medical degree from Ross University and completed her internship and residency at University Hospital-NY.

Dr. Colville is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. In her spare time, Dr. Colville performs vocals–solo and ensemble and enjoys international travel. She is married and has three children.