Jackie Turner, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, speaks during an economic development committee meeting at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss., May 7, 2020. Credit: Eric J. Shelton/Mississippi Today

Jackie Turner, the executive director of Mississippi’s Department of Employment Security, will be retiring from her position next month — the latest of numerous top staffers or appointees of Gov. Tate Reeves to leave state government in recent months.

Turner, who oversees the state agency that doles out unemployment benefits, announced her departure in an email to staff on Tuesday afternoon. She has been working with the employment security office for more than two decades and has spent the last 34 years as a state employee.

“With that in mind, it’s time for me to retire and spend more time with family and the care of my elderly parents,” Turner said in the email, which was obtained by Mississippi Today. “This is a very special, bitter-sweet occasion for me.”

In the email, she called her tenure as executive director “the honor of a lifetime.” Turner’s last day, according to the email, will be Sept. 30. MDES did not respond to a request for comment.

Former Gov. Phil Bryant appointed Turner to the position in 2019, and she was re-appointed by current Gov. Tate Reeves in early 2020. She had previously served as the department’s deputy executive director.

Turner is the second agency head appointed by Reeves who announced they will leave a major state government post in two weeks. Last week, Reeves announced Mississippi Development Authority Director John Rounsaville will resign on Aug. 31.

Mississippi Today later reported that Rounsaville’s resignation came after an investigation into whether he sexually harassed three subordinate MDA employees. After that reporting, Reeves announced Rounsaville would be on administrative leave through his last day.

In recent weeks, Reeves has been hemorrhaging staff. Since Mississippi Today reported in late June that Reeves has lost four senior staffers and several policy staff since he took office in 2020, four additional staffers have left his office.

READ MORE: Other governors use bully pulpits, incentives to urge vaccination. Where’s Gov. Reeves?


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