Christina Pierce is happy to be back in Hattiesburg as the new publisher of HubCitySPOKES, the parent company of The PineBelt NEWS and Signature Magazine.
Of course, she is excited about her new position, which she started on June 25, but she is also excited about being back in Hattiesburg.
She and her husband, Sid, lived here in the late 1990s, and she was the retail advertising manager for the Hattiesburg American.
The couple moved back to the area in February to be closer to their eight grandchildren.
Six of those grandbabies live in the Hub City, and the other two are in nearby Collins.
Prior to her move, Pierce served for four years as publisher of The Daily Iberian and Acadiana Lifestyle in New Iberia, Louisiana.
She brings with her extensive experience in the world of newspaper publishing, and her career has moved her all over the Magnolia State as well as Louisiana and Alabama.
A native of Centralia, Illinois, Pierce is a graduate of the University of Mississippi, where she earned a degree in marketing.
She spent years working in advertising and leadership roles for Gannett, the mass media company, and she has also previously worked for Emmerich Newspapers, which owns HubCitySPOKES.
“We’ve been trying to get back to Hattiesburg because the children – my six children – and the grandchildren are here,” she said. “My husband is from the Mississippi Delta, and I have dragged him all over Louisiana for the past 15 years, so he was wanting to get back to the grandchildren and to Mississippi. The grandchildren were the big draw for us. They’re still small, so we wanted to be here for their formative years.”
Pierce said the move back to Hattiesburg was a “step out in faith” because she did not have a new job lined up.
“I gave my old job a three-month notice because we decided we needed to be closer to our family,” she said. “I came here in February without a job, and I decided I would open my own business, and then ... COVID-19. It put everything on hold. When this publisher position became available, I got a call from Emmerich. They thought I was still in New Iberia; they didn’t know I was already here.”
The couple found what they consider their dream home – a country house on 13 acres on Mississippi Highway 589 – and are now working to establish new roots here.
They are looking forward to finding a new church family and exploring everything Hattiesburg has to offer.
“I absolutely loved Hattiesburg when I lived here before, and I have nothing but fond memories from that time,” said Pierce. “I love that this is a college town, and we’re excited about college sports. I love the size of the market, and I’m ready to meet everyone and get better acquainted with the area.”
She acknowledges that that process may take a bit longer because of the pandemic, but she is ready to get started.
Pierce replaces longtime publisher David Gustafson, who has led the Hattiesburg operation since 2009.
Gustafson, who announced his departure to the staff last week, said he and his wife, Carly, plan to remain in the area to pursue new endeavors.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve had here and am proud of our many accomplishments. I’m very much looking forward to our next chapter.”