Forest Thigpen is President of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, an independent think tank based in Jackson. Forest and his wife, Debbie, have two sons: Jason, who is 31, and Clayton, who is 23. They live in Madison and are members of Broadmoor Baptist Church. Debbie has an interior-design consulting business. Jason graduated from Madison public schools and Mississippi College, and he works in the Jackson area. Clayton also graduated from Madison public schools and attends Mississippi College.
Forest served on the Washington staff of Senator Thad Cochran for 10 years. He worked in various legislative and administrative capacities for Senator Cochran, including service as the Republican Staff Director for a subcommittee of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. He was responsible at various times in his Washington career for policy analysis in the areas of taxes, government regulation, health care reform, banking, insurance, energy, Social Security, welfare, the justice system, communications, housing and environmental issues.
As a part of his work at the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, Forest produces a one-minute radio commentary, titled Vital Signs, that airs several times weekly on multiple stations across Mississippi. He has appeared on every major television station in Mississippi and in every major newspaper in the state, as well as USA Today, Time Magazine, and other national publications.
Gov. Phil Bryant asked Forest to serve on a committee of his transition team, and, as Lieutenant Governor, appointed Forest to a commission to find ways to operate government more
efficiently. Forest was appointed by former Gov. Haley Barbour to his tax study commission, a commission on charter schools, and a committee of the Governor's Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding, and Renewal following Hurricane Katrina. Forest also served two terms on the Mississippi Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He now serves on the boards of Bigger Pie Forum and the newly-formed Mississippi Charter School Association.
Forest has been involved as a volunteer in a variety of ministries. He developed and directed a church-wide ministry to meet the special needs of the poor and elderly, and he served on the Inner City Ministry Committee at his church.
Forest, a native of Cleveland, Mississippi, earned an accounting degree from Delta State University, where he served as President of the Student Government Association and of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity. He is an alumnus of the Leadership Mississippi program of the Mississippi Economic Council.