United Way hires director

Published 12:05 am Saturday, June 14, 2008

NATCHEZ — Though the search was far and wide, the United Way has found a fit for its executive director position in a Natchezian.

Beginning July 1, Marsha Colson will serve as the executive director for the United Way.

“Marsha has deep family roots in Natchez, she’s well known and well respected,” United Way Chairman Mike Gemmell said. “We’re so fortunate to have someone of her caliber agree to take on this position.”

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Colson said what she is most excited about in accepting the position is truly being able to assist the community.

“I’ve had jobs where I’ve helped people before but it’s a different thing and a different experience to be working totally toward caring for and supporting people,” she said. “I think that’ll be a real privilege for me to do that.”

Colson said she is looking forward to working with the board of directors.

“It’s a really good board, they’re a wonderful, committed, highly ethical committee,” she said. “I know they’re a very supportive board and they’ll work really hard.”

She said the board members have a lot of credibility in the community.

Both Gemmell and Maria Bowser, United Way communications chair, said Colson, in turn, has that same credibility with the community.

Gemmell, said she’ll bring “prestige and instant credibility” to the organization.

“By her accepting the job, the community knows that someone who is a professional is running the United Way, someone who is respected is running the United Way, someone who is qualified will be running the United Way and that alone is worth our whole goal right there — credibility,” Gemmell said.

Bowser emphasized how beneficial it is to have not only a Natchez resident, but Colson herself, at the helm of the organization.

“To have somebody that is familiar with Natchez and knows the right people to contact to get things done and has an impeccable reputation for being just a good solid citizen of Natchez,” she said is invaluable.

Fully steeped in the duties and tasks before her, Colson is prepared to do what it takes.

“A lot of (the job) is public relations, community relations and letting the community know what we do,” she said.

And Colson has the experience to do this.

She’s worked in human resources twice, once for Lady Luck, now the Isle of Capri, and also for the Fruit of the Loom in Vidalia.

Colson also works at Natchez Pilgrimage Tours, has served on the board of the American Heart Association as well as the board of Trinity Episcopal Day School and the vestry of the Episcopal Church.

She also works at Natchez Realty and will continue to do so.

“I love this community, I want to do everything I can to support Natchez and its health and its growth because it’s a really special place,” she said.

The organization has been without an executive director since the first week of January.

Gemmell said not only was the search extensive and in depth, but also the board wanted the United Way to be in a stable condition before filling that position.

“We wanted to get all of our ducks in a row,” he said. “We wanted to give the new executive director a clean slate to start off with.”

What Colson will focus on as executive director is raising enough money through the organization’s annual campaign.

In order to operate each year, the United Way needs a budget of $150,000.

Gemmell said he is confident that not only will she reach that goal but she will surpass it.

“I can’t say enough about Marsha Colson with her taking us to another level,” Gemmell said.