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Search for United Way director enters interview stage


Jan Ballard

Jan Ballard



Carmen K. Sisson



The United Way of Lowndes County is moving forward in its search for a new executive director following the abrupt departure of Jan Ballard in early February.  


A job posting was placed in newspapers as well as on, a website devoted to connecting employers and job seekers.  


Applications were accepted through Feb. 22 for the position, which requires "significant work experience in executive leadership, experience with nonprofit organizations, demonstrated success in fundraising and community leadership and outstanding interpersonal skills." Preference will be given to those with a bachelor's and master's degree and previous United Way experience.  


With approximately 50 resumes in hand, the search now shifts to narrowing the candidate pool, board president Stewart Stafford said Thursday. Potential new hires are being vetted via telephone, with the most suitable candidates being invited for an in-house interview.  


Stafford said he would love to be able to announce a new director at the organization's annual meeting and awards ceremony, slated for March 21 at Trotter Convention Center, but he admitted that may not be feasible.  


"On one side, we have a sense of urgency to get that done, but on the other side, we want to do it right," he said. "We don't want to rush anything." 


Part of the reason for the cautious approach may lie in the example set by Ballard, who served the agency for 16 years -- the past eight as executive director -- and could often be found at her desk long after working hours were over.  


She began her new job as school board clerk for the Columbus Municipal School District on Feb. 4. Stafford described the parting as "amicable," saying that as a state employee, Ballard will have access to "a tremendous benefits package" that exceeds what is offered by United Way.  


"She is a tremendous public servant who brought a lot of energy and heart to the organization, and she (left) some big shoes to fill," Stafford said. "On one hand, we hated to see her go, but on the other hand, we can't stand in the way of someone who has done so much. She's just a tremendous asset for our community, and we know she will be a success wherever she ends up and whatever she decides to do." 


Ballard is continuing to work as an agency volunteer during the transition period, but though business is continuing as usual, her absence is felt.  


"She did a great job for us, and I'm learning daily how much she did," Stafford said. "I miss her more every day."


Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.



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