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Board Hires New Executive Director to Lead SJUW

The St. John United Way Board of Directors recently voted to hire a new Executive Director to replace retiring Executive Director Dean Torres.

Torres has served as the Executive Director of the St. John United Way for over eleven years and has pushed the organization’s growth in fundraising, impact, and effectiveness. Torres helped to formalize the Louisiana Association of United Ways while maintaining the independence of the St. John United Way. During Dean’s time as Executive Director, the St. John community and region as a whole have suffered significant blows due to Hurricanes Katrina and Gustav and most recently the national economic downturn.

“When I signed on with St John United Way in June of 1999, I promised 10 years to the organization. I will be forever grateful to the many individuals and organizations that have assisted me in my service to the St John Community through United Way. I am committed to assisting our incoming Executive Director, Trista Brazan, in order to make the transition as smooth as possible,” said Dean Torres, outgoing Executive Director.

“As the person who asked Dean to come on board, I can honestly say that we can thank him for the agency’s financial solvency, community impact, and growth over the past decade. For most of those ten years the United Way in St. John was a one-man show and it’s because of Dean’s hard work and dedication that we made it through both Katrina and the recent economic downturn,” said Greg “Za” Maurin, 15 year Board member.

Trista Brazan has spent many years in the non-profit and advocacy sectors. Most recently, she has served as the Campaign and Communications Manager for the United Way of St Charles. Prior to her service with the St. Charles United Way, Trista worked as a recruiter with CASA, a partner agency of the St. John United Way, where she recruited, trained and supervised volunteers who worked with abused and neglected children navigating the foster care system. She is a graduate of LSU and currently lives in St. James Parish.

Brazan will officially take over the position on January 3, 2012, and her first meeting with the Board of Directors will be at the normally scheduled January board meeting. Brazan will be supported by her Executive Assistant, Liz Brady.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead an organization that provides support to so many wonderful programs serving residents throughout the community. I am eager to work with our volunteers and partners to help do my part in creating lasting changes in St. John Parish,” said future Executive Director Trista Brazan.

“We are looking forward to beginning a new chapter for the St. John United Way and think there are many opportunities for additional growth and impact in our community. Dean’s work will always be remembered and his guidance during this transition will be crucial. We see a tremendous amount of energy and experience in Trista and look forward to working with her to bring the St. John United Way to another level,” said Rhonda Hotard, CEO of Louisiana Federal Credit Union and President of the St. John United Way.

The move comes after a Board retreat was held in the summer of 2011 focusing on the future direction of the agency’s community impact agenda, campaign goals, and future in the St. John region. In addition to the leadership change, the Board recently released a new campaign video and launched a new website. Also, an additional fundraiser – a cook-off – was held this past November to raise additional funds for the organization.

“My experience working with United Way and other community organizations has provided me with a unique understanding of fundraising in rural communities. I am confident this experience will serve us well as we look to increase our annual campaign and our organization’s capacity, thus increasing the number of people we can serve in the St. John community,” said Brazan.