United Way of Southeast Mississippi Announces New Board Chair, Board Members for 2024-25

New Board Members 2024-2025

HATTIESBURG, MISS. – United Way of Southeast Mississippi  is pleased to welcome a new Board Chair and new Board Members. At its annual meeting held April 23, 2024 at Southern Oaks Venue United Way of Southeast Mississippi announced Jerry DeFatta, Executive Director of The University of Southern Mississippi Alumni Association, as its 2024-25 board chair. 


DeFatta has previously served United Way as the Resource Development Committee Chair and as a chair of the Community Impact Committee. He replaces Jaclyn Baylis, Senior Vice President at Cadence Bank, whose term as board chair ended March 31.   “I am grateful for the opportunity to serve United Way as a member of its volunteer leadership,” said DeFatta. “The staff and partner agencies associated with the organization are an incredible resource for those in our community who are less fortunate. I am excited about the year ahead and look forward to leading a talented team of passionate community leaders to make a positive impact in the Pine Belt.”


Baylis remains a member of the Board of Directors as past board chair and will continue to serve on the Executive Committee.

United Way also added seven new board members who began their three-year terms on April 1: 

  • Ann Claire KellyAlfa Insurance
  • Chase Barnes, The First Bank
  • Jake White, Mississippi Power
  • Kyle Napier, Anderson Design Center
  • Ned Nelson, Nelson Law Firm
  • Tori Geiger, Cooperative Energy
  • Zac Howell, Tax Collector, Forrest County

United Way board members are responsible for stewarding the organization both financially and programmatically and serve as advocates to enhance the organization’s presence in its four-county service area of Forrest, Lamar, Marion and Perry. 

“We are excited to welcome these outstanding individuals to our Board,” said United Way of Southeast Mississippi’s  President and CEO Tracie Fowler. “Each brings unique life experiences and professional expertise that will help our organization continue to build strong communities where everyone thrives.”

New board members join current board members: 

  • Katie Anthony, The University of Southern Mississippi
  • Jaclyn Baylis, Cadence Bank
  • Celeste Brown, Southern Mississippi Planning & Development District
  • Jana Causey, Pearl River Community College
  • Phyllis Chambers-Berry, Forrest General Hospital
  • Jerry DeFatta, The University of Southern Mississippi Alumni Association
  • Shameika Donaldson, Hattiesburg Clinic
  • Jeffrey George, Mike Rozier Construction Co., City of Hattiesburg
  • Karen Griffis, Regions 
  • Cher Harvey, Jones Corporate Resources
  • Ryan Hinton, Hancock Whitney
  • Annie Jackson, Canopy Children’s Solutions
  • Frank James III, Courtyard Marriott
  • Tyler Lofton, Regions
  • Chris Miles, Combined Benefit Administrators
  • Kevin Morris, TMP PLLC
  • Teresa Poole, William Carey University
  • Alexis Rutland, Visit Hattiesburg
  • Adam Schraeder, ADP