CEO Carol Burger celebrates decades of service

June 14, 2018 in News

By Cianna Hope Reeves,

JSU Student Intern,

Retiring United Way CEO and President Carol Burger

After serving the local community for 34 years, Carol Burger is stepping out of her position as chief executive officer and president of United Way of the Capital Area and into a new chapter of her life.

To celebrate her acclaimed reign, United Way Board of Trustees held a retirement bash to honor the legacy that has impacted many across local and state levels.

United Way’s past board members, staff, corporate partners, family, and public and elected officials joined together at the Mississippi Museum of Art Tuesday, June 5 to commend Burger on her milestone and shared sincere remarks about the selfless donor.

1995 board chair, Red Moffat, credited Burger for the company’s success and the improvement of the city.

“We have a better United Way, we have a better city, we have healthier non-profits, and a host of other attributes of our community because of Carol and her work,” said Moffat.

Joseph Moss, who is a current board chair, labeled her an idol.

“The lives she has touched is countless. The generations of families she has touched and the paths she has helped changed is countless—she is truly a hero,” stated Moss.

Burger started her career with the non-profit organization in 1984 where she served the capital through effective leadership by partnering with community-based programs to help provide opportunities for disadvantage families and children.

In 1994, Burger was elected by the Board of Trustees to become the local organization’s president and CEO.

Wanting to expand the company in a way that would change the outlook of United Way from being a “pass-through agency of raising money” to an active organization which focuses on real issues and solves problems, she made it her responsibility to achieve that aspiration.

For the next 34 years, Burger would transform the face of United Way and touch the lives of families and children in Hinds, Madison, and Rankin County through three focuses—education, financial stability, and health.

One pillar she is proud to have emphasized during her tenure is pushing the importance of education in the tri-county area, specifically within the Jackson and Canton Public School Systems.

As a former teacher prior to serving as CEO, enrolling into Tougaloo College at age 15, and having a mother who was an educator, education has always been a major constituent in her life which is also the reason for her ongoing pursuit to aid the young to reach new educational heights.

“I am passionate about education, and I believe every child can succeed if they are given the proper education,” said Burger.

She added, “If we can get our kids educated, then we don’t have to worry about financial stability or worry about their health because they can afford themselves and their families. I strongly feel that if we create the right pathway for education, those two issues will be resolved,” Burger said.

One major programs she has adopted to help improve early childhood literacy rates is Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

Imagination Library is a book giving program where newborns to children of age 5 in the local area can receive one free age-appropriate book every month, and with the support of United Way it has become a thriving and impactful platform each year.

The Boys & Girls Club of Central Mississippi and United Way are also key partners and work together to prepare the youth for their future, With the vision to increase high school graduation rates,

Through their partnership, they have graduated 104 children in the last five years, offered tutors in the club’s afternoon school-care program, and provided scholarships to high school students attending college.

President Penny Ainsworth of the local Boys & Girls Club shared her appreciation for Burger’s commitment throughout their years of collaboration.

“In 21 years I have worked with Boys & Girls Club, United Way has been one of the most pivotal community partners that we have had in all of our organizations in the United States,” expressed Ainsworth.

After influencing countless lives and leading United Way to achievement, Burger said she has accomplished all of her goals during her tenure and is ecstatic to experience her new journey of life.

“I have done what I have needed to do to position United Way. I am happy with where we are, and I am happy to pass the torch to someone else,” said Burger

The renowned advocate is confident that her successor, Ira Murray, who previously served nine years as the company’s community impact coordinator, will move the organization to new levels and hopes that the community will support his endeavors.

“I am trusting that he will do more. I know how he feels about this community, I know how much he loves the work of [United Way], and I am just so excited,” expressed Burger.

She added, “One of the things that Ira brings to the table is passion, and I just hope the community will get behind him and give him the support that he needs to help accomplish his vision as we move United Way forward because no United Way President can serve without its community.”

Though Burger is retiring from her role as chief, she assured her involvement within the community will continue, nevertheless.