- Associated Press - Sunday, March 30, 2014

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - United Way of Southeast Mississippi has a new executive director. Mike Collins, a recently retired Mississippi Power Co. executive, will step into the job on an interim basis while a search is made for a long-term director.

Collins was selected last week to temporarily fill the vacancy left when Dan Kibodeaux resigned March 6 after nine years at the helm.

Collins will take on his new role Tuesday, The Hattiesburg American reported (https://hatne.ws/P4G7Xp ).

“I was actually approached by some of the officers of United Way to see if I would be interested,” Collins said Friday. “It’s a really great organization, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Collins knows his way around the organization.

A former, longtime board director, he served as board president and past president, and also had been assistant chairman and chairman of the nonprofit’s annual fundraising campaigns.

He also has served in various capacities with other area organizations, including the Area Development Partnership, University of Southern Mississippi Foundation, Greater PineBelt Community Foundation and advisory board of Regions Bank.

“He’s a really good fit,” Board President Susan Slaughter said. “We are thrilled that Mike Collins has agreed to serve as interim director. Mike is a longtime friend of United Way, having served as board president and volunteer for many years.

Slaughter said a search committee of volunteers from the organization and community partner groups convened about three weeks ago to begin the search for Kibodeaux’s permanent replacement.

“We feel like that process to find a permanent director will take three to six months,” she said.

United Way’s 2014-15 fundraising campaign will kick off this fall, and Collins said he expects the permanent director to be in place before then.

“I think they are a high-performing group,” he said. “My job will be to be there and help make good decisions.”

But while Collins said he intends to devote himself to the position, the call of retirement retains a strong pull and he is not a candidate for the permanent spot.

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