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Carol Johnson Burger

Photo by Stephen Wilson.

Carol Johnson Burger, president and chief executive officer of United Way of the Capital Area, has been a mainstay in the organization since her start as a volunteer in 1980. In 1984, she became the director of community services, and in 1995, she took on her current position.

"I started out working to determine the community's needs for investment and bringing in volunteers," Burger says. At that time, she says, homelessness was a big issue, so she worked with churches and other organizations to develop services for Jackson's homeless population.

Burger graduated from Carver High School in Bassfield, Miss., and went on to Tougaloo College when she was 15. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in elementary and library education in 1962. She then took a job as a teacher at Carver High School in Collins, Miss. She was the first African American teacher in Pearl River County when she began working at Nicholson Elementary in Picayune, Miss.

Prior to joining United Way, Burger worked as a human services administrator for former Gov. Cliff Finch and as the assistant director of Hinds County Department of Public Welfare.

During Burger's tenure as president and CEO of United Way of the Capital Area, the organization has developed what it calls the "community impact model" for measurable accountability in programs that address education, income and health.

"The model looks at specific community needs and brings together entities to address those needs," she says. "It brings partners to the table to work together on a specific agenda, and education is the big focus of that collaboration."

Burger has also served on the boards of local organizations such as Mission Mississippi, the Metro Jackson Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Jackson Arts Council, the Better Business Bureau, the St. Dominic Health Services Advisory Board, Visit Jackson and Springboard to Opportunities.

On Nov. 20, Burger announced her retirement as president and CEO of United Way. Burger will remain with the organization through June 2018 while it conducts a search for someone to fill those positions.

"I've been so fortunate to meet the best people in the world here in the local community and talk to them about investing in the community," Burger says.

Burger has one son, Marcus, and two grandchildren, Nicholas and Logan. She is a member of Anderson United Methodist Church.


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