Thomas Norman believes in living United.
The new director of the United Way of Corinth and Alcorn County brings decades of non-profit leadership experience and a heart for connecting and encouraging people and organizations to work together for the greater good to his new position at the helm of one of the county’s most enduring charitable organizations.
Norman, who took the helm of the organization October 1, said while the pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for all non-profits, it’s also created an opportunity to find new ways to connect and fulfill their missions.
“I feel like it’s given an opportunity to work together and expand their outreach. I want to help give them the tools and resources they need to reach out to the community,” he said.
The Alcorn Central High School graduate began working with the YMCA in Alabama after graduating from the University of North Alabama. In 2000 he returned home to Corinth where he found his way to the Corinth Boys and Girls Club. He quickly discovered he had found his niche.
“Within just a few weeks I was in love with it,” he said.
He said his eight years working with the local club was a true education and he’s grateful to all those who encouraged him along that journey.
“It gave me a tremendous opportunity to discover and learn about non-profits,” he said.
In 2008 he was named executive director of the Mississippi Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs, a statewide organization working to obtain grant funding along with state and federal funding and share resources and ideas among independent local Boys and Girls Clubs across the state.
While living in Corinth, Norman had the opportunity to travel the state and build relationships as he worked to assist clubs in their mission. Working with the clubs and their numerous partners gives him a unique perspective as he takes on his new leadership role at the United Way which serves as a central organization for fundraising and support for a wide variety of non-profit organizations throughout Corinth and Alcorn County, he said.
When the opportunity became available at United Way it was the right job at the right time.
“It was just a time for a change and this gives me an opportunity to give back to the community I grew up in that gave me so much,” he said.
He’s quick to acknowledge the tremendous impact of his predecessor, Betsy Whitehurst, who retired earlier this year after more than 45 years as executive director. Norman said she’s been a blessing as he’s moved into his new role.
“I’ve got some really big shoes to fill. When people think of Betsy, they think of United Way,” he said.
The new director said what makes United Way unique is the breadth of the organizations it supports and serves. He’s working to connect with the leadership in all of those agencies and get to know each of them better so he can better understand how he and United Way can help them achieve their missions within the community.
He said every non-profit has felt the impact of the pandemic in countless ways, including fundraising and how they conduct their day-to-day activities.
“All individuals and organizations were impacted by COVID whether personally or professionally,” said the new director.
He believes the challenges of the pandemic have taught lessons and encouraged new thinking and he wants to provide leadership as the community continues to weather the changes.
“We’ve got to think outside the box. That’s what I’m doing,” he said.
He plans to bring organizations together not only for fundraising but to help them in obtaining grants and pooling resources to make the best use of the talents and resources available to meet the needs of the community.
He’s also focused on sharing the mission and impact of United Way with the community to encourage support of the organization by helping everyone who contributes or is considering contributing better understand what their support means and the real, direct, personal impact it makes on people from all walks of life within the community.
Norman said he’s blessed to be working with an extremely experienced and dedicated board of directors at United Way and he feels grateful for the opportunity they’ve given him to make a difference in the community he loves and calls home.
“I’m extremely appreciative of the United Way Board of Directors who put their faith and trust in me,” he said.