St. John United Way chooses new executive director

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 7, 2012



LAPLACE – The St. John the Baptist Parish United Way Board of Directors recently chose a successor to outgoing Executive Director Dean Torres, who retired this week after 11 years at the helm.

Taking his place is Trista Brazan, the former campaign and communications manager for the United Way of St. Charles. Brazan’s first day was Tuesday, and her first meeting with the board will be held later this month.

Prior to her service with the St. Charles United Way, Brazan worked as a recruiter with CASA, a partner agency of the St. John United Way, where she recruited, trained and supervised volunteers who worked with abused and neglected children navigating the foster care system. She is a graduate of LSU and currently lives in St. James Parish.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead an organization that provides support to so many wonderful programs serving residents throughout the community,” Brazan said. “I am eager to work with our volunteers and partners to help do my part in creating lasting changes in St. John Parish.”

St. John United Way President Rhonda Hotard said the move comes on the heels of a board retreat held in the summer that focused on the future direction of the agency’s community impact agenda, campaign goals and future in the St. John region. In addition to the leadership change, Hotard said the board recently released a new campaign video, launched a new website and added another fundraising event – a cook-off – which was held in November.

“We are looking forward to beginning a new chapter for the St. John United Way and think there are many opportunities for additional growth and impact in our community,” said Hotard. “Dean’s work will always be remembered, and his guidance during this transition will be crucial, but we also see a tremendous amount of energy and experience in Trista and look forward to working with her to bring the St. John United Way to another level.”

Torres joined the United Way in 1999 and helped to push the organization’s growth in fundraising and effectiveness. Torres helped to formalize the Louisiana Association of United Ways while maintaining the independence of the St. John United Way.

During Dean’s time as Executive Director, the St. John community and region as a whole have suffered significant blows because of Hurricanes Katrina and Gustav and most recently the national economic downturn.

“When I signed on I promised 10 years to the organization,” Torres said. “I will be forever grateful to the many individuals and organizations that have assisted me in my service to the St. John Community through United Way.”