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Hometown Hero

Michele Connelly: ‘I think about what I can do to help someone else’

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United Way members Kory and Michele Connelly

Deeply rooted in Vicksburg and the state of Mississippi, United Way Executive Director Michele Connelly has always understood the importance of giving back. 

“I would say that my love for the community comes from a multitude of places but first and foremost it comes from my parents. They not only told me, but they modeled the importance of [being] active members of your church and active members of your community to give back to others, and that’s what I have always done,” Connelly said. “Even in my other professional career in education, that is really about giving back to the next generation and making sure that you provide them the skills necessary to be successful that day and for many years to come.”

After acquiring her undergraduate degree in psychology from Mississippi State University, Connelly went on to earn her master’s degree in counseling psychology from Mississippi College. From there, her career took off, starting in education.

“When I left Mississippi College, I was blessed enough to become a guidance counselor at Vicksburg Catholic School for six years,” Connelly said. “From there I became a high school principal at St. Aloysius High School for nine years, and I’ve now been here at United Way for five years. Also, while I was a high school principal, I received another master’s from Marymount University in Catholic School Leadership.”

Today, Connelly uses her position not to look down on others but to pull them up.

“I tell people all of the time that I am blessed to work at United Way because in this position I consider myself to be a servant leader for people. I am blessed with an opportunity to find the answers and to create solutions and move forward with the support of thousands of individuals in our community who want to live in a stronger community.

“I wake up in the morning and pinch myself because this is the perfect opportunity for me. I scream giving back to others.” 

These are words that Connelly lives by, and she continues to speak on the importance of giving back to all.

“In my opinion, God has granted us gifts and talents and to be the hands and feet in our community. We must use our gifts and talents to serve others. ” she said. “I quite often, in leadership seminars that I’m blessed to give to younger adults, remind everyone that leadership positions just means that you are a servant leader. You are making sure that you provide people what they need in order to be successful, and we all need to do that.

“We all need to take a few seconds and recognize the importance of respecting others and respecting the fact that everyone has the potential to give back.”

Connelly’s focus is on doing great work in the community, and she models her commitment with numerous organizations in Vicksburg. She is a devout member of Porter’s Chapel United Methodist Church, an active member of the Live Healthy Action Team and an avid supporter of the United Way.  With the United Way she participates in events such as the Day of Caring during which volunteers help out at nursing homes, animal shelters and other venues for the day.

“Every morning I wake up, I don’t think about what I can do to seem like a better person,” Connelly said. “I think about what I can do to help someone else.”

Copyright © 2022 Vicksburg Daily News.

Vicksburg Daily News