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Michelle Purl joins United Way of Central Louisiana as new Chief Executive Officer

Michelle Purl, who’s worked with non-profits for over 25 years, is the new Chief Executive Officer of the United Way of Central Louisiana.
Published: Mar. 24, 2021 at 1:56 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 24, 2021 at 4:35 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - We first brought you the news that United Way of Central Louisiana CEO David Britt was retiring last month. Since then, a new person has moved to Central Louisiana to fill the role.

Michelle Purl, who’s worked with non-profits for over 25 years, is the new Chief Executive Officer of the United Way of Central Louisiana.

Purl comes to us from the United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties in Florida, where she worked for four and a half years.

“I actually came on there as part of their campaign team which is our fundraising arm of what we do, but it was only supposed to be temporary,” said Purl.

However, that temporary position quickly became permanent. It wasn’t long before she worked her way up the ranks to Community Impact Director, Resource Development Director and then as the Chief Operating Officer.

“It just has been my way of helping people and fighting for that underdog, because for me, non-profits are the best of both worlds. It is, you get to fight with passion and caring and changing the world type mentality.”

United Way of Central Louisiana CEO, Michelle Purl

Purl, who grew up in a small town in Minnesota, and then moved to Florida where she lived for over three decades, is settling into her new position here in Cenla.

“I’m in my listening phase. When I first was coming here, I came up with a 30-, 60- and 90-day plan as they always ask you to do. So my first 30 days was really about hearing from the staff, the community, the board members, the donors, what’s going on here, what’s working, what are the needs.”

United Way of Central Louisiana CEO, Michelle Purl

Now she says she plans to take that information to see what we can do to make the community stronger, which includes using a multi-faceted approach to develop specific goals focused on education, income and health.

“On community impact, it means still doing allocations and grants, and then we still have internal programs that help support what’s already going on in the community, but also to compliment,” said Purl.

Two focus points for Purl right now are crime rates among the youth and creating a women’s united group.

“One area that I’m finding almost that comes up repeatedly in topics is youth because we don’t have a Boys and Girl’s Club here, we don’t have a YMCA,” said Purl.

She also wants to continue supporting those impacted by COVID-19 and the hurricanes.

“Non-profits are going to have their hands full just in trying to meet the needs of the people. In the same breath, as much as the needs have increased, for non-profits, the funds have decreased,” said Purl.

These funds are crucial to helping families get back on their feet.

“Most people would gladly give five dollars if they knew those five dollars was contributing to that one hundred dollars to put that family in a room, or a hotel, or a house,” said Purl.

At the end of the day, Purl says to her, working at United Way is about being a voice for the voiceless, and always fighting for the underdog.

“It just is to me important for things to be balanced and to help that person who needs an extra hand, may not have the skill set or whatever.”

United Way of Central Louisiana CEO, Michelle Purl

Purl is planning future meet and greets to get to know people here in Cenla.

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