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Busy execs play key roles in nonprofit leadership

Sister Mary Dorothea Sondgeroth calls giving back an enrichment experience for executives.

“God has blessed us with time, talents and resources to share with people in the community, where there’s always a need,” said Sondgeroth, president of St. Dominic Health Services, who volunteers with numerous nonprofit organizations, including Junior Achievement. “Sometimes in giving, you receive. It’s inspiring to see the people that we’re out here working with.”

Sondgeroth is especially passionate about the arts because “without them, a community dies,” she said.

“It’s so important that we support the arts, whether painting, music or dancing, because it enriches the soul and the mind and the body,” she said. “Music is the language of the soul.”

Busy executives like Sondgeroth play key roles in nonprofit leadership in metro Jackson.

Former Jackson Mayor Kane Ditto serves on the boards of Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Willowood Development Center, Community Foundation of Greater Jackson, Central Mississippi chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, Mississippi Baptist Health Systems, Mississippi College Foundation and the advisory board of the Mississippi Center for Non-Profits.

“It’s important to make contributions to the community where you’ve got some interest and some ability to help out and make a difference,” said Ditto. “If you can’t make any difference by serving on a board, then you’re not using your time well nor are you making the most contribution you could make to either that organization or the community as a whole.”

When Alan Wilson, president of Howard Wilson Chrysler-Jeep in Flowood, reached a point where he could give back to the community, he selected three nonprofits to support: his church, the International Ballet Competition (IBC) and Habitat for Humanity.

“You get so many requests from different organizations, and they’re all great organizations with worthwhile purposes, but there’s simply no way to give everybody something that’s meaningful,” he said. “You can give them all $50 and a well wish, but that’s not going to get anybody anywhere, so I believe you need to boil it down to two or three main interests and try to do something meaningful for those.”

Wilson said even though he didn’t know anything about ballet, he recognized the importance of the IBC to Jackson and to Mississippi.

“When I saw the potential for what it could do for the state, I got behind it because I believed in what they were doing,” said Wilson, who provides transportation for the event. “I’m not involved with the ballet because I love ballet so much. I’m involved with the ballet because I love my state.”

Wilson can afford to donate his time to nonprofits only because “of the great people that work for me,” he said. “They carry the ball when I’m not here, whether it’s charity work or spending time on my favorite hobby: my wife and kids. Likewise, I try to support the great people that surround me when they’re not here, so life is good.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at Lynne.Jeter@gmail.com.


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