SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – On Friday the United Way of Northwest Louisiana announced the appointment of LaToria Willis Thomas as the new President and CEO, becoming both the first woman and the first African American person to head the organization. She currently holds the position of Vice President of Community Investments & Operations and will take over as CEO beginning Mar. 1.

Thomas said on her Facebook that she wants to work to improve the lives of girls from communities like the one she grew up in.

“To be able to come home to my hometown, and work for an organization that has been doing such good work, and now be named the next President and CEO is really exciting. To be the first woman, and the first African American, is even more of an excitement because I never thought I’d be the first of any of those things.”

Her prior nonprofit work includes positions with Shreveport Green as an AmeriCorps Crew Leader, the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s rebuilding efforts, and the AARP Foundation. Thomas also managed 19 national scholarships for the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and served as an Executive Director for Dress for Success New Orleans.

Download the ArkLaTexHomepage app to keep up with the latest top stories, breaking news, weather, sports, and more!