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Leadership DeKalb adds new director
by Nicole Dow
January 30, 2013 09:17 AM | 2313 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Maria Balais
Maria Balais
Leadership DeKalb, a nonprofit community leadership development program, recently named Maria Balais as its new executive director.

Balais succeeds Caroline Moise, who was interim executive director since July 2012. Prior to her new role, she managed her own consulting firm where she worked with nonprofit organizations and corporations. Balais has a background working in the nonprofit, government and corporate sectors.

Although Jan. 14 was her first official day on the job, she was able to work with Moise in the weeks leading up to the transition.

“Caroline stayed and really trained me for about a month,” Balais said. “I was coming in for a couple of weeks during December, with the holidays in between, and then we spent time together the first two weeks in January just getting me ramped up.”

As executive director, Balais will lead the organization in areas including program development, fundraising, strategic planning, community relations, and board and volunteer coordination. She said she has always implemented “communication, connectiveness and community” in her professional path and that her new role is a perfect opportunity to do all three.

Balais said she does not plan on making any major changes to the organization during the next several months to a year.

“A very good friend of mine, who is also an executive director for a nonprofit, told me, ‘You really need to just get in there, get a sense of the lay of the land … get a sense of what people are interested in doing, what people are strong at doing, and then you can begin to sort of formulate some strategies around that,’” she explained.

As a graduate of a former leadership program — Leadership Atlanta, Class of 2006 — Balais knows the value these types of programs have for the participants and what impact they have on the community.

“I think that our organization cultivates the leadership that will protect and grow the tremendous assets of our DeKalb County community,” she said.

Participating in Leadership Atlanta changed her life, she added.

“If someone had an opportunity to apply or is nominated, they should definitely make an effort to do it at some point,” Balais said. “It is a really tremendous experience.”

The Leadership DeKalb Class of 2013 is halfway through their program, she said, but the organization has opened up nominations and applications for Leadership DeKalb Class of 2014.

A closer look:
To nominate someone or to submit an application for Leadership DeKalb Class of 2014, visit

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