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President: Melinda Tidwell


I am originally from Fulton, Mississippi, and attended the University of Mississippi receiving a Bachelor of Accountancy degree.  I am married to Cliff Tidwell and we have two children, Mollie and Caleb.  Our family lives in the Brewer Community and attends Brewer Baptist Church.  I am a member of the Tupelo Rotary Club, past President of the Tupelo Ladies Civitan Club, and stay busy with my church and children’s extra-curricular activities.  I have been employed with United Way of Northeast Mississippi since March of 1991.  My first position was Director of Finance and Funds Distribution and I served in that capacity for 9 years.  In 2000, I was promoted to Associate Executive Director and in 2001 became Executive Director.  It has been my honor and privilege to serve our community through United Way for the last 25 years!

Director of Community Impact: Mary Ann Plasencia


I was delighted to join the United Way team in June of 2018. I’m a native of Tampa, Florida and a first generation Cuban-American. I graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans with a Bachelor in Business Management.  Before coming to the United Way, I worked for Tupelo Public Schools in Community Relations and Communications. Tupelo has been home to me, my husband, Bruce Toppin, and our three children – Drew, Alex, and Gabi, for the last 22 years.  I look forward to serving the residents and families of this region.

Campaign Director: Russ Wilson


I joined the United Way staff in July of 2014.  I’ve spent most of my working career to date in media sales and management with time spent in both newspaper and radio as well as broadcast and cable TV advertising, all here in Northeast Mississippi.  I’m originally from New Albany and attended Northeast Community College and The University of Mississippi majoring in Business Administration.  My wife Annette and I are members of Wesley United Methodist Church and have lived in Tupelo for more than 30 years.  She is a retired Special Education teacher and currently does Early Intervention for the State Department of Health.  In fact, we met through her involvement with a United Way agency.  I’ve served on the board of United Way, Yocona Area Boy Scouts, and over 18 years on the Tupelo Planning Committee.  I’ve been a multi-year Funds Distribution volunteer and have served in other various capacities over a 25 year span with United Way.  I am truly honored to join the staff as Campaign Director and look forward to contributing to the legacy of leadership that is such a rich part of the history of Northeast Mississippi.

Campaign Director: Mike Mitchell


I have lived in Lee County, Mooreville, all my life.    My wife, Teresa, and I have 2 daughters, Elizabeth and Laura.   I attended Itawamba Community College and the University of Mississippi and hold a Master’s Degree in Science Education.  I also am serving in my 3rd term on the Lee County School Board.  I am a member on the Advisory Council for our area 4-H and a member of the Tupelo Luncheon Civitan Club.  Teresa and I are active members of Andrews Chapel United Methodist Church.  Most of my career has been working in industry – Cooper Tire, Toyota Boshoku, and most recently Philips Day-Brite in Human Resources.   Having been active in past United Way campaigns, I have seen the generosity of Northeast Mississippians in their willingness to help make a difference in our community.   Working for United Way presents the opportunity to make a positive impact to many lives in our community.  It is a blessing and a privilege to serve in making this a wonderful area to live and work.

Director of Donor Engagement: Patti H. Parker


I am a native of Monroe County, MS. Although I am new to United Way of Northeast MS in 2020, I was the Director of the United Way of Greater Monroe County for 20 years. In that role, I am proud of the work we have done to strengthen the Monroe County area, particularly after the 2011 tornado outbreak that devastated the communities of Smithville and Wren. I look forward to expanding my work in serving the wider Northeast MS region. I hold a bachelor’s degree in English from Mississippi University for Women and a master’s degree in History from Mississippi State University. I am a recipient of the MS Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40 Award. My husband, Randy, and I are proud parents of two children, Johnny, a meteorologist, and Chloe, a criminologist.

Communications Director: Robin McKinney


I have been with United Way of Northeast Mississippi since 2012 and now serve as the Communications Director. I am a graduate of Nettleton High School and the University of Mississippi, with a Bachelor of Arts in English. I recently completed my master’s in nonprofit management through Northeastern University with a concentration in social media and communications. I live in Tupelo with my husband, Brad, and my son, Jacob. I am a member of the Tupelo Young Professionals, Groundswell, and the PRAM Northeast Chapter.

Administrative Director: Cara Waters


I have been with United Way since July of 2004.  I am originally from Columbus, Mississippi, and attended Mississippi University for Women, receiving my Bachelor’s degree in 1996. My husband Justin and I have been married since 1997 and have two sons, Cooper and Samuel. Our family are members of Gum Tree Presbyterian Church in Tupelo. I am a graduate of the NEWMS Success Skills program. My most recent victory is that I was diagnosed with breast cancer in October of 2015, and I am proud to say that I am a two-year survivor.