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Coleman to retire as CAA president

SoVaNow.com / March 02, 2009
The Tri-County Community Action Agency is beginning its work to find a new President and Chief Executive Officer to lead it and its accompanying Community Federal Credit Union. Their work began in earnest on Thursday after long serving President and CEO William E. Coleman announced that he is stepping down after ìserving 42 years at the helm.

"It will be extremely difficult to find a person to walk in his (Colemanís) shoes," said W.P. Hudgins, chairman of the Tri-County Board. "It will not be easy; show can we replace a legend?" Hudgins said, noting that Coleman has carried out the mission of the agency, helping those in need and making it grow with his good leadership and management skills.

"He has certainly done an outstanding job for this agency and the community in general," added Aubrey Houghton, who has served both the agency and the Federal Credit Union as its treasurer since their inceptions.

Vice Chairman Doug Bowman also had only the highest praise for Colemanís work. "It is gratifying that one of our own stayed at home to carry on this work. William Coleman has made this a different environment in which we work and the agency has come a long way under his leadership."

Coleman was first hired by the then Halifax County Community Action Agency, serving Halifax County and the City of South Boston in 1967. He was later appointed Executive Director in 1971, with a staff of about a dozen and a budget some $110,000. Those numbers have increased dramatically over the years and now there are over 70 employees with an operating budget of over $12.5 million. The Halifax County Community Federal Credit Union and the Community Cannery also evolved under Colemanís tenure.
In 2004 the agency expanded to incorporate Charlotte and Mecklenburg Counties and the name was changed to Tri-County Community Action. With an 18 member governing board with members from all three counties, the agency now provides community services and programs including the cannery, home weatherization and emergency repairs, indoor plumbing and housing rehabilitation, new home construction, first time home buyers assistance, Head Start Pre-school programs, rental and housing foreclosure assistance, emergency fuel and utilities assistance, free income tax preparation, consumer education and financial counseling and the community development credit union.

Coleman is a Halifax County native who graduated from Mary M. Bethune High School in Halifax. He is an honors graduate from William Penn College in Philadelphia, Pa. with a major in accounting and a graduate of LaSalle Extension University in Chicago in business administration.

He currently lives in the Alton/Turbeville community with his wife, Margaret. He was the first African-American to be elected to the Halifax County Board of Supervisors, serving 12 years from 1985 to December of 1997, representing ED6. During that time, he chaired budget and finance, legislative, economic development and policy and personnel committees. He led the formation of the Halifax County Public Service Authority and served as its first president and was later elected to a term on the Halifax County Soil & Water Conservation Board and also served two terms on the boards of the County's Social Service Department and the Southside Community Service Board. He is a member and past president of the Turbeville Ruritan Club and the Virginia Association of Community Service Agencies. He is also a past chairman of the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce and the newly named Board Chairman of Halifax Regional Health System, as well as a past president of the Halifax Educational Foundation and a board member of the Halifax County Public Schools Education Foundation and vice chairman of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center board.

Coleman says he now looks forward to returning to his farm in the Alton community where he grew up. "We have a good committed staff here and I still plan to be involved. I have a very strong bond with this board and they can know that each day I have the confidence in them to know that the Board of Directors will usher in a new, fresh and exciting era. I wish to express my profound gratitude to the many, many devoted staff members I have been blessed to work with over the decades. This has been quite a long and rewarding journey." he concluded.

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