By: admin On: June 5, 2019 In: Staff and Board

Denise Galatas, who has served as senior executive officer for program design and development and senior advisor to the president for the Southern Mutual Help Association, also will serve as chief operating officer for the 50-year-old community economic development corporation.

Southern Mutual Help Association Inc., a nationally-recognized award-winning not-for-profit community development corporation based in New Iberia announced last week that current senior advisor to the president Denise Galatas will also be serving as chief operating officer for the 50-year-old community economic development corporation.

As published in the Daily Iberian on

Galatas taking on new role with SMHA

Galatas has served over several decades as senior executive officer for program design and development for the Southern Mutual Help Association.

“Denise has been and continues to be a bright talent on the SMHA team for 19 years and knows every aspect of SMHA’s economic development work,” SMHA co-founder, President and CEO Lorna Bourg said. “She has a keen eye for solving problems and meeting challenges. I’ve often admired her many talents including in the performing arts. Acadiana is fortunate to have her dedication to making our communities better.”

With a BS in business administration and MS in marketing, Galatas’ “pre-SMHA” life includes experience in banking, performing arts management, management consulting and adult vocational education. The mother of three and grandmother of four, Galatas lives in St. Mary Parish with her fellow empty-nester husband Charles and former shelter cats Tangie and Midnight.

How did you get started with Southern Mutual?

I responded to an ad for a position for which I was a bit overqualified (don’t remember exactly what it was) because I wanted the opportunity to learn more about SMHA and its incredible women leaders. The personality/cultural “fit” was good from that first meeting. I was hired and we started carving out a role that made sense for both me and the organization. Here we are 20 years later, so it must still make sense.

How do you feel about the promotion to COO?

I think it’s an appropriate relabeling of the primary role I’ve filled/value I’ve brought to SMHA for several years now.

What are you excited about with the new job?

SMHA has never had a COO, to my knowledge, and I’m excited about the opportunity to help define the position.

What should people know about Southern Mutual?

Southern Mutual has been called New Iberia’s “best kept secret,” but it’s time that secret is let out. SMHA has an incredible track record and body of work in community and economic development that reaches back 50 years, celebrating our 50th Anniversary this year. We’ve won national awards for our work, our CEO is a MacArthur fellow, people across the country know us, our leadership and our work. It’s time SMHA is no longer a “secret” in our own backyard.

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