Georgia-Pacific Exec Charmaine Ward on Community Leadership and Involvement

Georgia-Pacific Exec Charmaine Ward on Community Leadership and Involvement
Charmaine Ward, director of community affairs, Georgia-Pacific and president, Atlanta chapter, NBMBAA

Charmaine Ward wears many crowns. The two that shine the brightest are the ones she wears when directing community affairs at Georgia-Pacific and presiding over the National Black MBA Association’s Atlanta chapter. Ward, who hails from the South Side of Chicago, beams when she talks about the NBMBAA and Georgia-Pacific, where she manages their charitable giving, education partnership and employee volunteer group — GPC Service Force.

Here, Ward shares why she loves her career and how membership in the NBMBAA changed her course in life. –yvette caslin


Tell us about your role at Georgia-Pacific.
I am responsible for our charitable contribution giving. My priority is to work with our manufacturing facilities across the country and investing in Atlanta, where we are headquartered.

What do you do in your role as the Atlanta chapter president for the NBMBAA?
I really get to help set the vision for the organization and execute all of our strategies. That includes initiatives that focus on our members, programs and our financial stability. We are the largest of the 44 chapters in the NBMBAA family. We are 950 members strong. We are hoping to set a record and exceed 1,000 financial members. You can look at a number of other professional associations in different industries, it is very hard to find one that has as many financial members.


What is your vision as president?
My vision is really three pronged.
1. Engaging membership at every level with programs, initiatives and events that creates value for them. Membership is the blood that makes our organization go.
2. Growing our revenue, not just getting money. I have to ensure our partnerships with corporations and organizations are true and viable and that we are giving value back to them.
3. Ensuring that we have relevant and viable programs and collaborations with diverse groups who have similar goals. Networking with like-minded professionals that go beyond the walls of NBMBAA including National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA), Atlanta Business League, Georgia Supplier Minority Development Council, Coalition of 100 Black Women and 100 Black Men.

How do you balance these roles?
It’s God. He has blessed me with talents and gifts — high energy, vision, capacity and the ability to multitask. I love my job at Georgia-Pacific as director of community affairs. I love being president of the Atlanta chapter of the NBMBAA. I love serving on the various nonprofit boards that I serve on because they provide an opportunity to give back and to make a difference.

Georgia-Pacific and my boss, Curley M. Dossman Jr., the president of the Georgia-Pacific Foundation, are huge advocates for everything that I do. Without their support, I couldn’t do what I do. I want to be clear that you have to work for a company and have a manager that believes in what you are doing in the community.

The NBMBAA has a conference coming up Oct. 4 through 8, 2011, in Atlanta. Tell us about the serendipitous experience you had when you attended your first NBMBAA conference.

There are two things that have made my membership in the NBMBAA rewarding. I am wearing a big smile because I was hired at the NBMBAA conference in Nashville to work at Georgia-Pacific as director of marketing. I never knew in 2003, that at my first conference ever, that I would end up with such a great job. Fast-forward, I ended up being on NBMBAA’s board … fast-forward, I ended up being president. It has really been a win-win for me. I have a special place in my heart for the organization because it really allowed me to have this great opportunity at Georgia-Pacific and then take advantage of being the director of community affairs.

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