Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana Announces Promotions, New Hire

NEW ORLEANS, LA (December 14, 2020) – Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana announced the promotion of three staff members and the additional hire of another. Earlier this year, longtime President and Chief Executive Officer James M. LeBlanc announced his retirement effective December 31, 2020. Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana’s Board of Directors selected Voris Vigee as the new President and Chief Executive Officer, effective January 1, 2021.

The promoted Volunteers of America staff members include Jason Burt, Executive Vice President Finance and Administrative Services; Melissa Smith Haley, Vice President of Program Operations; and Gary Alberto Zapata, Vice President of Finance and Accounting. Additionally, Todd A. Battiste was hired as the new Executive Vice President of Program Operations.

Burt began his career in 2007, shortly after Hurricane Katrina, where he focused on rebuilding and improving the agency’s technology infrastructure. After serving in this technology role for six years, Burt was promoted to Director of Technology and Special Projects, overseeing the rehabilitation of buildings and preparing operations’ financial analysis. Two years later, Burt became the Assistant Vice President of Administrative services and eventually Vice President of Finance and Administration. In his newly promoted role, Burt’s scope of responsibility will include Human Resources and Safety and Risk.

Haley, who is the President of the National Association of Black Social Workers, began her journey with Volunteers of America over 15 years ago and has made significant contributions to the Supportive Services program and its behavioral health services. From 2003 until 2005, Melissa served as the Assistant Program Director for the Single Room Occupancy program. She was promoted in 2007 to Program Director where she provided management to the Children and Family Services program and subsequently the Supportive Services program. Her new Vice President of Program Operations role will focus on the continual improvement of operations and assist in positioning the organization to achieve its strategic objectives.

With over 20 years of experience in various positions both inside and outside of Volunteers of America, Zapata has a strong background in budgetary stewardship, successful strategic initiatives, and a thrust for improving policies; all of which will serve him well as the new Vice President of Finance and Accounting. With deep functional expertise and technical knowledge in all aspects of corporate finance, financial planning and accounting, he brings international experience having lived and worked outside of the U.S. managing specific divisional growth initiatives. Most recently, Zapata has served as Volunteers of America’s Controller. While as the accounting leader at Catholic Community Services of Western Washington, he strengthened internal controls and assisted the Chief Financial Officer with fiscal oversight of $185M in revenues.

A critical role that became vacant with Vigee’s promotion was the Executive Vice President of Program Operations. Battiste joined the Volunteers of America team on December 14, having most recently worked for Baptist Community Ministries. He will work closely with Vigee to develop and manage key external relationships, including partners and funders. In this role, he will oversee Volunteers of America’s 20+ programs that provide services to over 47,000 consumers annually throughout the 16-parishes served by the organization. Battiste is a dedicated, non-profit professional with over 25 years’ experience in management, non-profit leadership, philanthropy, strategic planning, and education. His extensive development and grant funding experience includes grant security and management of over $50 million in grants and contributions from the local community and national groups. Prior to joining Baptist Community Ministries, Battiste worked as the Senior Vice President of Education and Equity with the United Way of Southeast Louisiana.

“I am excited to see what the future holds for Volunteers of America,” said Vigee, incoming President and CEO. “Our team is dynamic and forward thinking, enabling us to build on all the great work done for our most vulnerable members in our community.” The agency, both the southeast Louisiana affiliate and the national organization, will be celebrating its 125 anniversary in early 2021.

For more information about Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana, visit www.voasela.org

For photos of the team, visit Dropbox.

Volunteers of America is a national, nonprofit, faith-based organization dedicated to helping those in need rebuild their lives and reach their full potential. Since 1896, our ministry of service has supported and empowered America's most vulnerable groups, including at-risk youth, the frail elderly, men returning from prison, people with disabilities, and those recovering from addictions. Our work touches the mind, body, heart-and ultimately the spirit of those we serve, integrating our deep compassion with highly effective programs and services.