A medical mission trip to Uganda changed the course of Michelle Prater’s career.
It was the “trigger,” Prater said, to moving into nonprofit work and using that profession to make a difference. The Flowery Branch resident previously worked for about 10 years in banking, at First National Bank of Gainesville, Regions and BB&T.
Since then, Prater has worked in various nonprofit capacities, including serving as United Way of Greater Atlanta’s senior director for volunteerism. Prater’s next step brings her back to working in her home county, as she will take over as president and CEO of the North Georgia Community Foundation on Oct. 19.
“The one thing I’ve always wanted to do is work in my own community and make a difference there,” Prater said in a phone interview Tuesday.
Prater finishes her work with United Way of Greater Atlanta on Oct. 16. She takes over for retiring foundation president and CEO Jim Mathis, who has led the philanthropic organization since 1998. Mathis, who was on the search committee that selected Prater, is staying with the foundation through December 2016 to lead a major fundraising campaign.
“I’m excited to have that opportunity to work alongside him and learn from him,” Prater said.
Prater knew of the foundation’s “great reputation” and “thought it would be a perfect fit with my background.” She said Mathis has done a great job, and she looks forward to building on his work.
The foundation was founded in 1985 by former Times publisher Lou Fockele and other business leaders. It builds, manages and awards charitable grants from a pool of community funds.
Prater has been a Hall County resident since 1990 and is active at 12 Stone Church in Flowery Branch. She recently went on a mission trip to Romania, where she worked with children living in poverty.
The new foundation president and CEO also mentored a student from first grade through graduation from Gainesville High School.
“We were looking for someone who had skills in banking, in nonprofit management, in leadership and someone with a passion for service to the community,” Mathis said in a news release. “Michelle has all of this and more.”
Prater has more than 15 years of leadership, donor relations and fundraising experience. She previously managed Gwinnett County fundraising for United Way of Greater Atlanta, and Prater also served as senior representative at Map International, director of resource development at United Way of Forsyth County and U.S. finance/sales manager for Leadership Development International.
She holds an MBA in leadership development from Brenau University and a degree in marketing and management from what was then North Georgia College.