Michael Williamson


Michael Williamson
President and CEO

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At the intersection of need and desire to give sits Michael Williamson’s passion for helping others.

As President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA), Williamson is responsible for leading philanthropic and impact efforts to build stronger, more equitable communities in Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington parishes.

Before taking over as CEO in 2013, he joined UWSELA as COO in 2009 from his position as Vice President of Field Leadership at United Way of America (UWA), where he provided overall management and leadership to UWA’s $28 million Hurricane Response and Recovery Fund developed in Hurricane Katrina’s wake. Under Williamson’s direction, UWSELA’s response to struggling communities has highlighted his unparalleled ability to lead world-class fundraising and impact at scale.

Williamson’s leadership enables UWSELA to respond to new and emerging needs in real-time and in the most compelling ways. He led the development of UWSELA’s Blueprint for Prosperity, its holistic plan to eradicate poverty through innovative and systemic solutions, and the organization’s current transition to a Modern United Way, strengthening UWSELA’s commitment to equity and a market-driven approach to the issues most directly affecting lives in Southeast Louisiana.

Williamson’s most significant successes have come in response to disaster – major hurricanes, the BP Oil Spill, historic flooding, and COVID-19. UWSELA’s COVID-19 efforts generated $16+ million in local support through crisis grants, volunteerism, advocacy, and partner funding. In response, Williamson welcomed UWSELA’s newest Million Dollar Roundtable member through MacKenzie Scott’s $10M gift, the largest ever in UWSELA’s 95-year history.

His leadership in 2020 highlighted UWSELA’s ability to mobilize resources and activate with agility to drive impact. For his work, Biz New Orleans recognized Williamson as one of 2020’s Executives of the Year.

In the wake of Hurricane Ida in 2021, he led UWSELA's robust response, raising over $5.3 million for immediate and long-term recovery efforts. Introducing an innovative pop-up relief model, the organization served over 8,400 families across 21 events and 7 parishes, giving out nearly $2 million in critical aid to the hardest-hit communities. Additionally, Williamson provided guidance over the organization's distribution of $300,000 in immediate financial assistance through UWSELA's new gift card distributions, offering recipients direct funds to address urgent needs such as gas, prescriptions, food, and household essentials. 

Williamson has over 30 years of executive-level nonprofit management experience, 29 of those years served in the United Way system, including 15 years at UWSELA. He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and served as President of United Way of Aiken County and Resource Development Director/Executive Director of Aiken Technical College Foundation in South Carolina.

He is the proud husband to Kim and father to sons Chance and Tucker and enjoys family time on the water.


· United Way Worldwide Network Advisory Committee, Disaster Resilience Committee, and Communications Subcommittee Member

· United Way Key Cities Member

· Louisiana Workforce and Social Services Reform Task Force Member

· GNO, Inc. Board of Directors Advisor

· Jefferson Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors Member

· NOLA Coalition Steering Committee Member

· Metropolitan Crime Commission Board of Directors Member· Early Childhood Policy Institute Fellow

· Goodwill Technical College Advisory Committee Member

· Generation Hope Advisory Board Member

· Governor Edwards’ Resilient Louisiana Commission’s Economic & Community Development Subcommittee Member