Staff Highlight: Utoia Wooten
Utoia Wooten, Philanthropy Southeast’s new Senior Programs Associate, comes to the organization with a clear commitment to courageous leadership.
“Courageous leadership requires a vision,” said Utoia, who joined the staff earlier in March. “It means you are willing to ask and answer difficult questions. It means you have the humility to admit what you don’t know and the openness and willingness to listen and learn from the people you are leading.”
Philanthropy Southeast’s own Courageous Leadership strategy was one of several factors that drew Utoia to her new role. Another was a familiarity that grew during her time at the Foundation Center, now known as Candid. At the Foundation Center’s Atlanta office, Utoia served as a community outreach manager and training manager.
“During my time at Foundation Center, I developed issue-specific programming for nonprofit leaders and served as a connector among grantmakers, nonprofit leaders, and other community stakeholders,” she said. “Philanthropy Southeast was a significant resource when I was new to issue-specific programming.”
Programming will be a critical part of Utoia’s work at Philanthropy Southeast, especially with the return of in-person events like next month’s CEO Forum and the upcoming Hull Fellows spring retreat. Utoia will also support Philanthropy Southeast’s resource development work, something she has plenty of familiarity with as a resource development consultant for the Georgia Family Connection Partnership.
“As I support core programming efforts and partnerships initiatives, creating a space for listening, learning, and collaboration is always at the forefront,” she said. “I view my role as setting the stage and providing the resources. Our members are doing the work that will keep me inspired.”
Utoia said her diverse work experience – which also includes time as a library services paraprofessional in the City Schools of Decatur system – has cultivated qualities that will serve her well in her new role.
“My strongest qualities – being deliberative, vigilant, and flexible while valuing civility and diplomacy – are spot on with the strengths necessary to support our programs, partnerships, and members,” she said.
A third-generation HBCU graduate, Utoia earned her bachelor’s degree in public management from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. She lives in Decatur with her husband and their child, a middle school student and aspiring Pixar animator.