A nine-year career with United Way of West Ellis County quickly turned into more of a lifestyle for Casey Ballard. After several check presentations and service to her own community, the executive director will now pass the baton to another local.

The title of the executive director had plenty of responsibility, but it also allowed the younger Ballard to spend time with her family.

“It was a great opportunity to marry a lot of different things in my life,” Ballard elaborated. “One, it provided me a career to serve my community. And it gave me the opportunity to be very flexible because I had very young children at the time.”

When Ballard reflected on the impact her career made in her immediate community, one of the most sentimental occurrences was in relation to the Miracle League of Ellis County. The dream began with a generous donation from the Walgreens distribution center awarded to the nonprofit, which aims to create life experiences for children and adults with all abilities through accessible recreational activities.

The recent groundbreaking of the future home for the Miracle League at The Optimist Park was a substantial milestone in her life and career. To be able to present the final check to the nonprofit was also one of the many examples that made the position so rewarding for Ballard.

Before the rewards and feel-good butterflies though, relationships had to be made. Ballard’s advice to the new executive director is to take the time to build the right connections. She elaborated on how she spent the first six months of the job with each agency partnered with the United Way. She took the time to understand each agencies’ operations on their terms. Moving at the speed of different relationships to “create long-term, long-lasting real community impact programs together” was vital.

Ballard took a new opportunity to grow as a professional and will hold the position as the communications and community relations director for Life Schools in Red Oak. Ballard has long thought that agencies and businesses could better serve schools.

“Looking at schools and students and just seeing how I could marry all that together and I could just see the connection of working with schools to advance what they are doing,” Ballard described.

Her last day on the job will be at the Havana Nights-themed New Year’s Eve Bash.

On Jan. 2, Kasey Cheshier of Midlothian will then assume all responsibilities of the executive director of the United Way of West Ellis County.

Cheshier has lived in Midlothian for the past nine years with his wife, Joy, and their three children who are enrolled in Midlothian ISD. The former Aggie football player calls Midlothian home but has participated in many public roles in Duncanville, which is where he was born and raised.

He has worked at Ben Franklin Apothecary as the director of operations for a little less than 10 years. Cheshier has been involved with several civic groups in that area as well. He served as a past president of the Duncanville Noon Lions Club, and once served as the chairperson of the Duncanville Chamber of Commerce. He was also a former board member of Leadership Southwest.

His most significant accomplishment is the fundraiser for the Duncanville ISD Education Foundation, called the Heart of Duncanville 5k. The race began in 2014, and over 3,500 participants have attended to raise $108,000. Cheshier is also an avid runner himself and has completed 11 marathons and serves as a certified race director for Road Runners Club of America.

“I’ve always had a heart for serving others, and I guess I’m trying to use some of my skills to really support other organizations and help them excel and take off to flourish,” Cheshier explained.

Over the years he has honed in on his passion for others and searched for a way to incorporate that into a career. He has known Ballard for about five years, and she mentioned the position might be upcoming.

“It started to really feel like this — it’s going to sound a little corny — but it really felt like this was a calling and where God has directed me to go,” Cheshier said.

His first goal is to bridge gaps and establish relationships with agencies and understand their goals and the impact they make in the community. He will also take advantage of the United Way conference in February.

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450