MIAMI (WSVN) - A South Florida woman is combining determination and purpose to make history, as she steps in to lead one of the biggest local nonprofit organizations.

Symeria Hudson became the first Black woman to serve as the United Way Miami’s president and CEO.

She spoke with 7News about reaching the milestone.

“I will tell you it’s a lot of pressure; being first at anything is a lot of pressure,” she said. “Not only is it an honor, but it certainly is a responsibility that I have to show the community that United Way is certainly looking to further pivot the organization under my leadership.”

Before stepping into the position in August 2022, Hudson said her journey had humble beginnings.

“I grew up in the projects. I’m not ashamed of that, but also, with those upbringings, sometimes you have bumpy roads as you travel throughout your life and your career,” she said.

Now, her tenure comes at an important juncture for the organization.

“We are approaching our centennial, 100 years being in this community, and to mark that pivot point with the first Black female CEO at this organization is tremendous.”

Hudson said one of her goals is to strengthen the organization’s mission.

“Our community has changed tremendously. Miami-Dade is one of the more thriving communities in this entire nation, but the people that we serve are different, the problems are different, and therefore the solutions may be different,” she said, “so the mission won’t change, but I think we need to reinvigorate it.”

Hudson also said volunteers are critical.

“Volunteers are really the lifeblood; they’re kind of the extension of us,” she said. “They are team members that we call on when we need them, but they’re also there to help support a lot of the programs that we offer here at United Way Miami.”

In her role, Hudson hopes she can leave a lasting legacy for younger generations.

“I have a 4-year-old son, and I think about the legacy and the message that I’m sending to him and other members of my family,” she said. “The positive message that I want to send is that no matter how you start, no matter how bumpy the road gets, that there are still incredible opportunities that exist, and that you can do that thing that you want to do in your life.”

Hudson said, during her first 100 days as CEO, she met with over 250 people in the community to create a plan to lead the organization.

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