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New leader connecting community
Colella guides nonprofit organization
Niki Colella, the new director of the Forsyth Community Connection, works in her office Thursday. - photo by Crystal Ledford

So far it’s been a busy year for Niki Colella.

In January she got married, and in February Colella became interim director of the Forsyth County Community Connection. She replaces Nicole Morgan, who had held the post for about seven years before accepting a job in Atlanta.

Just recently the “interim” part of that title was removed, making Colella the new executive director of the nonprofit organization. It works to bring together Forsyth nonprofits while strengthening local families.

“I think Nicole did a great job with [Community Connection] and I’m looking forward to just building on what she built, while also bringing my own new vision.”

Bringing that vision won’t be too difficult since Colella isn’t new to the Community Connection world.

She spent the past seven years working in the same capacity in Jackson County, and prior to that in Jasper County for about two years.

She said probably the biggest challenge currently is just learning all about her new county after working so long in Jackson.

“When you’ve been in one position for so long, you know all the key players, you know who’s there, you know who to call, so it is one big learning curve,” she said.

Colella said the needs are much different in Jackson than they are here.

“It’s very different as far as what the families face,” she said. “What we were dealing with in Jackson was a lot of poverty and there wasn’t a lot for teens to do, so we were dealing with a lot of teen pregnancy.”

She said in Forsyth, she’s mostly been trying to “get out and meet” as many representatives of the local nonprofit community as she can.

“I’ve been trying to talk to them and say, ‘Hey, what’s happening as far as Community Connection from your prospective and how do you see it working for you nonprofit,’” Colella said. “I’m trying to see other people’s vision for Community Connection and how they see it working for their nonprofits.”

A good thing for Colella, who has lived in Forsyth for the past three years, is having a much shorter commute.

“I was in Jackson County, which is up I-85 and about 40 minutes on a good day,” she said. “It’s definitely different being right here where I live.”

Since she’s still learning about the local needs, Colella hasn’t yet had time to make any definite long-range plans for the Community Connection.

But in the short-term, she said she would like to provide a forum for the community to learn more about what resources are available in the county.

“What I would like to see happen in the near future is just to have a resource day for the community for everyone to learn what all is here,” she said, noting that nonprofits could also benefit from such an event.

In the meantime, she plans to enjoy getting to know her home community.

“I did always feel a disconnect of not working in the community where I lived,” she said. “I always felt like I was more involved with the community where I worked than my own community that I lived in, so taking this job was a great way for me to be more involved here. I just got really lucky.”