Prosper Waco moves to interim leadership as March passes CEO baton to Jessica Attas

Updated: Nov 15

Prosper Waco said goodbye Nov. 11 to its CEO of three years, Suzii Paynter March, and welcomed interim CEO Jessica Attas Nov. 14 to lead the local nonprofit. Attas will provide executive leadership as the PW Board of Directors continues its search for the next CEO.

Jessica Attas (left) and Suzii Paynter March

“As we say goodbye to Suzii, the board has embarked on a national search for her replacement and hopes to make a decision by spring,” said Dr. Fred Hills, chair of the board’s Transition Team and vice president of instruction and student engagement at McLennan Community College. “To ensure a smooth transition, the Board asked Jessica Attas to step in as interim CEO.”

Prosper Waco is Greater Waco’s collective impact initiative focusing on building an environment in which all members of the community are “able to measurably improve their education, health, and financial security,” according to its mission statement.

March informed the board’s Executive Committee May 11 of her intention to step down from her leadership role in November. In doing so, she followed the preferred board-approved succession plan by giving six-month’s notice. Board Chair Jackson Griggs informed the full Board of Directors in a June 1 called meeting.

“In every good race,” March said, “we pass the baton to our teammate and strong runner. Jessica will serve the greater Waco community to carry Prosper Waco forward in this interim season.

“I have known Jessica as a strong Waco leader and friend,” March said. “Her talents and energy will be an excellent addition to the Prosper Waco staff as their work is continuing in the community.

“Jessica has experience and relationships across the Waco community. She is a strong supporter for positive improvement to health, education and financial security for Waco.”

Attas is the principal and managing member of Attas Strategic Consulting, a firm she started earlier this year after serving as senior vice president of the Texas Association of Business, the Austin-based state chamber of commerce, and president of the TAB Foundation, leading that association through an organizational restructure.

She is known to many locally from past volunteer and community leadership roles, especially her time with the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, where she spent six years working with key stakeholders and public and private leaders as vice-president of public policy, building the chamber’s comprehensive public policy and advocacy initiative.

Additionally, Attas served three years as executive director of AVANCE Waco, now Inspiracion, where her strategic leadership helped raise community awareness of and support for that work.

Hills noted Attas’s “wealth of experience from her work in both the nonprofit and policy arenas will benefit Prosper Waco and our community.” Hills said.

Hills thanked March for “transforming this organization into a community change agent. I have enjoyed working with her over the last three years and admire her insight and passion for this community.”

Attas expressed honor at being asked to lead Prosper Waco in the interim. “Suzii has built a strong team and a healthy organization during her visionary tenure as Prosper Waco’s CEO,” Attas said. “I am excited at the opportunity to support the staff; continue to strengthen relationships with stakeholders and partners; and keep the ball moving forward and advancing the important work to be done for our community through this interim period.

“Suzii was a dynamic leader who brought new life and vision to Prosper Waco, and to our community,” Attas continued. “As the community celebrates the outstanding work of Prosper Waco under Suzii’s leadership, while Suzii is leaving, that good work will continue.

“The organization, and the team she has built, is well-positioned to continue to move the needle as our community works collaboratively to improve the health, education, and financial outcomes for greater Waco. I am honored to step into this role for this interim season to offer strategic leadership and guidance through the transition.”