Margaret H. Trahan is the recipient of the 2019 Leaders In Philanthropy Community Impact Award presented by Community Foundation of Acadiana (CFA) and sponsored by Hancock Whitney Bank.

Margaret will accept the award on Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 11:30 a.m. at the Cajundome Convention Center in Lafayette.

Seats are $75 per person and $500 per table of eight. Reservations can be made online at The deadline to RSVP is October 30.

Margaret has more than two decades of experience as a nonprofit director and leader throughout Acadiana. Currently, Margaret serves as the Director of Stewardship and Development for the Diocese of Lafayette. Before her new role with the Diocese, she was the President/CEO of United Way of Acadiana (UWA) for 24 years.

As a nonprofit leader, Margaret has raised more than $80 million in her career. She orchestrated a merger with the Volunteer Center of Lafayette; led the establishment of the Community Foundation of Acadiana; and co-founded Acadiana Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (AVOAD).

To maximize organizational impact, she brought outcomes measurement to the region and then led UWA in its transition to a community impact business model. She established a nonprofit multi-tenant center and gave UWA its first permanent home where it has mobilized millions of pounds of donated goods in times of disaster. She also oversaw the expansion of Leader in Me in six parishes to 66 schools in the region that now impacts more than 30,000 students.

Margaret has learned a lot about herself over the years as a nonprofit director. Her father taught her that the secret of a happy life is a contribution, not accumulation. He was a small-town doctor who practiced medicine because he loved it and wanted to help others. He always gave more than he received and gave the credit to God, which was a powerful example for her.

“I believe that our personal mission ultimately finds us, provided we are willing to embrace the opportunities that God puts in front of us and stay true to our core values,” she said.

Margaret believes working in the nonprofit sector is also about contribution: how we contribute our time, talent, and treasure to make our small part of the world a better place.

According to Victor Frankl, “we detect rather than invent our mission in life.” This has been her experience.

Her core values include learning, risk-taking, and service; the non-profit sector has given her the opportunity for all three, thousand times over.

“Knowing each day that I could make a difference in someone’s life has been inspiring and highly motivating,” she said. “I have been blessed to be able to truly look forward to going to work each day.”

Margaret gave up her teaching career to be a full-time mom when her children were young. She found time to engage with her church and with community organizations like the Junior League of Lafayette.

As a member of the League, she gained hands-on experiences in community service, project research, and development, community needs assessments, fund-raising, marketing, financial management, strategic planning as well as volunteer management. And as it turns out, these are the very skills that a non-profit leader needs.

She was invited to serve on various community boards, one of which was United Way of Acadiana. She experienced first-hand the mission of this organization and was inspired.

“I liked the emphasis on accountability and results as well as the way they collaborated with other community organizations to address tough issues like educational success, financial stability and the needs of the working poor.”

She returned to work when her children were school age, but this time in the business sector working for a local weekly publication in advertising sales. Her volunteer and business experiences landed her the position of President/CEO of United Way of Acadiana, a position she held for more than two decades.

In May, Margaret retired from UWA and accepted a position with the Diocese of Lafayette. This new opportunity enables Margaret to live her faith in a more direct way by working within the eight civil parishes of the Diocese that encompasses 121 church parishes and more than 30 Catholic schools. Her role with the Diocese will tap into her skills and experiences in fund-raising and volunteer mobilization.

“The programmatic work of UWA has focused on at-risk populations, especially the working poor is known as ALICE,” Margaret expressed. “In my new role, I am working to build the capacity of the Diocese to better meet the needs of this population and more.”

“My entire career has been focused on serving others.” With this opportunity, Margaret said she can continue to advance the common good and serve her Church at the same time. She calls it a win-win.

In her spare time, Margaret and her husband enjoy their three adult children, their spouses, and six beautiful grandchildren.

Leaders in Philanthropy Awards are presented annually to outstanding individuals or couples from each of the eight parishes of Community Foundation of Acadiana’s primary service area who have made a philanthropic impact in their communities through substantial charitable contributions to or by attracting significant contributions for nonprofits, churches or schools.

Community Foundation of Acadiana is a tax-exempt, donor-centric, entrepreneurial foundation in Lafayette, LA. Its core purpose is building legacies and improving communities by connecting generous people to the causes they care about. CFA is south Louisiana’s premier philanthropic organization benefiting our region, with a particular focus on the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Mary, St. Martin and Vermilion. CFA is the host of South Louisiana Giving Day, the largest online fundraising event for nonprofit organizations, churches, and schools throughout Acadiana. Learn more at