(Shreveport, LA) – The United Way of Northwest Louisiana recently elected four outstanding business people to their Board of Directors. The 2015 board is headed by Chairman, William Bradford, Chair Elect, Della Copp, Resource Development Vice Chair and Immediate Past Chairman, Don Olson. John Schmidt, Merritt Chastian, Jr., Peggy Ramey, and Steve Kiraly bring a wealth of experience to the United Way of Northwest Louisiana.

John Schmidt joined Heard, McElroy & Vestal in 2008 and became partner in July of 2011. He has over 25 years’ experience in the accounting industry with expertise in tax compliance and consulting for high wealth individuals and their related business interests. The majority of John’s experience is in the area of corporate and personal tax planning, including specific expertise in the taxation of S corporations, partnerships, LLC’s, trusts, estates and tax exempt organizations. John holds the AICPA Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) credential, a designation exclusive to CPAs signifying the powerful combination of extensive tax experience and comprehensive knowledge of financial planning. He also holds the designation Chartered Global Management Accountants by the AICPA.

Merritt B. Chastain, Jr. is presently a solo law practitioner. He is admitted to the Louisiana Supreme Court, all inferior courts of the State of Louisiana, the United States District Courts for the Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of Louisiana, the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. He has served as Secretary/Treasurer of the Shreveport Bar Association, President of the Young Lawyers Section of the Shreveport Bar Association and as Louisiana Membership Chairman of the American Bar Association. Mr. Chastain has in numerous leadership positions for organizations throughout our community, and received multiple awards for his service.

Peggy Ramey recently transitioned from her home-state of Arkansas to Louisiana where she is a Corporate Affairs Community Specialist at BHP Billiton Petroleum, specializing in community development. The last eight years in the oil and gas industry has brought her new challenges and great enjoyment through her community relations roles. In addition to public affairs, Mrs. Ramey served on the United Way of White County Board, the American Heart Association Executive Committee, CARTI Foundation, and the White County Children’s Safety Center in Arkansas. She recently was invited to serve on the board of the Shreveport Regional Arts Council and the Independence Bowl Foundation and accepted these great honors.

Steve Kiraly, began his career with CenterPoint Energy in 1984 in Longview Texas and has worked in various locations and job roles in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana.  He has served on several committees and organizations in the communities he has lived over the years while working for CenterPoint Energy.  These organizations include United Way, March of Dimes, Exchange Club, Economic Development, Rotary Club, Lions Club, Home Builders Association and City Councilman in Overton Texas. He moved to the Shreveport Bossier City area late 2009 and currently is a Business Process Manager for CenterPoint Energy supporting Louisiana and Mississippi Operations.