Front and Center: Candie SimmonsPublished on Tuesday, February 15, 2022By: Andrea Wright Dilworth, firstname.lastname@example.orgEditor's Note: In honor of Black History Month’s 2022 theme, Black Health and Wellness, we want to celebrate the contributions, breakthroughs and cultural richness of Black professionals and students at UMMC. See more Front and Center features.When Candie Simmons received a certain phone call last year, the caller asked if she knew anyone both qualified and interested in a position in development. It wasn’t long before Simmons realized she knew the perfect candidate. “When I learned about the responsibilities, I believed they were a perfect fit for my previous work and volunteer experience,” said Simmons. And the rest, as they say, is Black History. Since September, the Madison resident has been director of principal gifts and strategic planning. In that role, she manages the strategic plan and fundraisers for the Office of Development and raises money for adult medicine. Though new to UMMC, Simmons is Ole Miss through and through, having earned both a bachelor’s and MBA from the university. She also worked for her alma mater early in her career: as both an admissions counselor and assistant director of alumni affairs, before moving on to Regions Financial Corporation, where she served as senior vice president and geography marketing strategist for 15 years. Simmons said she was excited to return to familiar territory at the university and that her earlier roles in Oxford gave her the perspective to understand the differences between academia and corporate America. “Working as a strategist and having developed relationships internally and externally transcend over to my position with UMMC,” said the Ocean Springs native. “Making the decision to come back to this environment was not a difficult change, and the learning curve is shorter than it normally would be due to my previous work and volunteer experience. “In addition, Ole Miss is my alma mater and I volunteer heavily with Ole Miss, and those relationships have carried over to UMMC; and my world has collided in a great way.” Simmons relishes working with the various departments at UMMC to identify both their needs and the donors to support their projects. “When I can match those opportunities, it feels good,” even more so as an alumna, she said. “Not only do I feel more invested, my familiarity with the school makes it a little easier to tell the story, engage donors and raise money.” Outside of work, Simmons has made a name for herself as a proven leader. A few of her accolades include becoming the first black woman senior vice president at Regions in Mississippi, being named to the Mississippi Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40 and its Top 50 Leading Business Women in 2009 and 2013 respectively, and serving on the Ole Miss Women’s Council Executive Committee.