In the time Mariea Burress has served as Baldwyn’s Municipal Court Clerk she has gained the respect and admiration of local officials and her peers. That respect has now resulted in Burress being chosen to serve as President of the Mississippi Municipal Court Clerk’s Association.
She was recognized by the Baldwyn Board of Aldermen at the December meeting for achieving the honor.
Burress, who has been Baldwyn’s Court Clerk and a member of the state board for more than seven years, will be leading a group of more than 300 clerks and deputy clerks from around the state for the next two years. She is the first person from Baldwyn to serve in this capacity, and she takes over the 12-member board at an unprecedented time with extraordinary challenges.
Even the transition to her leadership was handled in an unusual manner. It was done virtually.
“The changing of the guards or succession would have been in September at our annual mandatory meeting by the Ole Miss Judicial College, but because of Zoom and the pandemic it was really not in our bylaws or how to handle that,” Burress said. “A lot of this is uncharted territory for everyone. We’re learning; we’re all learning together. So, it is in there now. Our amendments will be going out in January for the body to vote on for the bylaws.”
Burress said her primary focus leading the organization will be to help train those who might not have as much experience and who have found it difficult to obtain due to the constraints the virus put on gatherings this year.
“The main thing we’re concentrating on is right now is our new clerks during this pandemic,” she said. “We’re focusing more on that and just encouraging everyone and making sure that our new clerks don’t fall through the cracks because the law and legislation changes are subject to change every six months, but it has been changing up so much. So, we want to help them by giving them the tools they need, but not just tools – we want to give them encouragement and empowerment to do their jobs.”
Burress said she will also be working to provide a main database for the clerks to be able to more easily reach out to one another. Also, she will be leading the construction of the annual six-hour training curriculum for the state’s municipal clerks through the Mississippi Municipal League. She has completed her Municipal Clerks and Tax Collectors Certification Training and will soon be graduating with her International Municipal City Clerk’s certification.
Burress came to the municipal and court clerk world after a career in retail, so working with people is nothing new to her. She said being willing to work hard no matter the circumstances is the key to success in both worlds. Still, she didn’t seek a leadership position on the board. Instead, it came calling for her.
“I’m a willing worker, an eager servant,” Burress said. “I’ve always been taught to do your best, to be your best at whatever it is. I have always said anything worth doing is worth doing right and for some reason I guess people noticed that, so it’s not something I asked for but it’s something that I guess God put me in. And I’m a firm believer that He’s not going to take me or lead me anywhere without preparing me, so it’s definitely a calling. When I left corporate America from Estee Lauder, I was account exec for them and decided to retire from that and came here. It was a blessing, but I wasn’t sure that I could do this job because I’ve never been behind the desk. I’ve been in management. I’ve done all of that. I had my own business. But when I came here, I was not sure if I could stay behind the desk all day.”
More than seven years later Burress has proved herself more than capable of managing the court’s work. Even though she’s confident of her abilities, though, she’s still a little nervous about the new role – but not for reasons some may think.
“I’m so honored to be in this position (president of the association), but it’s new. So I’m a little nervous,” Burress said. “You want to want to make your community very proud, and you want to do right by your city because in all essence they help educate you in this position. They afford you this because they pay for your training. So, you want to I want to make sure that I do that and not forsake my duties here as well. It’s a big job and I really love that Baldwyn is behind me and supporting me in everything that I do.”