Mariah Hughes will begin her full-time role as the new chief executive for Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) in May, overseeing the organization following the pending retirement of executive director Suzie Sawyer. 

Hughes will succeed Suzie Sawyer, co-founder of the organization and the organization's only executive director in its 27-year history. Sawyer stated that, "When I retire in May 2011, I know C.O.P.S. will be in good hands.  Mariah believes in many of the same things that I have promoted. She knows there is great healing power in nature, expanding personal boundaries, and overcoming personal challenges. The organization, with Mariah at the helm, will continue to challenge survivors to keep healing and experience great personal growth through this wonderful organization known as C.O.P.S."

"An appointed transition committee of the board conducted a national search and received over 65 applications," according to Linda Moon Gregory, national president of C.O.P.S. "Ms. Hughes' background and experience are impressive and they match the requirements for the chief executive officer. The board is confident that her unique background, energetic leadership style, management expertise, and operational skills are exactly what C.O.P.S. needs to lead our organization,"

Since 2002, Hughes has served on the executive management team as director of sales and development for the YMCA Trout Lodge and Camp Lakewood, a unique branch of the YMCA of Greater St. Louis. During her eight years with Trout Lodge and Camp Lakewood, changes she implemented resulted in significantly expanded use of the facility's outdoor education resources.

Hughes also developed and found funding for ambitious new programs that included an award-winning nature center and a trap and skeet range designed to introduce beginners to shooting sports.

"From fundraising, budgeting and capital improvements to teaching archery, building a shotgun range, and working with an incredibly talented staff, I've had a hand in just about every aspect of the facility's operation over the last eight years," according to Hughes.

Hughes became familiar with C.O.P.S. when she worked with the Missouri Department of Conservation and a colleague suggested she meet with C.O.P.S. to explore ways to develop outdoor skills activities for the C.O.P.S. Kids Summer Camp that was being held at Lake Ozarks State Park.  As a result, today outdoor challenges are presented at all C.O.P.S. Hands-On Programs. The challenges these activities present to the participants at the retreats rebuild the self-esteem that is often destroyed with the sudden, violent death of a loved one.

"When I met the survivors for the first time and saw the potential the outdoor programs had in helping them deal with this difficult time in their lives, I remember thinking that if and when Suzie Sawyer retired, I would love to follow in her footsteps. Obviously, that thought stayed with me," according to Hughes.