United Way of Central Kentucky is in search of new leadership following the resignation of president and CEO Ron Eppes.
Coming a little more than a year after arriving in Elizabethtown, the departure was abrupt and immediate with Eppes simply stating in his resignation letter that he was leaving to pursue other opportunities.
His decision means for the third time in five years UWCK finds itself with the necessity of looking for leadership talent.
At the close of 2014, former Executive Director Chris Wilborn stepped down after almost five years at the helm to relocate to Australia with his wife and son.
Under Wilborn, UWCK rebranded and launched an improved strategic vision around its annual fundraising activities, set new records for campaign giving and introduced new initiatives in the Live United 365 Small Business Circle and the Tocqueville Society.
Wilborn was succeeded by the very capable Megan Stith. Having worked alongside Wilborn for some time, Stith was a natural and furthered the organization’s strategic shift from being merely a fundraising entity to one that purposefully seeks solutions to move families out of poverty and into gainful employment.
During her tenure, UWCK’s 2-1-1 hotline and Way to Work initiatives were launched and new campaign giving records were set. Stith stepped down in mid-2018 to join Elizabethtown Community and Technical College as its dean of institutional advancement.
Wilborn and Stith left big shoes to fill. Both leaders were impressive and effective in leveraging competence and charisma in their leadership roles. They established constant presence in community, business and other organizational circles. They walked the talk.
For other organizations, such top-level turnover could be operationally disruptive if not altogether disastrous. UWCK is very fortunate to have Christa Shouse ready to step in once again as interim president and CEO.
Her experience and acumen with managing client referrals, campaign donations, pledge fulfilment and funded agency grant record-keeping will maintain the day-to-day operation of the non-profit. In doing so, search committee members will have the time necessary to find the right new leader for the long haul.
At the same time, the community needn’t worry about their pledged financial support of UWCK and its funded agencies. You can be confident your donation is leveraged wisely and in a transparent manner as a result of the dedicated work of the non-profit’s Community Investment Team, a group of 23 local and area men and women who review, analyze and vet numerous grant requests received from organizations in the service area each year.
Through this process, recommendations are made for funding of the programs and services that best align with UWCK’s strategies and goals to create a lasting impact on health and basic needs, education and financial stability.
These needs are ever-present, whether during a period of stability or transition within UWCK.
While a search committee seeks qualified candidates to lead UWCK into the future, the generosity of our community and the focused work of UWCK’s staff and its volunteers will meet the challenge.
This editorial reflects a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.