New United Way of Greater Toledo CEO namedWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
The United Way of Greater Toledo Board of Trustees chose Karen Mathison, who led the United Way of Olmsted County in Rochester, Minn. for 10 years, to serve as president and CEO.
“The United Way of Greater Toledo is on a really smart path to deliver amazing results,” she said. The United Way of Greater Toledo aims to help more children graduate and focuses on how education, income and health affect that goal. Mathison is set to start her new position Jan. 7.
Bill Kitson, former president and CEO, left Toledo for the United Way of Greater Cleveland in May 2012. Since then Jane Moore, formerly the executive vice president, has fulfilled the responsibilities of Kitson’s previous position.
Tom Waggoner, chair of the selection committee for the position, said the process took months. The committee worked with Waverly, a search firm, and started out with 80 people before narrowing it down to five applicants and then two.
“I found [the interview process] to be energizing and engaging and the search committee has a very thorough process. They were very clear about the type of leader they were looking for,” Mathison said.
“Karen brings a lot of things to the party. We’re very interested in some of the techniques that she applied in Minnesota. She has a very strong service background,” Waggoner said.
Mathison received her bachelor’s degree in organizational management and leadership from Concordia University in St. Paul, Minn. She began working for the United Way of North Central Iowa in 1997 and before that worked in management positions at Target Corporation/Marshall Field’s department stores. She presently serves on the United Way Worldwide Health Advisory Council as the co-chair and on the United Way Worldwide National Professional Council.
During her time in Rochester, she increased campaign revenue by 11 percent, according to a news release.
Mathison said in her retail positions, she worked on United Way campaigns within the stores before making the jump to the nonprofit sector.
“It’s been an awesome experience and I used so much of the skills I gained in retail in this work,” she said.
Jani Miller, United Way Board of Trustees chair, agreed and said Mathison’s retail experience helps since United Way has a big budget and a large donation-seeking campaign.
“[Mathison] has several [attributes that make her right for the position]. First and foremost is her enthusiasm for the work. It comes from the heart and it is clear in everything she has done,” Miller said.
Miller said she expects the United Way to continue on the same path it’s been traveling.
Due to following a specific strategy, “The staff really hasn’t skipped a beat since Bill left,” she said.
Mathison said she learned of the position via Waverly.
“I got a call the search firm and as I explored what the Toledo community looked like and where the Toledo community is headed, so many things lined up for my personal and professional goals,” she said.
Mathison said she doesn’t have specific goals in mind yet, but she plans to continue to work to create partnerships in the area.
Moore, who worked for United Way for 35 years, said she did not apply for the position and plans to retire next year after helping with the transition.
During the past six months, Moore said she tried to keep the staff focused and not lose any steam.
“Frankly, it was a challenge and it was also somewhat an easy six months because people were committed to what they were doing,” she said.