United Way director resigns after 1 month

Published 9:38 am Wednesday, November 26, 2014


For the second time in the last four months, the United Way of Elizabethton/Carter County is without a director.
Katherine Berry, who was named the United Way director in October, has resigned, effective immediately.
“It has broken my heart to have to leave,” Berry said. “But the timing was wrong all around.”
Saying that she is leaving “due to personal reasons,” she declined to elaborate, except to say the issue necessitating her resignation “came up very suddenly.”
“I feel awfully bad, but I know the organization has been left in capable hands,” she said.
Those “hands” belong to Assistant Director Sherry Tinney, according to United Way Board Chairman Candy Craig, who said Tinney has been named interim director.
Saying she is disappointed that Berry has resigned, she also echoed Berry’s confidence in Tinney and says there will be no search for a new director at this time.
“We certainly are disappointed that Katherine has resigned, but we wish her well,” Craig said. “We certainly know there are things that come up, and we wish her the best of luck.”
However, Craig says she believes the local United Way will continue on a positive path with Tinney’s leadership, saying the nonprofit stands behind her “100 percent.”
“There’s no need for a search because we think we have a good person in Sherry,” Craig said. “She has certainly shown us that she works well with others. She has done a really good job with that.”
Because of that, Craig says, as well as Tinney’s degree in social work, the board has decided to make her interim director and she has accepted — effective immediately.
“We’ve been very pleased with Sherry’s work,” Craig said. “We will allow her to be the interim director for six months and evaluate that. We feel very confident about her abilities; she came in as though she has done it her whole life.”
Berry leaves after being on the job just over a month. She was hired to replace the organization’s former director Debbie Guy, who left Aug. 28 after serving as the United Way director for three years.
Berry’s background includes managing boutiques as well as working with non-profits such as HandsOn! Museum and Legal Aid.
Before being named director, she had worked with the local United Way as an administrative assistant, then as assistant director.
This year’s campaign chairman, Chris Hitechew, director of Northeast State at Elizabethton, also expressed his disappointment after learning of Berry’s resignation.
“I regret to hear that she’s resigned, but I want what’s best for her,” Hitechew said. “If that’s what’s best for her, then that’s what she needs to do. I wish her all the best.”
Despite the turn of events, he says he is optimistic about reaching the local United Way’s goal of $160,000.
“This is the time of year people think about giving,” Hitechew said. “We’ve been out talking to a lot of groups to push toward that goal.”
“We have a great group of volunteers and the agencies are behind us,” he said. “We’ll just continue to work to follow-up with the packets that have gone out and making visits to the larger industries, answering any questions they have. We’re shooting to have our goal met by January.”
Sitting at 30 percent of its goal at last report, Hitchew said he has faith the community will support the United Way and help the organization reach or exceed its goal.
“We’re looking for a big push in December and then finalizing in January,” he said. “That’s been the process over the past year. I think we’ll be fine, but this may put a bit more work on us. But I am confident we can do it; I have no fear.”

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