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Changes at area nonprofit agencies

Nonprofits are facing pressures that they haven’t encountered in many decades, and that makes it even more important that they have solid leadership.

That’s why it’s worth noting the changes that are occurring at a couple of the area’s leading agencies.

For the United Way of Jefferson County, that means the hiring of a new executive director, and for the Steubenville Salvation Army, it means bidding farewell to the couple who have directed the organization for the past three years.

Laura Rauch comes to the United Way during a tough period, but the Wintersville resident is sure she is up to the challenge, a sentiment shared by the organization’s board and its president, Ted Gorman. She said she is looking forward to working with the 14 local agencies that depend on the United Way for funding and support.

A native of Weirton and graduate of Brooke High School, Rauch brings solid credentials to the job, having recently served as development director of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Pittsburgh and as director of annual giving at Bethany College.

While fundraising events and the annual Day of Caring, which has served as the start of the campaign for several years now, are on hold because of the issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the work of United Way is continuing, she said. That includes the promotion of childhood literacy through the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and the annual United Sole-Lace Up for Kids effort that helps provide back-to-school shoes to area children.

She replaces Kate Sedgmer, who held the post for four years before leaving to become the director of marketing and volunteer coordination for the YWCA of Canton.

Erik and Barri Vazquez-Muhs, meanwhile, are finishing up their assignment in Steubenville that began in 2017.

Their jobs also were made more challenging by the coronavirus outbreak, which led to an increase in need in the community — they said they served 337 clients in June of this year, a significant increase above the 217 clients who were served in June 2019. They are leaving to take on the challenge of an assignment in Toledo. While they say they will miss the relationships they built during their time here, they are confident the work they have done has left a solid foundation for their successors, Capts. Michael and Angela Smith, who are coming from Toledo and will be installed in Steubenville on Aug. 9.

Sedgmer and the Muhses helped to make the community stronger. We wish them well in their new assignments and are confident that Rauch and the Smiths will bring continued success to their respective agencies in their new positions.

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