After more than a decade on the job, the leader of the United Way of Douglas County will retire in March, the social service organization announced Wednesday.
"I still love the job," said Jo Bryant, president and chief executive officer of the United Way of Douglas County. "I still love coming to work every day, but I think it is time to give someone else a chance at a great, great job."
Bryant, 63, first served as executive director for the agency from 1981 to 1986. After leaving to become the leader of the statewide Kansas Action for Children organization, she returned to the United Way in April 1998.
"I've just always thought this was one of the best jobs a person could have," Bryant said. "You never have to wonder whether you are doing something worthwhile. That is always readily apparent."
Ann Gardner, chairwoman of the United Way Board of Directors, said a search committee has been formed to find Bryant's replacement. The board will begin advertising for applicants later this month.
"Jo is an outstanding administrator and will be very hard to replace," said Gardner, who also is the editorial page editor for the Lawrence Journal-World. "But we hope to have a strong pool of applicants."
In her job, Bryant oversees all United Way activities, including the Roger Hill Volunteer Center and the United Way Center for Human Services. Bryant also oversees the United Way's annual fund drive, which is one of the larger means of support for nonprofit and social service agencies in the county. Last year's drive raised $1.6 million. Bryant will remain on the job long enough to oversee this year's drive.
The United Way this year is scheduled to provide support for 27 nonprofit organizations. She said during her tenure she has seen an increased need for funding for homeless services, and for early childhood programs to help ensure youths get off to a healthy start. She said her successor should be prepared to meet even more needs.
"As a community, we just keep growing, and it seems like the needs do too," Bryant said.