The task of raising millions of dollars in a year and doing it under a bleak economic forecast doesn't daunt Judy Wright one bit.
"Sometimes when times get hard, I find the people in our community really come together, and so I hope that will be the case," said the 2008-2009 United Way of Douglas County campaign chairwoman.
The United Way announced Wright's appointment on Wednesday.
Wright will take on the annual challenge of raising funds to aid more than 20 agencies that provide services to people in the community. She says she's eager to begin because fundraising is practically second nature to her.
She is the assistant vice president and director of the Chancellors Club of Kansas University's Endowment Association as well as the vice president of the newly established Haskell Endowment Association.
Wright was also involved with the United Way board in the early 1990s. She said the reason she chose to accept the United Way's invitation to help was the "professional, diligent and enthusiastic" United Way staff and those whom they serve.
"In the end, I guess I would say it's all about the people, you know, so I'm very honored. I'm humbled to be invited to do this," she said.
Colleen Gregoire, vice president and campaign manager for the United Way of Douglas County, said Wright's connections, knowledge and love for Lawrence are what made her an attractive candidate.
Wright said she hopes to continue the success of the 2007-08 campaign co-chairs Chuck and Karen Warner, who helped lead the United Way chapter to one of its highest campaign totals: about $1.7 million.
An increasing need in the community coupled with a weak economy present other challenges. But after visiting several agencies last week to learn what their needs are, Wright said she's hopeful that obstacle can be overcome.
"When our economy gets really tight and discretionary money is scarcer, it really hits home on the families that are working very, very hard to make ends meet," she said. "So I can foresee that the people in the community that support the United Way will look at the situation and say, 'If it's hard for us, can we even imagine what it's like for people that don't have the resources we do? And we need to help.'"
Wright will select a committee to help lead the campaign, which begins in the fall.