Archive for Wednesday, March 12, 2008

United Way leader retiring

March 12, 2008

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Johannah "Jo" Bryant plans not to plan a thing during her retirement from the United Way of Douglas County.

Well, there is one item on her agenda - joining her 2-year-old grandson in a "Coloring Outside the Lines" class at the Lawrence Arts Center.

Bryant retired as the president and CEO of the nonprofit organization on Jan. 14, but has stayed on with United Way as a consultant. She officially retires at the end of March.

"In my private and personal life I've had a lot of responsibilities," Bryant said. "I've had to plan my life very carefully to meet all those responsibilities, so the first thing I want to do is open up my life for more spontaneity."

Bryant has received several awards for her community involvement and leadership during her years in Lawrence.

"She has been a wonderful mentor and friend," said Colleen Gregoire, vice president of United Way. "She has a very gentle leadership style. I've learned a lot from her, just how to effectively deal with people in all sorts of situations."

Bryant has worked in nonprofit social service agencies since 1977. She became the director of the Rape Victim Support Service, now called GaDuGi Safe Center. For 10 years she was the executive director of Kansas Action for Children, a statewide child advocacy group based in Topeka.

"I think the very best part of having been involved with the United Way for so many years is that it's very easy to see that my efforts have made a difference in the lives of people," Bryant said. "Not everyone is lucky enough to have a job where it's so easy to see."

Bryant was replaced by Erika Dvorske, who worked with the United Way of Wyandotte County for six years. Dvorske is a Kansas University alumna. Since January, Bryant has helped Dvorske with the transition.

"I'm very enthusiastic about Erika, and I think she's going to do a great job," Bryant said. "Having the opportunity to work with her and see the great job she's going to do has made it a lot easier because I know I'm leaving it in great hands."

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