Former state commissioner to lead United Way

Posted: Friday, May 30, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) Michele Brown, former commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, is tapped as the new president and chief executive officer of United Way of Anchorage.

The board of directors of the nonprofit organization hired Brown after a six-month national search to replace popular former president Dennis McMillian. He now heads the Foraker Group, which provides services for nonprofit groups.

''We were looking for a leader, for someone who had the ability to take this organization to the next level,'' United Way chairman Victor Mollozzi told the Anchorage Daily News. ''There's no question we found it in Michele.''

Brown is taking the helm as United Way focuses more on health and social issues in Anchorage, such as school dropout rates, in addition to the massive fund-raising effort for its agencies.

Brown said her main priority is focusing on maintaining the agency's relationships and partnerships, ''working with a lot of other groups to make sustained change in the community.''

Brown also faces potential budget challenges as the governor's office considers cuts to balance the state budget. Those could include human services matching grants of about $1.5 million, which helps fund 28 United Way agencies.

''As the economy suffers, the needs increase,'' Brown said. ''You almost have a double whammy.''

United Way did not have problems meeting its goal this year in donations, but Mollozzi said the agency can't fill a gap of $1.5 million.

He said the agency is going to focus more on asking people to contribute individually instead of relying on donations from large oil companies and the Rasmuson Foundation, which supports nonprofits in Alaska.

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