Karen Kirkwood-Whyte, CEO of United Way of CK and Brian Gallagher, CEO of United Way Worldwide. (Photo courtesy of United Way of CK)

United Way Of CK Looking For A New CEO

The longtime CEO of the United Way of Chatham-Kent is retiring.

Karen Kirkwood-Whyte is officially stepping down August 17 after 35 years on the job.

The United Way says Kirkwood-Whyte helped spearhead several initiatives, including Operation Cover-Up, Operation BackPacks, Operation Red Nose, the Children’s Safety Village, and Habitat for Humanity.

Board President Brad Langford says it’s bittersweet to see her go.

“She’s committed her heart and soul to the organization throughout her career and she’s done great work for the United Way. So, yes we are sad to see her go,” says Langford.

The agency says Kirkwood-Whyte’s responsibilities will be temporarily assumed by existing staff if a successor isn’t found by August 17.

The United Way says it has raised and invested over $53-million in agencies, programs and services during her leadership.

United Way Canada says its Chatham-Kent branch ranked in the top 30% of the 101 United Ways in Canada in 2016, ranked 8th in the country in revenue available for investment per market million and fourth within its market size.

Langford says work is underway to find a replacement but no firm decisions have yet been made on the appointment of a successor.

“We would like to have someone in place to step in for her when she retires but it’s not totally within our control. We know we have to go through the proper process and make sure there’s a full and transparent process to look for a successor,” he says.

Langford says 35 years is a great achievement.

“I think there’s probably a bit more turnover in the larger organizations but we have been really lucky that she committed to Chatham-Kent early on and stayed with us,” Langford says.