Past president of the United Way of Mower County Diane Baker has had a long history volunteering with the local organization. -- Eric Johnson/
Past president of the United Way of Mower County Diane Baker has had a long history volunteering with the local organization. -- Eric Johnson/

Baker ‘thrilled’ with new role; Longtime volunteer starts as United Way director on April 21

Published 11:19am Thursday, April 10, 2014

Diane Baker is serving the United Way of Mower County once more.

Baker will start as the UWMC’s executive director on April 21. A former president of the United Way’s board of directors, Baker is a longtime volunteer and has participated in United Way efforts for several years.

“I’m thrilled,” she said. “It’s honestly the perfect opportunity for me.”

One of Baker’s largest contributions to the United Way was her time overseeing the community assessment committee. United Way volunteers were part of a planning process to find some of Austin and Mower County’s biggest needs as part of a community study, which took place about three years ago. Baker headed the committee to find some of Austin’s biggest needs.

The results weren’t surprising: There were many in Austin who needed better jobs, better insurance and better child care, among other things. Several years later, United Way funding and volunteers are still working to cover some of those gaps.

The assessment helped shape United Way efforts over the past few years, which included funding a $3 million expansion for Apple Lane Child Care Center inside Riverland Community College’s Austin West campus.

The 17,000-square foot expansion was completed this summer, and Apple Lane now expects to host more than 300 children up to age 12 annually.

“We are very pleased to make this appointment.” said Paul Kuehneman, United Way of Mower County Board President, in a press release. “After a careful and thorough search we are excited to have Diane as our next executive director. Diane’s work experience, extensive community involvement and enthusiasm is what we need in moving the United Way’s Agenda for Change and the Mower County community forward.”

Baker has more than 15 years of management, strategic planning and analysis experience in both business and nonprofit sectors. She has lived in Austin over the past 16 years and was the manager of Eastern Fleet Operations for McFarland Truck Lines in Austin. Baker has also volunteered with Apple Lane, the YMCA of Austin, Austin Youth Soccer Association, Austin Public Schools, Leadership Austin and Leadership in ethically diverse communities.

Baker is looking forward to tackling more of the community’s needs in Austin.

“I’m just continually wanting to learn what the community’s needs are, she said. “We’ll hopefully address those needs and see what the community thinks those needs are. The need continues to grow, it’s ever-changing and we’ll be there to address it.”

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