Only the best will do

We are sad to see Mandi Lighthizer-Schmidt, the former United Way of Mower County executive director, leave Austin. However, we see the executive director vacancy as an opportunity for a new Austin leader to step forth, and we encourage the UWMC board of directors to take its time and select the best possible leader for this important nonprofit.

The United Way serves an essential function for Austin: It helps direct funding and support to various nonprofits, causes and initiatives that help Austin residents receive quality care and essential necessities. It regularly brings in hundreds of thousands of dollars to help Mower County’s needy every year.

United Way organizers brought in about $872,000 in 2004, just before Lighthizer-Schmidt came to Austin. Over the next few years, she managed to break new records during the United Way’s annual campaign. For the past three years, she has spearheaded campaigns that brought in more than $1 million for area services. She was instrumental in helping several initiatives and projects, such as the Women’s Leadership Initiative, get off the ground.

Lighthizer-Schmidt was a tireless promoter of Austin and Mower County, and she served on the boards of many area organizations. She was an incredible leader for a great nonprofit, and we thank her for the great job she did helping to support Mower County residents.

Though she leaves for a new job in Willmar, we hope her replacement will be up to the task to shatter previous United Way campaigns and lead the way to more and better Mower County initiatives. We hope the United Way’s board of directors will find someone who knows how to build off Lighthizer-Schmidt’s work and enables more success stories for Mower County residents who could use a little help.

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