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New United Way director wants boost in donations

February 21, 2000

James L.M. TaylorBy ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




Washington County's got a friend in James Taylor - James L.M. Taylor, that is.

The new executive director of United Way of Washington County said he wants to make a positive difference in people's lives.

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"We should ask ourselves, 'What are we doing to help people in the community? Is what we're doing making a difference,'" said Taylor, 30.

"That's what I get passionate about."

A former Presbyterian chaplain, Taylor took the helm at the Hagerstown-based agency on Feb. 14, replacing Kathleen Hall, who had held the post for eight years.

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"I think it's going to be an interesting challenge," Taylor said. "I want to make sure this organization is functioning at its peak."

Through annual campaigns, the local United Way raises money for distribution to the nonprofit organization's 22 member agencies. The money funds programs that nurture children, strengthen families, sustain wellness and promote self-sufficiency, according to United Way Spokesman William Bulla.

The United Way of Washington County's 1999 annual campaign raised $1,665,000.

Taylor hopes to boost campaign donations, and said the key to success lies in strengthening the relationships between the United Way and its participating companies and member agencies.

"The administrative portion of the job is important, but you can't get the job done unless you're out there with the people," he said.

He's spent his first week in Hagerstown examining the local United Way's campaign structure and meeting with the agency's executive board members and the directors of such member agencies as Citizens Assisting and Sheltering the Abused, known as CASA.

Gaining an understanding of what such agencies do in the community and what they expect from United Way will "make the job much easier in the future as we try to build a stronger, more cohesive grouping," Taylor said.

He said he plans to work closely with participating companies to improve their giving campaigns.

The political degree that the Blacksburg, Va., native earned from Wake Forest University in North Carolina familiarized him with the notion of grassroots involvement, and set the stage for his future work with United Way, he said.

"Any time you're dealing with people you're dealing with politics," Taylor said.

After graduation, he entered the seminary with the desire to help others, but found after a year of working as a chaplain in Denver that he "needed something more uplifting," Taylor said.

He went to that city's Mile High United Way, where he was hired as a division manager responsible for $2 million in accounts.

"It just turned out that we fit," Taylor said.

He then took a position as senior campaign director of United Way of Hillsborough County in Tampa, Fla., where he was responsible for $4.1 million in accounts, analyzed campaign strategies, and recruited and trained agency executives, Taylor said.

He plans to use the hands-on skills he learned in Denver and Florida to carve the partnerships that will carry United Way of Washington County into the next millennium.

The agency's strong foundation in a "great community," will simplify the task, Taylor said.

He thanked the people of Washington County for "giving their time, and obviously their money, to make this a better community."

"They're making a difference."

Taylor, his wife, Amy, and twin 1-year-old sons, Wesley and William, live in Hagerstown, where Amy has relatives.

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