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United Way's James Taylor resigns

July 27, 2004|by RYAN C. TUCK

ryant@herald-mail.com

James Taylor confirmed the suspicions of some and surprised others Monday morning when he submitted his resignation as executive director of the United Way of Washington County.

"I hope you understand this is something I didn't take lightly," he said in a scheduled meeting of the board of directors. "The opportunity is one that my family can't really pass up."

Taylor will begin his job as executive director of the United Way of Greater Lafayette in Lafayette, Ind., on Sept. 1, the starting date nationwide for the United Way's annual fund-raising campaign.

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Art Callaham, board president, said he doesn't expect his departure to affect Washington County's campaign.

Some members of the executive board were aware of Taylor's pending resignation, but others merely feared it would happen sometime in the future.

"I knew it would happen eventually," board member Howard Kaylor said. "You're too good to hold down in Washington County."

"We're lucky to have had you," board member Spence Perry said. "Sometimes there is resentment when someone leaves, but not with this organization."

"We'll miss you," board member Cynthia Oates said after walking in late and exclaiming, "what's happening?"

Oates said afterward that she was "completely shocked," but was happy for Taylor.

Taylor took the position in Washington County in February 2000, after holding similar positions in United Way organizations in Denver and Florida.

Slashing administrative costs and having a more active board of directors were some of the goals Taylor identified before starting.

The organization was short of its annual fund-raising goals for much of Taylor's time in the county, but Perry said that had more to do with a bad economy.

Greater Lafayette is attractive because of its size, Taylor said at the meeting and in his letter of resignation to the board.

The United Way of Washington County raised about $1.6 million for fiscal year 2004, while Greater Lafayette raises about $4.5 million annually, Taylor said.

A larger budget and scope will give him the opportunity to "focus more on the broad issues of that community," he said.

Taylor, a former Presbyterian chaplain, said he has been honored to serve in Washington County and that he believes the organization will continue to be successful.

"This is an incredible group of folks we have here," he said. "That makes me more than confident."

Taylor's last day will be Aug. 18. He is moving to Indiana with his wife and twin sons.

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