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Farewell to James Taylor

July 29, 2004

James Taylor, executive director of the United Way of Washington County, this week announced that he's leaving that post for a similar agency in Lafayette, Ind.

Taylor has done a tough job well during the past four years and will be missed.

Just 30 when he came to Washington County to replace the departing Kathleen Hall, the former Presbyterian chaplain began his tenure here by telling volunteers that they needed to ask themselves what they were doing to help the community - and whether their efforts were effective.

That meant strengthening the United Way system of outcome-based funding instituted by his predecessor.

Instead of funding each agency based on its budget request, the United Way began funding specific programs. Agencies got funding based on a pledge to do a variety a things, such as improve the grade-point averages of the children they served.

It's a system agencies don't always appreciate, but one which groups that have grant money to provide have gone to in increasing numbers.

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Taylor worked to streamline his staff, cutting the number of paid employees and moving from a donated house at 998 Potomac Ave. to smaller quarters.

Relationships with individual agency heads were strengthened, as were ties with companies that have traditionally run United Way campaigns. He also urged volunteers to think about inflation and why it meant raising a little bit more than the previous years wasn't enough.

The effort paid off. In 2000, after persuading Michael G. "MIke" Callas to head the campaign, the United Way raised $1.7 million, hitting its goals for the first time in a decade.

Unfortunately, in that same year came the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Charitable dollars were diverted from the local campaign to national needs and yet the United Way still raised $1.6 million.

James Taylor is an intelligent, personable leader who we predict will succeed in his next position. We wish him the best in his new post.

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