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United Way in period of transition, board hires interim executive director

After longtime United Way of Freeborn County Executive Director Ann Austin resigned in March from her position, the organization is beginning a new chapter as it seeks a new permanent leader.

Erin Haag

The United Way board of directors thanked Austin for her 10 years of service to the organization and wished her the best of luck in her future endeavors, according to a press release.

“Austin led the charge for identifying visions of the future and directed efforts to keep United Way relevant in our community,” the release states. “A passionate advocate for meaningful change, Austin provided community and organizational leadership with positivity and enthusiasm.”

The board has appointed Erin Haag as interim director.

Haag, a social worker, previously worked with the Adult Basic Education transition college program through the Austin Public School District before becoming a stay-at-home mom in recent years, she said. She moved to Freeborn County in 2012, and she and her husband, Mike, have two children.

Ann Austin

Active in St. Theodore Catholic Church, she serves as chairwoman of the St. Theodore school board and served on the steering committee for Mothers of Preschoolers for three years.

Haag was part of the community investment board with the United Way in Mower County and got involved with the United Way in Freeborn County after working with Austin a few years ago to coordinate a program.

She said she became aware of the interim position at the United Way in Freeborn County through Austin and was approved by the board as interim director. She is also eligible for the permanent director position.

Haag said the executive director job is posted and applications will be accepted through June 14, after which the board will conduct an interview process to determine the best person to lead the organization. She anticipated mid- to late August for when the permanent director is selected.

In the meantime, Haag said her duties as interim director include office administration tasks, such as making sure deposits are taken care of and that pledge cards are at businesses that need them. The campaign season generally picks up in the fall.

She also is putting together proposals on how to make the United Way more efficient and how the organization can increase awareness in the community.

“I think most of the community doesn’t understand what United Way does,” she said.

She is looking for feedback on how the organization is running and what things are working well.

With a new city manager and Department of Human Services director in the near future, she noted there are many changes taking place in the community.

She said she wants the community to know that the United Way is still in operation and that it is always looking for volunteers and board members.

“There’s a lot of ways you can get involved,” Haag said.

United Way last year funded 22 agencies in Freeborn County and is in the process of approving funding for this year.