Sharing a man’s vision
Dec 27, 2012 | 576 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ever since somebody invented the word — perhaps even before — networking has proven itself to be one of the most resourceful, accurate and reliable means for sharing information.

What one organization is doing successfully can serve as a good fit for another. But first, the second group must know about it.

This is the value of networking. This is the meaning of the term — sharing.

Indirectly, networking came into the local headlines recently with the announcement that our community’s own Matt Ryerson, president and CEO of United Way of Bradley County Inc., has been elected to the United Way of Tennessee board of directors.

Not only is this a high honor for the local nonprofit leader, it also speaks to the strong reputation the United Way administrator enjoys across the state. Ryerson is wrapping up only his first year as head of the local United Way affiliate; yet, he finds himself in a unique, and esteemed, position for a state organization with whom his office shares membership with 37 other United Way groups.

Ryerson’s colleagues across Tennessee elected him to the board because many have already worked with him and shared common-cause projects during his prior roles with the local United Way. One was his leadership as United Way’s vice president of Community Investment Strategies, a role he held under the longtime stewardship of Brenda Abel prior to her well-deserved retirement Dec. 31, 2011.

Assuredly, Abel taught her successor the United Way ropes during his years of cross-training; likewise, Ryerson likely shared many ideas, and new visions, for the organization. His advantage was having Abel’s leadership to call upon in helping to determine ideas that have worked in the past, those that have not and those that could succeed with gentle tweaking.

Since Abel’s retirement, Ryerson has employed many tried and true techniques. Most importantly, he has embarked on his own vision quest using fresh ideas, personal mannerisms and individual means for challenging volunteers to be the best they can be.

His first year of effort should reach fruition soon, as United Way closes in on its 2012-13 fundraising goal. In the drive’s final official report luncheon, the nonprofit had attained 96 percent of its objective, but several companies were still conducting their campaigns. What better Christmas gift by our community to United Way — and vice versa — than to reach the $2,013,000 goal?

It speaks to the power of networking. That which has been tried, that which has failed and that which has succeeded have all been shared from one to another through networking.

As a member of the UWTN board, Ryerson finds himself in an enviable position on behalf of his agency, his community and all residents of Cleveland and Bradley County, especially those who are regular contributors and volunteers, and most importantly those who will be.

As a state board member, Ryerson can hear from others about what has worked for them and visions they embrace for the future.

As a state board member, Ryerson can offer his own ideas; he can share invaluable insight about how Bradley County has reached out to Bradley Countians, and how area residents have reacted to locally driven initiatives.

As a state board member, Ryerson can learn new expectations and relevant trends across the national landscape of nonprofit outreach.

As a state board member, Ryerson can become the eyes, the ears and the voice of all who believe in United Way, who support its mission and who donate to its cause.

We congratulate Matt Ryerson on this rare honor.

We salute his leadership and the unending dream he holds for the families of our hometown.