JA greets new leader
Sep 18, 2012 | 453 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Leadership transition — whether the gavel is changing hands in a large corporation, a tiny business, a faith-based group or even a nonprofit organization — can be a trying experience.

Fault doesn’t lie with the outgoing nor the incoming; instead, trepidation comes because such moves constitute “change.”

For only a six-letter word, “change” sometimes is one of the most feared actions among those who have grown comfortable with the old and the established. The idea of the new and the untested can be a downright scary happening.

It is true in most facets of life and this includes the nonprofit world.

Yet, it can succeed when minds, hearts and missions meld as one. United Way of Bradley County Inc. is a prime example. Last December, the widely respected organization offered a tearful goodbye to the retiring Brenda Abel, longtime president and CEO.

Abel’s successor is Matt Ryerson, a civic servant who has already left a lasting footprint in the Cleveland and Bradley County community over the past couple of years with his work in other roles at United Way, but also in pivotal endeavors such as Bradley County’s recovery from the treacherous tornadoes of April 27, 2011.

A Kiwanian, a devout Christian, a husband and father of three, a leader among other nonprofits ... Ryerson is showing keen leadership in his first fundraising campaign at the United Way helm.

We wish him well in this challenge and we encourage the same level of community support that area residents gave United Way during Abel’s impressive tenure.

And now another prominent nonprofit is making a key change. Sandy Moore, a 20-year Junior Achievement veteran who has spent the last 11 as president of the Ocoee Region affiliate, has retired. Moore’s successor was announced in Sunday’s edition of our newspaper.

Tracie Grant McCartney, a young self-starting professional whose career background is communications, marketing, public relations — and perhaps most importantly, fundraising — has been named by the JA board of directors and chairman Rick Platz as its new president.

At the JA helm since late August, McCartney — who is the wife of Dr. Matt McCartney, a chiropractor at Tennessee Valley Bone and Joint — has already established herself as a leader with potential.

Why? Because she is doing what credible leaders do. McCartney is learning the ropes. She is observing the tried-and-true methods of JA’s past and she is taking time to learn the communities within JA’s Ocoee Region before launching into wholesale change.

This is no easy task because locally JA serves communities and school systems in five counties — Bradley, McMinn, Monroe, Polk and Meigs. Because JA is home-based in Cleveland, we often like to claim it as our own, but this staunch partner to education serves children, families and their schools in many communities and not just Bradley County.

This is the importance of McCartney’s strategy. Learn the communities. Meet the people. Establish common ground with the school systems. Become familiar with area education’s needs. Nurture existing corporate partnerships while seeking the new. Take care of all these first, and then launch a campaign of mutually helpful relationships.

Remembering the JA mission, and devising programs that embrace its concepts based on the children’s needs, is the first step. McCartney comes to JA following successful stints with the Muscular Dystrophy Association in Chattanooga and March of Dimes in Atlanta, yet she learned quickly the JA targets: Financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship.

We will have more to say about Junior Achievement of the Ocoee Region, and its new leadership, in days and weeks ahead.

For now, we welcome McCartney to her new role and we wish her the best in leading JA into a new era.