Marshfield, WI (OnFocus) After many years serving the community, Paula Jero will retire as executive director of Marshfield Area United Way. Her last day is May 22.
Former communications director Ashley Winch is stepping into the role. “I am fortunate to have worked with Paula for eight years as she has been a great mentor for me,” she said. “I also have a very supportive and active Board to support not only me in my new role, but my team at United Way as well.”
Jero has worked in the nonprofit sector her entire career, the last twelve at United Way. Over that time, one of the biggest changes she’s noticed is the number of volunteers grow from 200 when she started, to 1,000 today.
“That’s important because for every person that becomes involved becomes more aware of what we do and and supports the work that we do,” she said. “I’m proud that we were able to provide those opportunities for individuals to become engaged.”
One of the more ambitious programs started during her tenure targets child hunger on the weekends by providing nutritious snacks to enrolled students every week.
“The Nutrition on Weekends program was a huge undertaking for a really small staff. We never anticipated it getting as big as it did as quick as it did,” Jero said. “The fact we’ve been able to go to 400 kids every week and not turn anybody away is pretty amazing.”
She praised the volunteers who make the program possible, often behind the scenes, a dedication she hopes to emulate as a United Way volunteer after her retirement.
“I’ve had so many people over the years when I asked them to do something, they said yes to me,” Jero said, “so to be able to say yes to them, it’ll be really wonderful,”
Jero expects a seamless transition as Winch takes the helm. Office manager Krystal Bowman is filling Winch’s former position, while new employee Cassie Zopfi joined the small staff in Bowman’s position.
Having the right people dedicated to their roles makes all the difference. “When you have such a small staff, every single person has to be firing at 110 percent,” Jero said. “Job descriptions don’t mean a whole lot because everybody has to be willing to pitch with whatever wanders in your door, so you really have to have the right people.”
As the new executive director, Winch is looking forward to building upon current relationships with local businesses and community partners as well as providing new ways for people to get involved.
“We live in a very generous community, full of leaders and businesses who share United Way’s common goal – making Marshfield a great place to live!” said Winch. “It is so rewarding seeing everyone come together in a variety of different capacities working towards improving the health, education and financial stability of all in our community.”
In retirement, Jero will miss the weekly interactions with staff and volunteers but looks forward to keeping in touch as a volunteer.
“They’re not going to get rid of me that easy!” she said.