Debbie Mason resigns as United Way CEO

United Way of North Central Florida’s Debbie Mason has resigned her position as president and CEO.

In an email sent to United Way community partners on the morning of March 19, Mason, who took the position in June 2011, explained that over the last 18 months, the loss of her mother, as well as United Way’s director of marketing Kim Faenza, caused her to reevaluate what the next stage of her life would be.

“Although I have loved the opportunity to serve our community in this role, returning to consulting will allow me more freedom to pursue a richer diversity of projects, as well as more time to travel and learn while continuing to serve others,” she said in the email. In a phone interview, Mason said that she plans to stay in the area.

“I’ve loved my United Way experience, and I have such a fabulous board and staff,” she said, “and this was a decision that I thought about for months. This is just such a nice area with such nice people who really care about United Way.”

Mason spent her time as CEO reengaging community partners and volunteers, and she spearheaded both the United Downtown event series and a new community investment process that was easier to use, she said. Her final push will be to galvanize the community behind expanding the Check & Connect dropout prevention program, which was initially funded by a $300,000 AT&T grant, by $150,000 in order to keep it running.

Mason will remain as president and CEO until the United Way board of directors can find a replacement, which she said could take anywhere from four to six months, and she has had time to coach her successor into the role. The board will form a search committee and reveal more information about the search in April.

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