12:40PM / Thursday, December 20, 2018
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire United Way will begin the new year searching for a new leader.
Kristine Hazzard will step down as president and chief executive officer by June 30, 2019. Hazzard has led the charitable organization for the past decade.
"While it will clearly be a challenge to replace Kris, we fully expect to find a very strong and driven professional who will take on the role of CEO and continue the great work being done by Berkshire United Way, as well as help map out and drive strategies and execution to meet the changing needs of our community," said Richard E. Rowe, chairman of the United Way board, on announcing her departure.
The board isn't waiting until June to seek out a new president. A search committee, led by Berkshire United Way board member Pat Callahan, has already been created to conduct a national search to identify a new leader with the critical skill sets and experience necessary to take the organization into the future. The board says it hopes to find someone with the same passion and commitment that Hazzard demonstrated over the past decade.
Callahan has extensive experience in recruiting as a former human resources executive at Wells Fargo; she has also served on the executive search committee for another local nonprofit organization.
"During the interview process in 2009, the search committee was steadfast in its commitment to find a leader who had the potential to make a difference in our community," said Jerry Burke, a member of the search committee that recommended Hazzard. From day one, Kris' hard work, dedication and energy have greatly exceeded our expectations."
Burke said Hazzard didn't shy away from challenges and had refocused the Berkshire United Way's efforts on reducing the teen birth rate and spotlighted the need for early literacy and the impact of reading proficiency, efforts that "made tremendously positive impact on the area we all call home."
"The true measure of a great leader is what you have left behind, and Kris Hazzard has made the Berkshires a better place for all. From all of us who live here, Kris deserves a tip of the hat for a job well done," he added.
Hazzard plans to continue to reside in the Berkshires with her husband, Larry. Prior to joining Berkshire United Way, she was president and CEO of The Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County Inc. located in Bridgeport, Conn.
The Berkshire United way was created in 1924 as a local community fund and was structured as a fundraiser for member agencies. When Hazzard came on board, it was shifted to a "community-defined aspiration" model in which investments were made in focused areas such as early childhood literacy, positive youth development and financial stability.