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Mellick takes over as United Way of Hastings' executive director

Mari Mellick is the new executive director of the United Way of Hastings. Photo courtesy of Dan Rother Photography

Last Thursday, Mari Mellick officially began her duties as the new executive director of the United Way of Hastings. She has been working for the organization for the past three and a half years in both part- and full-time administrative positions. Most recently she was the administrative director.

It was a quick transition; former executive director Tara Donohue Weiss gave her notice of resignation at the May board meeting, which triggered a series of discussions and actions to fill the vacancy.

"It was a surprise, I think, for the board members, but they handled the change really well and moved forward," Mellick said.

After accepting applications, the UWH board selected three candidates for interviews, including Mellick.

"We interviewed three very, very, very solid candidates," said board president Brian Schommer.

All three had excellent backgrounds and experience, he said, but Mellick stood out. One thing that impressed Schommer was her CAE (Certified Association Executive) certification, which less than 5 percent of all association professionals hold, he said. Besides that, he said Mellick has an extensive background working with nonprofits, has been involved with the United Way of Hastings and is very in tune with the organization and the community.

As she moves into her new position, Mellick is focusing on a few goals already set by the board. One of the top goals is to increase revenue and increase employee workplace giving. Another goal is to make the United Way of Hastings more visible in the community and find more ways to partner with other organizations.

"I plan to get out and meet more of the community leaders," Mellick said.

Collaboration with other organizations is something that's already has a strong start, thanks to the work Donohue Weiss has put in, Mellick said, and she's looking forward to continuing that.

Partnering with the Helping Kids Succeed the Hastings Way is another top priority.

"I'm really excited to see how that evolves," she said.

The United Way of Hastings has always been a small non-profit organization and largely independent of the worldwide United Way. Mellick said she's looking forward to helping the organization grow and explore other needs that need to be fulfilled.

"I would like to see us grow and have more of a presence in the community, and have people contact us when they're in need," Mellick said.

Mellick has lived in Hastings for 15 years. Originally from northeast Iowa, she and her husband got their educations in Winona and lived to Rochester before coming here. They have two sons; Tyler graduated from Hastings High School in 2012 and Zach graduated this year.

Mellick has experience both with small and large nonprofits, and said she prefers the smaller organizations because they allow her to work more closely with the individuals she serves.

"What has kept me with the nonprofits is that it's always changing and there's always people out there to help," she said.