With seven campaigns under her belt and having raised more than $1.7 million for agencies in Barton and Pawnee counties, Julie Bugner-Smith has resigned as executive director for United Way of Central Kansas effective May 12.
She is leaving to become foundation director for Pawnee Valley Community Hospital in Larned.
“I wasn’t looking for this,” Bugner-Smith said Thursday, adding it was a difficult decision to make. “I love my job, I love my board and I love my community. United Way is not just a job, but a love for the community.”
The board and staff at UWCK were wonderful to work with and will remain in place, she said. “I feel that there is a firm foundation, and with their leadership, United Way is in good hands,” she said.
“Thank you is not enough for the trust and faith that the community has had in me and the help that I have had along the way to make UWCK a great asset to Central Kansas.”
United Way is vital to the communities, she said, adding she will always be connected and willing to help with the transition.
The United Way of Central Kansas Board of Directors will begin looking for her replacement immediately in order to ensure a smooth transition before the 2018 Campaign begins. UWCK believes in advancing the common good for all by mobilizing the caring power of communities.
“On behalf of the directors, I would like to thank Julie for guiding our United Way to new horizons,” said UWCK Board President Desa Marmie-Behr. “Her vision and commitment are like no other. We wish her well on her new adventure and are so thankful for her leadership the last seven years.”
During her time with UWCK, Smith has seen the fundraising goal climb from $225,000 in 2011 to $275,000 for 2017, reaching the goal each time. These funds support 23 local nonprofit agencies.
She has also overseen the bringing of several community impact programs to the area: The Born Learning Trails in Claflin and Great Bend, Crunch Out Obesity in Ellinwood, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Larned and Ellinwood, Literacy Kits for pre-K students in all of Barton and Pawnee counties, Reality U in Great Bend, and Box of Love for Barton County.
Under her tenure, United Way grew from Barton County United Way to United Way of Central Kansas, incorporating Larned and last year Hoisington into the fold. With those expansions came a change to the board of directors, making sure that representatives from every community were a part of the decision-making process.
“I am leaving when things are on top,” Bugner-Smith said.