United Way director Sandy Sayers retiring in June


Recorder Staff
Thursday, January 11, 2018

GREENFIELD — Talking with her recently retired husband during the holiday season, Sandy Sayers had some long conversations about a topic that had been on her mind for a while.

With an elderly mother, two grandchildren and another on the way any day now, Sayers, 63, announced Thursday that at the end of the United Way’s annual campaign in June, she will retire — stepping away from her position as executive director after three years on the job.

“We just want to be able to enjoy some time while we are still healthy,” Sayers said, still settling with the fact that after 35 years of fundraising work in Franklin County, the Greenfield resident will close that chapter in her life.

Sayers has worked with the local United Way for the past five years, while serving as its executive director beginning in 2015.

She came on at a time when the organization, both locally and nationally, was figuring out how to deal with a decline in workplace campaigns, particularly with the decline of industrial jobs that are locally owned and run.

“She was brought in to try to help us not to do anything dramatic, but to do what she did — build relationships with the community,” Larry Geiser, president of the United Way board of directors, said Thursday.

It was Sayers’ job to steady the ship, he explained, and that she did, while keeping an eye toward what future campaigns might look like.

With the creation of the Franklin County Young Professionals group, run through the United Way, and a move away from a central focus on workplace fundraising streams and instead toward individuals, Sayers said she is most proud of finding ways to act as a bridge to the next generation of fundraising.

“We’ve been able to bring new faces to the table, particularly the Franklin County Young Professionals,” Sayers said. “The group we developed has been really successful. It’s done what we hoped it would do.”

Sayers said she hopes that the next director will be able to continue to look toward the future, finding ways to meet millennials and young families in the county.

“I think having a younger person in a leadership role is really just a good thing,” Sayers said. “So I think it just makes sense for the United Way to do more advocacy work and to really reach a lot more people than it has.”

Coming into the position in her 60s, she never saw herself as someone who would be the director for 10, 15 or 20 years, but rather as helping the organization make a transition.

“When I was given the opportunity to lead the organization back in 2015, I felt really excited about it. It was not something I expected,” Sayers said. “I feel like it’s a wonderful opportunity to end my career.”

“Sandy will be missed,” Geiser said. “She’s built strong relationships with the community at large, that includes our partner agencies, our volunteers, the companies and the citizens that contribute funds to the United Way.”

Geiser and current co-campaign chairman, Michael Rifanburg, who is also the publisher of the Greenfield Recorder, have seen Sayers as a professional who has led the way in a community that she knows so well.

“I think Franklin County has been very fortunate to benefit from Sandy’s expertise in the area of fundraising,” Rifanburg said. “She’s been a great contributor to the United Way since her arrival, and she will be missed.”

Sayers won’t be gone immediately, though, giving the board roughly six months to find her replacement. Geiser said the process is just beginning, but the focus for now will be on the United Way’s 80th campaign.

The goal for Sayers from this point forward is to meet the United Way’s fundraising goal of $800,000. The campaign will wrap up with the organization’s 80th anniversary gala in June.

After that, Sayers said, she will get to focus on her family, traveling with her husband and riding her horse, a longtime passion of hers. She also hopes to continue to volunteer in the community and help out in whatever ways she can.

Until then, it’s about the campaign and mostly for her, the relationships she’s built in the organization’s small office on Davis Street.

“Leaving here for me, it’s really difficult,” Sayers said. “I really loved working here.”

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