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United Ways select leader

Douglas E. Weber will begin Jan. 1 and handle the birth of the United Way of Tampa Bay.

By DAVID BALLINGRUD

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 31, 2001


Douglas E. Weber will begin Jan. 1 and handle the birth of the United Way of Tampa Bay.

A veteran United Way administrator with experience in mergers has been chosen to serve as the joint president and chief executive officer of the United Ways of Hillsborough County and Pinellas County.

On July 1, the two organizations are scheduled to merge into the new United Way of Tampa Bay, with the hope of increasing both efficiency and contributions.

Douglas E. Weber, 46, for the past six years the president and CEO of the United Way of Lake County in Green Oaks, Ill., will start his new job Jan. 1.

"We think he will be perfect for our community," said John Borreca, who was chairman of an executive search committee made up of United Way board members from Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. "He has been through this (merger) process before. He is open and candid, a good communicator. We are thrilled."

Weber promised a search for the "best practices of both organizations, and of other United Way organizations, too. We are really starting a new organization, and we will be looking at everything."

He noted the sometimes spotty record of cooperation between the two counties, and said "it will be important to make people feel as though they are not losing anything."

"I hope we can cut through all of that, the parochialism, keeping in mind that our purpose is to create a stronger, more effective organization."

No immediate change will be obvious for most of the thousands of workers in the two counties who contribute through their paychecks each week, or for the counties' 142 social service agencies that receive United Way funds. The 2001 fundraising campaign already is under way and will not change. But next year's campaign will be combined in the two counties.

Where donations would go in the merged agency is a sensitive issue not yet resolved, said Borreca. Pinellas has a budget of about $10-million, and Hillsborough's is about $17-million.

Before he took the job in Illinois, Weber was executive director of the United Way of Chemung County in Elmira, N.Y. There, according to Borreca, Weber oversaw the successful joining together of the Chemung County group with three other United Way organizations in the area.

Those chapters were smaller, Weber acknowledged, "but the issues of their coming together were essentially the same. There are always concerns about history and culture."

And there were four boards of directors to deal with, he said, "each with over 30 members."

Weber holds a bachelor's degree in human relations from the University of Indianapolis and a master's in nonprofit management from Lesley College Graduate School in Cambridge, Mass. He and his wife, Nancy, have two children.

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