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Mary Fanning-Penny named regional United Way president

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Gazette staff
June 11, 2014

JANESVILLE—Rotary Gardens Executive Director Mary Fanning-Penny will be the new president of the United Way Blackhawk Region upon longtime President Steve Kinkade's retirement, the organization announced Wednesday.

The United Way Board of Directors unanimously picked Fanning-Penny, who previously served on the strategic communications team for Alliant Energy and as communications manager for the General Motors Assembly Plant in Janesville.

A national search for the position resulted in more than 20 qualified candidates and four finalists who went through extensive interviews, according to a news release.

“Mary Fanning-Penny embodies the mission of the United Way,” board chairwoman Lynn Gardinier said in the release. “As an experienced and dynamic leader, and dedicated advocate for the United Way, Mary is an ideal choice to lead the organization as it continues its important work to improve lives through its initiatives in education, income and health.

“Her experience in both the corporate and nonprofit worlds will be invaluable.”

The Rotary Gardens Board of Directors appointed Mark Dwyer, director of horticulture, to serve as interim director while it works on a comprehensive plan to ensure a seamless transition, said Susan Melton, marketing director for the gardens.

Dwyer's 16 years of experience at the gardens will provide continuity for staff, volunteers and board members, she said.

Fanning-Penny has served on the local United Way Board of Directors since 2008 and its respective Strategic Planning and Brand Strategy and Marketing committees. She served as chairwoman for the Brand Strategy and Marketing Committee for five years and was instrumental in developing the organization's 2012 unification communication plan, according to the release.

“I am eager to embark on this new chapter as president of United Way Blackhawk Region,” Fanning-Penny said. “I look forward to continuing and strengthening United Way's work to change lives in Rock County and northern Winnebago County.”

Fanning-Penny has served on the United Way's Community Impact Council as an allocation process volunteer, campaign account manager and as a speaker.

The organization provides funding support for more than 90 health and human services programs in Rock County and northern Winnebago County, Illinois.

Kinkade is retiring after a 43-year United Way career, the last 15 years in the Blackhawk Region.

“I have known Mary through her volunteer efforts on behalf of the United Way and she is a very energetic, creative and passionate community leader,” Kinkade said. “Mary possesses the skills and attributes to lead the United Way, including exemplary organizational leadership, proven resource development success and public relations expertise.”

Kinkade will remain on staff through the leadership transition. Fanning-Penny's first day will be July 14.



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