After the completion of a highly-competitive province-wide search and a review of over 50 candidates, United Way of Chatham-Kent’s Board President, Brad Langford, has announced that Steve Pratt will become its new Chief Executive Officer. Pratt will be replacing Karen Kirkwood-Whyte, who has held the position since 1983 and recently announced her retirement, effective August 17th.

Pratt brings with him a unique blend of post-secondary education, a strong background in liaising with all levels of government, and extensive experience holding senior leadership positions in the business and nonprofit sectors.  As a former recipient of United Way services, Pratt has first hand knowledge of the benefits derived from charitable gifts to funded agencies. He demonstrated, on a personal level, the value of giving when he co-chaired the 2016 United Way campaign.

According to Langford, “Steve has a proven track record of delivering quality results, leading organizations through transformational change, building and leading high performing teams, and collaborating with community partners, donors and service recipients.”

When Kirkwood-Whyte was asked to describe the type of individual best suited to serve as her successor, she recommended the Board of Directors should seek an individual with a business head, a nonprofit heart and clearly demonstrated leadership skills. “I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Steve for the past three years. He is one of the most multi-talented individuals I have met. It is clear that his passion and commitment to community will serve our organization well. I look forward to passing the baton to an individual who is focused on ensuring that our organizational mission – to improve lives and build community – is achieved”, said Kirkwood-Whyte.

“I am both humbled and honoured to accept this leadership position with an organization that affects over 40,000 lives each year in our community”, said Pratt. “I look forward to working with the United Way Board of Directors, volunteers, and staff, to build ‘a strong and vibrant community free of poverty with children achieving all they can be’.”

A retirement party is currently being planned for Kirkwood-Whyte, entitled “Karen Kirkwood-Whyte: This Is Your Life”. The event will be Karen’s last official fundraiser for United Way and participants will be helping Karen to ‘give as she goes’ in making a parting gift to a great cause. Tickets are available at: http://uwock.ca/event/this-is-your-life/.