the executive director of Centraide leaves; transition in progress

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Leadership is in transition at the United Way of Franklin and Hampshire Area, with Geoff Naunheim as interim executive director.

John Bidwell has been at the helm since January 2018 and is now the leadership transition consultant while Naunheim learns the ropes. Bidwell’s last day will be June 30.

“I loved the job. It’s an amazing community, no doubt. It’s an extremely caring community,” Bidwell said in Greenfield’s office at 51 Davis St. “Franklin County, I have to say in particular, has an incredible reputation.

Bidwell, 58, explained that the executive director handles fundraising, grants and community support, operations, engagement and outreach. The nonprofit has six employees (including Bidwell), hundreds of volunteers and thousands of donors.

“That’s really what makes the organization work,” Bidwell said, adding that there are 27 board members and 48 partner agencies serving about 5,000 people in Franklin and Hampshire counties. The two Centraides merged on July 1, 2021.

United Way raises funds for dozens of partners in a local network of social service agencies. The agency also uses a community-driven process to identify the greatest needs in the region to decide which agencies are best positioned to meet those needs, and then allocates resources accordingly through grants.

Children, youth and their families, economic security, and health and safety are some of the areas he has focused on in grant cycles.

Bidwell came to United Way in 2007, when he was asked to join its board of directors. He owned a marketing and branding business for 12 years.

Naunheim, who lives in Hadley, joined United Way in October 2017. He was most recently Director of Community Investment. He had previously worked in the development office of a free public book bank in New Haven, Connecticut, and moved to western Massachusetts when his wife got a job at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“It was carefully selected as an area that we really liked,” he said.

“Partner agencies love Geoff,” Bidwell said, prompting a humble laugh from his replacement. “No, I’m serious. He works with a lot of partner agencies and they know him, they trust him, they appreciate the work he has done, because he has improved the processes so much.

Naunheim, 35, said he has really enjoyed his job so far.

Florence resident Bidwell said he was still thinking about his next chapter. He is in talks with consulting firms, start-ups and non-profit organizations. Bidwell mentioned that he grew up in New Hampshire and moved to western Massachusetts with his wife in 1998 to raise their children.

“It was a home run,” he said. “It’s a great area to raise a family. It’s not better. »

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