United Way will begin 100th year with new leader

Nov 7, 2017
Originally published on November 7, 2017 12:05 pm

When the United Way of Greater Rochester celebrates its centennial next year, it will do so with a new leader.

The organization's board of directors has appointed Jaime Saunders the new president and CEO.  Saunders, currently president and CEO of Willow Domestic Violence Center, has 20 years of experience in human services and nonprofit administration and fundraising.

"I am deeply motivated for helping this community. I was born and raised here,” she said. “I have dedicated my career to helping, as best I can, this community thrive and in each of my roles, it's just been such a privilege to connect those who need help to those who want to give help."

Saunders succeeds Fran Weisberg, who has led United Way for the past three years.  Prior to joining Willow, Saunders was associated director for the Center for Governmental Research and chief operating officer at Foodlink. 

At Willow Domestic Violence Center, Saunders led a staff of 75 employees and oversaw a 49-bed emergency shelter, 24-hour crisis hotline, court services and counseling center.  Under her leadership, the agency grew 40 percent and opened a new state-of-the-art facility.

Working for United Way member agencies, Saunders said, gave her a first-hand view of the organization’s influence.

"United Way has the heart, the data, the research. (It) knows what are strong evidenced-based programs, knows how to make a tremendous impact in the community. It has the ability to leverage the goodwill throughout our community to have the greatest impact."

Saunders said she will hit the ground running. She plans to reach out in the first 90 days to as many United Way community partners as she can. She takes over her new role on January 10, 2018.

About a week later, United Way says it will launch a year-long centennial celebration.  The organization grew out of the Community Chest, which was originally founded by George Eastman.