MARSHALL - Marcy Heemeyer wasn't necessarily looking for a job when she interviewed to become the United Way of Southwest Minnesota's next executive director, but she was nonetheless driven to succeed the retiring Ruth Ascher and said Tuesday she is looking forward to the challenge of filling some pretty big "high heels."
The United Way of Southwest Minnesota announced Tuesday that Heemeyer has been chosen to become the organization's next executive director.
"When I heard about Ruth (retiring), I was like, 'I have to do this,'" said Heemeyer, whose first day on the job was Monday. "I want to continue all the good work that's been done, because there has been a really good foundation set; that includes those important programs like Imagination Library, those legacy things, that have been around."
Heemeyer has a strong background in the non-profit field. She grew up in Springfield and graduated from South Dakota State University with an emphasis in human development, family studies and criminal justice and has worked previously at the Schwan Food Co., Project Turnabout, Western Community Action and Black Hills Special Services Cooperative.
"My passion is really working with all sorts of people from all sorts of diverse backgrounds, because I think there's a lot of richness in that experience," she said. "Being able to do that while bettering the community and our small pocket of the state is important."
Heemeyer said making sure communities around Marshall are involved in the United Way's mission is a main goal of hers. Part of that process, she said, is utilizing social media to spread the word.
"I want to try to increase the awareness and relationship building outside of town so we feel like a greater community joined together," she said. "I also think there's a lot to be said about social media and how people get their news and learn about things that are happening and how they can get involved."
Heemeyer, who moved to Marshall from Spearfish, S.D., eight years ago, will work with Ascher for several weeks to learn about the work of the organization and to transition into the position. Ascher, whose retirement is officially effective in mid-March, began working with the United Way of Southwest Minnesota board of directors to develop a succession plan as soon as she knew she would be moving on. That plan included a month-long window of time in which Ascher and Heemeyer could work side by side.
"We haven't set a firm date when I'm going to be leaving, but it will be sometime this spring," said Ascher, who announced her retirement in November. "The goal was to have a period of time where she could read things, talk, listen, ask questions, experience, get out and around. There is a regional conference that United Ways in the Upper Midwest get together annually for training and knowledge sharing, and the good news is that's scheduled for the last week in February, so it was perfect timing that she would be able to go to that."
"We are excited to welcome Marcy as the new executive director," Lisa Rademacher, board member and chairwoman of the search committee, said in a news release. "Her experience with non-profits and enthusiasm will serve her well in this role. We are confident that she will help the organization achieve its mission of improving the lives of people in our communities."
Rademacher also thanked Ascher for her 10 years of service to the United Way of Southwest Minnesota.