By Todd Cohen
CARY, N.C. — Jim Morrison is retiring as president of United Way of North Carolina, effective October 1, after 17-and-a-half years in the job.
United Way of North Carolina, a Cary-based statewide group that provides services to 59 local United Ways in the state that serve 85 of the state’s 100 counties, has named a committee to conduct a search for a president and CEO to succeed Morrison.
Brad Risinger, immediate past chair of the organization’s board of directors and partner-in-charge of the Raleigh office of law firm Smith Moore, chairs the search committee.
United Way of North Carolina, which employs eight staff members and operates with an annual budget of $1.1 million, faces a critical time, says Morrison, who previously spent 10 years in leadership positions at United Way of America, now United Way International, and before that five years each at local United Ways in Buffalo and Chattanooga.
“We have to connect with our investors’ aspirations more, with need and opportunity,” he says. “We’ve got to measure ourselves with what we do, our impact and investment, not just that we’re trying to sustain ourselves. To move forward, we have to do a better job of framing our strategy as investment products.”
United Way of North Carolina provides services for local affiliates throughout the state, including protecting the United Way brand, creating opportunities for networking, sharing information and best practices, and handling public policy and advocacy work, Morrison says.
The statewide group also manages United Way’s partnership in 10 states, including North Carolina, with universities and colleges that are members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, and it runs the State Employees Combined Campaign that last year raised nearly $3.9 million.
Overall, local United Way affiliates in the state raised $110 million last year.
Morrison says the biggest challenge for his successor will be to “keep all the United Ways in North Carolina fully engaged and participating in support of the United Way network” in the state and “show impact and value to their investors.”
In his tenure as president, he says, local United Ways in the state have had over 150 CEOs, and most of them have had no previous experience working as United Way staff.
A key part of his job has been “managing relationships with local United Ways,” he says. “They’re our primary customer — for public policy, training, networking and brand protection.”