Lethbridge United Way names new executive director

·3 min read

The United Way of Lethbridge and South Western Alberta has named Jaci Zalesak as its newest executive director following Janelle Mariette as she steps down to pursue a PhD at the University of Lethbridge.

Zalesak is a former chair of the board of directors and was selected after a three-week process with the hiring committee. Chosen for her skills and experience, the United Way is excited to welcome Zalesak coming up on its 2022 Community Fundraising Campaign.

“After a thorough interview process, it became clear that Jaci has an excellent combination of skills and experience,” said Krysty Thomas, board chair, in a press release. “These, combined with her previous knowledge of the organization will mean strong leadership into the next campaign season and beyond. On behalf of the board of directors, we look forward to working with her.”

Zalesak anticipates being able look at the organization with fresh perspective.

“I’m excited to take on the position, I’m familiar with the United Way coming from a previous role sitting on the board. I’m excited to transition from having an external point-of-view to an internal one. I look forward to growing the organization,” said Zalesak.

Noting the challenges many organizations have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, Zalesak says the United Way will re-strategize working around ways of reaching organizations and partners along with its fundraisers, while reopening the doors and strategizing new opportunities to continue forward in the coming years.

Choosing to apply for the position, Zalesak says the issues United Way tackles are a passion she is proud to be a part of.

“Non-profits have always had a special place in my heart. Volunteering has been a part of me. The United Way has been a really great part of my life for the last four and a half years. I believe in what it works towards,” said Zalesak. “This opportunity came forward, so I thought I should put my hat in the ring.”

The United Way’s Community Fundraiser will kick off on Sept. 12 with a launching event at City Hall.

“It’s an opportunity for people to donate or be part of a workplace campaign. The Fund is an opportunity for the United Way to raise dollars for various partner agencies applying for the community dollars that are raised. Going towards their programs that fit within our three pillars,” said Zalesak. “The three pillars are poverty to possibility, healthy people, and strong communities that all kids can be a part of.”

The campaign runs from September to December with many opportunities to get involved at lethbridgeunitedway.ca.

The United Way of Lethbridge and South Western Alberta works to identify the causes of the most significant local issues and develop strategies to address them, as well as putting together financial aid and human resources the community needs to improve the life of individuals and families.

“We focus on advocacy to support and help our community in making sure that we have the help. The organization researches on various things that are going on in the community that impact the needs, and that are the most urgent. Working with various support agencies to help us with our purpose,” said Zalesak.

Ryan Clarke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald