United Way Executive Director Lori Wagner announces resignation

Times Report
Crookston Times

    United Way of Crookston Executive Director Lori Wagner announced Tuesday she will be resigning from the nonprofit organization effective April 15, 2021 and is ready to move on to the next chapter in her life which includes taking a break to spend time with her family, sister, five grandkids and girlfriends, plus explore politics in some form. Wagner has worked with the United Way for a combined 10+ years, four years currently and previously for six years while operating the United Way, Chamber of Commerce, Crookston Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the Ox Cart Days summer festival under one roof.

    Wagner also totes six years at the Villa St. Vincent (now Benedictine Living Community) as the Foundation Director and 18 years of retail management that she says “laid the groundwork” to help lead successful United Way teams and campaigns over the years.

    “My passion has always been about people and helping them get to the next level in life,” Wagner wrote in her resignation letter. “Whether it was through showing individuals how to ‘dress for success (my retail connection), helping our seniors have a better quality of life (Villa St. Vincent), having a huge community party every year (Ox Cart Days), bringing people to our community to get ‘heads on beds’ for all kinds of events through blanket marketing (Convention & Visitors Bureau), advocating for every business in our community (Chamber of Commerce), and living the mission of United Way - The mission of the United Way of Crookston is to improve the quality of life of Crookston area people by gathering and distributing in an efficient manner, community resources that respond to priority health and human service needs.”

    Wagner said the reason she returned to the United Way for a second time was for what they stood for.

    “We fight as a community; we win as a community and we LIVE UNITED AS A COMMUNITY!” she wrote. “Over the years, it has been very rewarding to see what donor dollars can do to impact one person’s life as well as thousands of other individuals. So you, the donors, are the everyday heroes.”

    Wagner told the Times that she’s learned more in the last year because of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “It was challenging because I couldn’t do my face-to-face and talk to the businesses,” she explained. “We did our campaign video for the businesses and not being able to see them in person was probably the hardest thing for me because that’s the part I love.”

    “It was probably the hardest, but the best year of learning for me,” Wagner added.

    Wagner says there have been many “wins” over the last several years during her tenure with United Way including:

    • Exceeding their campaign goal by 6-8% every year

    • Coming in under budget annually

    • Awarding $22,000 in grants from 2019-2020

    • Increased total donation dollars of every annual event

    • Stewarded of every penny donated to United Way

    “But most importantly, my team and I have had a blast doing it!”

    Wagner also offered notes of thanks:

    “First off, I would like to thank our agencies and their strong programs and projects that make our community great. Secondly, I have the best United Way board of directors, administrative assistant (Becky Cymbaluk), committees, and donor base that one could ask for,” she wrote. “I see nothing but success for our United Way moving forward. I will be here to help with a smooth transition. I am excited for the lucky individual that takes this position.”

    Wagner ended her letter asking the community to help her achieve her last campaign goal of 100% before she leaves.

    “We are currently at 97% and to achieve the 100% we are looking for $4,900 more,” she wrote. “Will you help us achieve this goal? If so, please contact me at 218-281-1715, email lori@unitedwayofcrookston.org or drop off donations to the Valley Technology Park at 510 County Road 71 - Crookston, MN 56716.”

    “Thank you, Crookston, for always believing in me.”

Lori Wagner