Rutland Herald – United Way chooses new leader
Written by Keith Whitcomb Jr and originally posted in The Rutland Herald on February 15th, 2021.
The United Way of Rutland County has found its new executive director, who will be taking the reins in March.
Ashley Bride is currently the executive director of Fair Haven Concerned, an organization with its genesis in church groups banding together in the late 1970s and early 1980s to help people who couldn’t afford home heating fuel. Bride, an area native, has been its executive director for the past eight years and is looking forward to her new role.
Bride said Monday her first day at United Way will be March 22.
She’s taking over for Caprice Hover, who has a long history in the area of starting nonprofits aimed at ending poverty.
Bride said that after graduating from Fair Haven Union High School, she made the conscious decision to stay in the area and help people, attending Castleton University for a degree in social work. She’d initially wanted a career in criminal justice, but found social work a better fit.
“Fundraising is not just about necessarily chasing the dollar, it’s about knowing why you’re raising the funds and how you can educate your community so that they understand why the funds are so important,” she said, adding that she’s looking forward to meeting with and learning more about all the agencies United Way serves.
Today, Fair Haven Concerned’s mission is to see that people have food, shelter, and clothing. At United Way, Bride said, she’ll be in a position where she can identify other needs in the communities and offer help. Fair Haven Concerned has been one of United Way’s grantees in the past, and Bride likes how flexible it can be.
One thing she’d like to do is bring Women United to Rutland county. It’s a collection of programs under the United Way aimed at boosting the profiles of young women, connecting them with the knowledge needed to start a business or get an education.
“That’s something I’m extremely passionate about,” she said. “I think young women need to see more women in roles of leadership and I’m excited to talk more about that with our community and embrace it.”
For her part, Hover offered high praise for her successor. “I have known Ashley through our work in human services for about 10 years,” said Hover on Monday. “She is very passionate and compassionate. She has grown and reached in everything, and has been a fabulous executive director for Fair Haven Concerned. I think her energy and her skill set is exactly what United Way needs.”
Hover announced in November that she is leaving Vermont for Clearwater, Florida, but offered to remain in the area until a new leader for the local United Way was chosen. She also offered to stick around and help ease the newcomer into their role.
Hover said she’s had enough of Vermont’s winters and wants to be somewhere warm.
Hover said the United Way Board of Directors wanted someone with knowledge of and appreciation for the local community.
“We had a lot of applicants, but we narrowed it down to a handful that really fit those bills and Ashley’s energy and her knowledge of the community is what brought her over the top,” said Hover.
Brian Kerns, president of the United Way of Rutland County Board of Directors, said Monday that about 15 people applied for the job, which was advertised in December.
“Ashley just knocked it out of the park from beginning to end,” he said.
Bride had joined the board in 2020, according to Kerns, so the organization knew her from that as well as her work at Fair Haven United. Her experience will make her a good fit, he said, and the new role will challenge her and let her grow as well.
“She’s got emotional intelligence that’s just off the charts, so that’s a big thing for me as well,” said Kerns.