New Executive Director of United Way Eager to Move Agency Forward

Roxanna Parker says “rebuilding and refocusing” are priorities

By Myers Reece
Roxanna Parker, the new executive director for Northwest Montana United Way, poses in front of a mural in the Gateway Community Center on Jan. 30. Hunter D'Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Roxanna Parker, the new executive director of Northwest Montana United Way, says she’s eager to help guide the charitable organization out of tumultuous period and strengthen its standing as a fulcrum point of the nonprofit community, while repairing relationships with partner agencies.

“I definitely think I am up to the challenge, and we’re looking forward to rebuilding and refocusing and doing what we can do to help support our other agencies,” Parker said on Jan. 30.

“United Way is uniquely positioned to be a leader in the nonprofit area for the entire community, and I wanted the opportunity to be able to do that and really be able to help other agencies thrive in what they do,” she added. “We really want to be that go-to resource for agencies when they need support, when they need guidance, and act as that nonprofit liaison in the community.”

Parker, whose first day was Jan. 27, will work in a part-time capacity until transitioning into full-time in April. She replaces Sherry Stevens, who resigned in December after 34 years as executive director amid fiscal unrest, allegations of mismanagement by nonprofit leaders and litigation.

Parker brings more than 15 years of varied nonprofit experience to the job, including most recently serving as director of housing initiatives for Compass Health Network in Missouri. After visiting Montana from Missouri over the past several years, she and her family decided to move to the Flathead Valley last year. She saw an advertisement for the United Way opening, and having previously volunteered for the organization and seen its impact in other communities, she jumped at the chance.

“I was very excited about the opportunity to be a part of this,” Parker said.

In a press release, the Northwest Montana United Way board of directors highlighted Parker’s qualifications, citing her “experience in many leadership roles and community projects,” including chief financial officer and director positions. The board said she brings an ideal combination of “passion and commitment to supporting community needs along with her business acumen.”

“Roxanna’s extensive nonprofit leadership background and her experience in fundraising and campaigns align with the United Way’s current needs,” Michele Paine, chairperson of Northwest Montana United Way, said. “The greater United Way community looks forward to new opportunities as we build our vision to help the community’s social service needs.”

Carol Nelson, a board member, said on Jan. 30 that Parker has a “well-rounded” set of skills: “financial, grant-writing, community service, volunteering.”

“She just understands what we want to be for the community,” Nelson said.

Nelson said the organization has been making efforts to reach out to member agencies and improve relationships, and she believes Parker is well-suited to further those efforts.

“I really enjoyed the fact that she was excited about the challenge of bringing us to a new level, and we’re ready for that,” Nelson said. “It’s going to be fun to see this move forward. A new chapter.”

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