CCUW names new executive director

Stephanie Melchert, third from left, was named executive director of the Cooke County United Way effective Monday, Oct. 28. She’s pictured here with fellow Power of the Purse committee members Cheryl Gomez, left, Tara Zielinski and Jenny Mouton, right, at the Oct. 17 fundraiser.

Cooke County United Way has hired a new executive director, the organization’s board of directors announced this week.

Stephanie Melchert began in the role Monday, Oct. 28, according to a statement from CCUW’s board posted to the organization’s Facebook page Wednesday evening, Oct. 30. The announcement comes months after the board had said it was eliminating the role of the executive director because of financial difficulties.

Melchert joined the organization less than two weeks ahead of the United Way’s celebration luncheon concluding its annual fundraising campaign. The luncheon is scheduled for 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Gainesville Civic Center, 311 S. Weaver St. Tickets are $10 and are available online at

The new executive director had recently started volunteering with Cooke County United Way but also has more than two decades of experience in the nonprofit sector, according to the board’s statement.

Melchert’s LinkedIn profile shows she was executive director of Victory Therapy Center in Roanoke from 2015-2019 and before that had worked in various marketing and executive positions since about 2004.

She graduated from Iowa State University, according to the board’s statement, and recently moved to Cooke County. She said in the board statement that she’s “very excited” to join Cooke County United Way.

United Way’s board had restructured the organization in January 2019 due to financial hurdles. Former Executive Director Marlene Phillips voluntarily resigned at that time after about seven months in the position, in order to save the agency the expense of a third paid staff member, the Register previously reported. She remained on the volunteer board of directors and still serves in that role, CCUW administrator Nadine Creswell confirmed Thursday, Oct. 31.

The organization will host a welcome reception for Melchert from 4-6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, at the Cooke County United Way offices, 114 E. Main St. in Gainesville.

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