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June 29, 2014

Davies named United Way executive director

DUNCAN — Tara Davies’ personality and enthusiasm quickly sold the United Way of Stephens County Board during their search for a new executive director.

Davies, who has spent the last six years teaching in Duncan, was selected as the new executive director for the non-profit organization, which provides funding for 16 partner agencies throughout Stephens County. She officially moves into the position Tuesday.

Davies fills the position recently vacated by Lauren Ellis, who was promoted to the executive director of the United Way of Southwest Oklahoma. Ellis’ last day was the Day of Caring in Stephens County, which was a day-long program Davies participated in. Ellis led the last two campaigns to their goals.

“It really felt like she would be a good fit,” Billie Strutton, UW of Stephens County board chairwoman, said.

For the past two years, Davies taught at the Duncan Middle School, working with students as they improved their computer skills. Prior to that, she worked with many of the same students as a fifth-grade teacher at Mark Twain Elementary, a job she did for four years.

Davies said the United Way position felt like the next logical step in her career, which has always revolved around helping others.

“I feel like I can reach more people,” Davies said. “I can help people through those agencies. I’m used to that real quick, fast change.”

On Friday, Strutton gave Davies a tour of the United Way of Stephens County office space. Davies made a promise to begin touring the various agencies in the coming week, although she’s familiar with many of the agencies because of her teaching experience.

Before moving to Duncan, Davies spent six years working with special needs adults and children. Having a son with Asperger’s Syndrome has also made agencies, such as the Power Shop, important to her.

She said she’s been a firm supporter of the United Way and is excited to head up the organization in Stephens County. She said she’s eager to work with the organization’s board.

“I’m really excited about the campaign, being able to work with the follies,” Davies said. “We know the needs that we have, and the community is a great place to work. They say it takes a village. It really does.”

The campaign kicks off with the second annual follies event, which introduces people to the various agencies while serving as the first fundraising event. This year’s follies event will be at Aug. 15 at the Simmons Center, which will provide space for the event to grow.

Although she’s loved teaching in Duncan, Davies said the timing was right for her to move into the position. She said Ellis left the position organized and with big shoes to fill.

But Davies is ready for the challenge.

“It’s OK for me to leave the classroom because I’ll be able to reach more kids,” Davies said. “One goal I have is to let everybody know what volunteer opportunities there are.”

Strutton said Davies represents what the board wanted in an organization leader, standing out from other applicants. She said Davies will continue to grow the organization, as Ellis did during her time.

And like Davies, she is ready to get more people involved in the volunteer aspects of the organization, noting the instrumental role the volunteers have played in previous campaigns.

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