Newly picked Berkshire United Way CEO Winkler called 'a great fit'

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PITTSFIELD — Berkshire United Way has reached out to the West Coast to find a successor to outgoing president and CEO Kristine Hazzard.

Candace Winkler, who served as president and CEO of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, Calif., has been chosen to succeed Hazzard after a nationwide search by the United Way's search committee that began at the end of last year.

Winkler, who also has led a statewide community foundation and a regional nonprofit organization, both in Alaska, will work with Hazzard for a month after arriving in the Berkshires. She will assume the position on a full-time solo basis July 1, which is the beginning of the new fiscal year.

Hazzard had announced in December that she planned to step down. She said she will remain in an advisory role for as long as Winkler needs her.

Board member Pat Callahan, who headed the search committee, said Winkler had the credentials the committee was looking for.

"We were looking for someone who had a passion for the health of communities and who we thought could really get to know and support the many agencies that work so hard in the county," said Callahan, who has extensive experience as a recruiter, having served as a former human resources executive at Wells Fargo.

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"We also wanted someone who we thought could have the vision for who the Berkshire United Way could be in the future and who could support the board and staff as we evolve," she said. "When we met Candace, it just seemed like a great fit. Her experience and energy were in line with what we felt we needed."

Berkshire United Way, founded in 1924, raises money to support organizations that promote literacy, wellness and other needs across the community. During Hazzard's tenure as United Way's CEO, which began in July 2008, the agency invested $28 million into the community, including $2.09 million in 2017.

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In a prepared release, Winkler said she always has partnered with United Ways in her previous professional positions, and has supported the national United Way's shift to a "community impact model," which requires funded partners to closely track their organizational goals and targets and how well they meet them over time.

"What attracted me to this particular United Way is that they are tying the first early education and youth development to economic stability later on," Winkler said in a statement. "The most effective way to build a community rich in economic opportunity is by investing in those early years."

Winkler, a native of South Carolina, became president and CEO of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara in July 2015 and served in that position until January 2018. She most recently served as a senior consultant for a firm in Alaska that provides businesses, governmental agencies and nonprofits with strategic planning, facilitation and policy development services.

During Winkler's tenure in California, the Scholarship Foundation's portfolio grew more than 10 percent, to $50 million, and the organization launched a new website that included Spanish-language content. In May 2018, the Scholarship Foundation awarded more than $8.3 million in scholarship money to 2,620 students, according to its website.

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The Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, founded in 1962, is the nation's largest community-based provider of college scholarships. The nonprofit also provides free financial aid advising services.

Before heading the Scholarship Fund, Winkler served five years as president and CEO of the Alaska Community Foundation in Anchorage, Alaska, a statewide organization that encourages and provides philanthropy by building and managing permanent endowments, convening stakeholders and working with partners to strengthen the state's communities.

She also served as CEO of Thread, Alaska's Child Care Resource and Referral Network, for eight years. In 2002, Winkler was named to Alaska's "Top 40 Under 40" list by the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. In 2004, she was nationally recognized as an emerging leader in early education by the Children's Defense Fund.

Winkler holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Vanderbilt University, and master's degrees in public administration and social work from Columbia University.

"Candace comes to Berkshire United Way with deep experience in and commitment to the early childhood field, an area that Berkshire United Way has been proud to invest in," Hazzard said in a statement. "As a social worker like me, Candace is deeply committed to the community, and understands the importance of partnerships."


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