New Executive Director

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Savannah Lyon new executive director Kearney Hub

Savannah lyon named new ED

KEARNEY – Savannah Lyon, former development director at Compass, has been named the new executive director of the United Way of the Kearney Area.

She began the job Jan. 16.

“My heart is so full,” she said. “I love being able to connect with people in the community who are passionate about serving others. I love working with partner agencies who are really meeting some of the needs of people in Kearney who are struggling.”

Savannah Lyon spent 10 years as development director of Compass. She then worked from home for Living Stone Global, a nonprofit that serves people in Kenya. She worked with a school there, and with a group involved with victims of domestic violence.

“In general, it was a community that gathered around the dumps there to make their living,” she said.

But she soon realized that “working at home wasn’t my cup of tea. I really missed being in the community and being involved with things that are going on, and seeing people,” she said.

A Kearney native, she earned her master’s degree in business administration from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and has certifications in grant writing and nonprofit management.

She called her new position “a privilege,” adding that she is “thrilled to have the opportunity to build on a solid foundation to impact more people and make a real difference for those in need.”

Jerry Hultgren, UWKA board president, said, “Her passion for helping others was very clear. She was instrumental in developing the Compass development program. She’s familiar with the Kearney area, she has relationships here and she has a positive personality. She’ll be instrumental in the growth of the United Way in the future.”

She is leaping headfirst into the ongoing UWKA campaign, which began Oct. 8 and runs through March. Its goal is $430,000.

From 5-8 p.m. Tuesday, Savannah Lyon will head a Dining Out event, a staple of the campaign. She will be at Cunningham’s Journal on the Bricks at 23 W. 23rd St. An identical event at Cunningham’s Journal on the Lake at 610 Talmadge St. will be chaired by Nikki Erickson, a former UWKA executive director. At both events, a team of volunteers gathered by the event chair assists servers. All tips are donated to United Way.

“I just dove in and started working. I’m getting things going and making progress with the campaign so we have a great outcome for our partner agencies,” Lyon said.

UWKA has had four executive directors in the last five years. In 2018, Erickson replaced Eileen Dakan, who left the nonprofit after 17 months. Erickson resigned in December 2021. Van Hoek started June 3, 2022, but abruptly left in November.

United Way, located at 4009 Sixth Ave., has been in Kearney for 58 years. Its campaign supports 21 partner agencies involved with health, finance and education in Buffalo, Custer, Franklin, Harlan, Kearney and Phelps counties. The campaign sponsor this year is Allo Fiber.

In the past four years, UWKA annual campaigns have each raised more than $400,000 annually.

This article appeared in the Kearney Hub on Feb. 2, 2023.