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Wendy Reuer, Published December 28 2010

11 to Watch in 2011: United Way veteran returns to area to lead local chapter

Melinda Haun was already a successful United Way leader, first in Cass and Clay counties and later in Chippewa Falls, Wis., where she served as president for 16 years.

But when she had to choose between two United Way job openings, she decided to return to the Red River Valley and United Way of Cass Clay.

Haun became the president of United Way of Cass Clay in June. She was the local United Way’s vice president and director of community resources for nearly 10 years before leaving for Chippewa Falls in 1993.

Haun said the community spirit, philanthropy and leadership were a few of the things that drew her back to the area.

As one of The Forum’s people to watch in 2011, Haun plans to parlay that community spirit of giving and helping others into ensuring the continued success of United Way’s many programs.

One of her top goals in 2011 will be to update the United Way’s strategic plan, which was last updated in 2006.

“We’ll be looking at our overall direction for the organization,” Haun said. “It will be helpful for me as I lead this organization to have a clear direction.”

The local United Way raised $5 million in 2009 to set a fundraising record. The agency expects to duplicate that feat in 2010. The funding will go toward programs such as Success by 6, an early childhood education and development program; the 35 under 35 women’s leadership program; and support for Hospice of the Red River Valley and other programs.

Haun said a focus for United Way in 2011 is a graduation rates initiative called Progress and Milestones.

“Our organization made a commitment to focus on on-time graduation skills for students,” she said. “We felt we needed to ensure every student in high school could graduate on time.”

Haun said United Way constituents, board members, community leaders and partners will work together in 2011 to meet the agency’s goals.

She said she has a commitment as United Way’s leader to make sure all of those constituents are in the loop with open and detailed communication as she moves forward.

“Honestly, at the end of the day, it is through our collective work that we’ve made an impact on people’s lives,” Haun said.

Haun, who earned a master’s degree from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul after graduating from Minnesota State University Moorhead, will continue to be involved with leadership programs outside of United Way along with United Way Worldwide.

She is a member of an elite fellowship: only 25 United Way CEO’s were selected as Anne E. Casey Foundation members. As a foundation member, Haun meets regularly with CEOs from across the country to enhance leadership and mentoring skills.

About this series

The Forum is featuring area people to watch in 2011. We expect these people will make news in the coming year.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530