Duane Johnson is new director of United Way

Duane Johnson is the new director of United Way of Morrison County. He brings a lot of energy as well as 25 years of experience with United Way to the job. Pictured are Johnson, left, and United Way Board Chair Jammi Strunk in United Way’s office space in the historic Morrison County Courthouse.

Duane Johnson is the new director of United Way of Morrison County. He brings a lot of energy as well as 25 years of experience with United Way to the job. Pictured are Johnson, left, and United Way Board Chair Jammi Strunk in United Way’s office space in the historic Morrison County Courthouse.

by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer

United Way of Morrison County has a new director, County Commissioner Duane Johnson. He is simply taking on a different job with United Way, which he has been involved with for 25 years.

“I have been on the board at least two different times and on the allocation committee,” he said.

Johnson’s main focus during the next three months is overseeing the annual fundraising campaign.

“State and county funding has been going down. Donations have also been going down, so I’ll be knocking on a lot of doors,” said Johnson.

There has been no long-term director since Ted Pfohl left the agency in February 2008. A consultant from St. Cloud was hired in 2012 to help with the campaign, but it was time to find a director.

“We’ve had help for the campaign in prior years,” said Board Chair Jammi Strunk. “The Board also did quite a bit of work. It really was time (to hire a director); it made a lot of sense. Duane has been so active. He knew the Board and we were looking for a director; it was a good fit for everyone.”

When the campaign is completed, Johnson will continue to work with reduced hours to network in the community.

“He will be keeping us in the public eye,” Strunk said. “He is someone who is going to continually remind people that it’s important to donate.”

United Way of Morrison County assists 16 non-profit agencies with funding: Caritas Family Services, Employment Enterprises Inc., Rising Star Therapeutic Equitation, Big Brother Big Sisters of Central Minnesota, Boys and Girls Club of Morrison County, Child Protection Team, Habitat for Humanity, Hands of Hope Resource Center, Kinship of Morrison County, Oasis Central Minnesota Inc., the Foster Grandparent Program, Lutheran Social Services Senior Nutrition, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Royalton Community Center, Swanville Senior Center and Morrison County Chaplaincy.

Johnson’s great passion is Imagination Library, a United Way program that is funded separately. Any child whose parent or guardian lives in Morrison County is eligible to receive a book every month until their fifth birthday.

Imagination Library operates as a partnership between Morrison County United Way and the Dollywood Foundation, supporting childhood literacy.

Currently, 1,149 children receive books every month through the program.

“We’re very excited to have consistency with a new director and excited for the outreach,” said Strunk. “Duane will keep our focus and energy going.”

For more information on any aspect of United Way, call (320) 632-5102.

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