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Bax to step down from United Way

by Joe Gamm | February 24, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Ann Bax (News Tribune file photo)

Ann Bax announced Thursday she is stepping down as president of the United Way of Central Missouri, which she has helmed for 13 years.

She will work with the nonprofit as it begins the process of selecting a new leader.

Bax took over in April 2010 following the retirement of Linda McAnany, who served for nine years.

From the beginning of her tenure, Bax has held that Jefferson City is her home, and she wished it to remain a great place to raise her children and grandchildren.

And, like McAnany before her, Bax expects to continue supporting the nonprofit when time allows.

When Bax took the lead of the nonprofit, it served 25 partner agencies in Cole, Miller, Moniteau, Osage and southern Callaway counties.

Under her leadership, it has expanded to now include 28 partner agencies and initiatives and added Camden, Maries, Morgan and Phelps counties. New partner agencies include Capital City Court Appointed Special Advocates and Central Missouri Foster Care & Adoption Association. A new initiative is the United Way Early Childhood Initiative.

"Thanks to Ann's vision and constant efforts to bring on positive change, the United Way drastically increased their services to our community during her stewardship," Sharon Campbell, board chair of the United Way, said in a news release. "She brought on two new partner agencies ... to the United Way, and continued to expand the Community Support Grants, awarding over $2.8 million to 60-plus health and human service agencies. Her leadership expanded both the reach and the effectiveness of our community's donations."

The United Way had a goal of raising (and reached) $1.62 million during Bax's first year.

During the next few years, the United Way met or exceeded its goals, which grew incrementally larger.

But during the past six years, the organization has improved fundraising by more than $100,000 annually, setting records each year, including in 2022, when the organization received pledges of $2.53 million, surpassing its goal by $200,000.

In 2015, the United Way was challenged to distribute more than one million additional pounds of food annually to close the hunger gap in Cole County. The United Way, its foundation and the Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri teamed up to purchase a mobile food pantry, which distributes food in seven Cole County locations monthly.

A series of crises struck Central Missouri beginning in 2019 -- including a tornado that tore through parts of Miller and Cole counties (and ripped a path of destruction through Jefferson City), the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn that followed.

But the United Way and the community stepped up each time. After the tornado, the United Way acted as a clearinghouse for more than $1 million in donations of material items and cash -- and collected more than $350,000 for long-term disaster relief.

During the pandemic, the organization managed donations placed into accounts intended to assist health care workers and food service workers.

It created grants to assist agencies who needed help staying afloat.

It offered grants to help agencies meet COVID-19 guidelines.

"It has been an honor to serve my community through the United Way," Bax said in the release. "It has been a career that I consider a privilege, honor and blessing to have experienced. I am also very excited about the organization's future. It is governed by the strongest of community leaders, and we partner with incredibly dedicated, passionate agency leaders, all of whom work tirelessly to improve the lives of those who need us in our community."

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