After 18 years at the helm of United Way of Elgin, Lynne Bosley will be retiring after an upcoming merger with United Way of Metro Chicago, which she hailed as a positive move.
"The question was, 'Do we want to survive or thrive? We know we can survive, but do we want to grow?'" Bosley said. "For so many reasons, it seemed to make sense."
The Elgin agency was founded in 1924 -- it would have celebrated its 95th anniversary in September -- and serves Elgin, South Elgin, Hampshire, Burlington, Pingree Grove and La Fox. It has two full-time staff members: Bosley and Elissa Kojzarek, director of marketing. The office at 1750 Grandstand Place will remain open through June 30, and the merger will be effective July 1, when United Way of Metro Chicago will assume all responsibilities.
The merger was announced recently, but the idea of merging with another United Way agency -- there are 48 in Illinois -- had been floating internally for five years, Bosley said.
It was all a matter of finding the right partner, and the timing couldn't have been better, Bosley said. "Our lease ends June 30, both Chicago and Elgin on June 30 end their fiscal years, and both of us are wrapping up two-year investments. Everything lined up very, very neatly."
The Elgin agency is about half the size it was 10 years ago -- both in terms of staff and community investment -- and has gradually dipped into reserves, but it is still financially healthy, Bosley said. This year it is disbursing $486,000 to local nonprofits and special initiatives and has a little more than three months' worth of operational reserves, the accepted standard, she said.
The Chicago agency has lots more staff focused on increasing resources and "more capacity to think about innovation," Bosley said. "Because of their size, they have a breath and depth of skills. Elissa and I are good, but it's the two of us," she said.
United Way of Metro Chicago has a six-county footprint and the Elgin area will be absorbed into the agency's north-northwest suburban region, which includes 47 communities. Elgin board members will be given "emeritus" status on the regional board, said Marcia McMahon, chief professional officer for that region.
"We all really felt that joining forces with United Way of Metro Chicago would bring an ability to create a deeper impact within that (Elgin) community," McMahon said. "United Way of Metro Chicago has a fundraising team that can, hopefully, raise more money."
Grant funding in the Elgin area will be extended at current levels through June 2020 and a steering committee including Elgin board members will determine "the best use of donor dollars" moving forward, she said.
The merger will put Elgin Area School District U-46 in a single United Way area, opening up opportunities for new partnerships, Kojzarek added.
Mergers are becoming increasingly common among nonprofits. Elgin's Ecker Center for Mental Health and Renz Addiction Counseling Center merged last year.
Bosley said she will move to Kentucky, where her younger son and his family live. Kojzarek, who's worked for the Elgin agency for 10 years, said she'll get another job.
"As much as I'd like to protect my job and say I love working for the United Way of Elgin," Kojzarek said, "the two of us can't sustain this. United Way of Metro Chicago has so many more resources."