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Sunnyside's Promise seeks executive director

Within a month or so, the Sunnyside's Promise board hopes to have in place a full-time executive director to oversee the program.

At the same time the non-profit agency will still have in place its long-time director, Lisa Fairbairn, who will serve as a part-time administrative assistant to the new executive director.

That's according to Nate Bridges, chair of the Sunnyside's Promise board, who said it's important for Fairbairn to continue with the agency.

"She will be an assistant to the executive director, the glue that keeps us together," said Bridges.

The executive director position will be brand new to Sunnyside's Promise.

The hiring comes at a time of change and progress for the agency as it steers forward a gang reduction initiative while at the same time adding more board members and updating its bylaws.

Bridges said the executive director will have to be a person of many talents. He compared the role to that of a city manager - only in this case guiding the efforts of a non-profit.

The right person for the job, says Bridges, "is somebody who can go out and make working relationships with every organization." He added, "It has to be a multifaceted person, who can go out and get everybody to buy into the whole program."

At the same time, the executive director will be responsible for making sure each of the agencies that partner with Sunnyside's Promise fulfill their responsibilities. "We need to hold them accountable for their services," he said.

The person selected for the executive director position will also have to be something of a politician in coordinating efforts with leaders of other public agencies.

"It's going to take someone who can deal with a lot of personalities, a lot of egos," said Bridges.

Besides the gang reduction initiative, other priorities facing the new executive director will be fulfilling all five of the promises that Sunnyside's Promise is committed to, as well as reducing drug and alcohol use among youths and continuing programs to encourage children to read.

"We're not leaving any kids behind," said Bridges. "We're going to keep them active. We're going to reduce gangs by taking away their supply of kids."

All of that while leading the charge in fundraising and in filling in gaps of service to the Sunnyside community.

Speaking of funds, Bridges says Sunnyside's Promise has $45,000 in seed money towards funding the executive director position. He says it's probably going to take at least twice that amount to provide salary and benefits.

The seed money is from $15,000 that the city, the school district and Sunnyside Community Hospital each gave this year to Sunnyside's Promise.

Bridges said there is a possibility each of the three entities will come up with more funds. In addition, other entities have said they may have additional funds to help cover the costs of an executive director.

"The money might come from 15 different sources," Bridges said of the potential for a combination of public and private sources. "My personal goal is to make it so that Sunnyside's Promise isn't just another government funded program. We want to make is so we're not cutting into everybody's pie of grant money."

In terms of grants, Sunnyside's Promise is pursuing its own grant funding to make the executive director position a permanent role.

Bridges said the Sunnyside's Promise board hopes to have its executive director by June 30.

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