UWCT Announces Executive Leadership Staff Changes

James Thurston Departs to Join United Way State Association, Stephanie O’Banion Promoted to Chief Executive Officer; Bahia Nightengale Joins as Vice President of Community Impact 

Temple, Texas- May 23, 2016
- Drayton McLane III, the chairman of the United Way of Central Texas Board of Directors, announced today that United Way of Central Texas’ current Vice President of Resource Development, Stephanie O’Banion, will succeed the departing James Thurston as Chief Executive Officer.  Thurston will join the United Ways of Texas as the Director of Public Policy and Community Engagement.  Former City of Temple Community Development manager, Bahia Nightengale, will join the United Way of Central Texas as Vice President of Community Impact. 

“Having served for the past year as Vice President of Resource Development, Stephanie is already in the thick of the United Way’s many initiatives and has detailed knowledge of the organization,” said McLane.  “Her leadership and experience—including as a current staff leader, past United Way board member, as well as serving as the past President/ CEO of the Belton Chamber of Commerce—will be invaluable in advancing the United Way’s Community Impact priorities and keeping the organization on our same growth trajectory.” 

In her new role as Chief Executive Officer, O’Banion will assume UWCT’s administrative tasks, while still overseeing the effective management of annual fundraising campaign and other resource development activities.  The Board of Directors formally voted to install O’Banion as the incoming Chief Executive Officer in May.    

A new role has been created to facilitate the organization’s continued transition to a Community Impact business model.  Bahia Nightengale will join the United Way team from the City of Temple’s Community Development office to serve as the Vice President of Community Impact.  In this role, Bahia will lead UWCT’s community impact and investment programs, working closely with the entire UWCT team and community partners. She will collaborate closely will policy leaders, service providers, funding partners, school districts, health systems, local governments, community advocates, and residents to promote improved outcomes for UWCT-funded programs and to assess and evaluate community needs.

Prior to joining United Way, Nightengale served in a volunteer capacity as a team lead on the United Way Citizens Review Committee, recommending investment strategies to the Board of Directors through the grant allocations process.  She also has played a key role in the City of Temple's grant allocations process, where she helped established a strong partnership between the City of Temple and UWCT to enhance financial stability strategies, which are funded in part by the City of Temple.

It was critical that we find someone uniquely qualified and passionate to carry the vision and strategy we have established forward and it is my pleasure to welcome Bahia as our new Vice President of Community Impact,” O’Banion said.  “Bahia’s role will be to engage the community to increase investment and support of evidence-based, economically-sustainable and socially-responsive community programs that can adapt and thrive to meet the growing needs of our region.”   

Outgoing UWCT Chief Executive Officer, James Thurston, will start a new role in June as the Director of Public Policy and Community Engagement with the United Ways of Texas, the state membership organization of United Ways.  In this role, Thurston will be responsible for development and implementation of the United Way state policy agenda.  In addition, Thurston will assist communities in policy implementation at the local level, in training and engagement of volunteers and boards in advocacy work and in building capacity of local United Ways to address community needs through public policy.  

“I’m very thankful to the UWCT Board of Directors for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this United Way and for welcoming my family and me with such open arms,” Thurston said.  “I’m very proud of what we have built here over the course of the past three years and it’s critically important to me to help facilitate a seamless staff transition that will keep driving our Community Impact model forward.  Even though I will be transitioning to a new role within the Texas United Way network, I look forward to the opportunity to continuing to support and work with the great team that is now in place here at the United Way of Central Texas.”

The official date for staff transitions is June 15, 2016. For more information, please call the United Way of Central Texas office at 254-778-8616.