When she begins her new position as CEO of the United Way of Gaston County on Monday, Oct. 15, Linda Slade will bring a unique combination of perspectives with her.

First, having worked for several years as associate director of the Gaston Community Foundation, she already possesses a working knowledge of the powers that be in Gaston County.

But, having spent the past decade working in Boone and Ashe counties, she will also bring an outsider’s eye, one ready to see new opportunities and new methods of working toward success.

“I wanted a challenge,” said Slade of her decision to return to Gastonia. “I like a diverse environment, and a diverse culture. I think the United Way here stands on the cusp of being a powerful agent of change.”

A native of High Point, Slade holds degrees from Wingate College and from Belmont Abbey College. She worked in sales and marketing prior to entering the public sector.

She and her husband, Joe, moved to Gaston County in the early 1980s, rearing their son Andrew and daughter Lindley here.

From the outset, Slade said she and her spouse felt a commitment to giving back to the community, first through work with their church, First United Methodist, and then through volunteer involvement with local organizations.

Slade is perhaps best known for launching the Community Foundation’s Run for the Money, now known as the Community Foundation Run, to commemorate the organization’s 25th anniversary.

Slade left Gastonia in May of 2008 to become executive director of the High Country United Way in Boone. She later left that position to work for the New River Conservancy, a land trust dedicated to preserving the environmental integrity of that historic river.

As she begins her new position, Slade says she foresees the organization focusing on three primary areas — sustainable health, quality education, and financial stability for Gaston County families.

“I see the United Way of Gaston County as being an agent of change,” she said. “The goals will be to grow, to let more people know about the good that we do, and to broaden our base of support.”

To do so, Slade said, will require “bringing younger people into volunteer roles, sitting down and talking with people, and finding a way to better connect with millennials.”

“I want to hit the ground running,” she concluded. “It is in my nature to connect the dots, to bring people together, to make things work.”

 

Bill Poteat may be reached at 704-869-1855.