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Demaret to be River City United Way's CEO

Lyn Demaret

KINGMAN - River Cities United Way has named employee Lyn Demaret as its new president and chief executive officer.

Demaret, 40, will fill the seat July 1. She replaces current president and chief executive officer Gene Apedaile, who is retiring at the end of June after five years with the agency.

"I'm very passionate about the many services provided by our United Way," said Demaret. "I love the work, the staff, the volunteers and the donors. It's all very positive. We are taking people in need of something and helping them find a connection to it. I get up every day energized because we're doing great things for our communities.

"How can I not get excited about that?"

Demaret, who lives in Lake Havasu City, was hired by the organization in June 2005 as an administrative assistant and became office manager in February 2006. She was named director of finance in June 2008 and promoted to vice president of finance and administration in July 2009.

Demaret is a graduate of Arizona State University and has furthered her community education with the Lake Havasu Area Chamber of Commerce Leadership Development courses.

"Lyn has been with United Way for eight years and is very knowledgeable about the organization, its systems and practices," said Lorraine Lemming, who chairs the organization's board. "I am impressed with Lyn's professionalism and passion for the job she does and I know she will bring her passion and skills to her new position."

Lemming said the board formed a search committee early this year and received more than 65 applications from across the nation. Lemming said the search committee chose 10 applicants to interview by telephone and narrowed that list to three candidates for in-person interviews.

They included a series of questions about experience with non-profit organizations, leadership, skills, networking and fundraising. Lemming said Demaret quickly emerged as the top choice.

River Cities United Way has seen several changes over the past five years, with Apedaile leading the way.

The first year of his term, the agency brought in $500,000, which was more than it had ever raised. This year, the organization has raised $560,000 of its $605,000 goal, and Apedaile expects to have the remainder by the end of June.

Also, 2009 saw a consolidation of several agencies into the River Cities United Way.

Another success for the organization is a decrease in fundraising and administrative costs, which were 18.5 percent in 2005 and climbed to 23 percent during the consolidation. Through belt-tightening efforts over the past several years, the agency's fundraising and administrative costs have fallen to 6.2 percent.

Demaret said she plans to build on Apedaile's efforts and create her own goals, especially when it comes to name recognition.

When she speaks to employees of area companies about allowing check deductions for the agency, she said, she is surprised to discover they know little about what River Cities United Way.

Demaret wants to change that.

"I want us to be the central hub for community programs and for people to come to us when they need help," said Demaret. "I think that could happen in the next few years. But right now, I don't think the public knows enough about how we raise money and put it back into our communities.

"We need to rally our volunteers to speak for us. They already have the passion, but they need to know more about us so they can tell others. I want River Cities United Way to be the first thing people think of when they're looking for assistance."

River Cities United Way has offices in Lake Havasu City, Bullhead City and Kingman. The organization is composed of 30 partner agencies providing 65 programs in the three cities, Mohave and La Paz counties and all the small towns along the Colorado River.

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