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Robert Gorman began United Way post Monday


Robert D. Gorman isn’t coming into the United Way of Northern New York to try to reinvent the wheel.

The well-oiled machine, he said, ran smoothly under the direction of Jayn M. Graves, but he and some others hope his media background will help increase awareness of the nonprofit agency.

“There’s a number of companies in town who’ve never supported the United Way,” he said.

He said he hopes to change that after going through a binder that is a couple of inches thick, full of the names of people who have contributed to the United Way’s annual campaign. Those who aren’t on that list may get a visit from Mr. Gorman.

The former managing editor of the Watertown Daily Times said while he would love to spend a few months getting acclimated to the agency and its partners, he instead is already helping to plan campaign kickoff events in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. He retired from the Times June 14, and his first official day at the United Way was Monday.

He had spent the past 39 years in a journalism career, 19 of them at the Times. Mr. Gorman said he considered the United Way position late last year after he helped some family members through health issues, and considered taking on more responsibilities at First Presbyterian Church that could require travel.

He also is a Rotarian and chairman of the Thompson Park Conservancy and was formerly on the Hospice Foundation and Center for Community Studies boards of directors.

Mr. Gorman, 62, said he first considered the United Way’s chief executive officer position in December. Before his recent appointment, he had been a United Way supporter locally and in South Carolina, where he made a video in the mid-1980s in support of raising funds.

He said his understanding of the United Way was that it raises a lot of money and then divides those funds among several agencies. That has led to agencies assuring the United Way that they are accountable, transparent and sustainable, he said.

United Way Board President Jane V. Schmitt said board members “feel certain that Bob will take the United Way to the next level.”

“The board of directors have every confidence in Bob and are certain that his enthusiasm, his passion and his ability to build strong relationships will be the perfect blend to lead the United Way into the future,” she said. “Bob has already been planning and making contacts, and we feel certain that he will take the United Way to the next level. Jayn Graves has left the organization in very good shape and she has shared a lot of her knowledge with Bob so that he will have a seamless transition.”

Mr. Gorman said the United Way will continue to try to fund programs “that keep people from falling below the poverty line because it’s so hard to get back up.”

He said if companies would like to contribute but are unsure of how to raise funds, they can call the United Way at 788-5631 for ideas.

Mr. Gorman resides in Watertown with his wife, Patricia, and has two grown sons.

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