DIXON – The United Way of Lee County’s executive director is stepping down at the end of next month after about 3 1/2 years on the job.
Executive Director Jenny Koch gave her 6-week notice to the board and is leaving to pursue other avenues.
“I love what I do, and I love this community and all of our amazing volunteers, but it was just time for me to move on to something different,” she said Thursday. “My heart is still here and always will be.”
Koch was a United Way volunteer from 1999 to 2009, then a campaign co-chairwoman, a board member, and board treasurer before taking up the reins of the organization in 2014, replacing director Susan Hohlen who died of cancer that year.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of working with the agency and all of the people who have put their heart and soul into the community,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed witnessing that on a daily basis, and I’m proud of our community.”
Koch plans to stay on as a volunteer after her replacement is named, and the search for a new director will start in the next week or so.
“I have no intention of leaving them high and dry,” she said. “I want the transition to be as smooth as possible.”
Some of the highlights during her tenure were creating new programs and events such as the Serving Up Summer youth lunch program, the Run for the Way 5K, the community volunteer Day of Caring, the Girlfriend Gala, and motivational T-shirt fundraisers.
The organization’s annual fundraising campaign is up to $398,000, reaching 96 percent of its $415,000 goal. The campaign has raised nearly $2.5 million in the past 6 years.
Koch also was dedicated to promoting the importance of United Way as a local organization benefiting more than 2 dozen agencies and put a great deal of effort into getting the word out on social media.
The 41-year-old plans to open an online shop, “j boutique,” next week and hopes to eventually bring the business to a brick-and-mortar location.
She’s a CPA and was manager for 16 years at the accounting firm Wipfli before leading the United Way and might return working there during tax season.
Koch graduated from Dixon High School in 1994 and Sauk Valley College in 1996, and she earned a bachelor’s degree in accountancy from Northern Illinois University in 1998.
She lives in Dixon with her husband, Gary, and they have two daughters, Karly and Kacey.
Donations can be made online at unitedwayofleecounty.org or mailed to United Way of Lee County, P.O. Box 382, Dixon, 61021.
Call 815-284-3339, go to the website or find the organization on Facebook for more information.