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June 17, 2024

In southern Maine, longtime United Way leader to step down

After 10 years at the helm of United Way of Southern Maine, LIz Cotter Schlax has announced plans to step down as president and CEO in January 2025.

Liz Cotter Shlax
Photo / Courtesy, United Way of Southern Maine
Liz Cotter Schlax

"It is the privilege and honor of my career to serve our community through United Way," said Cotter Schlax, who was honored as a Mainebiz Woman to Watch in 2019.

“I am incredibly optimistic about the organization's future,” she added. “It is governed by the strongest board of directors; our staff is incredibly capable and dedicated; and we partner every day with inspiring, passionate donors, volunteers and community leaders, all of whom work tirelessly to improve the lives of all people across Southern Maine."

Asked about her own future, Cotter Schlax told Mainebiz, "I really have no plans whatsoever after January. I want to be fully present in my current role until I leave, and then I will think about what comes next."

She also said that she and her family plan to stay put in the community.

"What I hope is that I’m able to find something equally fun, interesting, challenging and rewarding," she said. "I have many years to go in my career ... so I’m going to try to be really thoughtful about it."

'Legacy of caring and trust'

Cotter Schlax, who was born in Oyster Bay, N.Y., and grew up in Waterville, is credited for her leadership on United Way's Thrive2027 long-range strategic plan, overseeing various giving initiatives, providing donors with hands-on engagement opportunities, and establishing special purpose funds to address urgent needs.

In 2021, she helped steer the merger of United Way of Greater Portland and United Way of York County.

“Liz is leaving United Way in a strong position, and our next CEO will build on that legacy of caring and trust,” said Todd Cesca, a partner with Charter Oak Capital Management and outgoing board chair at United Way of Southern Maine.

His successor, MEMIC President and CEO Michael Bourque, said, "We appreciate Liz for giving the board a generous notice period. This gives us time to conduct our search for a new CEO and to accomplish a seamless transition.”

A Portland recruiting firm, ProSearch, is leading the search for Cotter Schlax's successor.

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