United Way names Matt Holland as new executive director

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 December 2022 at 2:38 pm

Holland served agency as grant writer, securing $600K for many organizations

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Matt Holland, left, meets with United Way board chairman Jim Punch after Holland was named the new director of United Way of Orleans County.

MEDINA – United Way of Orleans County will start the new year with a new director.

United Way’s board chairman Jim Punch this week announced the hiring of Matt Holland to replace Dean Bellack, who has stepped down after three years in the director’s role.

Holland, the grant writer hired a year and a half ago by United Way, will continue to work with Nyla Gaylord, who will take over as grant writer.

“Dean took United Way to a new level, in terms of securing funding for the county,” Punch said Friday. “We feel Matt is a great choice to fill Dean’s shoes, because of his knowledge of grants, as well as his personality. He will make a great face in the community. He has proven himself to be a knowledgeable, capable and dedicated employee, and we’re looking forward to his leadership role. We also believe Matt and Nyla will make a dynamic team with her knowledge of charitable organizations and how they operate.”

Bellack announced in October he would be stepping down as director, at which time the United Way board began the search for a new director. Three individuals were interviewed for the position, with Holland being the final choice. Bellack will remain involved in United Way as a member of the board.

Bellack pushed to create the grant writer position after realizing there was money available for nonprofits through many foundations. Gaylord wrote the grant application that resulted in the funding to hire Holland as grant writer.

Holland grew up in rural Oregon, “timber country,” he calls it. He attended the University of Oregon, where he earned a bachelor of arts in history. A Fulbright Scholar, he lived in Denmark to two years, then came to Buffalo in 2012 to study anthropology, where he met his wife Catherine from Hamburg. They both received master’s degrees in anthropology.

Holland returned to Oregon, where he directed a small history museum and served as an archaeological field crew for several years. His nonprofit experience has mostly been in the museum education and historic preservation fields, he said.

Holland and Catherine married in 2017. She is currently the wine tasting room/retail manager for Leonard Oakes Estate Winery. They moved to Medina in 2021 when he accepted the position as grant writer for United Way.

Holland’s personal efforts in his first year as grant writer brought in $600,000.

“This is an exciting time for the United Way’s future in Orleans County,” Holland said. “We are moving in new directions while strengthening our traditional fundraising efforts. I am specifically looking forward to carry on our collaborative work with other agencies in the county. Finding solutions to the county’s biggest issues requires all of us working together as a community. In my first year working for United Way, I got to work with a lot of wonderful, hard-working people and organizations doing great things, and we’ll continue to do this work together.”

In the coming years, Holland said United Way plans to continue to expand fundraising efforts, directly benefitting our allocations program, which provides funding for local nonprofit agencies and their programs.

“We will also keep forging ahead with our grant writing and fundraising capacity program, funded by the Greater Rochester Health Foundation,” Holland said. “We’ve had a great success but, as always, there is even more to be done. I am very much looking forward to continuing to work with Nyla, now our Community Grant Writer. She has a tremendous amount of skill and knowledge of nonprofits.”

In all, since Holland and Gaylord have worked for United Way, more than $1 million in grants has been received by the county.

“I am very excited about the future of United Way,” Holland said. “There is a lot of work to be done, but we are all going to do it together to find solutions.”