Kricket Nicholson

Kricket Nicholson

The United Way of Umatilla and Morrow counties recently announced it will merge with the United Way of Walla Walla and Columbia counties.

The change, which will create the United Way of the Blue Mountains, coincides with the retirement of Kricket Nicholson this summer. Nicholson has been the executive director of the United Way of Umatilla and Morrow Counties for 12 years. Christy Lieuallen, who is the current executive director of United Way of Walla Walla and Columbia Counties, will lead the regional nonprofit.

“We feel confident the time is right,” Nicholson said. “More importantly, Umatilla and Morrow counties will benefit from the continued local presence and focus, with the added capabilities and support that United Way of Walla Walla County brings.”

Lieuallen stressed that local presence in both markets will be a priority. The organization, she said, will continue to seek local stakeholders and community involvement throughout the region, including a new regional board of directors. Merging the two operations benefits the respective communities by streamlining operations, creating efficiencies and reducing duplication of efforts, she said.

“What won’t change are those things that make United Way such a vital resource in our local communities,” she said. “As always, monies raised will be invested within the community where they were donated.”

Nicholson previously worked for The Salvation Army for 10 years, served for more than eight years as executive director of Domestic Violence Services and ran her own business for a couple of years, which included grant writing and consulting.

“I love helping people see their options and supporting them through the process of growth and positive change, so I sort of fell into a career in social services,” she said in a past interview.

The new regional United Way will maintain offices in both Walla Walla and Pendleton. For more information, call Lieuallen at 509-529-1183 or 541-276-2661.

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