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Retiring United Way Chattanooga CEO Eva Dillard, center, talks with Laura McCann, right, and Wayne Collins on Friday at United Way's headquarters in Chattanooga.

Eva Dillard, who has led the United Way of Greater Chattanooga as its first female chief executive and president for 12 years, has announced her intention to retire.

Dillard has worked at the United Way here for 28 years, and she said it has been a privilege to be a part of the organization.

"Working for United Way, one is humbled over the generosity of donors in our region," she said. "Donors invest in United Way to make life better for many who have much less, but also because they believe the United Way mission is an investment in our community's future."

Bill Stacy, chairman of the search committee that is looking for Dillard's successor, said she has done a fabulous job and will be difficult to replace.

Stacy said he is hoping for outstanding applicants, and he said the application process will be open to all applicants and confidential in the initial stages.

"We have the opportunity to have someone apply who lives across the street or across the country," Stacy said.

The job posting for the position says that the United Way "seeks a CEO/President to lead a dynamic and innovative nonprofit organization committed to addressing critical social service issues to build a stronger and healthier community for all."

"The entire board and the community thinks that the United Way has made a positive difference in the region. ... I hope to see that continue under new leadership," Stacy said.

During Dillard's time at the United Way, Stacy said, she was known for the saying, "counting the impact."

"It is important for us to continue to track and count the difference we make in the community even when she leaves us," he said. "Chattanooga has been so good to the United Way, and we want to give them the very best leader to succeed Eva."

Caroline Bentley, director of the de Tocqueville Society for the United Way of Greater Chattanooga, wrote in a letter last year, "Dillard is a whirlwind of activity, a stalwart defender of our supporters' time and money, a tough leader, and a perpetual cheerleader for both Chattanooga and the organizations with which she works and volunteers so generously."

The de Tocqueville Society consists of donors who contribute at least $10,000 annually to the agency.

Dillard referred to Chattanooga as a blessed community and said she is hopeful about the future of the United Way.

"This work is not to be taken lightly, as there are no limits to what can be done," she said.

Contact staff writer Kendi Anderson at or at 423-757-6592.