When the Crow Wing County United Way Board conducted its final interview with the organization's new executive director it was in the dark -- literally.
Heidi Funk's final board review was during Brainerd's 25-hour power outage that came on the heels of last week's tornado. The board interviewed the rural Brainerd woman at the organization's Kingwood Street offices in Brainerd without benefit of electricity. Her first day on the job was Friday.
The timing of her hiring meant that she had to jump into a sizable relief effort as well as the rapidly approaching fall fund-raising campaign.
Funk has been encouraged by the county's response to the United Way's tornado relief fund. Businesses and individuals have been generous with donations.
The Initiative Foundation has pledged to match the first $5,000.
"I'm confident we'll meet it and go beyond," Funk said. "This community has just embraced this disaster."
Funk said the United Way is applying for a Bremer Foundation grant that could aid tornado victims.
Before accepting the United Way offer, Funk volunteered with the Crisis Line and was the founder and head of Hearts of Women, an annual conference that offers guest speakers and enrichment programs.
She co-founded the Brainerd area chapter of Mothers of Pre-Schoolers, was an administrator at a St. Cloud non-profit radio station and at a St. Cloud Christian school. Her school background includes graduation from Monticello High School, attendance at Northwestern Bible College and business courses at St. Cloud State University.
In addition she home-schooled her three sons for a period of time.
Funk has lived in the Brainerd area for 12 years and said the United Way post seems like a good fit for her.
"I feel privileged to be here to serve the community," she said.
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