Joanne Troutman said her decision to step down as Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way president and CEO was easy and difficult at the same time.
Troutman, who helped grow the organization from a three-person operation to a 22-person operation, said she just knew it was time to step down.
“My philosophy about leadership is that you generally know when it’s time (to move on),” she said. “I love my work. I’ve always loved my work, I hope that shows.
“You know when it’s time to go for the sake of the organization. There are other leaders we have that are ready to spread their wings and do more things. I’m excited to watch.”
Troutman’s last day is July 2, according to her announcement. A few weeks later, she’ll take on the title of director of Social Impact Programs for Cornell University — responsible for educational and philanthropic strategy in meeting the needs of vulnerable individuals and communities on a global scale.
Excited about the new challenge, Troutman also became emotional when asked about her legacy after six years with the organization. The first thing she said when asked about legacy — “Proud of the team.”
“I’ve worked with such incredible people in this job,” she said. “It’s not just the staff. I think about all of our board members and volunteers and people proud to align themselves with United Way.
“Ultimately it’s about the relationships we’ve developed because the impact comes from that. That, to me, is what I hope will be my legacy.”
As the executive director of the Union-Snyder Community Action Agency, Sue Auman worked quite closely with Troutman over the years. The missions and visions of both agencies are very aligned, Auman said.
Troutman’s push to shift the United Way to an Impact Council model will leave a lasting impact on Valley residents, Auman said. The councils focus on specific priorities: basic needs, teens, early childhood education, diversity and inclusion, and behavioral health and addiction.
Auman said Troutman is understanding of the root causes of problems that may sometimes feel too hard to address.
Her’s is a long view — a marathon, not a sprint — toward making change to root causes of problems and building consensus, Auman said.
“This created an opportunity for collaboration with the community in a way we wouldn’t have without it,” Auman said. “She’s always open and ready to hear how we can do better. She’s never afraid to challenge the status quo. She can check her ego and say, ‘What do the people need?’”
Troutman’s leadership with the United Way also drove the creation of United in Recovery in 2018. The initiative is a continuing partnership between opioid coalitions in five counties: Columbia and Montour, Union and Snyder, and Northumberland.
Dr. Perry Meadows, medical director, government programs, Geisinger Health Plan, leads the Northumberland County Opioid Coalition. He said he bonded with Troutman over their shared experience in addressing addiction issues in the Valley.
“I think one of the biggest things was bringing the community together and getting stakeholders to the table to actually talk about it,” Meadows said of Troutman’s efforts.
“Once Joanne puts her mind to something, it is going to happen. She’s very driven. She has that resolve to get things done. Once we started talking about opioid coalitions, United In Recovery, there was no doubt in my mind it was going to happen,” Meadows said.
Meadows said United In Recovery will continue after Troutman exits the United Way, and he anticipates she will continue to help even after moving on from the nonprofit.
Troutman said she’s excited that her new job will keep her in the area — she’ll still live in Mifflinburg with her family. She’ll also stay in the presence of those great individuals and organizations she’s had an opportunity to work with.
She said if she had any unfinished business as the United Way CEO, it was not making greater strides in promoting organizations like libraries, child care centers, community action agencies, Red Crosses and food banks.
“We were able to weather COVID because of those organizations and those people,” she said.
United Way Board of Directors Chair Kristen Moyer has been on the board for the duration of Troutman’s leadership. When asked what Troutman has done for the United Way, she said, “Oh my goodness.”
“Just the fact of what she and her staff did during COVID — just reaching out, mask distribution, milk distribution,” Moyer said. “Her heart is so big. It’s going to be big shoes to fill.”
Troutman said there is no succession plan in place at the moment, but said choosing the next president is an important decision.
“I’m going to be here as much or as little as I need to be to support them,” she said. “The United Way is my child. I put my heart and soul into this.”