Hobbs steps into United Way leadership role, aims to continue organization’s success

Communication, collaboration among focus points for new executive director

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Ashley Hobbs recently assumed the role of executive director for the Mitchell United Way.
Mitchell Republic File Photo

MITCHELL — There is new leadership atop the Mitchell United Way organizational structure, but the goals for the new executive director of the non-profit are nothing new.

Those goals? Keep the local organization operating on a level that helps it match its traditional success over the years.

“I’m very excited,” said Ashley Hobbs, who took over the role of executive director at Mitchell United Way earlier this month. “Just to be able to bring awareness to our community about what nonprofits are doing and being able to support them however possible.”

United Way is an international network of over 1,800 local nonprofit fundraising affiliates. United Way organizations raise funds primarily via workplace campaigns. Money raised by local United Ways is distributed to local nonprofit agencies.

The Mitchell United Way has been around for over 50 years. It dissolved briefly in 1977 but was re-established in 1980 and has continued to serve the community since. It works in support of a number of different local nonprofits, including organizations such as Davison County Volunteer Search and Rescue, EmBe, Safe Place of Eastern South Dakota, and the Salvation Army, among several others.


Funds raised from the Mitchell United Way annual fundraising campaign are distributed among those partner organizations, helping them fill holes in their budget that can help them expand programs or improve facilities.

Hobbs, who spent the last three-plus years as the development director for the Safe Place of Eastern South Dakota Foundation, told the Mitchell Republic she hopes to build on the work of former executive director David Stevens, who announced recently that he was retiring from the position.

Ashley Hobbs

Promoting Mitchell United Way will be a priority. Getting the word out to people about the organization, its goals and operation are important to its success.

“My biggest goal in the next year is to focus on marketing and awareness about what the United Way does, and start with the basics. I’m not looking to change everything that Dave has done, especially his success with the campaign. But we’ll look at updating some processes and technology and bring some more resources in for the nonprofit world.”

Increased communication between area nonprofits will also be something she strives to cultivate.

“There are almost 30 nonprofits in the Mitchell area, and they don’t collaborate together, at least not strongly,” Hobbs said. “I really want to have a seat at the table so that everybody can benefit, because we’re all trying to serve our community and trying to provide support for everyone.”

Hobbs will serve as the first full-time executive director of the Mitchell United Way, which she said should help her dedicate more time to the organization. Jayson Plamp, board president for the Mitchell United Way, said Hobbs’ experience should help the organization continue to reach its goals and fulfill its mission.

“We are very excited to have Ashley as our first full-time director,” Plamp said in a press release. “Through our search, Ashley’s experience in fundraising, community relations and marketing clearly shows the right choice to help grow the United Way’s impact on our community.”


Mitchell United Way’s impact is largely facilitated through its annual fundraising campaign. The effort has a tradition of success, with the 2022-23 campaign wrapping up in November with $421,000 raised, surpassing the goal of $420,000 the organization had set. With that goal reached, it continued a tradition of reaching its fundraising goal 41 years in a row. It was considered an even greater success considering the harsh economic times brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors.

“We set that goal before we saw the effects of inflation on food and gas and other things hitting people hard in the pocket book. But we also know that as hard as that affects us, it affects the people we help much worse,” Vice President Ken Schlimgen said.

Hobbs, 36, hopes setting out to bolster communication and outreach for the organization will help foster the local support that has already been so strong over the years. The current economic conditions, which are highlighted by high grocery prices and inflation, mean the services provided by Mitchell United Way’s nonprofit partners are more important than ever.

“The United Way is there to support the gaps that the nonprofits are faced with in their operating budgets every day. We’ve seen a growth in nonprofit need in the last five years, and I expect to see that grow,” Hobbs said. “With these economic times, just where we’re sitting as a nation with the cost of groceries and housing, I think (it’s important) being able to impact and make sure that all these nonprofits are able to thrive in day-to-day things.”

More information on the Mitchell United Way, including its partner nonprofits, how to donate and the Day of Caring event can be found at

Erik Kaufman joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2019 as an education and features reporter. He grew up in Freeman, S.D., graduating from Freeman High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1999 with a major in English and a minor in computer science. He can be reached at
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