Aroney says southern Lorain County is important to the United Way

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JASON HAWK
EDITOR

Many local residents are juggling two or three jobs just to keep up with bills. Ryan Aroney wants to help.

The longtime United Way of Lorain County marketing and engagement director has been promoted to president and CEO.

He’ll step into the new role Sunday, Dec. 1, filling the shoes of retiring Bill Harper.

A top priority for Aroney, he told the Wellington Kiwanis Club last Thursday, is to make sure people know the nonprofit serves all of Lorain County, not just its two biggest cities.

“We are down here in Wellington. This is important to us. This is one of our main pillars,” he said.

Aroney told Kiwanians that the United Way’s resources are directed to help feed the hungry, get kids ready for preschool and kindergarten, put working moms into high-paying jobs and help struggling families get back on their feet after fires or other disaster strikes.

The agency also advocates for healthier lifestyle choices through collaboratives such as THRIVE! Southern Lorain County, which serves Wellington and surrounding communities. It targets obesity, diabetes, heart disease, smoking and poverty.

The United Way of Lorain County is also examining how to improve transportation. Starting Jan. 1, it will have a full-time worker — Sharon Pearson, who is wrapping up her time as an Oberlin Councilwoman — assigned to coordinate a countywide transportation plan.

Using an Ohio Department of Transportation grant, she will look at public transportation such as busing, but also trails and bike paths.

Aroney is a native of Oberlin and a graduate of the Lorain County JVS, Lorain County Community College and Cleveland State University.

He joined the United Way in 2011 as a development associate and was promoted to marketing and engagement director in 2014.

In the last few years, he’s focused on building partnerships between nonprofits so they’re working together “instead of competing for grant dollars,” he said.

Harper retired Nov. 27 after nine years as president of the United Way of Lorain County. He’s spent the last several months getting Aroney ready for the job.

When the transition was announced earlier this year, Aroney called Harper “a trusted friend and mentor who has helped me grow personally and professionally.”

I’m truly honored to take over for Bill and I’m excited for the opportunity to build on his legacy.”