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When the United Way of Ellis County board of directors began searching for the perfect fit to fill the role of executive director, they knew they were looking for someone who could take charge, lead the organization and spread the United Way word.

The search for the ideal candidate involved keeping an eye out for someone who could approach the board with different ideas and manage behind-the-scenes activities, according to Josh Dreher, president of the United Way board of directors.

The board found who they are looking for in Sherry Dryden.

“It’s evident she has a passion to help people and that’s very important when it comes to a position like this,” Dreher said. “Just in the talks we have had with her since her hire, she’s already coming up with ideas and is excited to start interacting with our board.”

Finishing up her last days as director of human resource services for Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas, Dryden is looking forward to stepping into the United Way position first thing Monday morning.

“I am very excited,” she said. “I am looking forward to getting out in the community and reminding them who the United Way is — educating them to all the different facets that the United Way can do, does and will do.”

Dryden first moved to Hays to attend Fort Hays State University — where she received her bachelor’s degree in communications.

“I worked my way through college and had my first real job at Hadley Hospital,” she said.

She started a family and became active in the community with schools, sports and her children’s activities.

“I became involved with numerous nonprofit organizations — volunteering and serving on boards,” she said.

After approximately 10 years at Hadley Hospital, Dryden decided it was time for a change, and pursued a career at DSNWK, where she started as a quality assurance coordinator before moving forward to human resources management — eventually advancing to the position of director.

While at DSNWK, she pursued and obtained master’s and doctorate degrees through the University of Phoenix.

“I guess I was getting that 10-year itch again,” Dryden said.

“I just started thinking, ‘Well, what else can I do?’”

While she will miss her position at DSNWK, Dryden said she is looking forward to new doors and opportunities.

“The struggle with DSNWK is that I still wanted to work with other non-profits,” she said. “When the opportunity came for the position of executive director of United Way, I just thought this was a way I could give back to more than one organization.”

Dryden understands the community, is a well-connected person and has an extensive background working with non-profit organizations, according to Dreher.

“We’re all just looking forward to seeing her help us reach our goal every year,” he said.

Dryden said she finds it both entertaining and interesting that her professional career has “come full circle.”

“The funny thing is that the United Way offices are at the Hadley Center,” she said. “Now, I have come full circle and I’m back where I started years ago.”

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