Clements counts on United Way staff as interim CEO

Clements counts on United Way staff as interim CEO

CHAMPAIGN — Retired University of Illinois Campus Recreation Director and local comedian Tony Clements is taking on a new temporary job — leading the United Way of Champaign County until a new CEO is hired.

Clements, a United Way board member, was selected to serve as interim CEO after current CEO Lyn Jones leaves at the end of August, board Chairman Robert Mulcahey said.

The search for a permanent CEO is expected to take about 60 days, and a search committee should be getting down to work soon, Mulcahey said.

Clements, the 2011 United Way campaign co-chair, "was willing to step forward and do the job," he added.

Clements, a well-known figure in the local community for his philanthropic activities and stand-up comedy, worked for Campus Recreation for 37 years, retiring in 2009.

He is entering his fourth year on the United Way board, he said.

Clements said he expects to serve as a liaison between the board and the staff during the United Way's busy fall months, and won't be looking to make any changes.

The next fund-raising campaign is coming up, and he'll need to make sure that goes as well as it has in the past, he said.

"We have so many agencies that depend on that," he adds.

But, Clements says, he also knew when he accepted the job that the staff members know what they're doing and he may well need to just stay out of their way.

"Part of me deciding to step in was knowing how good the staff was, knowing they'd have my back there," he said.

Another reason he was willing to step in was knowing how active his months as interim CEO will be, he said. He predicts he'll be out in the community more than he'll be in the office.

"If you go back to a job, you want to be doing something that is active," he said.

Clements said he hopes the search for a new CEO won't take long, but also says he's always loved the community and was willing to help out.

"I might lose nine holes of golf here and there, but hopefully I can make it," he jokes. "My game isn't getting any better, so this might be a sign I might need to take some time off."

Jones is leaving the United Way at the end of August after five years as president and CEO to take a position with the Carle Foundation as vice president of fund development.

A former University of Illinois administrator and fundraiser who recruited Clements to the United Way board, Jones said she was thrilled that he's taking over for her on an interim basis.

He's a great motivator who's brought good ideas to the United Way, including the Stuff the Bus campaign, which he heard about in Indianapolis and brought to the staff, Jones said.

"He's been a very involved board member," she said.

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