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Thomas stepping down from United Way

ALPENA — The United Way of Northeast Michigan is looking for a new executive director.

Sonya Thomas is stepping down after just over a year as the executive director. She said Tuesday a family member’s unexpected illness is causing financial hardship, so she is leaving for a better-paying job.

“I knew this job didn’t pay a lot and I wanted to be here, but little things have happened and now my budget can’t take it,” Thomas said. “I would love to stay here, but I have to leave.”

She said her last day will be next week. She is moving to a northern Chicago suburb and working as an executive director for a nonprofit in Wisconsin.

Thomas said issues with housing also affected her decision.

She said there were issues finding a place to live in Alpena and she ended up having to pay more than expected for where she’s been living, so that impacted her budget.

Thomas said she’ll miss working at United Way because there has been progress made to get the organization’s name out into the community since she started as executive director in May 2018.

Even though she’s sad to be leaving United Way, Thomas believes in those who are there and what they can continue doing for the community.

“I feel confident in the volunteers that they can move forward and stay involved,” she said.

Thomas will miss the people in Alpena and how they welcomed her, a Toledo, Ohio native, to the community.

“The unique landscaping is also what I’ll miss,” she said. “There’s nothing like this anywhere else, so I’ll miss it”

Resumes for the open executive director position can be submitted to United Way before July 15.