Sun. Dec 3rd, 2023

WATERTOWN — A native of Watertown, Tobi M. Darrah’s service to the United Way of Northern New York began back in 1991 as the administrative assistant. Recently, the UWNNY announced the upcoming retirement of Mrs. Darrah on June 1 after a rewarding career of service.

For the past 20 years, Mrs. Darrah has fulfilled the role of campaign director for the UWNNY, her passion and hard work making her a standout. Always serving in the nonprofit world, Mrs. Darrah had previously worked in the Human Resources department of the Jefferson Rehabilitation Center. She also worked at Transitional Living Services and Watertown Urban Mission before joining with the United Way of Northern New York.

When she started 30 years ago, it was called the United Way of Jefferson County, Mrs. Darrah shared. Over the years, fundraising becomes more and more of a challenge, but one thing she said she has learned over the years is this was where she belonged, what she needed to be doing.

“When you believe in something that you’re doing, it makes it a lot easier,” Mrs. Darrah said. “I always, truly believe that the United Way is very beneficial to all of the towns, villages and communities and helping people and all the wonderful agencies, so that’s what kept me here.”

Mrs. Darrah said the thing that has been most memorable for her is all of the people she has met and worked with in the three counties.

“Tobi’s service to community has been exemplary,” said Jamie Cox, CEO, in a statement. “Her compassion for each resident of our three counties is representative of her character. Tobi’s always put community before self, and this attitude has been contagious with everyone that she’s come in contact. I cannot imagine the United Way of Northern New York without her over the past 30 years.”

With the upcoming retirement of Mrs. Darrah, the UWNNY announced the promotion of Natasha J. Gamble to the director of community development. Ms. Gamble, a graduate of SUNY Potsdam also has a master of social work degree from Edinboro University in Pennsylvania and has been with the United Way since May 2018. Her new duties include the annual United Way fundraising campaign, community outreach, and community solution development.

“The last semester [of college] was when I really decided that I wanted to do social work, because I realized how many people are out there in our community that really, they don’t know the opportunities for them out in our community,” Ms. Gamble said. “I’ve always had a niche for helping people, I guess. Then in my master’s degree is when I realized I did not want to help one person at a time, I didn’t want one client. I wanted to be able to help the community.”

She said her favorite part of her time with the United Way so far has been getting to know everybody in the community and being able to work with so many people that want to help others every day. Ms. Gamble plans to build more relationships, one on one, and reach out to business owners to educate them on UWNNY services.

“Taking over this new role after working with Toby for three full years has been nothing but enjoyment and a learning experience,” Ms. Gamble said. “She’s really helped shape me to be who I am today at United Way, and learn our community and different nonprofits in our area. I have big shoes to fill, but I think I’ll do it.”

With the change in organizational structure, Kaitlyn Giles assumes the role of marketing and communications coordinator for education and training. Two new employees are also joining the United Way: Dr. Tanya Eastman and Allison Andrews. Dr. Eastman will be assuming the role of director of education and training, while Ms. Andrews will be assigned as the marketing and communications coordinator for community development.

“It’s a really wonderful time for me to be leaving the United Way, as I say to everybody, it’s a good time for me to slip away,” Mrs. Darrah said. “Natasha Gamble, the position’s changing slightly, but she’s taking over my roles and responsibilities. We worked hand-in-hand together very closely and she was kind of my right-hand person for three years. I was very excited to hear that she was interested in my position. I’m very excited for her that she has this opportunity. I think she’ll do a phenomenal job.”

Mrs. Darrah plans on spending her newfound free time with her husband Lyle, daughters Chelsea and Christina, as well as their significant others, and her grandchildren Nicolas, Claire and Liliana.

Mrs. Darrah said she and her husband, who has been retired for the past two months, love to travel and go to the beach and the ocean. They also love cruises and have a motorcycle they like to hop on and cruise around with.

“I’m just honored to have been able to be in the position for so many years and do the wonderful things and be a part of such a wonderful not-for-profit,” Mrs. Darrah said. “It’s just a lot of great connections, a lot of great memories.”

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By senior