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A new page: Executive director hired to lead SAIL into the future

By Staff | Jun 26, 2020


SHEPHERDSTOWN — For many years, Shepherdstown Area Independent Living, Inc., has been run by its members, with only one employee, Linda O’Brien, to manage the organization’s administrative work and volunteers.

During the group’s monthly Brown Bag Luncheon, which is currently being held on Zoom, SAIL’s board announced that it had hired Pippa McCullough to be its first executive director.

“We’re going to use the program today to introduce to you and get to know our new executive director,” said SAIL President Linda Spatig. “Pippa works at Shepherd University. She couldn’t be a better fit for our organization at this time in certain ways.”

According to search committee member Vicky Thomas, SAIL has been wanting to hire an executive director since before it was started, in 2009. About a year-and-a-half ago, SAIL established the search committee to begin looking for a qualified executive director. While at first funding the position appeared to be a challenge, an anonymous donation was given to make it possible for the organization to move forward with the hiring process.

“I did go back and look through my emails, and the first email referencing an executive director was from 2009. So, from the beginning, we thought we needed an executive director,” Thomas said. “I’m so proud that everybody has worked so hard to go from 18 founding members to over 100 members today. We are a rural village, so that is quite an accomplishment.”

According to Thomas, SAIL’s board has had to do much of the work in running the organization, such as managing programs and member care, which will now be done by the executive director.

“We have had wonderful creative ideas, but our volunteers are stretched and we’ve sometimes lacked the ability to implement them,” said search committee member Carolyn Rodis. “We’re very very proud and pleased for you to hear that we struck it rich with finding Pippa.”

McCullough then spoke for a half hour, answering member questions about her qualifications and ideas for the future. McCullough has been an adjunct social work instructor at Shepherd for the past couple of years, before which she was the executive director of the Shenandoah Women’s Center, which has since been renamed as the Eastern Panhandle Empowerment Center.

“What drew me to SAIL is it felt like a convergence of everything that has happened with my life,” McCullough said, mentioning her experience in grant writing will be an asset in her new position. “It’s so exciting to be your first executive director! I’ll learn from you, you’ll learn from me, and we’ll learn to make the good better. It is fun for me to choose a job where the membership is this unbelievable grassroots movement that you have built.”