Harbison stepping down from United Way


CULLMAN, Ala. – United Way of Cullman County Executive Director Waid Harbison on Thursday, Sept. 14, announced his resignation, effective November 2023. Harbison was recently diagnosed with Huntington’s disease. He said he will likely not have major symptoms for three to five years, but he is leaving for a role that will allow him more flexibility to travel and enjoy the years he has before those symptoms begin.  

“I have absolutely loved my role as executive director with United Way. I will always be extremely grateful for the opportunity I had to make a difference in the lives of those around us in need,” he said.  “With me getting diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, I am looking at three to five more good years left before having some major restrictions, and with this position being very time consuming, taking up many hours, and working with a small staff, I am resigning in order to take on a position that I will be able to have more flexibility to allow me to travel and do other things I would like to.”  

He continued, “I am very thankful for our board of directors for giving me the opportunity to serve those in need in our community. It has been a great blessing, and we have been so fortunate to have a supportive board and hundreds of volunteers who have given back to United Way to make all the things we have accomplished possible.” 

Since taking over in May 2022, Harbison has created many new successful programs and initiatives, and taken on other major tasks. Some of the major work completed under Harbison’s tenure at United Way of Cullman County includes: 

  • Having the second highest year of fundraising in the 45 years of United Way of Cullman County during FY2022-23 
  • Reaching 1 in 4 people in need in Cullman County through United Way and partner agencies in 2022-23  
  • Creating gas card program for local residents trying to get assistance from a nonprofit resources to get the help they need 
  • Creating several new service projects giving back to the community including First Responder appreciation, Veterans appreciation, thank-you cards for all local teachers and Christmas cards and visiting local nursing homes  
  • Adding new events including a communitywide food drive, a community health fair, a book drive for children and greatly expanding the Stuff the Bus school supply drive  
  • Creating Volunteer Cullman system for getting community volunteers plugged into a variety of community service projects at various nonprofits, churches and other organizations 
  • Creating task force meetings of all local nonprofits in areas of health, education, restoration and renewal services and food insecurity, bringing leaders together to collectively work on issues  
  • Creating first community needs assessment of major needs in Cullman County as well as plans and goals to help alleviate issues and solve root problems  
  • Helping re-establish Cullman County VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) including helping to create major plans for cooperative efforts of how government organizations, nonprofits and churches would all respond in case of a disaster  

“I am very proud of what we have been able to accomplish with our staff, board members, volunteers, partner agencies and others that have been committed to making a difference in the lives of those around us. Without all of this help, we could never have accomplished any of this,” Harbison said. “It has been a great privilege to be able to impact so many lives through our work here, and I am still committed to supporting the cause of the United Way of Cullman County by giving, volunteering and assisting staff, board and a new director down the road in any capacity that I can.” 

Harbison said he plans to stay on to finish some ongoing projects and fundraising events, including the United Way’s ongoing workplace campaigns, as well as Designer Bag Bingo, which is scheduled for Nov. 9. 

The United Way is actively seeking a new executive director. Resumes can be sent to Jake Johnson at jjohnson@cullmancats.net.