New development chief brings 20 years experience to Milford United Way

New Chief Development Officer Cynthia Conrad at the Milford United Way in Milford, Conn. on Tuesday, August 16, 2022.

New Chief Development Officer Cynthia Conrad at the Milford United Way in Milford, Conn. on Tuesday, August 16, 2022.

Brian A. Pounds / Hearst Connecticut Media

MILFORD — Cynthia Conrad loves a challenge — and there is no other way for her to describe her latest role with the Milford United Way.

Conrad spent more than two decades involved in marketing in the business world before recently joining the Milford United Way as the organization’s chief development officer. And the change in industries is not lost on her.

“I’m excited to be here,” said Conrad. “I know it’s going to be a challenge, not just changing positions but also changing industries. I’m always up for a good challenge.”

Conrad said she used to work in radio marketing at CRN International with Barry Berman, who was recently hired as Milford United Way CEO.

“I’m super excited to have her here,” said Berman. “We have worked together for almost 20 years, and she’s one of the brightest people I’ve ever met. She has compassion, has wonderfully creative ideas.”

Berman added Conrad has experience handling high-volume websites.

“And one of the things we need to do here is to revamp our website,” he said. “Her marketing sense will not only lead her to revamp our website but create everything around it on social media. That will help broaden our community, not only in fundraising but also on the giving side of our business to help benefit the needy people of Milford.”

Before accepting the role at Milford United Way, Conrad said she was the senior editor for Booktrib.com, a book news and review website.

“In my previous role in marketing, I spent a lot of time working on campaigns for household name brands like Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, Chrysler, and Hershey,” she said. “I would create marketing programs to help them promote and sell their products through radio primarily.”

Conrad had always aspired to work in the non-profit world, but she said the right opportunity hadn’t come along until now.

“I never really found the right opportunity to do it at the level I wanted to do it at,” she said. “So when Barry came along and needed a strategic level employee to work here, I was very excited about that.”

Knowing Berman wasn’t the only reason Conrad accepted the role as a chief development officer. It was also the fact the role was with the United Way.

“The United Way is such a large organization that does so much good across the country and the world,” she said. “I had already been familiar with the United Way, and I had supported it as a donor in the workplace in the past.

She also was drawn to the organization’s focus on health and human services, and the impact it makes on a local level, she said.

“You’re not very removed from the people that you are helping so that you can really see your efforts make a difference,” she said. “That was also an important criterion.”

Conrad will focus primarily on fundraising strategies, establishing sponsorships and grant writing.

“I have done some grant writing in the past and it was something that hadn’t been actively pursued by this chapter,” she said. “It’s an area that is wide open for development, and it’s excited to be starting from the ground up by making connections with various foundations.”

She also has goals that go beyond sponsorship dollars, she said.

“Barry and I talk about making the United Way of Milford a model for other United Way chapters by trying new things and finding different avenues of success that can be repurposed for other chapters,” she said.

Coming from the for-profit world, Conrad said she has the unique advantage of thinking about things differently such as their sponsors.

“Knowing how the profit world works helps us better understand our sponsors and what their concerns are,” she said. “We want to make sure, whatever we involve our sponsors in, we are also helping them build their brand and being able to make it a win all the way around. It’s a win for the sponsor, it’s a win for United Way, and it’s a win for the people that the organization serves.”