2022 New Jersey Women Business Leaders Forum Register

Brenda M. Esler, a member of the Somerset County Business Partnership board of directors, has been named the new CEO of United Way of Hunterdon County.

Esler brings to the organization 24 years of experience at EmPoWER Somerset, where she advanced from coordinator of Prevention Services to the role of executive director, a position she has held for the past 10 years. At EmPoWER, Brenda helped facilitate transformation of the organizational culture to one that values employees’ individual growth and sets a high standard for ethical conduct and transparency.

United Way of Hunterdon County’s mission is to bring people and resources together to combat income, health, and education disparities through innovative programming, community partnerships, and advocacy that create change in the community. The nonprofit’s programs impact a wide range of challenges from developing financial wellness skills, ensuring students have adequate school supplies, and coordinating relief efforts in times of community emergencies.

A champion for ALICE (those who are Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed), the United Way of Hunterdon County works to help all those who face barriers to income stability, healthy living, and education access and success.

“The United Way of Hunterdon County board of trustees is delighted to welcome Brenda Esler as our next chief executive officer,” said Rob Crane, board president.

Board Secretary Becky Testa, who chaired the search committee, said Esler’s impressive organizational development, collaborative leadership, and strong communication skills will reinforce and build upon the solid foundation of support, partnerships and initiatives created by retiring CEO Bonnie Duncan.

“We are confident that Brenda will be an influential advocate for ALICE, an effective and respected community builder, and an inspiration to our internal and external stakeholders,” Testa said.

DCM Associates, an NJBIA member and nationally recognized nonprofit executive search firm that specializes in board and nonprofit leadership coaching, was instrumental in the successful search for United Way of Hunterdon County’s new chief executive officer.

“We appreciate Dennis Miller and DCM Associates’ facilitation of our search process, which led to a choice among many outstanding candidates,” Testa said. “We are also grateful for the impactful work and leadership of Bonnie, who provided 25 years of distinguished service to our organization and our community.”

Esler said she is eager to build upon Duncan’s strong legacy of leadership at United Way.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this amazing organization,” Esler said. “The mission, to bring people and resources together to improve lives and advance the common good of our community, encompasses what inspires me the most about nonprofit work – the opportunities to create positive change through meaningful connections.

“Bonnie Duncan’s legacy of leadership leaves some big shoes to fill, and I am eager to honor that legacy by building on the organization’s strong foundation of impact and collaborative leadership in Hunterdon County,” Esler said.