Suzan Nash's name is synonymous with the Western Illinois Regional Council. She came to the Macomb-based organization as an intern in 1977. She was named its executive director in 1981 and led the organization until March 1, when she retired.
But Nash is still coming to work every day to help with the transition for her successor, Shaun Pritchard. She said there is a lot for him to learn.
"We're a multi-faceted organization from the standpoint that we started as a regional planning agency to provide grant writing and technical assistance to communities in our six counties. And then we expanded into community action programs to provide basic necessities and a variety of programs to persons who are income eligible. And then we started our victim services component for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence," she said.
"It's a unique organization. It's a multi-faceted organization."
Nash said the WIRC grew over the years and now has 29 employees and a $4.7 million budget. The agency gets about 35% of its funding from the federal government. The rest comes from the state and from local sources.
"We've been a fairly mean and lean organization," Nash said, adding there are ongoing challenges due to the lengthy state budget stalemate in Illinois and President Donald Trump's federal budget proposal. She said the state budget standoff recently forced the WIRC to layoff two employees in the victim services department, including its director.
"The number of persons requiring and needing our assistance within victim services has not changed. However, there are fewer staff persons in order to be able to provide those services," she said.
Nash praised staff members for stepping up to meet that challenge. She said they're doing the best they can, though it's been stressful.
Nash also praised the staff members she worked with through the decades.
"I have been very, very fortunate as executive director of an agency to have such a wonderful group of persons to work with. I am very, very grateful to them for the years of service they have provided to our residents and to the region and to our units of government," she said.
"I just can't thank them enough. It was a difficult decision to step down."
Even though Nash has stepped down, she still has a title for the time being: executive director transition facilitator. She’s helping Pritchard get acclimated to the position.
She said Pritchard is familiar with the area because he was born in Fort Madison. She said he has regional planning experience and is returning to the area after spending a number of years in California.