New director joins Helpline team

  • Thursday, November 30, 2017 9:54am
  • News

Bainbridge Island resident Maria Metzler has been hired as the new executive director of Helpline House, the nonprofit has announced.

“As Helpline approaches its 50th anniversary in 2018, we are absolutely thrilled to have Maria at the helm,” said Paulette Peterson, outgoing board president for Helpline.

“There is a significant opportunity to re-examine the changing needs of our community and see how Helpline can make even more of a difference for families and individuals in need. Maria is exceptionally well-suited to help lead us into this next chapter,” Peterson said.

Helpline House conducted a nationwide search for a new leader that stretched for three months.

Metzler will start work Jan. 2. She replaces Matt Eldridge, who has been serving as the organization’s interim executive director since July and led its search committee.

Joanne Tews, who served as executive director for Helpline for the last 18 years, retired in August.

“The search process was highly competitive,” Eldridge said. “Among dozens of qualified applicants from around the country and in this region, Maria stood out. She not only has strong leadership experience, but also a unique, demonstrated ability to work effectively with a range of stakeholders to develop and execute a strategic vision.”

Metzler has more than 17 years of experience in social services. She will be leaving her role as senior housing program manager at Seattle’s DESC, formerly known as the Downtown Emergency Services Center, which works to end the homelessness of vulnerable people, particularly those living with serious mental illnesses or substance use disorders. At the center, Metzler oversaw a budget of nearly $10 million and 107 program staff.

“I can’t wait to get started,” Metzler said. “Roughly one in 10 Bainbridge islanders utilize Helpline’s services each year. Challenges such as cancer, job loss, divorce and mental illness affect people from all walks of life. I’m honored to serve this community.”

During the past four months, Helpline has implemented a number of notable changes to bolster its impact in the community, officials said, from increased collaboration with peer organizations to enhanced communications with clients, donors and a base of more than 125 volunteers. It has also expanded its work with partner groups, resulting in efforts such as the Gobblefest Bainbridge 2017 benefit concert earlier this month that featured four rock bands and a crowd that filled Rolling Bay Hall to capacity.

“Now more than ever, Helpline is ready to refine its direction and provide essential support to local residents,” said Leigh Barreca, the vice president of the Helpline board and vice chairwoman of the search committee. “Helpline is here to help and we couldn’t be happier to have Maria’s leadership at this critical time.”

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