At its Nov. 8, 2023 meeting, the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County (SVdP) Board of Directors voted to promote SVdP Deputy Director Bethany Cartledge to the position of Executive Director, effective Dec. 1, 2023. Effective the same date, the board approved Terry McDonald’s transition to Emeritus Director after 39 years as Executive Director.
As the largest nonprofit social-services agency in Lane County, SVdP assists more than 35,000 people annually with life-stabilizing resources. It also employs more than 650 full-time staff and has stakeholders at every level of the communities it serves. And so, the board placed the highest priority on ensuring a smooth transition in top-level leadership and a financially and organizationally stable future for SVdP.
Cartledge has served the past two years as the agency’s Deputy Director, working intensively with McDonald’s mentorship on every aspect of operations, as part of a board-approved leadership transition plan to best prepare her for assuming the chief-executive role.
“We look forward to the next chapter in SVdP’s history of service with Bethany Cartledge at the helm,” says Board Chair Justin Schmick. “We were happy to identify her as a candidate who can bring continued stability to this very important leadership role. Bethany displays tremendous passion for the agency and compassion for the community, and enjoys great respect among SVdP’s staff for her integrity, work ethic, and dedication to the organization’s mission.”
“I am thrilled to serve our organization and community with the same dedication and innovation that has led us to become an anchor organization,” Cartledge says. “I deeply care about the health and longevity of our organization, our staff, and the individuals we serve, and consider their elevation one of my key goals.”
A position of stability
SVdP, of course, has a long history of remarkably stable leadership. McDonald joined the organization in 1971 and became its executive director in 1984, assuming that role from the only person to precede him in it — his late father, H.C. “Mac” McDonald.
Under Terry’s visionary leadership in the ensuing years, SVdP evolved far beyond its humble beginnings as a small, volunteer-run thrift shop. He led its growth into of the nation’s most impactful regional nonprofits and an internationally recognized leader in reuse- and recycling-based enterprise.
Now, 52 years into his cumulative service with SVdP, McDonald is 74 years old and seeking to move away from oversight of daily operations but remain with the organization in a different capacity. He will continue to advise on important issues and guide development of the SVdP-affiliated HOPE Community Corporation, an innovative nonprofit affordable-housing manufacturer set to start production in early 2024.
From volunteer to CEO
Cartledge, 36, is a nearly 20-year veteran SVdP employee herself. Her career with the agency started with her first job in its childcare program for unsheltered families, while she was still in high school. Her SVdP roots actually extend even earlier into her childhood, when she volunteered in the agency’s family night shelter — demonstrating early on her dedication to serving the community. She started work in the used-book department of St. Vinnie’s thrift stores upon graduation from high school.
From there, her influence and scope of responsibility rapidly grew as she showed exemplary business acumen, leadership skills, and passion for growing SVdP’s waste-based enterprises and human services. She served in a variety of increasingly important leadership positions across SVdP’s retail, recycling, and overall agency operations. And in 2022, she earned a “20 Under 40: Rising Business Stars” honor from the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce.
In one of her former roles as Economic Development Director, Cartledge exhibited great resilience in guiding SVdP through one of the greatest challenges in its history: successfully navigating the major disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to taking charge of all fundraising efforts when closure of the agency’s retail stores severed its primary source of revenue, she was instrumental in managing a complex array of fast-changing financial, personnel, regulatory and safety concerns to ensure SVdP’s ongoing stability.
A legacy to build upon
Now assuming the top-level leadership role, Cartledge will guide daily operation of SVdP’s extensive network of reuse and recycling enterprises. Among them are 13 St. Vinnie’s stores, a used-car lot, several online sales platforms, four mattress-recycling facilities in Oregon and California, and appliance- and Styrofoam-recycling programs. (Learn more about all of SVdP’s recycling efforts.)
What’s more, Cartledge will also oversee the considerable social safety net of SVdP services supported by those businesses. These include an affordable-housing program with more than 1,600 units; comprehensive emergency services; unique shelter and transitional housing programs for people experiencing homelessness; and diverse programs that foster self-sufficiency for the most vulnerable members of the community.
As SVdP builds upon 70 years of service in Lane County, the agency will continue to serve the community through an expansive array of existing services, remain at the forefront of sustainable business, and invest in innovative new programs with Cartledge leading the way.