Rick West

Rick West sits at his desk at his Beloit home. West will retire at the end of March from his position with the United Way Blackhawk Region, but he plans to continue to be involved in the community.

BELOIT—Some people in the community refer to him as “Mr. Beloit” because Rick West knows a lot of people and knows much about local history and sports. Plus, he’s been a lifelong advocate for his hometown.

Those things are not likely to change, but West is looking ahead to a life change. On March 31, he is planning to retire from his job as the Resource Development Director at United Way Blackhawk Region.

West said he has enjoyed working for United Way and helping people in the region, but he also is looking forward to having more free time.

“My wife is already retired,” he said. “I think we will enjoy retirement. It will be nice to be able to schedule things when we want to.”

He also has a few projects he wants to tackle at home and the couple is looking forward to spending more time with family, including with a young grandchild.

A look at his work resume and extraordinary volunteer involvement over the years is telling of how he has spent his time in the past.

West graduated from Beloit Catholic High School and soon after headed off to the Trans American School of Broadcasting in Wausau. That schooling set him up to begin several decades of radio broadcasting. Those employment opportunities included: WRDB in Reedsburg, sports and weekend broadcasting for WBEL, sports director and program director for WBEL, program director, morning show host and general manager at WGEZ.

In 2001, West was hired by CSI Media as sales manager. For a short time, he was part of the sales staff at WKOW-TV in Madison, then returned to CSI as the director of sports and community relations.

In 2013, he began a career in marketing for United Way Blackhawk Region and in 2015, was named Resource Development Director.

And throughout the years, he continued his volunteer service. Presently, he co-chairs the Beloit Historical Society’s Elliott Perring Sports Hall of Fame. He is also the secretary and past president of the Rotary Club of Beloit and a member of the Forward Janesville Goodwill Ambassadors. His long list of former volunteer activities include: Board Chair of Visit Beloit, board member of the American Red Cross, board member of the Professional Baseball Association (Beloit).

West also has done numerous emceeing roles for various organizations, including the annual Chamber of Commerce dinners, the Miss Beloit Scholarship Pageant and for more than 25 years the annual Rock County 4-H Fair Royalty Coronation.

Another of his interests since high school has been the playing of taps with his bugle at hundreds of veterans’ funerals and for Beloit area Memorial Day events.

“I’ve always been involved with the community, Joe Moen (the late general manager of WBEL) instilled that in me,” West said.

Not only did he get to know people and their stories, he soon learned marketing and being connected to the community go hand-in-hand.

Mary Fanning-Penny, President and CEO of United Way Blackhawk Region has worked with West since 2014. She praised his abilities as well as his connectedness to the surrounding community.

“Rick was already on staff when I became CEO in July 2014. In 2015, we were restructuring and I encouraged Rick to apply for our Resource Development Director role which spearheads our annual community campaign. Rick was selected for the position and hit the ground running.

“He was wonderfully suited for the position as he’s mission-minded, keenly focused on relationship-building, and also understands our partners in the private sector,” she said.

“The 2020 goal for the community campaign is $2.4 million; behind the scenes what that looks like is facilitating 15 volunteers on the campaign cabinet in which each member is assigned both existing and prospective corporate accounts to cultivate. It also entails working with 200 plus corporate contacts on their workplace campaign activities and orchestrating direct mail appeals. Rick is a consummate professional who has balanced beautifully a blend of organizational skills, analytical abilities and a people-focused approach to fundraising,” Fanning-Penny said.

“Our Team affectionately refers to Rick as Mr. Beloit, not only because he’s incredibly proud of his beloved hometown but also because he seems to know everyone, their story, and so much local trivia you’d be amazed.

“On behalf of our board of directors, volunteers and staff, I offer heartfelt congratulations to Rick on his well-deserved retirement. His commitment and heart for our community is second to none,” Fanning-Penny said.