FLORENCE, S.C. - Kevin Russell is the interim president of the United Way of Florence County following a change of leadership in mid-October.

Russell replaces the agency's former president, Wendy Bird, who has stepped back into her previous role as vice president of campaigns.

Russell served five years as a member of the United Way of Florence County's board and held positions such as chairman for the Community Investment Committee and the campaign.

"I love the United Way, and I love what United Way is all about," Russell said. "And when they asked me to come help, I said I sure would."

Before coming to Florence, Russell worked for GE in Milwaukee where, he said, the United Way was very big. He retired in 2017 from GE Healthcare in Florence after a total of 18 years with the company, according to an announcement from the United Way of Florence County. Russell joined the agency's board in Florence to better involve GE in the charitable community, the announcement said.

As interim president, Russell said, his role is to manage the team at the United Way and ensure that it works on the agency's most important priorities.

"These goals right now are to get us some advertising," Russell said. "Get a really good, strong website and a really strong online presence for people to be able to see us and know us and that kind of stuff."

He said the agency needs to have a better online presence, because, for example, he knows that online and mobile donations are going up 10 to 15 percent each year.

"And I told all of my agencies - there are 17 agencies we have - my No. 1 goal is to get them more money every year," Russell said. "So that's always on our list."

Russell said working at the United Way of Florence County the past six to eight weeks has been a real eye-opener for him, as he's seen people knocking on the agency's door almost daily for assistance.

Russell will serve as interim president as the agency seeks a replacement.