New Trident United Way President and CEO Chloe Tonney

Chloe Tonney becomes CEO of Trident United Way in March. Provided/Trident United Way

One of the Charleston region's biggest nonprofit groups will have a new chief executive officer in March, capping a nearly year-long national search.

Trident United Way announced Monday that Chloe Knight Tonney will take over as president and CEO on March 7. She will succeed Chris Kerrigan, who retires the following month after 20 years in the top job.

The agency declined to release Tonney's salary information. Kerrigan earned $215,368, according to a financial report from 2017.

Tonney is a College of Charleston graduate with more than 30 years of experience in the nonprofit field.

She is returning to the region after spending 16 years with the CDC Foundation in Atlanta, where she most recently served as the chief innovation and strategy officer. There, she focused on creative partnerships that advanced the mission of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Trident United Way focuses its efforts on three areas: education, financial stability and health. The group had more than $11 million in revenue and income from investments and disbursed nearly $8 million in targeted grants in 2016-17, according to its latest annual report.

The group's incoming new chief executive officer has a bachelor's degree in political science. She also is a member of the College of Charleston Foundation board of directors, serving on the executive, advancement and development committees. Her husband, Rick Tonney, is a graduate of The Citadel.

Tonney — whose first name is pronounced "Clo" — said she is excited to be returning to the Lowcountry.

"It's an extraordinary area with a vibrant culture and people," she said. "The region is undergoing tremendous growth and change, and I look forward to reconnecting with the community and working to ensure that opportunities for a quality education, financial stability and health are optimized for its citizens. I can't wait to get started."

The head of the organization's search committee said it selected Tonney from an outstanding field of applicants.

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"We knew how important selecting the right candidate was to the community and the organization," said Bank of South Carolina CEO Fleetwood Hassell, who sits on the board and chaired the search committee. "We had to get it right." 

Trident United Way's board chairman said the organization has benefited from a history of strong leadership and low turnover at the top.

"We are very excited to welcome Chloe to the TUW family and know that she will carry on the tradition of creating community transformation through collective impact in education, financial stability and health," said Bob Fei, whose company, Life Cycle Engineering, assisted in the selection process.

Kerrigan notified the board last February that he would be stepping down this year.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524. Follow him on Twitter @warrenlancewise.