Eight years after joining the Upper Arlington Education Foundation as a volunteer and six years of service on the board of trustees, Alice Finley has been tapped to lead the organization.

The UA+Ed board of trustees announced March 18 that Finley, who served as the board's chairwoman in 2013 and 2014, will take over as the organization's executive director April 1.

Finley replaces Joanie Dugger, who will step down March 31 after 16 years.

"I am excited to continue my involvement with the foundation in this new way," Finley said. "The foundation is very active, with over 50 designated funds set up for specific purposes.

"I will be working with the board to look at our staffing needs moving forward, but I look forward to continuing being very involved with our donors and our schools."

The UA+Ed helps privately fund and support programs, materials and opportunities to maintain, strengthen and enrich the environment and educational experiences for Upper Arlington students. The financial aid it extends is for expenses that exceed the district's budget.

Currently, Finley is UA+Ed's program and project specialist, where she's helped the organization identify fundraising opportunities and develop grants that support the district's students and teachers.

"Alice has a proven track record of working with donors and has demonstrated ways in which we can grow existing relationships and develop new donor relationships that will be significant to the foundation's future growth and positive impact on students," said Tracy Peters, chairman of the UA+Ed board of trustees.

Finley said her initial involvement in the foundation was inspired by her former career as a teacher, as well as her experience as a mother of two boys.

She enjoyed volunteer work at the schools, serving as president of the Barrington Elementary Parent Teacher Organization. She later became parent coordinator for the Jones Middle School fall production.

"Getting involved with the Education Foundation has allowed me to stay involved with our school district and support all of the amazing educators and students," Finley said.

Looking forward, Finley said she'll be guided by the foundation's tagline of "Enhance What Matters Most!" as she leads the organization.

That means examining programs and other classroom projects currently in place in the district, and fostering grants and partnerships that can extend or strengthen them.

"Our foundation supports programs and projects that are beyond the district's budget," she said. "Sometimes this means providing funding, while other times it may mean helping teachers and students to connect with other organizations, community members or alumni who can offer their time, talents and treasures.

"My focus will include working closely with Tracy Peters, the board chair, and all of the trustees to provide great programs and projects in our schools."

Another focus for Finley will be helping to plan and oversee the annual Golden Bear Bash, scheduled Sept. 2 at the Tremont Center; the event is a signature UA+Ed fundraiser and helps bring donors and teachers together.

Additionally, she said, the foundation will launch strategic planning efforts in the next few months to set long-term goals.