Brandon Feller will begin his new position on Jan. 5 as president of the United Way of Delaware County.

Brandon Feller will begin his new position on Jan. 5 as president of the United Way of Delaware County.

Until Dec. 19, however, he was still very much the executive director of the Delaware County chapter of the American Red Cross. As he showed a visitor around the agency's new offices at 380 Hills-Miller Road, his conversation was peppered with "we" and "our."

"We definitely picked up space," he said, pointing out storage rooms, offices and a large training room, at the moment strewn with torsos and child-size CPR mannequins. The room is designed to become a disaster operations center in the event of calamity, Feller said.

A workforce of volunteers painted walls and ceilings and pulled and punched down all the phone and data cable in the building, a former church, he said. A volunteer even built a large cabinet in the training room.

That kind of help "really let us cut a lot of expense off the final product," Feller said.

Feller, who came to Delaware in 2005 from the Illinois Red Cross, has been with the American Red Cross for six years - as he said, "long enough for it to become really a part of who I am."

When he heard that the United Way position was open, Feller said, he offered to serve on the search committee.

"They thanked me, but I didn't hear back. I wasn't asked to participate," he said.

In October, he was asked to participate - as a candidate.

Applying for the position "wasn't the first thing I thought of, but it started to make sense," Feller said.

Steve Garlock, president of Grady Memorial Hospital and chairman of the United Way board of directors, said an executive search firm found about 50 candidates. The list was narrowed initially to 10 or 12, and then to two.

Garlock said the vote to hire Feller was unanimous. Feller is "a bright young man," he said, who has had great results at the Red Cross.

"He's about as close to a perfect match as we could get," Garlock said.

The United Way in September set a campaign fundraising goal of $3.8-million. Under the leadership of interim president Mark Bergstedt, the organization is "on target" to meet that goal, Garlock said.

Feller said he expects the ongoing campaign to be his first priority when he starts in January. Then he'll transition into the allocations process, including getting the information to the county agencies.

Feller said his longtime association with a United Way member agency will not be an issue.

"It doesn't work that way," he said. The allocations process at United Way is "volunteer-driven and very objective."

He also plans to meet with key stakeholders, some of whom he already knows from his position with the Red Cross. Now, Feller said, he'll be meeting them in a new role.

Natalie Long, chairman of the Delaware County chapter of the American Red Cross board of directors, said the board is sorry to see Feller go.

"We were very disappointed. Brandon did a superb job while he was here but he will be in the community," Long said. "He'll be at arm's length."

She said when Feller told her he was being considered for the United Way position she knew he was as good as gone.

"He's a good catch for any organization," she said.

Long said the executive director job description will go to Red Cross chapters both local and national. A search committee was being formed early this month, though no time line for filling the position has been set.

"At this point I'll just say 'as soon as possible,'" Long said.

Both Feller and his wife, Jessica, a human resources specialist for the city of Delaware, are pleased to be staying in Delaware. The couple have a 1-year-old son.

"I'm thrilled to move from one organization that I love to another I have tremendous respect for," Feller said. "I'm just happy it worked out."