Ex-head of chamber named president of fund-raising federation Cotton replaces Forni, killed in auto crash


Linda L. Cotton, former president of the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce, yesterday became president of Combined Health Agencies Inc., a fund-raising federation of 24 statewide service organizations.

Cotton, 46, of Towson, who also was named chief professional officer, replaces Joseph M. Forni, 42, who was killed in a car accident in Baltimore County Nov. 12.

Several officers have run the agency since Forni's death. For the past month, William A. Zimmer, president of 21st Century Management Inc., a consulting business, had been temporarily in charge as CHA began its 1997 fund drive in partnership with the United Way.

Noting that CHA is not as widely known as it could be, Cotton said her goal was to increase funds and public awareness of the agencies served by CHA, which had a $2 million budget for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 1996.

"People should understand what an important coalition this is," Cotton said. "The agencies directly serve 600,000 people. They are the only resource or the key resource for information, health care referrals and services for many people with AIDS, epilepsy, lupus, eye diseases and many other diseases."

Through the United Way, Marylanders last year gave $1.8 million to CHA, one of the largest recipients of such funding.

Besides raising money, CHA conducts public awareness programs, including a weeklong Health Awareness Week in June, "wellness" efforts in the workplace and a speakers bureau.

CHA has a paid staff of six people -- four of them at 3700 Koppers St. in South Baltimore and two in Frederick -- and relies heavily on 75 to 100 volunteers. Cotton declined to disclose her salary.

Sue Lovell, chairwoman of the 25-member CHA board of directors since July and director of the USF&G; Foundation, said:

"Linda will bring fresh, creative, innovative ideas in terms of fund-raising and marketing to CHA. Under her leadership, CHA will be able to position itself to drive significant change in collaboration with United Way to meet the increasing needs of the 24 health agencies that comprise our organization."

A former journalist, Cotton worked several years for The Baltimore Sun, where she was an editorial writer, columnist, deputy op-ed page editor, metro editor and associate publisher.

She took the chamber job in 1995 and left in December 1996.

CHA's 24 affiliated agencies, many of them Maryland chapters of national groups, are:

Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Association, American Council on Alcoholism, American Diabetes Association, American Lung Association of Maryland, Arthritis Foundation, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Crohn's Colitis Foundation of America, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Easter Seal Society for Disabled Children & Adults, Epilepsy Association of Maryland, HERO (Health Education Resource Organization).

Also, Hospice Network of Maryland, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International, Leukemia Society of America, Maryland Lupus Foundation, Medical Eye Bank of Maryland, Mental Health Association of Metropolitan Baltimore, Muscular Dystrophy Association, National Kidney Foundation of Maryland, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Planned Parenthood of Maryland, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Alliance, The Foundation Fighting Blindness and United Cerebral Palsy of Central Maryland.

For more information on CHA, call 410-644-4493.

Pub Date: 9/03/97

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