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Kender to leave Exchange Center

Kender to leave  Exchange Center, center for family unity
Rick Bussler, Publisher

Less than seven months after taking over as director of the Exchange Center for Family Unity, Mandie Kender is leaving the organization.

Kender notified the board last week that her family is moving to Cincinnati later this month.

“I’m so sad about this,” said Kender, who grew up in Owatonna and most recently lived in Minneapolis. “This was a hard, hard decision.”

She realizes she caught board members off guard and that her decision impacts the entire community.

“Breaking away from the community of Owatonna is definite grief for me,” Kender said. “Owatonna will always be my foundation.”

But in the end, Kender said “you have to do what’s best for your family.” She added the draw to the Cincinnati area is to be closer to her husband Lexy’s family. They have two children, Grace and Lucas.

Kender drew herself into the spotlight in April when she revealed publicly for the first time her survival story of childhood abuse at the hands of her father, Michael Bolton of Owatonna. “This is a story about a miracle, second changes and forgiveness. I am blessed to be a survivor,” she said at the time.

Kender’s departure comes just as the board decided in July to make the director’s position full time beginning in October. For years the position has been part time at 20 hours per week.

Speaking from her own experience, Kender said the director’s job “can’t be done without it being full time.”

Despite not being around for very long, Kender said she feels as if she accomplished great things. Most notable, she said, is getting the board to step up to move closer to the center’s mission and positioning the organization for future growth.

“People know who we are and have a better understanding of who we are,” Kender said.

She said whoever is hired to replace her will find a welcoming board who has done so much over the past six months.

The Exchange Center serves Steele, Rice, Waseca, Dodge and Freeborn counties to provide dependable and efficient support-based in-home mentoring to parents that can use additional support to be successful parents.

An immediate search will begin for Kender’s replacement.

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