President and chief executive officer
United Way of the Wine Country, 418 B St., Ste. 400, Santa Rosa 95401; 707-528-4485; unitedwaywinecountry.org
Residence: Santa Rosa
Professional background: 11-plus years working for United Way organizations in three states
Education: Undergraduate in Business Administration from Wayne State College and Masters in Management from the University of Phoenix
Staff: 11 FTEs, 5 VISTAS, 3 contract employees
Describe your organization. United Way of the Wine Country is dedicated to improving the lives of local children, families and individuals by mobilizing the caring power of our community. For over 40 years, we have been working with active community members, business leaders, nonprofit organizations and government agencies to address the most critical issues affecting our community. Led by a diverse group of local volunteers, we are deeply committed to achieving lasting solutions – not just quick fixes – for people in our own backyard by:
- Supporting programs and services that directly help local people
- Advocating for public policy changes such as healthcare for all California children
- Helping people contribute their time and talent through volunteer opportunities
Tell us a little bit about yourself. I am an 11-year United Way veteran who was born and raised in Nebraska (Go Big Red!). Having worked for three United Ways in three states, I’ve been witness to some dramatic changes and seen community impact at its fullest. Since moving to Santa Rosa in 2011, I have dedicated my time to learning about the community and meeting the people who are making community change possible.
As a parent of two girls, ages 10 and 13, I am adapting to hearing stories of boys, fashion choices and the latest and greatest boy bands on the radio. I coach girls youth softball in my “free” time and assist in taxiing my daughters whenever needed.
What is your role in the organization? President/CEO
What achievement are you most proud of? Assisting my youngest daughter win her battle against cancer.
What is your biggest challenge today? United Way has been in existence for over 125 years and many people still think of us as the organization created over a century ago. Our work has increased in size and scope, and too many people are unaware of the impact we are making in their neighborhoods on a daily basis.
What is the next major project either under way or on the horizon? As the lead organization of the Earn It! Keep It! Save It! Coalition, we have expanded our VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) sites to allow for more people to take advantage of this great program. Although we have seen significant growth, this year we are looking at doubling the program, which could bring in over $6 million in tax returns to our lowest income families living in our community.
What product or service would/or is helping you do your job more effectively? Although there are many products which do simplify work processes, I feel it is more important to have the right staff, properly aligned with their responsibilities, throughout the organization. I am fortunate to be surrounded by an energetic team of individuals who value the role they play in the organization and are constantly bettering themselves to allow the entire organization to run more effectively.
How do you think your profession will change in the next five years? The role of a United Way CEO has seen a major shift within the past decade and I would expect the next five years to be a continuation of this evolution. At one point, United Way CEOs had the primary function of fundraising and building/maintaining relationships. While that remains a significant part of our work, program development/expansion/evaluation has now become more important than ever. United Way CEOs will have to be more rounded and adaptable to the changing landscape of the nonprofit sector.
Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Paul Luna, President and CEO, Helios Education Foundation
Current reading: My daughters’ homework
Most want to meet: Anyone I haven’t who has a story to tell – I’m constantly amazed at the paths taken by others and am always looking to learn a bit more of those I wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to meet
Stress relievers: Walking my black lab early in the morning as the sun is rising, there are few, if any, cars on the road, and listening to a random collection of songs which always put a smile on my face (and occasionally make me sing out loud)
Favorite hobbies: Fantasy football, golf, coaching youth girl’s softball
Words that best describe you: Unique, ambitious, social, logical, passionate, intuitive, confident, reliable
Anything you want to add? Thank you for the recognition and the opportunity to share a little about myself and the organization that has given me, and the community, so much in return.
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