I have always worked with extraordinary people. When asked what the biggest contributing factors are to my professional achievements, this is my standard answer. And it is true. My colleagues have passion for their work, the people they serve and each other. According to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, the average U.S. worker puts in 1,783 hours on the job each year. I can’t bear the thought of spending so much time around people I don’t genuinely enjoy, doing work that is not purposeful. A local business leader and mentor is consistent each time we meet. The first question that he asks is are you having fun, and even on the most challenging and frustrating days, my response is always affirmative. This year, I celebrate ten years at United Way and 4 years as chief executive, or as I like to say the chief servant officer. In all these years working to achieve our mission, my answer has never changed. I am having fun because the work is purposeful and the people with whom I work with are inspiring.
United Way exists to create conditions to help people live better lives. We do this by mobilizing and managing resources. Those resources are people, money, projects and organizations. Our vision is to be a catalyst for change and a partner of choice for investors who want to change lives, help people and build the beloved community. The beloved community is one in which we are able to live into our God given potential. It is where we collectively fight for the education, income and health of all people, everywhere. The beloved community is one in which we recognize that although we have freedom and choice, we are inextricably linked and our choices matter. The beloved community is achieved when each person is fully harnessed to do more good for the whole of humanity.
I love this mission and purpose. But, it would be less fulfilling if I didn’t work with inspired colleagues throughout the entire United Way movement and throughout our partner organizations. Locally, we have 149 team members who wake up each morning driven to bring our mission and vision to life. They toil day and night on finding innovative solutions for the challenges our region and neighbors face, like helping tackle the growing heroin and opioid epidemic. These are the people who labor over how to transform access to transportation for low-income communities. They work diligently to bring people and projects together to have greater impact for people in need. They are thinking about how to add value to our corporate and community partners in new and creative ways. They inspire me.