1 What drew you to the United Way of Allen County?
A: I have had the good fortune of being connected to several United Ways throughout Indiana, whether through my role as a school superintendent or my wife, Amy, who has worked for or served on the board for different United Ways across the state. We became believers in their vision and mission.
As I looked to end my 30-year career in public education, I wanted to continue to serve in areas that had been important to me. The newly developed priorities of the United Way of Allen County aligned with those areas. Once I began to move through the interview process and began to meet and get to know the leadership team and board members, I knew it could be a great fit.
2 You’re going from a role as an educator to that of president and CEO of United Way. Are there similarities between the positions?
A: The social and community impact of public education is in many ways like that of the United Way. Both look to fulfill their missions through a portfolio that engages partners, organizations, experts, and others to move the community forward. Today, the priorities of United Way of Allen County – greater educational opportunities, housing stability, food insecurity and mental health access – are also priorities of school districts around the state. Both entities work at leveraging resources and use their ability to educate and inspire so that everyone has the opportunity to thrive.
3 Were you given a specific mandate by the board?
A: Beyond leading the daily operations, the board does have established expectations regarding the direction and growth of the organization.
Prior to the pandemic, United Way, in partnership with the Purdue Fort Wayne Community Research Institute, began a series of community conversations that included community needs assessments. After the information was gathered and reviewed, four strategic priorities were developed.
I believe it is my charge to strategically and intentionally address those priorities: educational opportunities, food security, housing stability and mental health access.
4 What are the challenges and opportunities the United Way faces in 2023?
A: I have always believed the success of any organization is found in its people and not necessarily the programs. Like many nonprofits, there are a variety of challenges ranging from budget issues to unintended mission creep, but possibly the greatest obstacle is found in today’s labor market.
However, the leadership team and board have been relentlessly dealing with these challenges by building a qualified staff committed to continuing a culture of philanthropy.
Today, we are fully staffed with a team of highly qualified personnel with high ethical standards and a strong work ethic. In doing so, the board and staff have created a culture in which all employees see themselves as part of the philanthropic and programming mission of the organization.
5 What do you like best about Allen County?
A: Allen County is vibrant. It is a diverse, family-friendly community with a mix of rural, suburban and urban living. What my wife and two children, Olivia and Eric, like is that there is something for everyone – shopping, food, parks, museums and sports.
Yet, what we have found and what we like the most are the people we have met and the help they have provided as we transition to Allen County.Read Full Story