To our valued supporters:
As you may be aware, it’s been a challenging, and frankly, heartbreaking week for our community.
Our former President & CEO, Michael Johnson, and the leadership of United Way’s Board agreed this week to amicably part ways. Our Board Chair, Julia Poston, also resigned Friday from her position on the Board.
This has understandably brought to the forefront important issues in our community. Several leaders from the black community came to our offices on Tuesday to share a deep desire for change. I listened and promised to continue to listen and act on what we learn together. Let me be absolutely clear: There are undisputable racial inequities in our community. United Way commits to working with others in the community to address issues of equity and inclusion. We promise to look inward as well as outward. We’ll continue to have tough conversations — conversations I believe are extremely important steps for all of us. This community must heal. And we're dedicated to playing a significant role in that journey.
Here are two immediate promises:
1. Our Board of Directors affirmed its commitment to join with other community organizations as an active participant in an important community dialogue about equity and race. We are actively planning to start this dialogue with community leaders, key stakeholders and leaders from our Board next week. This is the beginning of a journey we must take to address this community’s undeniable divisions.
2. We also know change starts at home. United Way commits to the same journey of listening, learning and taking action to unite our own team. Specifically, we commit to immediately conducting a comprehensive racial equity audit and workplace culture assessment of United Way. We will take what we learn extremely seriously, implement immediate and long-term actions based on the findings and track and measure our progress in a transparent way.
We are all part of the change that must happen together. I am proud of the work United Way has done and continues to do to help change systems and break barriers that hold people back. We have much work to do. That is clear. But our call to unite will always be the guiding principle for us at United Way.
Even though we don’t have all the answers we want, we can continue to lean on our shared purpose. I hope you are holding firm to what United Way stands for: helping those in our community who need it most. That’s what is moving me forward – and what I believe can move us all forward.