Dear United Way friends,
How would you like to start a new job in the middle of a pandemic, when everyone is working from home, with an organization moving at full speed because its support is vitally important to a devastated community?
Welcome to the job, my new leadership team! I am extremely proud to be supported by a fantastic group of people thrust into an intense situation. This is a perfect time to learn how important United Way of Greater Cincinnati is to the community and to fulfill a promise we intend to keep – that we will be relevant and make a true difference. They have all performed exceptionally well under pressure.
Our team is diverse and represents the community we serve. Each member has special skills and personalities that blend well; each brings strengths that complement others’ weaknesses, ensuring we have a solid team without holes.
Our newest team member is Chief Philanthropy Officer Tanya Cornejo, leading all fundraising efforts. Cornejo recently served as vice president of Philanthropy at the Cincinnati Ballet, where she led a campaign for a new $30.8 million facility that will open in 2021. Prior to the Ballet, she served as development director of Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House, now the largest Ronald McDonald House in the world. Tanya is a member of Leadership Cincinnati Class 40 and was named to the Cincinnati Business Courier’s Forty Under 40 Class of 2013. She is bilingual in English and Spanish (born and raised in Mexico City).
We also have two long-time United Way employees on the leadership team.
Charles Wright is the Chief Operating Officer. He joined United Way 22 years ago and will lead Human Resources, Information Technology, Finance and our area centers. He served in a variety of leadership roles driving system-wide improvement. In 2001, Charles was awarded the Staff Excellence award by United Way Worldwide (UWW). For 10 years, he has been an adjunct professor at University of Cincinnati teaching Evaluation and Social Policy, and in 2009 he was awarded the Distinguished Alumni honor.
Mike Baker is the new Chief Impact Officer. Baker has served United Way for 16 years and is leading community investments and strategies to support families and individuals throughout the region. Baker previously led social innovation efforts and served as the Director of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Social Innovation Fund. He was named to the Cincinnati Business Courier’s Forty Under 40 Class of 2017.
Three others join my team after previous work with me.
Brian Gregg is the new Chief Communications Officer, responsible for all internal and external communications. He began his career as a journalist, reporting and writing for The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Detroit News, Rockford Register Star and USA Today. For the past 12 years, he led all internal and external communications at Hamilton County Job and Family Services. Brian received the 2010 President’s Award from the Ohio Job and Family Services Directors Association for outstanding work in communications on behalf of JFS organizations throughout Ohio. He is a member of Leadership Cincinnati Class 39.
Chandra Mathews-Smith is the new Chief Community Engagement Officer, responsible for engagement of all communities, including faith-based and community-based organizations non-traditional to United Way. Mathews-Smith has a master’s in Social Work. She also comes from Job and Family Services, where she led engagement work. Mathews-Smith previously worked 20 years at Beech Acres Parenting Center, and also worked at Council on Aging of Southwest Ohio. Mathews-Smith was named a Woman of the Year in 2018 by The Enquirer and The Greater Cincinnati Foundation. She recently received the Keep the Dream Alive award for community service that emulates the Rev. Dr. Martin L. King, Jr.’s leadership.
Dami Okunade is United Way’s new Chief of Staff. She has held previous positions as a project manager, and for the past year, was chief of staff at Job and Family Services. She has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Ohio State University and a master’s degree in public administration from the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at Ohio State University. Her background includes experience in strategy development, business analytics, and sustainability and development.
We have more than 100 years of history of convening necessary resources for a comprehensive approach to community problems This leadership group will be entrusted with keeping the United Way’s tremendous legacy alive and building on the current team’s wonderful work. How we respond to COVID-19 is how we will respond to every ingrained community problem we tackle.