Dear United Way friends,
Today is my one-year anniversary at United Way of Greater Cincinnati.
A lot has happened since I started a week early last year to help our organization respond to the pandemic and its devastating effect on our community. I am very fortunate to lead an organization – supported by a tremendously generous community – that experienced many memorable moments over the past year.
What most stands out: the way our community rallied around its neighbors. In the early days of the pandemic, with other partners, we raised more than $7.2 million in a matter of weeks. Later, Procter & Gamble donated more than 1.5 million masks and others contributed thousands of bottles of sanitizer, all that we dispersed throughout our community. I remember watching our staff load personal protection equipment into the cars, trucks and vans of about 50 faith-based leaders to share with their communities.
Finally, our annual campaign hit its goal of $50 million in a year where people were stretched thin. They stepped up and out on behalf of their neighbors. I will never forget how people came together in crisis.
Another memory is closer to home – how our organization showed up. From the early days of allowing partner agencies to access money early, to the outreach to more than 150 faith-based organizations that had never worked with us, to the way we pivoted to a mostly virtual annual campaign, United Way time and time again did business in a different way than what was expected. I am proud of my team for showing up quickly, being flexible and nimble and producing relevant results.
One of my best memories was meeting Siri Imani. The spoken-word artist received one of our Black Empowerment Works grants for her urban gardens. She also produced a powerful artistic interpretation of our work in her community. Getting to know her and her wonderful work in our community was a highlight of my year.
And, of course, another great memory is the day we received a $25 million donation from national philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. It validated that we are trusted and on the right path.
I feel so fortunate to be part of this great organization and this wonderful community. It has been an incredible year. I look forward to many more.