Member Spotlight: David Merjan

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How did you first get involved with United Way?

I first got involved in United Way while working for Hughes Electronics in Los Angeles in 1987. We had a company campaign and I started to donate shortly after graduating with my Masters. However, I became more intimately involved when I arrived in Chicago and started working for William Blair.

What inspires your commitment to United Way?

There are a number of things that inspire my commitment to United Way. First and foremost is the number of extremely worthwhile organizations that United Way supports. I am on the board of Lawrence Hall Youth Services in Chicago [a United Way funded agency], an organization that assists underprivileged youths in the Chicago Area. I am inspired by both the young people I have met through the organization, and the people who work there. Mary Hollie, the CEO of Lawrence Hall for over 25 years, exhibits boundless energy and tremendous dedication in bettering the lives of all of those who are part of the Lawrence Hall community.

I am also inspired by people that work at United Way. Wendy DuBoe takes the time every year to come and meet with me, update me on the progress United Way is making, and share details of many of the worthwhile organizations United Way supports. United Way of Metro Chicago employees have also gone on to do great things. In particular I would highlight Stephanie Truax, who was a United Way employee who worked with William Blair on the campaign from 2005-2008. Stephanie went on to work at Feeding America, then got her Masters of Public Policy at Kings College in London, and upon graduation was named Director of Development at the Partnership for a Healthier America, the organization inspired by Michelle Obama’s goal of improving the health of America’s youth. Stephanie and I have kept in touch, and she invited my family to a Summit in Washington DC March 13-14.

My association with United Way, Lawrence Hall and the people I have met have had a profound influence on my family. I have three children: Jake, who is a sophomore at Pitt and recently graduated as a Military Imagery Analyst from an army training program, Julia, who is a freshman at Boston University majoring in Investor Relations, and Alexandra, who is a sophomore in high school. They have all been to many Lawrence Hall events, and are all involved in their own philanthropic endeavors. Julia mentors a 6-year old girl every Saturday who is being raised by her grandmother.

Would you share details about William Blair’s support of United Way?

William Blair’s support of United Way is all encompassing. For many years Bob Newman, now Tocqueville Co-Chair, ran the campaign, and did a fabulous job of raising the profile of the whole organization. John Brennan has been the director of the campaign for the last several years. UW also has the support of our CEO, John Ettelson, as well as all members of senior management.

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