United Way of Metropolitan Chicago has continued our journey of growing and defining our LGBTQA affinity group. An outgrowth of our internal employee resource group, the volunteer-led, staff-supported affinity group is poised for great things. We launched more than a year ago, last October 2014, and so much has happened I’ll try and share the significant highlights.
• 10.14 – Executive Committee invited from Top 25 corporate partners and strategic partner agencies. Roles and participation accepted
• 02.15 – Mission created with support of potential new corporate partner
• 05.15 – Subcommittees defined and aligned to mission: Philanthropy, Engagement, & Partnerships
• 06.15 – Invitation Only event – Executive Committee brings a friend/partner/spouse/colleague to hear about United Pride and provide feedback, additionally, it’s the start of community engagement
• 07.15 – Committee makes recommendations to affinity group page for website to increase engagement, influences pledge form, eWay & ePledge sites, for interest & affinity membership level capture prior to campaign & collateral production.
• 08.15 – Early campaigns are able to indicate an interest and, based on giving, have a membership level in United Pride
• 08.15 – Engagement committee defines 3 part Salon Series that pulls together corporate partner employee resource groups, colleagues, friends, family, other affinity groups (YLS, WLC) and agency partners to learn more about United Way, United Pride, and our agency partners and programs that are serving those most in need in the LGBTQ community
• 09.15 – Leadership retreat for Executive Committee chairs, committee leads, executive sponsor and staff liaisons defines goals for year two (financial, participation, engagement): space and facilitator provided by two existing corporate sponsors
• 09.15 – Engagement committee works with marketing staff to implement social media strategy
• 09.15 – Established United Way Affinity Group, the Young Leaders Society, throws down fundraising challenge to newly formed United Pride – Challenge accepted with Executive Chair concession speeches planned & dinner on the table for the winners. Cabinet gets involved and ups the ante
• 10.15 – First in the Salon Series takes place with great success
United Pride continues to exceed my expectations for what community engagement means. To have a strong leader who understands that the LGBTQ community is a part of our entire region and not just Chicago or Boystown sets a precedent that will allow United Way to change the story. Not only will be support those who are most in need by providing housing for young transgender women of color, not only will we provide health services to those who can’t afford it and have it be unique to their lives and circumstances, but we will also be a force in the LGBTQA community that is more powerful that anyone can imagine by creating the opportunity for investment that no one single donation could possibly accomplish on its own.
I also have to add that none of this would have been possible without the right people in place. None of it would have been possible without our allies. None of it would have been possible if we didn’t say, “there’s opportunity to help here, let’s do it.” To have had a fearless executive sponsor on our Senior Team, Andrea Bazan, and a truly selfless community warrior in our development team, Matt Katzfey, and a CEO, Wendy DuBoe, who believed in our dream, and the rest of our leadership team who supported us has been, without question, fate.
So thanks to Wendy, Andrea, Mimi, Marveen (who keeps checking in from United Way Worldwide), those who came before that have left United Way, and especially Matt.
I am the lucky one. I am the gay employee at UWMC who said, “What if we…,” and WE DID.
To learn more about United Pride, visit www.LIVEUNITEDChicago.org/United-Pride
Post submitted by: Seth Vermilyea, United Way of Metropolitan Chicago Senior Manager of Operations