Our United Way network is full of passionate women who give back to their community in unique ways. Some plan fundraising campaigns in their office to drum up support for our neighborhood initiatives. Others are dedicated to raising the next generation of young philanthropists. However they contribute, they each play a pivotal role in building a stronger region for our neighbors.
Let’s meet a few of these exceptional women!
Venetia Valley | United Way Donor
As a project manager at Woodward Inc., Venetia Valley plans her office’s annual United Way campaign. She energizes her colleagues around our work in the community, while also supporting other Chicago nonprofits who invest in our neighbors’ health. Venetia’s abundant generosity stems from her faith and growing up in the church, where she learned at a young age that she has a spirit for helping others.
“I’m the type of person who likes to help people and give back. It’s how I was raised,” Venetia said. “I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth, so I can understand and appreciate the agencies out there who are helping people who just may need a little bit of help to get them to the next step or get them over a hump.”
Aaliyah Phillips | AmeriCorps member at Austin Coming Together
This North Lawndale native joined United Way’s AmeriCorp program to serve residents in the neighboring community of Austin. There, she’s discovered new tools such as restorative justice training to heal collective trauma and referral systems to connect her neighbors to resources and programs that will improve their quality of life. Because of her experience with ACT, she aspires to be an asset in her own community as she pursues a degree in criminal defense and social work.
“I love the fact that I’m able to change the narrative. A lot of people look at certain neighborhoods with a negative view based on what the media paints. But, once you get involved with these community organizations you really get a chance to get exposed to other organizations that are doing good in the community,” Aaliyah said. “[This experience] made me look at my own neighborhood and think: ‘How can I be a benefit?’”
Carrie Eaton | Resource Development Relationship Manager at United Way of Metro Chicago
In her two years with United Way, Carrie Eaton’s built strong relationships with our corporate donors, enabling our work in communities. But she hasn’t always been a fundraiser. While in college, Carrie studied theater through a community lens, focusing on directing and storytelling. She later went on to work for a nonprofit, teaching middle-school students conflict resolution and healthy mental and behavioral health through performing arts. This experience ignited her interest in lifting up her Chicago neighbors through a career in philanthropy.
“I hope Chicago continues to represent and value the unique cultures that have made up the city’s neighborhoods, and that those who’ve shared their culture with us would not be displaced from their homes,” Carrie said. “ Through my work, I hope to build relationships rooted in trust across Chicago’s communities and be on the ground alongside changemakers, leading with empathy and hope.”
Keisha Conway | United Way Donor
As the executive assistant to the president of Rush University Medical Center, Keisha Conway runs the United Way fundraising campaign in her office. She appreciates that her role as a volunteer and donor contributes to the success of her neighbors. She’s also motivated to be an advocate for people who are overlooked or fighting against the odds. Thanks to the support of our corporate partners like Keisha, we’re able to fulfill our mission of building stronger families and neighborhoods.
“Giving back doesn’t always have to have a monetary value,” Keisha said. “It can be about giving your time, rolling your sleeves up and actually going into a community”
Sofia Gutierrez | Parent Ambassador at Cicero Community Collaborative
Born and raised in Mexico, Sofia Gutierrez was never told that long-term education was important to one’s life. It was through her children’s schooling in the U.S. that she learned how foundational it’s been to their growth. Now, she’s sharing a message about the importance of education with her own community. As a parent ambassador in Cicero, she passionately uses her insight to educate local parents on topics related to their children’s personal and academic success. Read her story here!
“We’re all headed towards the same direction — to bring children to programs — and we all have something good to contribute,” Sofia said. “Together, we can make a difference.”
Jacqueline Robinson | Manager of Grant Reporting at United Way of Metro Chicago
When she’s not working hard on grant reporting at United Way, Jackie Robinson serves with her church and local Girl Scouts troop. She’s been with the Girl Scouts for 20 years, and she loves nothing more than to invest in the lives of her girls. She said, even though she may not have an excessive amount of money to give, she has time. And in her free time, Jackie sings with her church choir and is dedicated to helping young girls become leaders through serving their community.
“My hopes for the city of Chicago are that we can become a city that works for the people who live here, lifting up and not tearing down, helping one another no matter what race or ethnicity,” Jackie said. “I want it to get back to when I was growing up and the neighborhood looked out for all of the children, not just theirs with no fear of retribution at all. I know that those were simpler days but peace should be consistently sought after by all people.”