Wendell Dallas tours Elgin High School

Wendell Dallas (center) tours the automotive program at Elgin High School in our Elgin Neighborhood Network.

Community, corporate, government, and philanthropic leaders wave at the press event announcing the launch of our Southland Neighborhood Networks.

Wendell Dallas had been on the job as president and CEO of Nicor Gas for just a few days when he got a call from Sean Garrett, president and CEO of United Way of Metro Chicago, welcoming him to Illinois. As a lifelong Southerner with roots in Alabama and Georgia, Wendell and his family moved to the Chicago area for the prominent role with Nicor Gas. Now, eager to learn about his new community, Wendell asked Sean what he could do to help. Sean suggested Wendell serve as the 2022/2023 Campaign Chair for United Way. He didn’t hesitate to say yes.

“While I was new to the Chicago area, I was not new to United Way and its deep connections and impact in the community,” Wendell said. “I have donated to United Way for more than 30 years, so it was a natural fit to join the United Way of Metro Chicago Board of Directors and serve as the 2022/2023 Campaign Chair.”

With this decades-long experience and support of United Way in his back pocket, Wendell led United Way of Metro Chicago’s workplace giving efforts over the last year. He also credits the Campaign Cabinet and United Way Board of Directors for welcoming him to the community and bringing their expertise to the table. Their efforts were a great success: $45.2 million was raised during the 2022/2023 Campaign to help build a stronger, more equitable Chicago region.

“It has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had as a leader,” Wendell said. “This was my first time leading a major campaign in the Chicagoland area, and it was a huge honor for me. I am grateful for the incredible network of United Way supporters and for their leadership and generosity.”

It was also a big year for Nicor Gas. Consistently ranking in our top 25 corporate partners, the Nicor Gas Foundation deepened its commitment to community transformation, investing $1 million in the expansion of United Way’s Neighborhood Network Initiative in the suburbs.

“Nicor Gas serves 2.3 million customers in northern Illinois. We are in over 650 communities. Our employees live, work and play in the communities that we serve,” Wendell said. “We believe in giving back to these communities, and our nearly 70-year partnership with United Way is the perfect way to deepen this commitment. Nicor Gas is thrilled to be a part of this vital work as a key funder of the Neighborhood Network Initiative in our suburban communities.”

With Nicor Gas’ investment, United Way launched a new Neighborhood Network in Elgin earlier this year; plus, in partnership with Cook County, Neighborhood Networks expanded in the Southland in Ford Heights/Chicago Heights, Harvey and Park Forest/Richton Park this summer. The existing Blue Island/Robbins Neighborhood Network is receiving an increased investment in their transformative work, creating a more vibrant community for every resident by improving household incomes and access to quality health care and fresh food.

Over the next three years, the new Neighborhood Networks in Elgin and the Southland will develop their coalitions of local nonprofits and define their visions and goals for their communities – from advancing educational opportunities for students to increasing economic and workforce development.

“When we work together, we can do meaningful things,” Wendell said. “It takes business, civic, community, government – all of us working together. When we do that well, the citizens and the community benefit from it.”

Thank you, Wendell, for your generosity and leadership as our 2022/2023 Campaign Chair!

Join Wendell and Nicor Gas as we work together to build a stronger, more equitable Chicago region.
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