United Way pauses amidst pandemic to introduce new leadership team

In response to the impending threat posed by COVID-19, new United Way of Greater Cincinnati President Moira Weir jumped into the fray weeks before she was officially to begin her tenure. She put together a new leadership team during the early stages of the pandemic, anticipating the significant challenges ahead in assessing and responding to community needs.

Moira Weir
Moira Weir

“The last few weeks have been intense – a perfect time to learn how important United Way of Greater Cincinnati is to this community,” said Weir. “We have been at the forefront of relief efforts and that will always be a common theme with United Way. We will show up. We will be relevant. We will be quick, flexible and equitable. We will make a difference.”

United Way’s COVID-19 response has included:

  • Allowing United Way agencies to access early allocations for help with emergency relief
  • Establishing the COVID-19 Regional Response Fund with Greater Cincinnati Foundation, raising more than $7 million and already pushing more than $5 million into the community
  • Setting up closed groups on Mobilize so social service agencies or CEOs can chat about their needs and concerns
  • Establishing its 211 Center as a one-stop shop for COVID relief
  • Reaching out to non-traditional partners (faith-based and community-based organizations) to ensure relief work hits all communities
  • Delivering iPads to help isolated seniors connect with their families.
  • Establishing a partnership with Hamilton County JFS and delivering tens of thousands of dollars of gift cards directly into the hands of food assistance applicants to fill the void between application submittal and approval
  • Connecting United Way 211 and Meals on Wheels to proactively reach out to seniors living alone and inquire if they need social services
  • Delivering masks and sanitizers to organizations throughout our community. UWGC will ultimately deliver more than 1 million masks and thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer donated by Procter & Gamble.

The new team

The focus of this effort has been intense, and has taken precedence over an official introduction of this new team.

“We have more than 100 years of history of convening necessary resources for a comprehensive approach to ingrained community problems,” Weir said. “This leadership group will be entrusted with keeping the United Way’s tremendous legacy alive and building on the current team’s wonderful work.”

Weir said the team is diverse and represents the community it serves. Each member has special skills and personalities that blend well; each brings strengths that complement others’ weaknesses, ensuring a solid team without holes. The new leadership team:

Charles Wright
Charles Wright

Charles Wright, Chief Operating Officer

Wright joined United Way 22 years ago and will lead Human Resources, Information Technology, Finance and our area centers. He served in a variety of leadership roles driving system-wide improvement.  In 2001, Charles was awarded the Staff Excellence award by United Way Worldwide (UWW). For 10 years, he has been an adjunct professor at University of Cincinnati teaching Evaluation and Social Policy, and in 2009 he was awarded the Distinguished Alumni honor.

Mike Baker
Mike Baker

Mike Baker, Chief Impact Officer

Baker has served United Way for 16 years and is leading community investments and strategies to support families and individuals throughout the region. Baker previously led social innovation efforts and served as the Director of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Social Innovation Fund. He was named to the Cincinnati Business Courier’s Forty Under 40 Class of 2017.

Tanya Cornejo
Tanya Cornejo

Tanya Cornejo, Chief Philanthropy Officer

Cornejo will lead all fundraising efforts. She recently served as vice president of Philanthropy at the Cincinnati Ballet, where she led a campaign for a new $30.8 million facility that will open in 2021. Prior to the Ballet, she served as development director of Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House, now the largest Ronald McDonald House in the world. Tanya is a member of Leadership Cincinnati Class 40 and was named to the Cincinnati Business Courier’s Forty Under 40 Class of 2013. She is bilingual in English and Spanish (born and raised in Mexico City).

Brian Gregg
Brian Gregg

Brian Gregg, Chief Communications Officer

Gregg is responsible for all internal and external communications. He began his career as a journalist, reporting and writing for The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Detroit News, Rockford Register Star and USA Today. For the past 12 years, he led all internal and external communications at Hamilton County Job and Family Services. Brian received the 2010 President’s Award from the Ohio Job and Family Services Directors Association for outstanding work in communications on behalf of JFS organizations throughout Ohio. He is a member of Leadership Cincinnati Class 39.

Chandra Mathews-Smith
Chandra Mathews-Smith

Chandra Mathews-Smith is the new Chief Community Engagement Officer

Mathews-Smith is responsible for engagement of all communities, including faith-based and community-based organizations non-traditional to United Way. She has a master’s in Social Work and comes from Job and Family Services, where she led engagement work. Mathews-Smith previously worked 20 years at Beech Acres Parenting Center, and also worked at Council on Aging of Southwest Ohio. She was named a Woman of the Year in 2018 by The Enquirer and The Greater Cincinnati Foundation. She recently received the Keep the Dream Alive award for community service that emulates the Rev. Dr. Martin L. King, Jr.’s leadership.

Dami Okunade
Dami Okunade

Dami Okunade, Chief of Staff

She has held previous positions as a project manager, and for the past year, she was chief of staff at Job and Family Services. She has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Ohio State University and a master’s degree in public administration from the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at Ohio State University. Her background includes experience in strategy development, business analytics, and sustainability and development.

For more than 100 years, United Way of Greater Cincinnati has developed, supported and strengthened social systems that improve lives in Greater Cincinnati communities. UWGC provides relief for families in crisis, supports families as they establish stronger foundations, and revitalizes systems of support for long-term economic resiliency. United Way is uniquely positioned to bring together and harness the collective power of social service agencies, governments, businesses, donors and more to tackle ingrained, persistent, community-wide problems in a coordinated, comprehensive way that maximizes donor dollars. The generosity of our community, combined with our more than 100 years of experience bringing people together, enables us to support families in a 10-county area across Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

Additional information about our community impact is available at UWGC.org.

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