Joe Burris

United Way of King County Announces Carol K. Nelson as New Board Chair; the Organization Also Welcomes New Directors to the Board

(SEATTLE)—United Way of King County is honored to announce Carol K. Nelson as new board chair. Nelson is a corporate board member and strategic advisor, and she served as Seattle market president at KeyBank until her retirement last year. She served as incoming chair of the United Way King County board in the just-ended fiscal year.

Nelson’s career spanned 30 years in the financial and banking industry. She also worked as director and CEO of the Department of Revenue for the State of Washington under Gov. Jay Inslee.

“It is an honor to serve as chair of the board of directors standing shoulder to shoulder with a group of incredibly talented and dedicated directors and staff,” Nelson said. “Our work today is more important than ever. Because of COVID-19, the needs of the most vulnerable people in our community have increased exponentially.”

Gordon McHenry, Jr., United Way of King County president and CEO, welcomed Nelson and the new members of the board.

“I’m excited to welcome Carol as new board chair,” said McHenry. “Carol brings a wealth of experience to our organization and she is passionate about breaking the racial inequities that exist in homelessness, food insecurity and the education system. The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated these crises and Carol and the new board members will help us tackle these challenges.”

Nelson’s history with United Way dates back to her early years in the area.

“As I entered the Seattle business community as a young banker some 30 years ago, my first professional volunteer experience was with United Way of King County,” said Nelson. “I am proud to support the work of United Way as we bring people together to give, volunteer and take action to help people in need and solve our community’s toughest challenges.”

Previously, Nelson served as board chair of United Way of Snohomish County, where she led the community campaign and received the Reeves/Sievers Founders’ Award in recognition of a lifetime of community service and the spirit of philanthropy. She also served as chair of the American Heart Association’s Puget Sound Go Red for Women campaign.    

Active in civic endeavors, Nelson has served as board member of the Washington Roundtable, the Downtown Seattle Association, Federal Reserve of San Francisco Seattle Branch and Pacific Bankers Management Institute. 

United Way also welcomed seven new board members. They are: 

  • Denise Stiffarm, Partner at Pacifica Law Group. Stiffarm practices in the areas of municipal, land use and education law. She is an enrolled member of the Gros Ventre (A’aninin/White Clay) Tribe and is an active member of Seattle’s Urban Indian community.
  • Rodrigo Lopez is regional senior VP of Comcast’s Washington region. Lopez previously served on the board of directors of United Way of Salt Lake City in Utah.
  • Lauren Thomas is CEO of Hopelink, a community action agency serving homeless and low-income families, children and seniors and people with disabilities in King and Snohomish Counties, with a vision of a community free of poverty.
  • State Rep. Eric Pettigrew has represented the 37th state district for 18 years but announced his retirement in January. He served as House Democratic Caucus Chair, which made him the highest-ranking African American in the Legislature. He is now the VP Government Relations & Outreach for NHL Seattle
  • Maud Daudon is the executive leader of Career Connect Washington. Daudon works with private, public and labor leaders to utilize state and private resources to enable every Washington student an opportunity to have multiple pathways to college-level learning and careers.
  • Shawn Jones is senior VP and private banking sales leader at Key Private Bank and has decades of experience in banking.
  • Leigh Toner successfully led the United Way fundraising campaign as co-chair in 2019-2020 and returns this year as board member. She is a committed community volunteer and is a firm believer in education as a path to economic opportunity and social equity. She serves on the Board of Trustees at Seattle Girls’ School.



United Way of King County works with determination and innovation to create a community where people have homes, students graduate and families are financially stable.

Signature United Way of King County programs include Home Base, which helps people with rental assistance and avoid eviction; ParentChild+ helps struggling parents gain the skills to be their child’s first, best teacher; Reconnecting Youth helps young people earn a diploma or GED because education is one of the best ways to end the cycle of poverty; and Bridge to Finish, a program that helps community college students finish their education by providing emergency grants, financial training and access to public resources at 10 campuses in King County.

95% of every contributed dollar goes directly to community impact thanks to a substantial endowment originally seeded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and designed to offset the bulk of organizational operating costs.