United Way extends great thanks to Kimberly Harris, Puget Sound Energy CEO, for her year as United Way’s campaign chair. You can feel her enthusiasm in what she shared when we recently asked her about her role:
What was your process like in deciding to be United Way’s campaign chair?
I wanted to be prepared, so I talked a lot with past chairs. My role at Puget Sound Energy has allowed me to connect closely with the American Red Cross here, and from that partnership I knew the passion it takes to fight for people when they’re in their most vulnerable moments. Because I care so much about United Way’s activities in our community, I felt confident in accepting the role as campaign chair.
Your overall thoughts from your year as campaign chair?
My overall thoughts line up with something my father told me when I was little: that it isn’t about me. It’s about being part of something bigger.
At Puget Sound Energy, we’re first responders. And throughout this year, I’ve learned that United Way is, too. United Way responds first to the very basic needs people have every day—food, shelter and safety. They’re creating new strategies to keep the great work going to ensure everyone has a home. United Way is innovative and creative. They think differently about issues that affect our community.
What stood out this year?
When I joined two United Way staff members on a tour of one of United Way’s partner agencies, I felt strongly connected with the agency’s mission and with United Way’s mission. I really let those feelings drive me the rest of the year.
United Way’s annual Breakfast at Safeco Field stands out as well. It was fantastic being on stage in the stadium with the amazing young people who are in the Reconnecting Youth program. I remember Lee, a kind, collected young man, being so nervous. We were part of something bigger, together.
It was inspiring to be part of United Way’s Day of Caring, when teams come together to volunteer and raise money for United Way’s work around homelessness, education and financial stability.
For our generous donors, are there any recurring themes you want to pass along?
Yes. Our culture has a need for immediate results. That’s tough to apply to big issues like homelessness, because there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. It’s what works over here, plus what works over there, plus what works in between.
It’s crucial that we continue connecting the dots for people to keep their attention. It’s crucial that we continue being transparent with answers to questions like, “Why is it taking so long to end homelessness?”
How do we effectively run giving campaigns in our workplaces? What will we do in the future to support people who are vulnerable?
Those are two questions that will continue to challenge United Way’s stellar board of directors and capable staff.
From all of us at United Way: Thank you, Kimberly Harris, for your passion and leadership!