Meet Our New Chief Impact Officer!
United Way of King County recently named Washington State Women’s Commission director Regina Malveaux as our new chief impact officer. Regina will work with King County communities, our partners and the private, public and foundation sectors to drive our efforts toward a racially just community where people have homes, students graduate and families are financially stable.
Regina grew up in San Diego, went to high school in Alabama, served as a speechwriting intern for First Lady Hilary Rodham Clinton’s office and led YWCAs in Norfolk, VA and Spokane before being appointed by Governor Jay Inslee to the Washington State Women’s Commission. She brings to United Way more than 20 years of experience in leading nonprofit organizations, empowering staff, developing donor bases and forging community partnerships.
United Way recently sat down for a Q&A with Regina, who is open and candid about what led her to work in areas of service and policy advocacy.
United Way of King County? Why United Way? What interested you in this position?
Regina Malveaux: I ran large, domestic violence and sexual assault services programs for about half of my career. In both instances, United Way was one of our largest funders. I feel like I’ve had a good partnership with United Way for a long time. I have a lot of respect for the way that United Way partners with agencies—not just writing a check but really working together to move the needle on the issues. After about 20 years in direct service and a few years in direct policy in the governor’s office this feels like a really wonderful marriage. It gives me the opportunity to get back closer to the impact but still have my hand in policy, as I understand this is part of my role.
United Way of King County: What interested you about Seattle?
Regina Malveaux: I love the waterfront and I love the diversity and the opportunity to be back in a large metropolitan region.
United Way of King County: What are some of your accomplishments over the last 10-15 years that you are proudest of?
Regina Malveaux: I feel really proud of bringing more trauma-centered services to victims of both sexual and domestic violence. I believe that’s what I’m best known for.
United Way of King County: What are the origins of your work in domestic and sexual violence?
Regina Malveaux: The genesis of my work in human services goes back to my own experiences in my early 20s when I was leaving an abusive marriage. My kids were one and a half and three at the time. And of course, most victims hide the violence that happens in their homes; there is a level of shame that often prevents victims from sharing with their families and friends what’s going on. That certainly was true for me.
I ultimately ended up reaching out for public assistance as I was leaving my marriage. I found that there was so much indignity that I felt faced with—just in terms of how the caseworkers treated you and talked to you—and really the labyrinth of barriers that you had to try to navigate just to get basic assistance. It seems as if service providers are stewarding the public’s money as though people in need are trying to pull one over on the system and the reality is that there is little assistance offered even if you can navigate the barriers.
United Way of King County: Clearly, the system does not always work for those who need it.
Regina Malveaux: That really prompted me to get into the field of domestic violence and social services. I just knew that it didn’t have to be that hard for families. I chose to invest more than half of my career at the YWCA, whose mission is eliminating racism and empowering women. Though most of our work was frontline service work, one of the unique things about the YWCA is that it also has a very strong public policy arm. I love the opportunity to both help a woman coming out of the same circumstances that I had and to be a policy advocate at the state and federal levels.
United Way of King County: What are some of the state or federal public policy decisions that you were part of?
Regina Malveaux: During the last legislative session here in Washington the Fair Start for Kids Act was passed. It invested historic dollar amounts in terms of increasing affordability and access to childcare. That really for most families, particularly for most single-parent families, is the largest barrier in terms of being able to go to work or go to school and all the things needed to lift oneself and their families out of poverty.
I started my advocacy career advocating with the San Diego Unified School District not to close this series of free preschool programs. I literally was three months away from graduation and I didn’t think I would be able to complete my degree if they closed these programs. I couldn’t afford childcare for two kiddos. I put all my heart into that advocacy, and with others and we kept those programs open.
United Way of King County: What did serving on that Washington State Women’s Commission teach you about the state’s political landscape?
Regina Malveaux: It taught me how effective policy can happen when people are really working together.
United Way of King County: What are you anticipating most about being United Way’s chief impact officer?
Regina Malveaux: I’m just so excited to get to know all the grantees, and my understanding is that there are about 150 of them. The United Way of King County is really leading the nation in terms of United Ways with the racial justice lens it is now working though. I am curious and interested to see what that looks like across the different funded programs.
And I’m thinking about innovative ways that we can work to support those who are not quite as far along in their journeys as they’d like to be. I know that by getting to know the different grantees I will get to know the different communities and the different folks that make up Seattle.