Hear from Kristin Roberts on her first 100 days as President & CEO of United Way of East Central Iowa.
“Unprecedented” may be the word of the year for 2020. At least, that’s the word that has described my first 100 days at United Way of East Central Iowa (UWECI). There was no way I could have prepared for what has occurred in our community, state, and world. And, unfortunately, there’s no playbook to pull from, since there is no business continuity plan for taking over an organization right before a global pandemic.
That being said, during these first 100 days I have learned far more than I ever could have about UWECI and our community than if we had been living in “normal times.” And what I have learned is three-folded.
- First, I have learned that while we don’t wish disasters on our neighbors and community, this is what United Way is built for, and our community expects us to lead the way. We are made to connect with municipalities and non-profits. We are made to collaborate with the business sector and the faith-based communities. We are made to link the most vulnerable with the services they need and fund those services, allowing our community to come through this disaster stronger on the other side.
- I’ve also learned that people look to United Way during these times for security and expertise. The community understands that we have the insight and knowledge of the nonprofit sector and expect us to use that knowledge to bring together creative solutions for the emerging issues. They want us to be at the forefront, sharing reliable and trustworthy information about our community and what it is facing.
- Finally, I’ve also learned that situations like this, when we get that moment to catch our breath, it causes us to sit back and envision how the future can be different. How will we take the lessons learned and make our United Way and our community better from the situation we experienced?
As we work through this pandemic and adjust to our new normal, that’s what I’m most excited about. I’m anticipating our organization will bring our community together to discover what it is that we need, and how UWECI can draw our community closer and achieve a goal that focuses on making the future better right here.
In all, looking back, I’ve learned that these unprecedented times are challenging and point us to the future. There may not be a playbook or plan for a global pandemic but collaborating with each other will help build a future: a future where we will be stronger not just as an organization, but as a community too.