UWRA: Please introduce yourself and recap your United Way career.
Ann: I’m Ann Murtlow, President and CEO of United Way of Central Indiana since 2014. I’m an east coast native, but now a proud Hoosier. Prior to leading United Way of Central Indiana, I spent my entire career in the corporate sector, primarily in leadership roles in engineering, construction, and utility companies. Since my first day on the job, United Way has gone through extraordinary change, much success, and celebratory milestones. Our United Way led the significant effort for high-quality early education opportunities for low-income children throughout our region and statewide. We have signed strategic partnership agreements, beginning with Eli Lilly and Company in 2016, to drive measurable, social change. We secured a multimillion-dollar federal Social Innovation Fund grant to put the two- generational (2Gen) approach to work, helping entire families become financially stable. And, we had our huge 100th birthday celebration in 2018 on one of the most cherished institutions in Indy -- the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
UWRA: Describe what this year has been like for you, your community, and your United Way.
Ann: We started 2020 with our charge of driving impact in basic needs, family opportunity, and social innovation initiatives to help 216,000+ households in Central Indiana who struggle to make ends meet. But then COVID arrived, and our world stopped. Hoosiers were losing jobs at a rapid pace. Our partners in human services faced significant disruption in delivering services to those in need, so we rallied. Together with our large philanthropic partners, we were the first United Way in the country to announce a significant economic relief fund to help our community through the crisis. We started with $16.5 million on March 13, and it quickly topped $23 million in two months. More than 200 organizations received grants across our six-county region, helping tens of thousands of Hoosiers. This year proved to all of us that our community needs United Way to be responsive, hopeful, and resilient. Now more than ever before, we must continue our work with a sense of focus, relevance, a strong message of hope, and motivation to charge ahead.
UWRA: What keeps you going? What accomplishments are you most proud of for 2020?
Ann: I’m generally an optimistic person. I’m proud that we were able to move so quickly to launch our COVID relief fund. Two years ago, we completed a massive transition to a new strategy and funding model focused on those who need us most. I’m proud of that work, which positions us well to help our community recover and rebound in the long term. As racial tensions reached their highest point this past summer, it was past time we all stepped up and said, “Enough.” United Way stepped out early and united with our community in opposing racism. Locally, United Way of Central Indiana pledged that racism, both implicit and explicit, presents significant barriers to our communities of color. And, we pledged to do something about it -- in all areas of United Way’s work. You can read more about our pledge, alongside Indy’s leading companies, at www.indyracialequitypledge.com
SPOTLIGHTING SUCCESS IN THE NETWORK:
UNITED FOR CAREGIVERS@WORK IN PITTSBURGH
This feature story is an extension of UWRA’s Aging in Place research conducted in 2019, funded by a grant from the Cinda A. Hallman Memorial Fund, which addresses two of the recommendations made by UWRA:
1) Amplify United Way’s commitments to older adults, and 2) Drive knowledge sharing across the United Way network.
According to estimates from the National Alliance for Caregiving, during the past year, 65.7 million Americans served as family caregivers for an ill or disabled relative.1
Caregiving for children and older family members is nothing new in our society. Most adults spend a significant proportion of their lifetime caring for someone else, whether raising children or taking care of aging or disabled family members.
Caregiving might include episodic tasks, such as helping loved ones fill prescriptions, paying bills, or transporting them to doctor appointments. For others, the care is more time intensive and may include regular check-ins, bathing, and meal preparation. Although caregiving can be a meaningful experience, the stress and strain of added responsibilities can impact mental and physical health, as well as personal finances. Individuals who balance their caregiving role with work responsibilities are even more likely to experience stress and feel overwhelmed in the workplace.
Many forward-thinking companies are stepping up for working moms and dads. Working caregivers belong in this conversation, too. Much like new parents, employees who are caregivers need support from their managers and colleagues to feel safe, access resources, and manage their responsibilities. Heather Sedlacko, Vice President of Community Impact at United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh, PA), said, “Needs for seniors grow as they age, but health services are limited. Nearly 80% of caregiving help is provided by family members. Families are stretched.”
UWRA WELCOMES ADRIANNA CUELLAR ROJAS TO THE BOARD
Join us in welcoming our newest UWRA Board Member Adrianna Cuellar Rojas, President and CEO of United Ways of Texas (UWT). Adrianna’s perspective and experience are a valuable addition to UWRA’s Board as we embrace the opportunities ahead.
UWRA: Tell us about yourself.
Adrianna: My focus has always been on serving communities, especially our state’s most vulnerable populations. I consider myself to be optimistic, a collaborator, and a systems thinker. I joined United Ways of Texas (UWT) in 2014 as President & CEO. Before that, I spent 17 years advising community investments for one of Texas’ largest family foundations. I have also worked for several state agencies and the Texas Senate, where I focused on systems change and policies supporting children and families.
UWRA: How did you come to know UWRA, and how have you been involved?
Adrianna: UWT has been a long-time member of UWRA. On occasion, we have utilized UWRA’s network of consultants to support Texas member organizations through one-on one mentoring and by filling interim leadership positions. UWT values the mentorship, education, and guidance that UWRA brings to our members.
UWRA: What are you looking forward to most about serving on the UWRA Board?
Adrianna: It is incredibly rewarding to be part of the organized network of United Ways – something that I had not previously experienced in philanthropy or public service. We have such terrific leaders interested in growing and supporting each other while also focusing on community change. I am excited to learn more about UWRA’s opportunities to contribute to the overall United Way network.
Visit the Board of Directors page to learn more about this group dedicated to UWRA's mission.