Stepping up: My next steps as board chair of United Way of Central Illinois

As I prepare to step into the role of board chair for the United Way of Central Illinois, I'm filled with a mix of excitement, gratitude and a deep sense of responsibility. This organization has been a part of my life since 2013, and I've watched it grow, evolve and make a profound impact on our community. Now, as I take on this leadership position, I'm ready to be a billboard for United Way and do all I can to mobilize the community so everyone can thrive.

My journey with United Way began over a decade ago, and it's been an incredible ride. I've worn many hats over the years, but my most recent role as chair of the Resource Development Committee has been particularly rewarding. It's given me a front row seat to the generosity of our community and the innovative ways we can mobilize resources to create lasting change.

As I look ahead to my tenure as board chair, I can't help but reflect on the path that led me here. United Way has been more than just an organization I volunteer with; it's been a calling. I've seen firsthand how our work touches lives, transforms communities and brings hope to those who need it most. It's these experiences that fuel my passion and drive me to do more.

One of my primary goals as board chair is to amplify our message and reach even more people in central Illinois. I want everyone to understand the crucial role United Way plays in addressing our community's most pressing issues. From supporting education and financial stability to improving health outcomes, our impact is far-reaching and vital.

Collaboration has always been at the heart of United Way's approach, and I plan to build on this foundation. We have fantastic partnerships with local businesses, nonprofits and government agencies, but I believe we can take these relationships to the next level. I envision more integrated partnerships that go beyond traditional fundraising, leveraging our unique resources and expertise of our partners and volunteers to create innovative solutions to community challenges.

Innovation is key for United Way to stay connected to our most pressing needs. As our community evolves, so must our approaches to addressing its challenges. Whether it's exploring new technologies to enhance our program delivery or reimagining our volunteer engagement strategies to appeal to younger generations, I'm committed to keeping United Way at the forefront of social innovation.

Diversity, equity and inclusion will also be central to our work. I firmly believe that our strength lies in our diversity, and I want to ensure that our board, staff and volunteers reflect the rich tapestry of our community. Moreover, we need to continue examining our programs and initiatives through an equity lens, ensuring that we're reaching and uplifting all members of our community, especially those who have been historically marginalized.

I want to acknowledge the strong foundation laid by my predecessors. The leaders who have come before me have done incredible work, and I'm honored to continue building on their legacy. Their dedication and vision have positioned United Way as a cornerstone of our community, and I'm committed to honoring that legacy while also pushing us to new heights.

As I take on this role, I find myself reflecting on why I do this work. At its core, it's about improving lives. Whether it's helping a child succeed in school, supporting a family in achieving financial stability, or ensuring our seniors have access to essential services – that's what United Way is all about. It's what has driven my involvement for over a decade, and it's what will continue to motivate me in this new role.

To our donors, volunteers, partners and the entire central Illinois community – thank you for your trust and support. I'm excited to work alongside you as we write this next chapter of United Way's story together. I promise to be your biggest cheerleader, your most vocal advocate, and yes, a walking, talking billboard for the incredible work of United Way.

As I step into this new role, I'm filled with hope and determination. The challenges ahead are significant, but so are the opportunities. Together, we can create a stronger, more resilient central Illinois where everyone has the chance to thrive.

Here's to Igniting the Future of United Way of Central Illinois – may it be bright, impactful and transformative for our community!

Tammy Gilchrese is the vice president of loan servicing with Security Bank. Find out more about United Way at www.uwcil.org or on their social media pages.

Tammy Gilchrese

Tammy Gilchrese is the chair of the Resource Development Committee for the United Way of Central Illinois and the board chair-elect.

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