Hannah Douglass – Vice President
As the new board Vice President of the United Way of West Central Minnesota, Hannah Douglass continues the commitment to our organization that began when she first joined the board as a member at large in June 2019. And though she may be new to her role, she is certainly not new to the United Way. Hannah grew up seeing her parents support our community through our organization, and she is proud to carry on that tradition of giving herself. Hannah brings a fresh perspective to the board and is valued for her encouragement to our team to be servant leaders and her focus on meeting needs during an uncertain time.
Hannah was born and raised in Willmar, MN. After graduating from Willmar High School, she attended Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD. She finished her education in 2015 and returned to the town she has always called home. Shortly after her return, Hannah met her husband and the couple decided to settle in WillmarBoth Hannah and her husband are part of very close-knit, community-oriented families who enjoy working on projects, enjoying the outdoors, and spending time at the lake. Hannah is a Business Systems Analyst at Duininck Companies and enjoys yoga and learning new vegetarian recipes.
During her formative years, Hannah was exposed to the United Way through her parents. Her mother was an active member of our Empower: Women United in Philanthropy program. She witnessed first-hand how the group was bringing women in the area together and allowing them to share in the bond of doing good, and have an impact. Her father participated in campaigns and gave in the form of payroll deductions. As she matured, Hannah became involved herself and would bring the children she babysat to experience our GrowMobile program. Even as a college intern, Hannah oversaw the payroll deductions and Casual Friday fundraisers for her employer. Even with this level of exposure to the organization, Hannah initially believed the United Way was all about having events and fundraising for local causes. While this is partially true, she would come to realize there is so much more to the United Way than she first thought.
Hannah became involved with our board when she was approached by the past executive director, James Miller, and invited to join. Given her history and knowledge of our mission, Hannah was excited to take a more active role. Being on the board felt like home, and she was confident that accepting the offer was the right thing to do. In her daily life, she is also employed by a company dedicated to fostering servant leadership in their team, which Hannah deftly applies to the United Way as well. She considers her board members to be an opportunity. It not only gives her the joy of serving others, but allows her an outlet for giving back, and she takes every opportunity to do that.
She, like the other board members, could never have envisioned how drastically the world would change during their terms. The COVID pandemic has forced organizations and corporations around the world to pivot their methods. This is especially true of the United Way. In her first year, just as she was gaining a detailed understanding of our work, the things she knew were changing, and the board worked to serve in new and valuable ways. With the rest of the board, the group came together and figured out how to provide the same services that our neighbors have come to know and benefit from. Even though events like Stuff the Bus, and programs like the GrowMobile may look a little different, she is proud of the work done by the board to continue the efforts despite the complications COVID has caused.
Other changes have also occurred in an effort to improve the reach and effectiveness of the entire organization. This required changes to time-honored traditions such as the Community Review Day. A new grant committee was also formed to improve the focus on aligning timing, resources, and needs in the most meaningful ways. The board is always considering ways to improve and to meet the community’s biggest areas of need at a given time. The goal is not to change just for the sake of change, but to improve how things are being done. It requires a team effort to bring together United Way leadership, community members, donors, and volunteers in an effective way.
If there is anything Hannah would like the community to know, it is that they are an important part of all we do. Individuals in the community have the power to help our board understand what areas of need exist. Our email newsletter often includes a survey. The website and social media help connect us. The executive director, staff, and board of the United Way welcome community members to reach out. She hopes that everyone would feel comfortable offering suggestions, asking questions, and helping to shape our efforts in the areas of health, education, and basic needs. Every board member, donor, volunteer, and staff member is fully committed to healing and supporting families and individuals in need.
If you, like Hannah and the rest of our team, believe in our mission of mobilizing the caring power of communities to transform lives and advance the common good. It takes more than a passionate board of directors to achieve the vision to provide every person the resources to achieve their full potential. It is the members of the community who give their time, talent, and financial support. If you already support the United Way, please accept our sincere gratitude for all you do. If you are able, your contributions to our cause are the true foundation of any success we can hope to achieve, and we invite you to help make a lasting difference in your community. Together, we can make a genuine difference in the lives of others.