Editor's note: This article has been updated to include information from Alex Fike of United Way Worldwide and to correct the number of United Ways involved in the Advisory Group.

The United Way of Pettis County board will soon have the opportunity to network with other high-performing groups after being named to the United Way Board and CEO Advisory Group.

According to information from United Way Worldwide, the Advisory Group is “a group of worldwide members — board members and CEOs — that advises and serves as ambassadors for Board and CEO development and engagement in pursuit of higher performance and the realization of the United Way’s mission.”

The group will serve as the advisory body to United Way Worldwide Talent Management and Board Development and the United Way network. There are about 20 United Way organizations represented on the Advisory Board, which includes two from Missouri, Pettis County and Columbia. There are about 1,800 United Ways across the globe, including about 1,200 in the United States.

UWPC will serve for a two-year term and be represented by Executive Director Staci Harrison, board president Megan Hartman and board member Kevin Wade. They will participate in quarterly virtual meetings and will attend one in-person conference to network with other United Way members.

“We are so fortunate that United Way of Pettis County has been added to the roster of United Ways that serve in this advisory capacity,” said Alex Fike, Director, Board & Leadership Programs, United Way Worldwide. “United Way of Pettis County joins Board & CEO partners from more than 20 local United Ways who serve as champions both locally and worldwide.”

Hartman said being included in the Advisory Group is an honor and shows the local changes started by UWPC nearly a year ago were worth it.

“It’s confirmation that we’re doing the right thing,” Wade said. “That we are headed in the right direction, that someone up above sees this is going the right way. The next step is that we also then will probably be contributing and helping other United Ways go down the path we’ve gone on.”

Wade said UWPC’s nomination to the Advisory Group started when the local board began building a relationship with UWW and connecting with other United Ways of similar size to find ways of modernizing Pettis County.

Those efforts led to changes for UWPC, including new focus areas based on community surveys — substance abuse and mental health, child development, and hunger — new ways to donate funds to focus areas, the start of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library in Pettis County and shifting toward larger community goals rather than just fundraising for funded partners, although those grants are still available. 

Wade said the board created a model of what a modern United Way looks like, essentially creating a case study. He said that study seemed to be a missing piece and UWPC was asked to present its findings at a United Way conference for smaller-size organizations.

Through that recognition, UWPC was also asked to join the Advisory Group to further share its information.

The trio said the invitation will help make more resources available to UWPC and the Pettis County community and will offer the opportunity to learn even more. They also said the recognition and new focus areas have helped reinvigorate the board.

“There’s so much of what these larger United Ways are doing that’s scaleable to Pettis County that we have the opportunity to learn from them and really focus on making our United Way as successful as possible,” Hartman said. “Every board member is so passionate about our community, our families are here, we have jobs here, and we want to work together to make sure it’s successful.

“(With the new focus areas) there are so many people that are doing little pieces of it and we really want to get everyone together on the same page where we can make an actual impact and it’s not these silos everywhere.”


Nicole Cooke is the editor for the Sedalia Democrat, overseeing all newsroom operations and assisting with news coverage of Sedalia and Pettis County. She can be reached at 660-530-0138 or on Twitter @NicoleRCooke.

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