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  • Writer's pictureTiffani Mensch

New United Way CEO shares vision for impact

While moving to a new community inevitably carries unknowns, I am more than certain about two things: the mission that attracted my family here is vitally important, and this is the most beautiful place we have ever lived – yes, even in the summer! After growing up in upstate New York and spending almost two decades working for nonprofits in Rhode Island, New Mexico, and, most recently, Knoxville, Tennessee, one common challenge I see all communities face is how to strategically use philanthropic dollars to foster cross-sector collaboration that solves problems, rather than just putting a Band-Aid on them.

United Way of Collier County’s mission is to advance the common good by investing in the building blocks of a good quality of life: education, income, health, and safety-net services. Consider the scope of this important work: nearly 1.5 million volunteers and 6.8 million donors are engaged with United Ways across the world to advance community-based and community-led solutions. We connect people and organizations to do more together than any of us can do on our own. Nonprofits, businesses, government, faith organizations, health providers, educators, youth, and other community leaders are among the many we are honored to call our partners. Together, we tackle tough issues to form solutions leading to real, lasting change. Our collective ability to boldly give and act has a significant positive impact on local socio-economic issues: crime, childhood poverty, high school graduation, unemployment, and a myriad of other important indicators of desirable, healthy communities.

In Tennessee, I spent eight years as a founding staff member of an organization dedicated to strengthening nonprofits’ sustainability and operational effectiveness. After that organization merged with the United Way of Greater Knoxville in late 2021, I led the planning and development of a $25 million State of Tennessee grant to coordinate care for families with economic, social, and developmental vulnerabilities and elevate them beyond their circumstances to self-sufficiency. An increasing number of individuals and families in our communities work hard but are still unable to meet their basic needs, including food, childcare, housing, health care, and transportation. People across the country are becoming more aware of this unfortunate reality thanks in large part to an acronym coined by the United Way called ALICE – Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. I am energized to build on my prior experiences and work toward innovative solutions to help our ALICE community and all our neighbors who need a hand-up from Naples to Key West.

I am so honored to be given the opportunity to do this important work and I would be remiss if I did not thank the United Way of Collier and the Keys Board of Directors for their confidence in selecting me to lead this dynamic organization into the future. I’m grateful to my predecessor, Steve Sanderson, for preparing such good soil to plant the next harvest. Throughout his 12 years as CEO, Steve expanded the United Way’s impact and guided the organization through two hurricanes and a global pandemic. In 2020, he led the merger of United Way of Collier County and United Way of the Florida Keys, and we are now stronger together as one United Way of Collier and the Keys. Both areas have tourism-centered economies, both are vulnerable to hurricanes, and both have significant needs for human services that we as a United Way are perfectly positioned to address.

I am eager to become fully immersed in this vibrant community and discover the diverse elements that define Collier and Monroe Counties. I am confident that together, we will create strong, healthy communities where everyone can thrive. If you would like to learn more about United Way’s work or how you can get involved, please send me an email at Personally, I’d also love to know all your recommendations for a new Naples resident, like where to find the best ice cream or grouper sandwich! I hope to hear from you, and I look forward to meeting my new neighbors.


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