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December 2009
Painting a Brighter Future
By Ellison Clary

     She started working before her official employment date and Jane McIntyre hasn’t stopped. She hardly has time for a sit-down lunch these days.

     But McIntyre knew life would be hectic when she signed on to the seriously wounded United Way of Central Carolinas (United Way), leaving the YWCA where she’d been chief executive and thought she’d retire.

     She was prepared; she brought with her a list of priorities for change. These related to the United Way staff, the health and human services agencies United Way supports, and the people and businesses in these parts that had either lost confidence in the fund-raising and allocation organization or harbored serious doubts about it.

     The biggest priority was the 2009 campaign. It was underway as she took the job on August 7, 2009, diving in without waiting until her official August 26 starting date.

     “I’ve been addressing the situation one group at a time,” says McIntyre. “I’m letting people know it’s a different kind of place now.”

 

Moderate Goals

     The campaign has a moderate goal and, though its official end was November 19, it has been continued into 2010, with emphasis only on the Community Care Fund.

     “For that fund,” McIntyre says, “we need to raise $22.7 million,” getting around to the only numbers that matter to her. “We actually need to raise every dime of that because the Leon Levine Foundation—Leon and Sandra Levine—have offered this million-dollar challenge grant that’s a match to every dollar raised over and above $21.7 million. So the potential for our community is at least $2 million more than was raised last year.”

     Although the 2008 United Way drive raised more than $30 million, she explains, only $21.7 million was designated for the Community Care Fund. The rest was restricted to specific organizations, often outside this area.

     The Community Care Fund is critical because these funds are invested locally and are exclusively for the 97 agencies United Way supports in Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Anson and Union counties as well as the Mooresville-Lake Norman area.

     Most locals know the recent story involving the area United Way. In late summer 2008, former CEO Gloria Pace King sparked considerable controversy with a $2 million pension package that focused attention on her $290,000 salary and lucrative expense account. The board ultimately terminated King. She sued. Mac Everett, retired leader of Corporate and Community Affairs for Wachovia, ran United Way as interim director until June, working closely with board chair Carlos Evans, a leader at Wachovia/Wells Fargo.

     The annual campaign that had amassed more than $45 million in 2007 suffered a huge hit, with many individuals either not giving or designating their donation for non-United Way member agencies, and with many businesses cutting back or running drives that benefited agencies outside the United Way’s area umbrella.

     The difference for the Community Care Fund was minus $11 million, McIntyre says. The average agency loss in United Way funding was 38 percent.

     “The agencies have had to reduce staff and services, they’ve had to take pay cuts, they’ve had to freeze salaries, they’ve had to furlough people,” she says.

     The United Way has cut back, too. It counts 53 employees today compared to 96 last year. McIntyre says Evans and Everett cut the staff by about 40 percent. They reduced operating costs $3.1 million, with the bulk of that coming in salaries.

     “The biggest surprise has been a good surprise,” McIntyre says, “which is how solid the staff is. I have been greatly pleased at the quality.”

     Still, she’s probing ways to operate more efficiently. She’s finding small ways to save, actions that don’t take long to implement. And she isn’t through.

     “I’m going to ask everybody on staff to tell me what they do and how they spend their time independent of their job description,” she continues.

     Meanwhile, she reviews every check the United Way writes, usually in the car when her husband DG is driving. “It teaches you a lot about the organization,” she says. “It teaches you where the resources go.”

     Further, she’s listening to local consultant Karla Williams, who helped her at the YWCA. Williams is facilitating the reinvention of the United Way. She’s started with the staff in what is likely to be an 18-month effort, but McIntyre says she knows the external process must be heavily community-oriented.

     What is the agency reaction? McIntyre says she’s uncertain, but knows the prevailing sentiments of leaders when she headed the YWCA and chaired the council of agency executives.

     “The majority of us always felt the focus needed to be on the Community Care Fund and the agencies,” she says.

 

Good Marks So Far

     Jen Algire will lead the agencies council starting in January when Community Link chief Floyd Davis finishes his term. The executive director of Community Health Services likes what she’s seen from McIntyre so far.

     “She’s been out there and been visible,” says Algire. “She’s been meeting with everyone she can. Not just corporate people; she’s being visible with donors, with citizens and with other non-profit leaders. That’s such a significant change. It’s part of what has endeared her to the community.”

     Algire cautions that the United Way is a big ship and will take time to turn, then adds: “She’s done a great job of jumping in there and doing what needs to be done.”

     The requirements to be a United Way agency are rigorous, McIntyre says, and the agencies have some work to do as well. A catalyst fund created at the Foundation For The Carolinas is allowing that organization’s leader, Michael Marsicano, and others to work with the agencies in finding operating efficiencies.

     Some agencies may merge, but McIntyre says that’s not always the answer. When two shelters for the homeless came together this year, she says, it didn’t save money but the quality and quantity of services increased, so the move made sense.

     “The United Way volunteers, including those who decide which organizations get funds and how much to award, know best how effective each agency is,” McIntyre says as she praises the job they do. They’ve been instrumental in keeping duplication of services to a minimum, she believes.

     Still, many potential donors are skittish. “I think individuals are very intentional about their gifts,” McIntyre says. “They want their money used wisely.”

     Business donors also present a problem. “Over time, we lost a number of businesses, most small to mid-sized companies,” McIntyre says. And some larger firms have opted for various versions of open campaigns in which their employees can earmark contributions for any organization, even those that might operate thousands of miles away.

     Yet overall, she sees improvement in how businesses view United Way. Stalwarts for the Community Care Fund stand out, including Vanguard, SteelFab, Piedmont Natural Gas and Duke Energy.

     She cites a recent telephone call from a corporate leader whose message was simple: “I need you to tell me what I need to do.”

     A more effective United Way board can work wonders with companies. That board’s membership had swelled to 60 and it had lost touch with the Executive Committee, which made important decisions such as what to pay the executive director. New board membership will number 24.

     Instrumental in picking that board is Jeff Kane, retired senior vice president in charge of the Charlotte Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank. He takes over as United Way chair on January 1.

     “The Nominating/Governance Committee is getting lots of applications for membership on the board,” Kane says. “They’re saying, ‘I’m here, I’m excited, I want to be a part of this as it comes out of a difficult time.’” He believes much of the interest stems from the credibility of McIntyre.

     “Jane helped me affirm my own commitment to the United Way,” he says. “Jane definitely has the passion and the commitment, and it’s great to have that experience factor.”

 

A Firm Believer

     A native of Rock Hill, S.C., McIntyre majored in special education at Columbia College and taught children with exceptional needs briefly. But she always wanted to be a business person, so she worked part-time at the Charlotte Apparel Mart while raising three daughters. Then she moved on to marketing and development for an area bank, and following that joined Carolinas Healthcare System and its Foundation where she held various leadership roles.

     “That was a great place for me because the organization let me work in a lot of different areas,” says McIntyre, who earned an executive MBA from Queens University of Charlotte when she was 50.

     She also found time to win election to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board and served there eight years during her time with the bank and the hospital.

     She was recruited for the United Way from her position as CEO of the YWCA (a United Way partner agency), where she’d been for nine years, leading a major turnaround of the organization that had been dangerously close to shutting down.

     She credits her father and her paternal grandmother for instilling in her the ambition to make a mark.

     “My father was a man before his time,” she says. “He raised his two girls to believe they could do anything they wanted to. I had a grandmother who was very influential. She and an African-American doctor started the Tuberculosis Society of York County. To say she was independent is an understatement.”

     As early as November 2008, people mentioned to McIntyre the possibility of leading the United Way. She deliberated with husband DG before becoming a candidate.

     DG McIntyre, who presided over Duke Energy’s coal transportation network before his retirement, was strongly supportive, even though it torpedoed his wife’s plans to retire fairly soon from YWCA and call it a career.

     “DG thought it was a good way for me to leave the YW and have the opportunity to have a great impact on the community that I love,” says McIntyre, who at 63 is one year younger than her husband. Now she thinks she’ll work another three to five years and, if she’s having fun, maybe a bit longer.

     Much has been written about her salary of $142,000, about half what her predecessor made. To determine that figure, she listened to people she trusted and charted area non-profit leaders’ compensation. She wanted to make less than the chief of a large organization such as the YMCA.

     The hardest part of the job, McIntyre says, is managing her time. She’s forced to decline some meeting requests and often scurries for a boxed lunch to bring back to the office.

     “I cannot have lunch with my friends,” she says with a head shake. “And I had to give up going to the beach this week with my husband. I told my staff that time management is my weakness and I asked all of them to help me say no.”

     But the rewards far outweigh the tussle with time. “The most rewarding part for me personally is seeing how we are going to change this for the better and make it leaner and more focused,” she says.

     “It’s about change,” she emphasizes. “I actually really like change when it’s positive change.” McIntyre feeds off of helping people who get lost in the system, people with disabilities, people who have less. The Charlotte community can only hope to match her “drive” to make a difference through the United Way.

 

 

 

Ellison Clary is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.
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