Over the course of 2021, we will feature 100 Heroes who have been instrumental in our fight for the basic needs, education and financial stability of our neighbors for the past century. To learn more about how we are continuing to serve the Bluegrass in 2021, click here.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we are excited to feature some women who have played an important role in UWBG. Today we are interviewing Alice Nelson, a former Women United Council member, a former member of our Education Impact Council, and a longtime advocate, supporter and volunteer.
What is your role with UWBG?
I’ve been involved with United Way for around twenty years in various roles. One of the first things I did was serve with the Success by 6 initiative. I joined that council as a co-chair with Dr. Tom Young and then chaired it myself. Success by 6 was a program focused on early childhood, birth through 5 years, which is kind of my thing. We were involved with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library at that time, and United Way of the Bluegrass sponsored that program for our region. Around 2010 Success by 6 phased out and UWBG developed the Education Impact Council, which I served on as well. After the Education Impact Council, I ended up serving with Women United when it first started. I did some grant review work for them and served on some committees.
I became more directly involved with UWBG when I began to work with Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS) in 2006. I served on the Strategic Planning Committee for UWBG, and was also involved with Born Learning - another United Way program that was aligned with early childhood education. The Born Learning academies were set in schools so that families with preschoolers could come in for workshops and a family meal. That program was designed to connect families and the children to the school setting, helping parents feel more comfortable bringing their children to school. Born Learning educates parents about the importance of their role in their child’s education, how it affects their child’s achievement, and different ways parents can support learning in their children. Because I had such good partnerships through UWBG and our community, I was actually able to run six Born Learning academies for Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS) with one grant.
I also worked on the FCPS employee giving campaign for United Way, and then headed it up for a few years as the campaign coordinator. I never found it difficult to encourage folks to donate to UWBG. The integrity and consistency of their support of our community was so clear from working directly with them. Whether it be early childhood education, hunger, housing or helping people prepare their taxes, there are just so many things that United Way supports. It was just very focused and seamless, so it was a great organization to support and work with.
What did this role include? What would a normal day look like for you?
United Way was a group I partnered with regularly during my role as the Family Community Liaison for FCPS. Stu Silberman brought me in as the first Family Community Liaison from the district to the Fayette county community. My job was to develop partnerships and connect FCPS with partners, businesses and families. United Way became my go-to group because they were such a good partner to us and served as a good partner to so many other people. They served as a conduit for me in my position to connect with other Lexington partners.
What do you think is the most special thing about UWBG?
They provide services to our community and the people that they support have such great needs. UWBG is focused on bold goals - there has always been a focus, it’s never been haphazard, and the people there have always been a pleasure to work with. I met some folks in my early years with United Way who no longer work there, but my partnerships with them continued as they moved into other positions.
“There just isn’t a better partner group in Lexington/Fayette County than United Way. There’s just group after group that I’ve been involved with that are partners with United Way. The last project we did with United Way during my time at FCPS was First 5 Lex and United Way is still a partner in that program.”
- Alice Nelson
In your opinion, what positive change has UWBG made in the Bluegrass over the past 100 years?
They serve as a pillar of our community and continue to support the needs of local families.
What’s your favorite place in the Bluegrass?
Woodland Park. I’ve lived here my entire life so I enjoy the parks and my backyard.
What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bluegrass?
I love living in Lexington. We’re connected to everything and I feel like we’re a jewel here in the state. I particularly enjoy the outdoors. The entire community just feels like a gem.
"My life's work has been focused on preschool and kindergarten education, and United Way has been a great partner to have. They are so good at developing partnerships in the community, providing direct programming, supporting other nonprofits that serve our community and maintaining a constant thread of focus through all that work. To me, that’s what makes United Way so outstanding in our community.”
- Alice Nelson
Thank you for being such a strong part of UWBG, Alice! We appreciate you and all that you do.
Do you know someone who has worked alongside United Way of the Bluegrass in the past century who should be considered for our 100 Heroes series? Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your nomination!