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Karen Wheeler - Chair, UWBG Franklin County Board of Trustees

Updated: Jun 28, 2021

At United Way of the Bluegrass, we are currently celebrating our centennial year. We are highlighting 100 Heroes who have been important in our fight for the basic needs, education and financial stability of our neighbors over the past century.

Today we are interviewing Karen Wheeler, Chair of the UWBG Franklin County Board of Trustees.

What is your current or former role within UWBG and what does a typical day look like in this role?

I am a volunteer on the Board of Directors with UWBG. Last year, United Way of Franklin County merged with United Way of the Bluegrass and my tenure was cut short as the president of their board, and I now serve as the Chair of the Franklin County Board of Trustees. The impact of the merger with UWBG has been tremendous and very positive.

Our time as board members is spent connecting with the community and UWBG staff and planning what our next steps should be as we engage the community in our work across the region.

What do you think is the most special thing about UWBG?

I always say that we hope we can reach the folks that need it the most. No one ever plans on needing a lot of UWBG’s services, but when those services are needed, it is great to be able to provide them.

If you were encouraging someone to get involved with UWBG, what would you encourage them to do throughout their time with UWBG, or what advice would you give them?

Get to know the programs and the services. Once you find out what the services are all about, take time to learn about the organizations because there are so many amazing partners. They provide such important services for many folks in need in our community. Understanding what the programs are all about can make a difference in understanding what United Way of the Bluegrass does.

How has United Way changed your life or how have you seen UWBG change the lives of others?

Most recently, through Covid-19, United Way of the Bluegrass has made a huge difference by being able to help many families in their most dire time of need. They provided basic needs and services along with more long-term benefits such as looking at workforce development. When you look at the Covid-19 journey through United Way of the Bluegrass, it does change lives and it changes them for the positive.

Fun Questions:

If you were to move away, what would you want to take with you from the Bluegrass area, or what would you miss most?

I would miss my extended family and the people in the community. To me, what’s so special about being here in the Bluegrass area are the people. My husband is from Lexington and that’s where we live and I work in Frankfort. I’ve been very fortunate to be here for a while and it’s been an honor to be able to connect with the folks I work with.

What is your favorite local restaurant in the Bluegrass area?

We actually have a family restaurant, so I would have to say Wheeler Pharmacy at the fountain. It’s in Lexington. We recently celebrated our big reopening after Covid-19.

Thank you for being such a strong part of UWBG, Karen! We appreciate you and all that you've done.

“It’s a great service. Whatever spare time you have or make to volunteer can make a difference for you, too.” ~ Karen Wheeler
To learn more about how we are continuing to serve the Bluegrass in 2021, click here.
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 to share your nomination!

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