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 Councilmember Kathy Plomin, a former President and CEO of UWBG.
How does UWBG serve people in the Bluegrass?
When I was there, I fell in love with the words “United Way” because I believe that’s how we should be as a region. We should be united and have a common goal, which is to meet our community’s health and human services needs. In my opinion, United Way fills a leadership role in meeting the needs of our region. I know they have recently been involved in the pandemic responses, and I applaud that. When I was there, we had 9-11, a tsunami, just one tragic event after another. So we took a leadership role in becoming a conduit for caring, and led campaigns to send money to fill those needs.
What do you think is the most special thing about UWBG?
It umbrellas a multitude of nonprofits for funding. When I was there, we had 86 agencies that provided health and human services programming throughout central Kentucky. I don’t think there’s another organization in our region that provides that holistic approach to meeting community needs in the health and human services arena.
In your opinion, what positive change has UWBG made in the Bluegrass over the past 100 years?
I think our communities look to United Way for leadership. When you take a holistic look at what those individual agencies have provided over the years, we’re in a much better place than we were 100 years ago. There have been a lot of new needs that didn’t exist back then, but United Way always steps up to make positive change happen for individuals.
What is your favorite UWBG memory?
Five or six tragic events happened when I was there, and I always thought that United Way mobilized the caring capacity of the region. In other words, when the community needed to come together, we stepped up because that was our role. And I’ve seen Timothy Johnson doing that now. Again, the words “United Way” speak to our mindset and strategy.
I also have a lot of fun memories. We launched a lot of different programs and resources such as Success by 6 and a gifts-in-kind warehouse, but probably my favorite memory was a result of a summit on race relations we had in the early 2000s. P.G. Peeples from the Urban League and myself put together a program called “Get On Board”. The goal of this program was to get folks to the table that can’t get to the table. In other words, there are a lot of folks out there who are underrepresented and don’t know how to get to Board tables, and Boards don’t know how to access diversity. So we launched the “Get On Board” program, which lasted 8 weeks and was completely free.
We trained people in reading financials, parliamentary procedure, and the legalities of being on a Board. Once they completed the training, they graduated and we had a fair where we matched our graduates to agencies whose causes they were passionate about. About a year and a half ago, a group of other folks in the community, including myself, started that program up again. Unfortunately we only had one class and they ended up graduating virtually due to the pandemic. We’re planning on starting that back up soon. That was a good memory and a lasting one.
What’s your favorite place in the Bluegrass?
I represent the 12th district, which is 73% of Fayette county’s land mass, so there are a lot of rural areas in my district. Keeneland is also in the 12th district, and I love Keeneland. I love the whole rural part of our county because of all of the horse farms, which are all treasures. But Keeneland is my favorite place.
What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bluegrass?
My schedule with the council is very full, but in my downtime I like to ride my bike and walk on our trails. We’re seeing a lot of emerging trails in Lexington that we didn’t have years ago. I like going out and enjoying those trails.
“United Way is so unique in its approach to the region. There are different boards for each of our counties, but they all have one mindset. I think that mindset is so healthy, viable and respected, allowing us to move forward as a united force. I think that’s so gratifying and unique to other organizations in central Kentucky.”
Thank you for being such a strong part of UWBG, Kathy! We appreciate you and all that you've done.
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!