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Paula Hanson - Former Board of Directors Chair, Retired from Dean Dorton

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 Paula Hanson, a former Board of Directors Chair who retired from Dean Dorton.

What is your current or former role within UWBG and Dean Dorton and what did a typical day in these roles look like?

I got involved with the United Way campaign my first year out of college as a staff person while I was working with Ernst and Young and continued to be involved through all of my working years. I worked on campaigns and was on the Board of Directors, which culminated in me becoming the Chair of the Board. After being Chair of the Board, I stayed on as a volunteer for many years. In addition to my role on the Board, I led the search for the new leader of United Way of the Bluegrass when Bill Farmer joined the organization. I was also lucky enough to win the volunteer of the year award, which was a huge honor for me.

Throughout my time at Dean Dorton, I was a tax partner and I was involved with recruiting. I recruited new staff to the organization and worked with clients on tax matters. I have been involved with United Way of the Bluegrass in some sort of fashion for many years, including being a donor.

How was Dean Dorton related to UWBG and how did that partnership originate?

I had been involved with United Way of the Bluegrass for many years, at least 10, when I got to Dean Dorton in 1992. I asked that we start doing an employee campaign. This took a few years, but now Dean Dorton has a foundation that donates to United Way of the Bluegrass in addition to their employee campaign.

If 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?

When trying to decide to be a part of any organization, you should be passionate about it. You should look for what you are passionate about and use it as a way to contribute. When you really enjoy what you’re doing, you’re going to be able to contribute the most to an organization.

If you know someone at United Way of the Bluegrass, I’d sit down and talk with them about their impact in our region. I’ve recently enjoyed talking with Molly Caldwell - she is a great person to chat with as she has a handle on all the current opportunities with UWBG. United Way of the Bluegrass is a great way to get involved with the community.

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

United Way was the first organization that I got involved with at the beginning of my career. It started me on a path of community service and led me to get involved in many other organizations in the community like Commerce Lexington and other non-profits like Junior Achievement. It was the springboard for community service and community involvement in my life.

As far as other people in the community, what I love about United Way is the breadth of programs and organizations we support. It helps everyone from infants to elders. The support United Way of the Bluegrass gives really helps everyone in the bluegrass raise their standard of living.

Fun Questions:

If you were trying to convince someone to move to the Bluegrass area, how would you convince them?

There is so much to talk about. I would talk about the beauty of the horse farms, the family atmosphere and the quality of life we have here in the Bluegrass because of organizations like UWBG. There are many fun things to do here like watching horse races and visiting the Bourbon Trail. I would also add that we are a very inclusive community and one that’s easy to adapt to. I got to Lexington in 1978, raised my family here and I have been here for a long time.

What is your favorite restaurant in the Bluegrass area?

My go-to is Dudley's On Short. I’ve known Debbie for a long time. She is always there to greet you and the food is delicious. It’s downtown and I love downtown Lexington. There’s also a rooftop seating area. It’s a really fun place to go.

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

“It’s a great experience. The people are great and the work UWBG is doing is great. The model is ever changing as we evolve. It’s a great place to get involved and understand all the good things going on in the community.” ~Paula Hanson
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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