We are kicking off a new blog series to show appreciation for some of the people who have been instrumental in our fight for the basic needs, education and financial stability of our neighbors for the past century. Over the course of 2021, we will feature 100 of these heroes. We hope you will continue to tune in as we highlight some truly amazing people who have made a huge difference in our community. To learn more about how we are continuing to serve the Bluegrass in 2021, click here.
For our first post, we are interviewing Timothy Johnson, the President and CEO of United Way of the Bluegrass.
What does your role as President and CEO entail?
My role as President and Chief Executive Officer is to help manage this century-old regional philanthropic organization. This means I help to inspire the community, help to inspire my staff and manage the critical role that United Way plays in the community as a leader, investor, and community impact organization.
What does this role include, or what would a normal day look like for you?
A normal day often includes meeting with stakeholders from around the region. This can include donors, businesses, individuals, leaders of nonprofits, members and leaders of institutions or government folks. We identify opportunities to partner together and convene about pressing issues around the region and really leverage our capital, our relationships and our voices to help drive impact in the Bluegrass.
What do you think is the most special thing about UWBG?
The people. We have some of the most caring, committed, dedicated, smart individuals who care deeply for the community, who give generously of themselves and their time, and who are innovative all who come together to help support their fellow neighbors. That’s what helps me get up every day and look forward to going to work and seeing the folks I work with. I like to refer to them as my fellow nonprofit do-gooders.
In your opinion, what positive change has UWBG made in the Bluegrass over the past 100 years?
Everything from helping the community get back on its feet after the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 to helping the community through serious disasters like the plane crash that happened a few years ago, floods and all types of natural disasters, all the way to helping support individual families. We have helped support students, moms, dads and other individuals within the community by making sure that education, health, financial stability, and basic needs are always met. We want our fellow neighbors to have a safety net and a hand up whenever they need a little bit of assistance to stay on their feet. Our goal is to help them thrive, so they aren’t just in survival mode.
What’s your favorite place in the Bluegrass?
Before the pandemic, I really liked spending time at Malibu Jack’s. It’s a pretty fun place and I know the deals they have during the week - on Wednesdays, the video games are half price, and bowling is discounted on Mondays and the little race cars are discounted on Thursdays. I actually walk around with my Malibu Jack’s card in my wallet. It hasn't gotten any use in the last nine months, but it’s still there.
What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bluegrass?
My favorite thing to do is drive around and enjoy the scenery with my wife Opa. She is a fellow nonprofit do-gooder, and if it wasn’t for her agreeing to move to Kentucky, we wouldn’t be here. We moved from Washington D.C. and I am from Brooklyn, New York originally where we don’t have nature like this. It’s referred to as the concrete jungle, so if I wanted to see grass, I’d have to go to the park. Sometimes as I’m driving from one meeting to another I’ll stop as I’m passing a horse farm and just take it all in. I never realized there was this much land and open space to be had anywhere. It’s still amazing to watch the beauty of the Bluegrass and the animals - it’s the city kid in me, it never gets old.
Thank you for being such a strong part of UWBG, Timothy! 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!