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Our Team


At United Way, we know we only make progress toward crushing poverty when we give it our all, every day - and that starts at the top.

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Laurie Root


Laurie joined United Way of Erie County in 2010 as Vice President, Major Gifts and Planned Giving. She was named Senior Vice President in 2014 and President in 2021. Laurie is responsible for organizational management, strategic planning/implementation and resource development.  Her background includes three decades of experience in association leadership and management, primarily in the Washington DC area.

Why do you work to crush poverty every day?

"Every child deserves the opportunity to be successful in school and to pursue their dreams. Not only does it benefit them as individuals, but it lifts up our entire community."

Read Laurie's Full Bio

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Mike Jaruszewicz

Vice President, Community Impact

Mike joined United Way of Erie County in 2010 as a Campaign Representative and was named Vice President of Community Impact in 2017. Mike oversees our community impact work, which includes partnerships, grants and initiatives. Mike is an Erie native who served as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar to Australia and United States Peace Corps Volunteer in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania before joining the United Way team.

Why do you work to crush poverty every day? 

"I am part of a team that is working to strategically remove the barriers that have been preventing far too many people in our community from being successful. Having such a profound impact on a community is incredibly fulfilling."

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Julie Chacona

Chief Development Officer

Julie joined United Way of Erie County in 2020 as Director of Major Gifts and was named Chief Development Officer in 2021. In her expanded role, Julie shares responsibility and works as a partner with the President in stewarding key philanthropic relationships, overseeing fundraising activities, and developing and implementing strategies that drive investment from individuals, corporations and foundations. Julie is a Erie native and has held previous positions at Saint Vincent Health Center and Edinboro University. Julie has also served on many community boards.

Why do you work to crush poverty every day?

"Education changes behaviors and is the pathway to and through a rich and meaningful life. I believe it takes everyone in our community to invest in all children so together we may help open doors to endless opportunities."

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Joelyn J. Bush

Director of Marketing and Communications

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Community Impact Coordinator

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Jon Paul Ferretti

AmeriCorps VISTA

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Erica Jackson

Community Impact Manager, Grants Administration

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Stephanie King

Director of Education

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Joshua Kehl

Community Impact Manager, Data and Evaluation

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Lori Krause
Senior Director of Community Impact

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Marybelle Martin

Program Director, Erie Free Taxes

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Sara Naughton

Lead Community Impact Manager, Data and Evaluation

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Community Impact Manager, Data & Evaluation


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Ron Oliver

Vice President, Labor Division & AFL-CIO Community Services Liaison

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Sally Opferbeck

Vice President, Finance & Adminstration


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Joanna Peters

Administrative Assistant

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Gina M. Schaefer

Resource Development and Office Manager

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Ashley Wilczynski

Administrative Support and Database Associate

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Christine Yuhas




United Way of Erie County employs each of the Community School Directors at all 11 community schools that spread over four of the Erie County school districts. 

Meet the CSDs