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Board Chair Lorianne (LA) Feltz

Wednesday Mar 1st, 2023

As incoming board chair for United Way of Erie County, I’ve seen firsthand the fantastic work accomplished by the local social impact organization. They envision a collaborative community where all students succeed, and all families thrive.

United Way’s mission is important to me, and I’m inspired by the amazing men and women who’ve previously held this role. During Women’s History Month, I’m reminded of the fact that I’m the seventh female to act as board chair since the organization was founded in 1914. My predecessors serve as strong role models for all of us.

Personally, I’m also reminded during this important month about how I’ve benefitted from strong female influences– particularly in the field of education. 

When my mom entered college to become a teacher my Grandma Zeno did too. After graduation, my grandmother taught in an impoverished school in inner-city Canton, Ohio and continued to volunteer there following her retirement. Years later at her funeral, many of her students – now adults – came to pay their respects.

My mom also made a lasting impression on her students. I often have people share with me the impact she made as their teacher at Sacred Heart School in Erie.

United Way is making a historical impact on today’s youth through its focus on education – my mom and grandma would be moved by the work happening within the Community Schools.

My dad has been a strong influence in how I approach philanthropy. My career at Erie Insurance started while I was a student at Gannon University. When first asked to donate to United Way, I was working two jobs and didn’t know how to fit philanthropy into the picture. I asked my dad for advice, and he told me to donate a percentage of my paycheck so it would compound over time and let that contribution increase with my finances. Do what you can, and it will grow.

United Way aligns perfectly with these family lessons. Look at the power of United Way’s Community Schools strategy in bringing resources to students while removing barriers so they can be successful. My mom and grandma would be as passionate about these programs as I am.

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Add in Imagination Library, 211 Helpline, safer walking routes to school, free help with taxes and so much more. Impact from the work done by United Way is vital to the health and growth of our community. Like dad taught me in college, our support ensures everyone has the chance to thrive. No action is too small or inconsequential. We’re more powerful working together to continue to help those in our community who need it most.