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Donna Douglas Feature: Women United

Monday Mar 13th, 2023

Donna Douglass has been a strong advocate of United Way’s mission to crush poverty and ensure all students succeed and all families thrive.

As a member of Women United's Executive Council, Donna brings incredible knowledge and expertise from her past experiences working as a teacher, a grant writer and executive director at several nonprofits in Erie County. As we continue to celebrate Women’s History Month, it is fitting that we feature a Q&A with Donna who is a passionate champion of our work.

Q. You have been involved in Women United for Community Schools since it launched. What inspires you about United Way Community Schools? 
A. I don’t have any children but was an elementary school art teacher at one time and loved working with elementary students. I didn’t realize how much I missed that interaction until retirement. I was invited to join Women United, and my first event at McKinley was great. I left feeling I was doing something meaningful in my older age. The students were sweet and loved the attention. What’s not to love?

Q. You serve on Women United's Executive Council. Why did you get involved and what sets Women United for Community Schools apart other women’s giving circles? 
A. Immediate gratification! So many times when making gifts to various charities you trust your contributions will go to good use. With Women United we get to see it in action.

Q. What is your message to other women who may be interested in joining Women United on why it’s important to help our most vulnerable children by investing in leveling the playing field so they may thrive academically, and therefore creating unlimited opportunities?
A. Do it! Get involved. There’s nothing more important to future generations than giving them every opportunity to succeed regardless of their personal circumstances. We bring them into the world, we need to take care of them.

Q. You are a philanthropist. Why?
A. My first nonprofit board service woke me up to social services that do so much for those in need. It made sense to me that board members are primarily responsible for any organization on which they serve; giving of time, talent and treasure. With an arts background it’s important to me to give to both visual and performing arts nonprofits as well. One doesn’t need to be wealthy to give; only be willing to give that which is a personally significant gift. It sets an example to the broader community.

Q. What are words that you live by or perhaps something a woman mentor told you that you cherish.
A. My family was never really well to do but my mother always gave to the United Fund of Corry in our hometown, and she often made private gifts to those she knew were in need. They were unspoken words, but made a strong impression.