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Introducing Women United's new chair, Stephanie Stocker

This is a humbling time for me.  It reminds me of my first day at a Women United event, over three years ago. Like you, I had a choice about where to volunteer my time and money.

I came here as a guest, deeply honored to be invited – a mother to then 1 and 3-year-old little girls; an attorney building her law practice through ongoing sleepless nights of work and not enough sleep. My physical and mental health were suffering, and I remember how overwhelmed I felt attending that first WU event – worried that I had to be “on” and was failing miserably.  I quickly saw how authentic the women were in the room – kind, smart, real. Women who clearly empower others to do magic in their community with their heart, their vision, their clear intention – wanting to make the world a better place. I knew there was no better organization to join if I wanted to make a difference. This is the very same inspiration that continues to drive me today.

It feels really good to connect authentically with true women who want to create impactful change in their community. Women who together have the power to transform their vision for positive change into a clear path for creating that change. I am here because we have unparalleled capability to make an impact in Thurston County.

Why are WE here?

As we look forward, we must zero in on what WU can uniquely contribute to our communities and to the world. The opportunity ahead will require us to reimagine a lot of what we have done in the past, working together to adapt to the evolving needs of our community and to - together - be open to change.

We must embrace change as constant and collaboration as vital. We have all heard the maxim that it’s not the strongest that survive, but those who adapt best to change.  As we lead in an ever-evolving climate of volunteerism and non-profit transparency, we must welcome possibilities for new ways of doing our work, organizing ourselves, partnering with others and delivering on our promises to our community and to each other. As we adapt to changing conditions in our community and work in robust collaboration with our United Way, Women United must also be mindful to heighten collaboration across our membership to ensure we hear and learn from each other, respectfully navigating together the bumps that are inevitable along any path of change.

The work we do at WU empowers women in our community to accomplish more of what they need to move FORWARD, whether it be from homelessness, abuse, or financial instability.  Our core value is to help women achieve self-sufficiency and financial independence, thus paving the way for them to accomplish great things for themselves and their families.  This is the core of who we are at WU. It is why we are here.

I promise to give you my heart and commitment.  I promise to value your time and respect your opinion.  I promise to be honest with you – I don’t have all the answers and will not pretend to have them.  Let’s do this together.

What do we do next?

A favorite quote of mine is from Albert Einstein – the world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch and do nothing. Women United of Thurston County does not watch the oppressed or homeless in our community and do nothing.  We walk towards the struggle and work to find solutions, funding innovative and measurable programs that help our community find hope.    

This starts with clarity of purpose and sense of mission, which will lead us to imagine the impossible in our community and embrace the change necessary to create it.  This will be especially relevant in the success of our WU with a more targeted focus starting this year – our WU “Signature Issue.” Before we talk about our signature issue, let’s take a step back and talk about the role of Women United within United Way of Thurston County.

United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in our community by identifying critical needs in the community in these focus areas and investing in local nonprofits doing the best work to meet those needs. Together we solve complicated issues by convening community stakeholders and collaborating to develop short and long-term strategies.

Women United is an affinity group of United Way. This means that a woman who makes United Way part of her philanthropy is also part of a larger group of dynamic women working together to solve urgent, local community problems.

Women United identifies a specific issue, within the larger United Way focus areas, to strategically influence better outcomes. Women United of Thurston County’s current Signature Issue is focused on improving the lives of a growing and vulnerable population: families with children who are currently homeless or on the verge of becoming homeless. We'll work with partner agencies to identify unmet needs and develop a funding strategy to make a real difference in the lives of these families and children.

I am excited about the changes we are embarking on at WU and the impact we can make together in our community through our Signature Issue.  I ask for your patience and trust through change – some things will look different.  As our community evolves, so must we to meet the needs of those we serve.

Many organizations aspire to change the world and the community around them.  But very few have all the elements of a strong foundation required: talent, resources, vision, perseverance, and the magic glue that holds it all together: brazen courage.

We do. Let’s build on this foundation together and continue to make magic.