I have always felt that chief professional officers at local United Ways are very passionate about their work. Over the past couple of weeks, my personal visits with two chief professional officers have confirmed my belief. What they shared with me about their passion during those visits surprised me.
The first chief professional officer I have known for several years. His United Way recently transitioned from a fundraising United Way to an issue-focused community impact United Way that is now focused on reducing poverty. He shared with me that when his United Way was primarily a fundraising United Way, he would come to work and put in a good day’s effort. Every night, he would leave the office knowing he did his best, but not feeling very satisfied. All of that changed, he said, once their United Way adopted their focus on reducing poverty. He said he now comes to work every day excited and energized about reducing poverty in their community, and how to engage donors and volunteers with their United Way to make it happen. He has found his passion for his work.
Just over two weeks ago, I had dinner with David Hodges, the chief professional officer of United Way of Harnett County, and his wife Diane, in Dunn, North Carolina. David became the CPO just a couple of years ago, and has worked diligently to make good things happen for people in Harnett County. After an enjoyable dinner and conversation, I had the opportunity to experience David’s passion for United Way in a totally unexpected way. David shared with me his history in the music industry, something which I was unaware of, although the guitars hanging on the wall in his living room should have given me a clue. He then played for me an anthem he composed and recorded about United Way. He shared his passion for United Way through his music in a very powerful and personal way.
There are many people who work in jobs where they will never experience the passion that these two chief professional officers experience daily. I am inspired by both of these chief professional officers as their personal passion is making an incredible difference in their communities. My wish for you is that you will have the opportunity to be personally passionate about your work at United Way.