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Straight No Chaser: It’s Time for Us to Lead the United Way Again

Op/Ed by Gloria Winston Al-Sarag

Gloria Winston Al-Sarag

Gloria Winston Al-Sarag

Well, we missed the opportunity to lead the Rochester Business Alliance.

We were never at the table as strategists, asked our opinions, or given any chance to make a recommendation during the process; even though there had allegedly been some motion made to give the appearance the search had been nationwide and objective.

However, I think I may choke on that crap.

That had been a done deal all along.

And, I don’t think there had ever been any need for us to throw our hats in, in any attempt to lead the county’s Democratic Committee.

Those lily white committees have been primed to make sure the leadership looks like them.

So, why bother?

Numbers seem to rule in that arena.

We may not politically have them in the county yet, but that day WILL come.

The day will come when candidates like Julie Hutchinson, Valencia Metcalf, Robin Witt, Donald Hunter and others are not just wasting their time in an attempt to represent their respective communities.

It has also appeared that someone in the Buffalo HUD office may have been in bed with those who have opposed Adam McFadden leading the Rochester Housing Authority.

They must have already had a letter drafted, which had been released the day after the Ethics Committee ruled Adam could serve as interim director of the RHA.

And, what has been even more curious is how the letter was leaked to the media before it had even been received by the RHA board.

But, that’s just more of Rochester politics at its best; when it truly comes to QUALIFED, grass-roots leadership being considered for the helm of any credible organization.

Like a friend of mine said, “They must have realized we can read now.”

That thought must scare lots of white folks to death.

In addition, it now appears the United Way has been quietly working behind the scenes to fill the position of its CEO/presiden, which may be vacated soon.

I am curious as to why a national search has been conducted in such a seemingly secret fashion.

I haven’t been able to recall any mention of the fact that the current CEO/president may be retiring soon.

Have you?

Nonetheless, just so you are in the KNOW; on the United Way website, if anyone is interested, one will find a job description which reads as follows:

Organization: Greater Rochester United Way
Posted: November 13, 2014
Location: New York
Position: Executive
Field: Community development, Community foundations, United Ways
Salary: Commensurate with experience
Application Deadline: Open until filled
Category: Executive
Employment Level: Full-time

Description: The United Way of Greater Rochester is recognized as one of the most successful affiliates in the nation with an engaged and active Board, dedicated staff and volunteers, and a reputation as a leader in fund-raising and community support. With over 25m raised annually and an endowment in excess of 100m the United Way of Greater Rochester is in a position to greatly improve the health of our community. We are currently seeking a leader to take the organization to the next level in the rapidly evolving dynamic of philanthropy and charitable giving.

Responsibilities: Working closely with the board of directors the President/CEO has responsibility for setting and implementing the vision of the organization with emphasis on mobilizing the organization and the community to advance the common good. The President/CEO leverages the power of relationships and networks working across private, public, and corporate sectors to drive results. As champion for the organization the President/CEO will work to articulate and implement investment strategies that deliver measurable impact. In addition the President/CEO will ensure the organization is fiscally sound and financially accountable.

Requirements: The President/CEO will have a history of success as the senior executive and leader within a large nonprofit or substantial commercial enterprise. They will be community-focused with demonstrable achievements in support of advancing the common good with emphasis on health, education, housing, and child welfare. Experience working with all community constituencies including service providers, business leaders, volunteers, community organizations, government, and donors at all levels is required. We are seeking a change agent with a record of achievement in community service and the ability to bring diverse groups to the table for the community good.
For more information, or to apply, please send a cover letter and resume to Walter Critchley, CEO of Eastwood Executive Search LLC at

I thought I would donate the space allotted for my weekly column to this important announcement, which some may be trying to keep hush-hush.

I would like to see lots of BLACK candidates apply.

When I was a kid, the United Way had been called a “Red Feather Agency,” and was also called The Community Chest.

And, as far as I know, there has only been one black president at the United Way on record.

That person was Dr. Frederick C. Jefferson.

He is retired from the U of R.

So, from where I sit, it just might be time for the person at the helm of the United Way to look more like the population he or she will serve, in many cases.

Go for it!

It just might be our time to lead the United Way again!

Maybe this time around, if a noose is found on someone’s desk; it won’t be kept as one of their dirty little secrets, and the mentality therein just might be exposed.