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United Way Worldwide Picks Williams As New CEO

Easterseals President and CEO Angela F. Williams will become the next chief executive of United Way Worldwide (UWW) — the first female and the first African-American to lead the organization that comprises almost 1,200 affiliates in the United States and around the globe.

Williams has led Chicago-based Easterseals since 2018. She will become CEO effective Oct. 15. She spent 11 years as executive vice president, general counsel and chief administration officer at YMCA of the USA. She also was the interfaith liaison for the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund, where she helped assess the effects on and manage the financial support for houses of worship in areas impacted by the hurricane that struck the Gulf Coast region in August 2005.

Williams will succeed Brian Gallagher, who stepped down in February after 40 years with the organization. He joined United Way in 1981 and led several local affiliates before becoming CEO of United Way of America in 2002 and then United Way Worldwide in 2009.

Gallagher announced his March 1 resignation a week after an internal investigation found that the national office did not engage in “actionable harassment, discrimination or retaliation” with respect to three employees who filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Gallagher said he the board had been working on a succession plan for two years, with a transition by the end of 2021 but decided to leave sooner.

The resignation last month of United Way Worldwide/U.S. President Suzanne McCormick left the organization to fill its top three executive positions. McCormick stepped down to become the president of YMCA of the USA in Chicago and UWW International President José Pedro Ferrão previously announced his retirement, planned for the end of 2021.

United Way has more than 1,000 U.S. affiliates, with consolidated total annual revenue of $4 billion. The Alexandria, Va.-based national office reported total revenue of almost $250 million for the fiscal year ending December 2019, the most recent federal Form 990 available. Gallagher earned total compensation of $1.5 million that year, including base compensation of almost $550,000.

United Way’s announcement did not include compensation details for Williams. For the year ending 2019, Williams earned total compensation of almost $425,000, according to the latest Form 990 available for Easterseals.

“United Way Worldwide is at a critical juncture as we look to transform our 135-year-old organization to continue driving strong and equitable community impact into the future,” Dr. Juliette M. Tuakli, chair of UWW’s Board of Trustees, said via a statement announcing the appointment today. “We wanted a leader who could mobilize our United Way Network, our supporters and United Way Worldwide around a clear vision grounded in the imperative to create greater impact, equity and growth in communities,” she said. “Angela’s background and experience make her uniquely suited to create and drive this vision. The CEO Search Committee was impressed by her strategic acumen, innovative thinking and purpose-driven mindset, which we believe will offer a fresh perspective in reimagining United Way and ensuring that we remain relevant and impactful for years to come.”

After earning her law degree, Williams began her career serving for more than six years as an active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps and during Operation Desert Storm. She went on to serve as special counsel on criminal law for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s Senate Judiciary Committee. Williams also worked on the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division’s National Church Arson Task Force and was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida.

A native of Anderson, S.C., Williams earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in American government from the University of Virginia; a juris doctor from the University of Texas School of Law; and a Master of Divinity cum laude from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology, Virginia Union University.  She is an ordained minister and a volunteer pastor with her husband, the Rev. Roderick Williams.

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