April 1, 2016


New United Way of Northwest Vermont Serves Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle Counties.

APRIL 7, 2016 (South Burlington, VT): On April 1, 2016, Franklin-Grand Isle United Way and United Way of Chittenden County announced to donors, supporters and community partners that the two organizations have merged to form a single organization. The new United Way of Northwest Vermont proudly serves every community within Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties, combining the expertise, staff and resources of the former organizations to better address the complex challenges and needs across the region’s interconnected communities.

Prompted by a leadership transition at Franklin-Grand Isle United Way, the Boards of Directors of each organization independently and collaboratively explored opportunities to maximize community impact across the region and increase efficiencies. With input from key stakeholders and volunteer committees, they chose to combine the strengths of our two organizations into one. “So much of what the two organizations were working for independently was in alignment. As sister United Ways, we shared the same mission, goals and means of operation,” said Michael Seaver of Peoples United Bank and president of the board of directors for United Way of Northwest Vermont. “This merger will result in greater efficiency and better outcomes across the region.”

United Way of Northwest Vermont’s Board of Directors is representative of the geographic service area. The staff is lead by executive director Martha Maksym, former executive director of United Way of Chittenden County. “As a resident of Grand Isle, I travel through all three counties everyday. The challenges facing our communities are not contained by county lines. The need for quality education and increased financial stability, managing the high cost of transportation and housing, treating and preventing opiate abuse and providing adequate care for our aging population are complex issues all three counties have in common,” said Maksym.

“We’re redefining our community. It’s time to think beyond our own backyards and embrace the interconnectedness of this region,” said former Franklin-Grand Isle Executive Director Sally Bortz. “As a united organization we share a greater amount of expertise, a wider network of support and deeper community roots. A stronger community will result. We’re all winning with this decision.”

United Way’s mission is to unite community members and organizations to work together to accomplish shared goals. “It’s important for us to walk the talk and act as a model for collaboration. We ask our partners and funded agencies to work more closely all the time – now we can speak from experience,” said Maksym. “Uniting as a single organization allows us to focus our resources on building more of the cross-sector partnerships that we know create real, lasting solutions. No single organization can solve the biggest issues facing our communities. We have to work together.”

United Way of Northwest Vermont is honoring all donations made to each organization’s respective campaign in 2015, and will continue funding all programs in the former organizations’ portfolios through the end of this fiscal year (year end March 31, 2017) as previously determined by each former organization.

“We’re stronger together – especially when it comes to tackling pervasive issues like heroin and opiate abuse that need a strategic, coordinated approach,” said Tina Mueller, newly appointed United Way of Northwest Vermont board member and former president of the Franklin-Grand Isle United Way board. “We have a real opportunity to leverage the untapped wisdom and talent in each and every town and discover new ways to be of service to our communities.”

In September United Way of Northwest Vermont plans to launch a unified Community Campaign which will raise funds to support programs and strategic initiatives, and to mobilize volunteers that serve every community in Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties. To continue United Way’s tradition of transparency and accountability, all funding decisions will be made by a committee of community volunteers representing all three counties. All investments are approved by the Board of Directors.

“Our new Board of Directors has assumed the responsibility to ensure we’re serving all the communities we represent and act as stewards of this new organization. We’re in the process of inviting three new members from Grand Isle County to join us,” said Maksym. United Way of Northwest Vermont is governed by local volunteers representing Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle Counties. The Board of Directors includes:

Michael Seaver, People's United Bank – President
Tammy Johnson, Free Press Media – Vice President
Joe Gaida, Community Volunteer – Treasurer
Sally Bortz, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Ronald Boucher, Wells Fargo Advisors
Patrick Brown, Greater Burlington Multicultural Resource Center
Ted Castle, Rhino Foods
Chris Chagnon, Hannaford
James Cohen, Hadley Financial Group
Robert DiPalma, Paul Frank + Collins
Marty Fletcher, Mylan Technologies
Kevin Gallagher, []
Brooke Gillman, eSecLending, LLC
Traci Griffith, Saint Michael's College
Susan Leonard, New England Federal Credit Union
Amit Lodha, BioTek Instruments, Inc.
Chris Lyon, Seventh Generation
Becky Manahan, St. Albans Free Library
Nancy Mathews, University of Vermont
Jeffrey McMahan, Dinse Knapp McAndrew
Owen Milne, Red Thread
Tina Mueller, Superior Technical Ceramics
Sally Sargent, Community Volunteer
Rubi Simon, Fletcher Free Library
Linda Tarr-Whelan, Community Volunteer
Rebecca Towne, Vermont Gas Systems
Eileen Whalen, University of Vermont Medical Center
Brigette White, Hickok & Boardman Network of Companies

United Way of Northwest Vermont is strongly supported by community partners, key stakeholders and donors:

Frank Coffi, President, Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation (GBIC) and Cynosure, Inc. – “Economic development, environmental health and social health and wellbeing together are what create healthy communities. United Way has always been a great partner with GBIC and the business community. I am confident that the new United Way of Northwest Vermont will bring great benefits to our Franklin and Grand Isle communities. Having a strong, active and engaged United Way is critically important to improving and sustaining the health and wellbeing of our communities.”

Jill Berry Bowen, Chief Executive Officer, Northwestern Medical Center – “United Way is a critical partner in our community. For longstanding success many types of organizations are looking to consolidation to ensure a sustainable future. United Way of Northeast Vermont offers more possibilities to support these programs serving our communities through integrated, efficient, and coordinated efforts. Working together in partnership will only strengthen the investment in the right services and priorities to meet the needs of all three counties collectively. It is the right thing to do.”

Jan Demers, Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO) – “Joining Franklin Grand Isle United Way with the United Way of Chittenden County brings new strength and hope to all three counties. These counties are in CVOEO’s catchment area and we welcome the partnership continued through this exciting merger.”

Bill Schubart (donor) – "The merger of Chittenden and Franklin-Grand Isle United Ways is more than a practical step forward: it is an exemplary one. The sum is greater than the parts and United Way’s mission is the winner.”

Alison Calderara, Director, CRD, Community Health Centers of Burlington – “This is welcome news. As a United Way Funded Agency with health centers in both Grand Isle and Chittenden County, our goals of improved community health and access to health care don’t change with the county line. We are looking forward to the power of this partnership helping us to serve even more Vermonters.”

Beth Sightler, Executive Director, Champlain Community Services – “I am very enthusiastic about how this merger will improve the lives of even more Vermonters. As a Specialized Service Agency that serves both Chittenden and Grand Isle counties in providing long-term services to Vermonters with intellectual disabilities and autism, our collaboration with United Way has been both dynamic and inspirational. Their support has helped Champlain Community Services to find valuable employment for dozens of our clients throughout Northwest Vermont – bringing value to both their lives and the community.”

Liz Gamache, Mayor, St. Albans – "By taking a collaborative and integrated approach, United Way of Northwest Vermont is well positioned to deliver even greater impact in our region. It makes sense to bring the strengths of both organizations together to find solutions to the challenges our counties share."

Leon Berthiaume, CEO, St. Albans Cooperative Creamery, Inc. – "I commend both Boards for re-imagining how our United Way can enhance and leverage partnerships as well as resources. I’m excited about the strategy to develop United Way of Northwest Vermont that will allow our United Way to grow, evolve, establish new partnerships and solutions to best serve the needs of our Community. We all need to imagine the possibilities that this new structure will bring to our community."

Ted Mable, Executive Director, Northwestern Counseling & Support Services – “This merger brings added leadership and energy to promote health, improve education, and advance income in Franklin and Grand Isle Counties. I’m looking forward to the important work that United Way of Northwest Vermont is about to undertake.”

Judy Ashley, District Director, VT Department of Health – "This is exciting! I believe our community will significantly benefit from the power of togetherness. This will allow United Way to truly mobilize the resources in our community for the greater good."

John Hango (supporter) – “Leveraging the combined resources, leadership and innovation of the two organizations provides a broader platform to more efficiently impact our communities. United Way of Northwest Vermont will be uniquely positioned to leverage a broader group of leaders, businesses, individuals and provide access to more resources to tackle bigger and bolder goals. Taking down geographical boundaries will bring people together, build new connections, open new doors and create greater opportunities for collaboration.”

Mary Alice McKenzie, Boys and Girls Club of Burlington – “Bravo to both Franklin-Grand Isle and Chittenden County United Ways for coming together to better serve our Vermont community. Such a leadership move reminds us that we are most effective when we unite against pervasive and common challenges.”

About United Way of Northwest Vermont
United Way of Northwest Vermont unites our whole community to solve complex problems and harness the power of people to create a stronger region. We proudly serve Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle Counties of Vermont. United Way convenes advocates, organizations and institutions to address the community's most pressing issues, focusing on the building blocks of a vibrant community: Education, Income and Health. The problems facing our community are complex; they are issues that no single organization or individual alone can solve – real change is possible when nonprofit, public and private sectors work together. United Way has the networks, partnerships and strategic initiatives to improve the lives of our family, friends and neighbors. For more information or to get involved, visit

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To truly make a change, we MUST work together. Now is the time to raise the bar and expect a better quality of life for our neighbors who struggle. If we all give the best way we can, we can make our community the best it can be. There’s a place for everyone at our table – join us and get involved in a way that’s meaningful for you.