Debbie McGee, Vice President of Resource Development shares her story of how her past experience has shaped and prepared her for her work at UWATX.
Chloe Moore: How do you make Austin Greater?
Debbie McGee: In terms of my role here, I’m the bus driver of this engine called ‘Resource Development’, which is basically fundraising for the work we do. My part is to make sure everyone is on the bus and moving in the same direction. So I see my role as bringing all the pieces together; for everyone to be on the same bus and driving down that road of success to make Austin Greater.
Chloe Moore: What led you to UWATX?
Debbie McGee: I’m from Huntsville, TX; that’s where I grew up. I went to the University of Texas and I ended up in the banking industry in Houston, where my husband and I were for 13 years.
I stopped working for a while and stayed home for 15 years to raise my children. During that time, I was very involved as a volunteer in the community and enjoyed using my sales and banking skills to help raise money for different nonprofits in Fort Worth, Texas.
When I decided that I was ready to start working again, a good friend of mine at TCU (Texas Christian University) told me, “Debbie I think you would be great at nonprofit and development work.” So in November 2006, as I was interviewing at different places, United Way aligned perfectly with my interests to help people with needs as well as using my skills in sales to help other people see those needs and raise money for the community. Eventually this led me to UWATX.
CM: What do you believe is unique about UWATX?
DG: United Way is great because we raise money locally and we give money away locally. At the same time, we have a corporate identity that allows us to interact with our partners as well as other United Ways around the country; so we’re an organization that can share information and learn from each other.
CM: What do you want your impact or legacy to be?
DG: I want our team to grow revenue for United Way for Greater Austin. One of the challenges we have is that we raise $15-16 million dollars, but only about 50 percent of that money is given to the work United Way does. In our community the rest goes to places where people have restricted their dollars – someone may give to United Way but it is restricted for a specific organization. I want my impact here to be in influencing dollars to come straight to United Way so that we can meet the needs of our community.
CM: What are some of the changes you plan to implement to impact Austin?
DG: First, and foremost, is definitely leveraging the rebranding. That by itself is creating a huge awareness for us to go back to current investors and others to retell our story. We are different now and rebranding is helping tell our clients why we’re different.
We are supporting early learning so that kids can be kindergarten ready; we are shaping strategic programs in middle schools to change the lives of students; we are delivering financial stability classes for our community. Rebranding has given us the opportunity to educate people about who we are and the essence of what we truly do. We’re not taking money and sending it a million different places – it’s about strategic investments, collaborations, and helping people and our community.
Second, we’re doing a lot more volunteer projects. We recently teamed up with Deloitte for their IMPACT Day and Deloitte has been, and still is, a big supporter of United Way. If we can get other companies to participate in Days of Caring or volunteer projects, they will have a chance to see the work we’re doing.
The third piece is giving people a reason to donate. There’s a statistic that shows that people would give more if they feel they have a reason to; so that’s what we’re developing: a reason; with our rebranding, volunteer engagement and tapping into the leadership sector.
I would personally like to thank Debbie McGee for her hospitality and enthusiasm during this interview. This was a truly a great experience.
If you are interested in making an impact in your Greater Austin community, please contact Debbie McGee via e-mail at Debbie.McGee@uwatx.org or via phone at 512-381-8598.