United Way’s Centennial Annual Meeting highlights grantees, volunteers, philanthropic workplaces  

United Way’s Centennial Annual Meeting highlights grantees, volunteers, philanthropic workplaces  

Celebrating a century of creating positive, lasting change across Southeast Louisiana 


NEW ORLEANS – United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) revealed Friday an array of corporate acknowledgments, award winners, grant recipients and volunteer leaders during its eagerly awaited centennial celebration at its annual meeting of members. 

The organization was founded in New Orleans by volunteers and community partners in 1924. 

“From strengthening local resilience to advancing health, youth opportunity and financial security, United Way has proven time and again that we can drive meaningful, lasting impact,” said UWSELA President and CEO Michael Williamson. “As we celebrate this incredible milestone, we also look forward with anticipation and excitement. Our goal for the next century is ambitious and clear: to continue closing gaps and creating opportunities so that every person in our community can be healthy, educated, and financially stable.” 


The gathering honored the remarkable individuals, dedicated partners and transformative programs that fuel UWSELA’s mission to eradicate poverty in Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes. 


Collaborative Grantees Announced for the 2024-2027 Grant Cycle 

UWSELA announced its new 2024-2027 Collaborative Grantees during the centennial event. UWSELA designed the grants in alignment with its Blueprint for Prosperity to support groups of partners taking a collaborative approach to addressing the complex interplay of the local symptoms and drivers of poverty.     


The UWSELA 2024-2027 Collaborative Grantees include: 

  • CYPB Youth Master Plan (Infrastructure – Backbone) – Orleans Parish 
  • Jefferson Parish Family Preservation Collaborative (Implementation) – Jefferson Parish 
  • LA Voz Conecta (Implementation) – Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines Parish and St. Bernard parishes 
  • New Orleans Early Childhood Parent Leadership Collaborative (Implementation) – Orleans Parish  
  • NHC Cornerstone Implementation Council (Implementation) – Tangipahoa and Washington parishes 
  • Split Second Cares Health Pipeline Collaborative (Planning Grant) - Jefferson, Orleans, St. Bernard and St. Tammany parishes  
  • Washington Parish Equitable Food Access Collaborative (Implementation) – Washington Parish 
  • YouthForce NOLA (Infrastructure – Shared Measurement) - Orleans Parish 


The grants may be used for:  

  • Planning: To help collaboratives come together to create a steering committee, common agenda and working groups 
  • Infrastructure-Backbone: To support backbone organizations or functions.   
  • Infrastructure-Shared Measurement: To support shared measurement systems 
  • Implementation: To support systems-change strategies developed by working groups 
  • Continuous Improvement: To conduct evaluations 


“Congratulations to the second cohort of grant recipients for their bold approach and dedication to tackling the significant, systemic inequities that hinder fair access to opportunity for so many in our region,” said Chief Equity and Impact Officer Mary Ambrose. “We look forward to witnessing their success with these cross-sector collaborations that dive deep, hit at the root of poverty and pave the way for a stronger Southeast Louisiana for every person, everywhere.”  


An expert-led volunteer committee reviewed submissions and presentations before making a final recommendation for approval to the UWSELA Board of Trustees. The three-year grant funding will begin in July 2024 and end in June 2027.   


Read more about the new collaboratives and their focus areas online at UnitedWaySELA.org/CollabGrants



Southeast Louisiana’s Top 10 Most Generous Workplaces Revealed 

The annual Top 10 Most Generous Workplaces ranking recognizes the businesses in UWSELA’s seven-parish service area that contributed the most to and through the organization during the previous fiscal year.  


This year’s Top 10 Most Generous Workplaces include:  

  1. Entergy Corporation 
  2. Valero Meraux Refinery  
  3. Shell  
  4. Chalmette Refining, LLC - PBF Energy  
  5. Zachry Group  
  6. International Paper 
  7. Freeport-McMoRan, Inc. 
  8. Rain Carbon Inc. 
  9. Pan-American Life Insurance Group 
  10. Latter & Blum | Compass 


Entergy Corporation took the top honors with an extraordinary commitment to running a strong campaign, and Valero Meraux Refinery moved into the second spot with long-time supporters at Shell in at number three.  

Zachry Group is back for the second year with a jump to number five, growing their employee and corporate giving by more than 68% from last year. 

Workplaces interested in running a United Way campaign can visit UnitedWaySELA.org/CSR



UWSELA Names New Board Chair, New Board Members & 2024-25 Campaign Cabinet Chair 

UWSELA Board of Trustees members elected Ron McClain, Executive Director of the Institute of Mental Hygiene for the City of New Orleans, as the 2024-25 chair. McClain served on a number of United Way committees over the years, most recently as Chair of the Public Policy Committee.  

“We extend our gratitude to all our dedicated volunteers, including our board’s executive committee, who epitomize the spirit of leading by example,” said 2024-25 UWSELA Board of Trustees Chair Ron McClain. “Their willingness to help guide our United Way means we can tackle key issues and lead collaborations big enough to change the course for hundreds of thousands of households in our region.” 


The following individuals will join the Board of Trustees for their first three-year term. 

  • Joan Coffman, St. Tammany Parish Hospital 
  • Louis David, New Orleans Business Alliance 
  • Jeff Ehlinger, First Bank & Trust 
  • Dr. Kathy Johnson, University of New Orleans 
  • Adam Kuehne, Valero - Meraux Refinery  


UWSELA also named Meghan Donelon, Greater New Orleans Market President of Red River Bank, the 2024-25 Campaign Cabinet Chair. Donelon will lead the volunteer cabinet charged with fundraising through UWSELA’s workplace campaigns. 



2023-24 LIVE UNITED Award Winners: Recognizing Remarkable Social Impact Leaders 

UWSELA also paid tribute to the recipients of the 2023-24 LIVE UNITED Awards, spotlighting the extraordinary individuals and organizations that define the collaborative spirit of United Way, joining forces to tackle the region’s most pressing challenges. 

The winners, nominated and selected by UWSELA staff, each made a unique impact on Southeast Louisiana households, helping raise funds for tornado victims, increasing access to affordable early care and education, engaging young professionals in UWSELA’s mission and much more.  


The 2023-24 LIVE UNITED Award winners: 

  • Board Member of the Year 
    • Ronnie Slone, The Slone Group 
  • Edward J. Krause Volunteer of the Year 
    • Robert Kimbro 
  • Lisa Arseneaux Employee Campaign Champion (ECC) of the Year 
    • Kalisa Hobbs, International Paper 
  • Outstanding Communications 
    • Northshore Media Group 
  • Public Policy Award 
    • Madalyn Schenk 
  • Community Impact Funding Partner Award 
    • New Orleans Children & Youth Planning Board 




About United Way of Southeast Louisiana 

For 100 years, United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) has been a leader and trusted partner in improving lives and making a lasting difference. We fight to eradicate poverty by preparing people for quality jobs, growing incomes, and affording better health and education opportunities throughout Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington parishes. We have a bold vision of equitable communities where all individuals are healthy, educated, and financially stable – and we have a plan. United Way of Southeast Louisiana’s Blueprint for Prosperity guides all strategic investments in programs, initiatives, collaborations, volunteerism, and advocacy aimed at tackling poverty. For more information, please visit UnitedWaySELA.org. Find us on social: @UnitedWaySELA.