Our President and CEO outlines his advice for becoming a strong non-profit leader. Put others first, he says, and don’t be shy about saying ‘Yes.’
Brian Gallagher became President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of America in 2002 and then of United Way Worldwide in 2009. In 2002, he immediately took on the challenge of leading the transformation of the organization to focus on community impact. A career veteran of the United Way system, Gallagher believes that the true measure of success for United Way and other philanthropic organizations is bottom-line results: the lives that are changed and thecommunities that are shaped. This represents a dynamic shift from the United Way recognized for decades as the nation’s premier fund raiser and distributor. Gallagher has raised the bar on the accountability, governance and transparency standards adopted as a requirement of membership for all United Ways. Today United Way has 1,800 local affiliates in 45 countries and territories raising $5.1 billion annually, with 11 million donors and 2.5 million volunteers. Gallagher began his career with United Way in 1981 as a management trainee, later working in various positions in United Ways around the United States including Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Reading, Pennsylvania; Providence, Rhode Island; and Atlanta, Georgia. He then served as president of United Way of Central Ohio in Columbus, Ohio where he had first-hand experience with community impact, creating a very successful Family Housing Collaborative, which works simultaneouslyto obtain low cost housing while providing day care and job training sothat the cycle of homelessness is broken. Gallagher was born in Chicago and grew up in Hobart, Indiana. He received his bachelor’s degree in social work from Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, in 1981 and earned a master’s degree in business administration from Emory University in Atlanta in 1992. In May 2003 Gallagher received an honorary Doctor of Humanities from his alma mater, Ball State University.