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Blue Ribbon Panel: Brian Gallagher

Brian Gallagher became President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of America in 2002 and immediately took on the challenge of leading the transformation of the organization to focus on community impact - improving lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities. Today, United Way works with community partners to advance the common good and address those critical issues which create opportunities for a better life for all people - education, income and health. This represents a dynamic shift from the United Way recognized for decades as the nation's premier fund raiser and distributor.

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 the communities that are shaped. To that end, he has championed the importance of addressing financial stability by helping to launch United Way's most recent national initiative, the United Way Financial Stability PartnershipTM.

Through this work United Way brings together cross-sector partners to help lower-income individuals and families achieve financial independence by empowering them with the tools and skills necessary to increase their personal income, build savings, and ultimately gain and benefit from assets such as homeownership, continued education or a small business. Additionally, Gallagher has been instrumental in advancing two other key national initiatives: 2-1-1 and Success by 6. United Way is calling for the national implementation of 2-1-1, the three-digit telephone number that connects people with important health and community services and volunteer opportunities. Success by 6 is an early childhood learning initiative that helps parents and caregivers prepare young children from birth to age 6 to enter school ready to learn.

Gallagher has raised the bar on the accountability, governance and transparency standards adopted as a requirement of membership for the 1,400 local United Ways across the country. Through his work as chairman of the board of directors of Independent Sector, a coalition that encourages the nonprofit sector to meet the highest standards of ethical practice, value, and effectiveness, he is spearheading a collective effort with his peers to drive more trust and confidence in the nonprofit sector. Additionally, he has streamlined and strengthened the United Way of America national board of trustees, which in 2004 elected its first African-American board chair. He has also implemented the largest electronic pledging, processing and distribution system in the sector, with more than 640,000 individual transactions totaling over $390 million in charitable contributions.

Gallagher began his career with United Way in 1981 as a management trainee, later working in various positions in United Ways around the country including Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Reading, Pennsylvania; Providence, Rhode Island; and Atlanta, Georgia. He most recently served as president of United Way of Central Ohio (UWCO) in Columbus, where he had first-hand experience with community impact, creating a very successful Family Housing Collaborative, which works simultaneously to obtain low cost housing while providing day care and job training to break the cycle of homelessness.

Gallagher was born in Chicago and grew up in Hobart, Ind. He received his bachelor's degree in social work from Ball State University, Muncie, Ind., 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.

Gallagher and his wife, Ramona, have two daughters, Katie and Maggie.

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