Two leading Connecticut-based nonprofit organizations, United Way of Coastal Fairfield County and United Way of Western Connecticut, are merging under a new, single entity, United Way of Coastal and Western Connecticut. This strategic partnership brings together the strengths and resources of both organizations to create a united force for positive change and enhanced community impact across Fairfield and Southern Litchfield Counties.
The partnership aims to leverage the collective power of both organizations to address the most pressing needs within the region. The new organization will serve more than 25 percent of the state’s population across 27 communities, including the Cities of Bridgeport, Danbury, Norwalk, and Stamford, and the Towns of Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Kent, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield, Roxbury, Sherman, Stratford, Trumbull, Warren, Washington, Weston, Westport, and Wilton, Connecticut.
“United Way of Coastal and Western Connecticut will remain focused on community-driven initiatives and evidence-based strategies to tackle key issues in the areas of education and child care, health and food security, financial stability and basic needs, while creating systemic change for families living at or below the ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) threshold,” said Cheryl Bakewell, Board Chair of United Way of Western Connecticut. "By joining forces, we will have a stronger, more coordinated approach to addressing the needs of our region, and together, we will create a brighter future for residents of Coastal and Western Connecticut."
ALICE families have household incomes above the Federal Poverty Level but below the basic cost of living. In Connecticut, more than 1 in 4 households are ALICE, and — combined with those who live below the poverty level — 38% of all households in the state experience significant financial hardship. By aligning missions and working together, the merged organization will be better positioned to drive impact, maximize resources, efficiently allocate funding, and deliver sustainable solutions that create lasting change.
Isabel Almeida, the current President of United Way of Western Connecticut, will become the President and CEO of the new organization. “Isabel brings nearly 20 years of experience in the United Way network and a demonstrated commitment to the community,” said Lyn Kobsa, Board Chair of United Way of Coastal Fairfield County. She is a thoughtful and empathetic leader, an ideal fit for her role in the merged organization.”
The Board of Directors for United Way of Coastal and Western Connecticut includes esteemed community leaders who bring diverse skills and a passion for driving social progress. The officers for the new board are:
Cheryl Bakewell, Chair
Lyn Kobsa, Vice Chair
Paul Reszutek, Treasurer
Ken Weinstein, Secretary
The remainder of the Board is made up of legacy members from the boards of United Way of Coastal Fairfield County and United Way of Western Connecticut, and includes Noel Anderson, Christina Bodine Aysseh, Doreen Bentson, Paul Bruce, Luis Diez, Eric Duenwald, Carmen Hughes, Thomas McCarthy, Anne McCrory, Aaron Meyer, Mark Ouellette, S. Giles Payne, Gerald Rosenberg, Michael Stern, Samuel Tingley, Robert Trefry, and Katherine Webster-O'Keefe.
"This exemplary board is dedicated to the mission of improving lives and building stronger communities,” stated Margo Amgott, Interim CEO of United Way of Coastal Fairfield County. "Their collective expertise will be instrumental in guiding our new organization to deliver improved outcomes across the region."
According to Isabel Almeida, incoming President and CEO of United Way of Coastal and Western Connecticut, “Community-driven work will be at the core of the new organization. We will use a community engagement model which includes five Community Councils, made up of cross-sector volunteers focused on community input and impact. Councils will be located in Stamford, Greater Norwalk, Greater Bridgeport, Northern Fairfield County, and Southern Litchfield County. Leveraging best practices from both organizations, our newly merged organization will also continue to engage Community Messengers and Parent Ambassadors who help to identify community needs, share resources, and co-design solutions, as well as an ALICE Advisory Board, which guides the work of United Way by giving voice to the needs of low-to-moderate-income individuals.”
The merger holds particular significance in improving cradle-to-career outcomes as it unites three StriveTogether initiatives — Bridgeport Prospers, Stamford Cradle to Career, and the newly launched Danbury collective impact initiative — under a single fiduciary.
“By bringing the three StriveTogether initiatives under one roof, United Way of Coastal and Western Connecticut will strengthen its capacity to promote equity and economic mobility throughout the region—home to one of the nation’s largest opportunity gaps. This unified approach will foster collaboration, streamline resources, and create a more comprehensive and cohesive strategy to ensure that every child has an opportunity to succeed, regardless of background or circumstances. The merged organization's commitment to equity and excellence in education will empower students and drive positive change that extends far beyond the classroom, shaping a brighter future of Coastal and Western Connecticut,” said Isabel Almeida.
With Almeida serving as President and CEO, leadership for the new organization will include:
Arlene Ajami, Chief Financial Officer
Gail Carroll, SVP, Resource Development and Marketing
Yolande Ford, Senior Director, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives
Ashley Gaudiano, SVP, Community Impact
Edith Presley, President, Stamford Cradle to Career
Katerina Vlahos, Executive Director, Bridgeport Prospers
The merged organization, United Way of Coastal and Western Connecticut, will begin operations on July 1, 2023 with continued offices in Stamford, Bridgeport, Danbury, and New Milford. Effective July 1, United Way of Coastal and Western Connecticut can be found online at www.unitedwaycwc.org.