Greenwich United Way Names New Members to Board of Directors at Annual Meeting

GREENWICH,Conn., January 24, 2019 – The Greenwich United Way Board of Directors Annual Meeting took place on Wednesday, January 23 at the Greenwich Country Club in Greenwich, CT. Members of the organization’s staff and Board welcomed seven new Board members:  Shari Aser, Laura Erickson, Debra Hess,Nicole Kwasniewski, Lisa Lori, John Maus and Karen Oztemel. Three retiring members of the Board are: Elizabeth Angelone, Kath Burgweger and PamelaFornero.

Chairman of the Board Anne Sherrerd kicked off the Annual Meeting with a review of the work conducted and the many successful results achieved by the Greenwich United Way in the past year, and reiterated the organization’s commitment to both Direct Impact programming and its community investment process.

“All of us who work on behalf of the Greenwich United Way share a vision, which is that every member of our local community will have the opportunity to be healthy, educated and self-sufficient,” said Sherrerd. “And this vision also drives the hundreds of volunteers and the thousands of donors each year who make it happen.”

Sherrerd reported that fundraising events were strong in 2018 with the annual flagship fundraiser, the Sole Sisters Luncheon, featuring Melissa Bernstein of Melissa and Doug Toys, raising more than $220,000; the golf tournament in May garnering $55,000 for Human Services Technology Services Direct Impact Program; and the 85th Anniversary celebration in October, which brought together multiple generations of enthusiastic supporters, raising $256,000 for programs in the community.

In 2018, the Greenwich United Way conducted two rounds of community investment grants. After distributing $750,000 last January, an additional $225,000 was awarded in June plus $516,000 in services and programs for a total of $1.49 million invested last year alone.

A sampling of the organization’s funding included: crisis intervention for 1,000 teenagers, after-school care for 350 children, preschool scholarships to 600 youth, daytime care for 86frail and elderly residents, emergency shelter for more than 150 individuals per day, aid to help more than 100 Greenwich residents fighting addiction, and8,000 rides – transportation for the elderly and disabled in Greenwich.

Following Sherrerd’s remarks, Greenwich United Way CEO David Rabin provided an overview of the organization’s future plans.

Youth Impact Programming

Youth Impact Programming,consisting of the Champions Program and the Greenwich Junior United Way(GJRUW), is up and running well. Starting in 2008 in one school with eight Reading Champion tutors, the program now has more than 100 trained tutors who improve the reading fluency of more than 450 children every year, working October to May in every public elementary school in Greenwich as well as there after-school sites. The organization plans to expand with an additional after-school site in 2019.

The need for Finance Champs was identified after the Center for Financial Literacy determined Connecticut was failing in financial literacy and education for K-12. Finance Champs, which works to improve students’ financial literacy, completed a very successful six-week pilot at the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich last month and will continue and grow.

Other youth programs planned to be launched include Nutrition Champs and Math Champs.

GJRUW, which provides teens with opportunity to practice philanthropy and leadership skills, is expanding beyond Greenwich High School students to include Greenwich Academy, Brunswick and Sacred Heart students as well. Last year the group hosted a red-carpet event for Abilis clients, complete with limos and paparazzi, creating a night to remember for a fantastic group of young men and women. Last month the group held a basketball tournament to provide school supplies for Greenwich youth in need. The students involved in GJRUW have also raised several thousand dollars through small fundraisers at their respective schools.

Early Childhood Achievement Gap Solutions Program

Early Childhood Achievement Gap Solutions Program (ECAGS) aims to close the achievement gap that exists in Greenwich. A collaborative effort between the Greenwich United Way and its partner agencies Family Centers and the YMCA, the ECAGS was not going to launch without three years’ worth of funding, $1.26 million. The goal amount was raised completely separate from the organization’s Annual Campaign, which funds the Community Investment Process.

ECAGS is a two-pronged approach. On one side, ECAGS works with Family Centers to target at-risk children from birth to age 3, providing an in-home visitation program called Parents as Teachers (PAT). PAT is a 30-year-old proven, data-driven solution to close the achievement gap for those at-risk children before entering kindergarten. Without PAT, the achievement gap can result in at-risk children entering kindergarten 28-36 points behind peers. PAT’s four-step approach improves the lives of the children and their parents, helping to nurture parents, establish healthy families, improve parent-life outcomes, and increase school readiness. More than 15 families are currently enrolled in the program,and the Greenwich United Way is keeping close track of the progress being made with them.

The second part of ECAGS reaches children ages 3-5. The organization hired a preschool instructional coach that is placed in 13 preschools attended by at-risk students to enhance and enrich those curriculums, an approach that is eight times more effective than sending teachers from these schools to traditional workshops.

Research shows that when at-risk children go through both PAT and an enriched preschool experience, they will begin kindergarten on a level playing field with their peers, successfully closing the achievement gap.

“In 2015, the President’s Council of Economic Advisors reported that for every $1 spent on early childhood education, there is an $8.60 return,” said Rabin.

Human Services Technology Solutions (HSTS)

A technology platform already used by United Way chapters across the country, the introduction of HSTS will insert the organization into critical exchanges of information between clients and service providers, placing the Greenwich United Way at the heart of the information flow.

“We all see the needs going up and public support going down,” said Rabin. “HSTS will help to dramatically improve efficiencies, making every dollar go further and offering a much better experience for the people we aim to help. It will give us front-line knowledge of the changing pace of human services needs in Greenwich – making us aware of those needs in real time.”

Funds to run a pilot of HSTS have been raised and the rollout is planned at Community Centers Inc. in the near future.

Visit Greenwich United Way online for more information ( and engage on Facebook (,Twitter ( or Instagram ( to learn more about the work the organization is doing and the people it serves in real time. 

2019 Upcoming Events

Community Investment Grant Recipient Reception 

Wednesday, February 13 at 3:00 pm
Nobel Room, Greenwich Hospital 

14th Annual Sole Sisters Luncheon

Keynote by Lauren Bush Lauren

Tuesday, April 23, 9:30 am Boutique and Noon Luncheon

Third Annual Golf Tournament 

Monday, May 20, Shotgun at 1:00 pm

Fairview Country Club 

Annual Campaign Kickoff 

Wednesday, September 18

2019 Brew Ha Ha

Date TBD

Annual Legislative Breakfast 


Greenwich Town Hall

Annual Meeting

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Incoming Advisory Board Members: Elizabeth Angelone, Kathleen Burgweger, Richard Collins, Julie Ferari,Sergio Forlini, Pamela Fornero, Liz Lazarus and Allan Murphy

2019 Advisory Board:  Chairman Kenneth Mifflin, Elizabeth Angelone, Lisa Baird, Alan Barry, PhD, Frederic Brooks,Kathleen Burgweger, Richard Collins, John Cooper, Frances Deutsch, Julie Fareri, Julie Faryniarz, Sergio Forlini, Pamela Fornero, Joseph Gambino, Laura Geffs, Cliff Griffin, Lori Jackson, Karen Keegan, Mary Lee Kiernan, Patrick Kramer, Terry Lamantia, Liz Lazarus, Virginia Meyer, Thomas Miele, Allan Murphy, Sharon Phillips, Richard Porter, Jeffrey Ramer, Sabrina Pray Forsythe,Norman Roth, Karen Royce, Arnold Stancell, Laurie Tropiano, Jill Weiner, Marie Woodburn

2019 Executive Committee:  Anne Sherrerd, Board Chair; Joui Hessel, Vice Chair Community Impact; Diane Viton,Vice Chair Fund Development and Marketing; Eileen Kim, Vice Chair Finance;Brook Urban, Vice Chair Stewardship; William Finger, Secretary

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Bios for the new members to the Board of Directors

Shari Aser
Shari was born and raised in Greenwich. She’s a graduate of Greenwich High School and Bucknell University, where she received a BS in Civil Engineering. Shari earned her MBA from Cornell University. She is currently the Director of Digital Sales for IBM North America where she leads an organization of 200+ highly experienced sales professionals.

Previously, Shari has served on the Bucknell Alumni Association Board of Directors, where she was the recipient of the Young Alumni Award in 2008. Shari has also served for 19 years as a volunteer for the New York Junior League and currently sits on the Board as Treasurer. She is a member of the Greenwich Leadership Forum. Shari has attended various United Way activities and has supported the organization through the IBM Employee Contribution Campaign.

Shari and her husband Bill are the parents of 17-month-old twins, William and Madeline.

Laura Erickson

Laura was born in Nashua, NH and currently lives in Riverside with her husband Dave. She received her B.A. in Political Science from Middlebury College. Laura is a former Vice President at Bank of Boston, serving as a commercial banker for high technology companies.

Laura brings a long history of local volunteer experience. She served a four-year term on the Greenwich Board of Education, acting as chair for 13 months. Laura previously served on the Greenwich RTM (1999-2011), both on the Health & Human Services and Finance Committees. She’s been a PTA Co-President at Greenwich High School and Riverside School. Laura has  supported the Greenwich United Way in the past by attending various fundraisers and Needs Assessment presentations.

Laura is the mother of Daniel (24), Lindsay (22) and Josh (20).

Debra Hess
Debra was born in the Bronx and raised in Danbury. She earned her B.S. in Accounting from UCONN and her MBA in Finance from NYU. She is currently self-employed and sits on several corporate and not-for-profit boards. Previously, Debra has held the title of CFO for North Star Partners, H/2 Capital Partners and Newcastle Investment Corp.

Debra sits on the board and finance committee of the UCONN Foundation and is currently a member of the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation. She’s volunteered at ISD, having chaired fundraisers and served on the board as fundraising VP and secretary. Debra has been a supporter of the Early Childhood Achievement Gap Solutions program.

Debra lives in Old Greenwich with her 13-year-old daughter.

Nicole Kwasniewski
Nicole is very familiar with the Greenwich United Way, having served on several event committees over the last few years. Nicole served on the Brew Ha Ha Committee in 2016 and as a co-chair in 2017. She served as a Sole Sisters Committee Member this past spring. Nicole also coordinated the GUW Shoe Drive at Christ Church Nursery School in 2017 and 2018. This past fall, Nicole was Co-Chair of the 85th Anniversary gala. She also serves as a Reading Champions tutor.

In addition to her work with the Greenwich United Way, Nicole is served as the Executive Board President for Christ Church Nursery School. She serves as the Media Coordinator for Cos Cob School and recently served as the VP of Nominating for Cos Cob School PTA for the current school year.

Lisa Lori

Lisa is a current Advisory Board member. She was born in Lafayette, California and graduated from Purdue University. Lisa is the Owner of Perfect Provenance in Greenwich.

Prior to Perfect Provenance, Lisa worked in the luxury goods business and ran a PR agency, Lisa Lori Communications, for 13 years. In addition to luxury goods, the agency specialized in non-profit marketing and PR.

Lisa has previously co-chaired Sole Sisters. In addition to her work at the Greenwich United Way, Lisa’s philanthropic resume includes work with Operation Smile, the American Red Cross, the Alzheimer’s Association and Greenwich Catholic School.

Lisa and her husband Mat have lived in Greenwich for 15 years and have three boys, ages 16, 15 and 14.

John Maus
John is a native of West Palm Beach, Fla. He graduated with a B.A. in Government and International Relations from the University of Notre Dame, and received his law degree closer to

home at the Florida State College of Law. John is currently a Private Client Advisor and Managing Director at U.S. Trust.

John is an active member of the community, serving as a volunteer coach for his son’s baseball, soccer and flag football teams. He is also a member of both the Notre Dame and Florida State NYC based alumni associations. John was instrumental in securing sponsorship from U.S. Trust for the Greenwich United Way’s recently launched Finance Champions program pilot.

John lives in Riverside with his wife Allison and their three sons Will (8), Andrew (6) and Burns (3).

Karen Oztemel

Karen grew up in Northern Virginia and has lived in Riverside since 1981. She earned a B.A. in Psychology at the University of Richmond. Karen is a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway

New England Properties.

Karen has volunteered locally for years, having served as a long-time member of the RTM from Riverside District 5. While her children were in grade school, Karen served as a PTA member of both Riverside School and Eastern Middle School. She is a past Board Co-President of The Riverside Association. Karen has supported the Greenwich United Way as a Reading Champions volunteer at Riverside School.

Karen and her husband Gary have two grown children, Alexandra (30) and Harrison (27).

About Greenwich United Way

The Greenwich United Way shares a name with approximately 1,400 other similar organizations across the nation, although the Greenwich, Connecticut division is a privately incorporated, locally governed, nonprofit agency. As a volunteer driven organization, the Greenwich United Way exists to help identify and address the human service needs specific to its local community and to create and affect meaningful solutions. Through various fundraising efforts, the organization is able to directly allocate the funds necessary to accomplish this goal. The Greenwich United Way also invests in and conducts collaborative efforts to address broad based community needs with partnering nonprofit agencies.

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