After a national search, the board of directors of the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania named Collegeville's Jill M. Michal as its new president and chief executive officer. The announcement was made late last month and was effective immediately. Michal now oversees the agency's efforts throughout Philadelphia County, most of Montgomery County, and parts of Chester and Delaware counties.
Michal, 36, had been serving as interim president and CEO since Alba Martinez left both of those positions in May. Michal had previously served as the United Way's executive vice president and chief financial officer since 2003.
Michal noted that it was "a nearly seamless transition," as she had worked closely with Martinez for several years, especially on funding decisions and strategic planning.
"I had already been doing a lot of that work for a long time," noted the new president.
A graduate of Pennsylvania State University, Michal is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
She joined the fundraising agency in 2001 following an eight- year tenure at Arthur Anderson LLP, where she had worked as an audit manager, overseeing accounts for mostly health and not-for-profit clients, including the United Way.
Her Favorite Client
"This was, by far, my favorite client," said Michal, grinning widely. (She's also served as an auditor for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia account.)
With all this background, Michal said that working directly at the United Way seemed to her "a natural fit."
"Philadelphia is the smallest, big city I've ever seen," commented Michal. Everyone knows one another, she continued, which helps to make corporate and community connections, something essential to fulfilling the United Way's mission. She also pointed out that Federation has a partnership with the United Way and is a group she "can always count on."
Volunteers Count Most
Part of being a good fundraiser, said Michal, "is being a good communicator on steroids," which means that her role, as the public face of the organization, is "to create energy, confidence and credibility" within the agency and the local community.
She also noted that the work the United Way does is not just about her efforts, but those of the "enormous team within the organization driving the mission."
She has a staff of about 105 people who then utilize the talents and assistance of 10,000 volunteers — and, according to the new president, it is these people who are "donating the resources to make everything we do happen."
The United Way is an agency "people feel good about giving to and trust," added Michal, but "we are challenged to stay relevant and let people know [we're] really making a difference."