james-brownby James Brown
Community Investment Advisor

I’m not a rock climber, but I have many friends who are, so that makes me a qualified expert, right? Regardless, one does not have to be an expert to know that in rock climbing, there is always someone who blazes the trail – the first person to climb a particular route.

During my tenure at United Way of Salt Lake, I’ve always envisioned our President and former CEO, Deborah Bayle, as this lead climber; supported, or belayed if you will, by staff members, corporate partners, and partner agencies. I like to imagine Deborah navigating the foot and hand holds of this route, driving pitons into the rock, outlining the path her successors should take to be successful. Recently, however, I realized Deborah was not showing us simply how to climb one particular route, but also providing us the tools to summit the mountain – the mountain of ever-increasing odds, which are stacked against children and their families in our community.


This was more fully illustrated to me with the succession of United Way of Salt Lake’s new CEO, Bill Crim. And with the route laid out before him, Bill sought the opportunity to instruct all at United Way of Salt Lake how to best use the tools in our possession to reach the top.

United Way of Salt Lake recently held a multiday, cross-departmental seminar where all who participated had the opportunity to discuss a multitude of topics ranging from marketing and our message to resource development, and included an in-depth discussion regarding the intricacies of each department at United Way of Salt Lake.

UWSL Strategy Over the course of three days, United Way of Salt Lake staff members enjoyed their association with one another and the opportunity to learn more about the work their colleagues were accomplishing in their respective departments. Personally, I enjoyed the opportunity to catch Deborah and Bill’s vision for success and see how the work I participate in on a daily basis at United Way of Salt Lake really is part of the big picture of Changing the Odds.

United Way of Salt Lake is engaged in Changing the Odds for thousands of kids and families in need throughout our community. At this seminar, we were given “permission to challenge” how this work can best be accomplished, and we were taught important techniques in sharing our message such as “finding our water.” (That’s marketing lingo for identifying the simplest and best way to convey our message so that it resonates loudly and clearly with others.)

Ultimately, all of this culminated in the idea of Collective Impact – it takes everybody! And that’s our invitation today. We invite you to join with United Way of Salt Lake in our mission. We invite you to give to change, and not simply to charity.

The route is laid out before us. We have the tools. Together, we have the power to Change the Odds!

UWSL Staff 2015