To improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of our communities in the Itasca area.

United Way of 1000 Lakes’ Board of Directors is a group of community leaders whose strategic decision-making and guidance steer the organization. They help staff carry out our mission and set strategic goals to improve individual lives and make the Itasca Area a better place for us all.

Our Board of Directors oversees the management of United Way of 1000 Lakes. Board members act as stewards for the monies raised in our community, understand United Way’s legal responsibilities, review existing policies and formulate new policies, review and approve the annual budget and audit, and review and approve agency funding decisions.


Executive Director
Kimberly Brink Smith

Community Impact Coordinator
See job posting

Digital Marketing Coordinator
Kasia Koller


Dr. Leanna McBride
Grand Dental Center

Madeline Cook
North In Bloom

Angie Tanner
Minnesota Power

Danielle Witherill
Edward Jones, Financial Advisor

Past President
Alie McInerney

Shannon Benolken
Park State Bank

Madeline Cook
North In Bloom

Jeff Dingman
Max Gray Construction

Tanis Henderson
Grand Rapids High School

David Kooda
Lake County Power (Retired)

Rev. Dr. Patrick Lovejoy
Pastor, First Evangelical Lutheran Church

Bill Martinetto
Rapids Brewing Co.

Jeff Niemala
Niemala Mediation


United Way of 1000 Lakes began in 1963 as the United Fund of Grand Rapids, organized by volunteers to raise money to help more than twenty local charities. Today, United Way of 1000 Lakes has evolved from its roots as a fundraising organization to a community convener which mobilizes local partners including businesses, community leaders, public officials, and residents to develop opportunities for people to succeed. Our focus is on three key building blocks: a quality education that leads to a stable job, enough income to support a family, and good mental and physical health. United Way helps to identify community needs, create solutions, and fund local programs that deliver health and human services directly to the people in our community.


United Way was formed in 1887 when a Denver priest, two ministers, and a rabbi recognized the need for cooperative action to address their city’s welfare problems. The first campaign raised $21,700 for 22 agencies.

By the 1950s, more than 1,000 communities across the United States and Canada had established United Ways. In 1974, United Ways raised nearly $1.04 billion, marking the first time in history that a single organization raised more than $1 billion in an annual campaign. Over its long history, United Way has helped with everything from the Persian Gulf War to the Olympic torch relay to the President’s Summit for America’s Future. It’s won awards, such as the Charity of Choice from Financial World magazine. Across the country, United Ways now raise more than $4 billion annually.


No openings are currently available, please check back later.

Nonprofit Job Board

To find career opportunities with our partners and other area nonprofits, visit Bonfire’s Nonprofit Job Board.


Our vision and mission reflect our fundamental belief that all people belong and deserve fairness, justice, and inclusivity.

We recognize structural racism and other forms of oppression have contributed to persistent disparities, which United Way of 1000 Lakes seeks to dismantle.
Our strength comes from our diversity, and we celebrate the visible and invisible qualities that make each person unique, including race, gender, age, sexuality, ability, religion, national origin, gender identity, and other identities.

Through our commitment to diversity, we will strive to be a role model in our community, joining with other organizations to strengthen an effective human service system that reaches out to all people in greater Itasca County. We strive to engage all community members, especially those that have been marginalized. We work with residents, and public and private partners to cocreate solutions that ensure everyone has the resources, support, opportunities, and networks they need to thrive. We commit to leveraging all of our assets (convening, strategic investments, awareness building and advocacy) to create more equitable communities.


United Way believes that every person is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect – this includes equal treatment and access to justice. Recent events involving violence and threats against African Americans and Asian Americans expose our society’s underlying racism, prejudice, and privilege that prevent too many people from being treated with the humanity and respect they deserve. These incidents are abhorrent and run counter to everything that United Way, its volunteers, and professionals value, live, and fight for every day.

All people of all backgrounds and identities must call out discrimination and demand its removal from our society; otherwise, we are endorsing the status quo and are complicit in the abuses that follow.

We must all do our part, working United, to make our communities the places that we need them to be – equitable, respectful, and opportunity-filled. We, as a society, can and must do better to guarantee that the basic human rights and freedoms of every person in every community are protected.

United Way of 1000 Lakes is committed to working with our partners, and donors to advance equity as a core principle that guides our efforts to improve lives and create positive community change.  To that end, we are currently completing United Way’s Equity Framework.

Get Involved

This is your United Way. Lend your voice. Raise your hand. Play your part.

Find your role