Speaking out for the voiceless PDF Print E-mail
Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN Sentinel County Editor   
Tuesday, 02 April 2013 09:32
Kate Sommerfeld, director for United Way Wood County, is seen in front of a whiteboard in the organizations headquarters in Bowling Green, Ohio. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Kate Sommerfeld believes in speaking out for people who can’t speak for themselves.
The new United Way director for Wood County said she has always rooted for the underdog.
“I’m really driven by a passion for community,” said Sommerfeld, who grew up in central Indiana and now lives in Bowling Green. “I believe in helping those who don’t have a voice. United Way is a great way to help those who are disadvantaged.”
Sommerfeld began working with United Way of Greater Toledo in February 2010 as manager of health, where she led health initiatives and forged partnerships and cross-sector collaboration around United Way’s health strategies. Previously, she served as a volunteer on the Impact Team at United Way of Hancock County.
She replaced Nick Kulik, who left in February to take a position as vice president of resource development with United Way of Racine County in Racine, Wisconsin.
“I bring a little bit of a different perspective to the office,” Sommerfeld said.
She enjoys identifying critical issues and creating solutions. Some of the easiest to identify include education, early literacy, income, homelessness and health issues.
“There are a number of issues, and United Way can help be a solution,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to stepping up and being a part of the community conversation.”
Sommerfeld received her bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and her masters in public administration from Bowling Green State University. She serves on the BGSU Social Work Program Advisory Board.
She sees United Way as a “connector, a convener.” She realizes many issues facing the community are so complicated that they are only solved when people come together for solutions.
“The issues we face today are really complex,” she said. “We’re excited to be able to step up. I think it really is about listening in the community.”
Though United Way is traditionally viewed by some as a fundraising group, Sommerfeld sees it as a group to link community leaders and service providers, to increase volunteerism, and to advocate for issues.
“It’s often not just the dollars,” that stand in the way of solutions, she said. “We need to help connect people to services and strengthen partnerships.”
And she wants to get more volunteers involved.
“United Way provides that platform to talk about neighbors helping neighbors.”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 April 2013 10:59

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