Our Mission

Improve the lives of others by mobilizing the caring power of our community.

Our Vision

Build a community in which everyone has the aspirations, resources and opportunities to reach their fullest potential.

We are your neighbors, co-workers and friends. We are a collaboration of donors, volunteers, organizations and experts—UNITED around the shared sense of purpose to reduce poverty in our community. Founded in 1923, United Way of Central Ohio is one of the largest United Ways in the country. We bring together more than 40,000 donors, advocates and volunteers, because when we speak and act together, we have the power to do more and our impact multiplies.

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United Way of Central Ohio is a
volunteer-driven organization

Concerned and compassionate citizens created United Way of Central Ohio to help people in need and make our community a better place for everyone.

Today, we are mobilizing the caring power of thousands of individuals and central Ohio employers to advance the common good.  Together, we are working to create opportunities for a better life for all.  We are joining hands, opening our hearts, lending our muscle and finding our collective voice.

Mary Birchard Vice President of Resource Development & Chief Development Officer

Vice President of Resource Development & Chief Development Officer




As Vice President of Resource Development and Chief Development Officer with United Way of Central Ohio, Mary Birchard leads a comprehensive resource development program and fundraising team to support United Way’s mission. Mary and her team work closely with donors and corporate partners across central Ohio to support their philanthropy and year-round community engagement.

Prior to joining United Way as a relationship manager in 2017, Mary worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio and Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Ohio. She began her career as a special education teacher in the Bronx, New York.

Mary holds a master’s degree in special education from CUNY Hunter College and a bachelor’s degree in political science and English from The Ohio State University. She is also a 2023 graduate of Leadership Columbus and a longtime mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Lisa Courtice, Ph.D. President and CEO

President and CEO




Lisa S. Courtice is president and CEO of United Way of Central Ohio, one of the larger United Way organizations in the country. Under her leadership, United Way is helping to build a community in which everyone has the aspirations, resources and opportunities to reach their fullest potential.

Dr. Courtice is a Ph.D. psychologist with over thirty years of experience leading nonprofit programs and services, having served for over ten years as director of agencies directly providing services to those living in poverty in Ohio. Prior to joining United Way she served thirteen years as executive vice president and leader of community research and grants management of The Columbus Foundation, the seventh largest community foundation in the country.

Lisa currently serves on the boards of Syracuse University College of Arts & Sciences, Ohio United Way and Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio. In 2018 she was appointed by Columbus City Council to serve as a commissioner on the Commission on Black Girls. Her professional leadership has included serving as chair of the Weinland Park Collaborative and serving on the Ohio Wesleyan University and Columbus School for Girls Board of Trustees. Lisa received her Bachelor of Arts from Syracuse University, her Master of Arts from West Virginia University and her Ph.D. from the University of Akron. For the past four years, Lisa has been recognized on the Columbus Business First Power 100 list.

Jill L. Geiger Director, Content & Communications

Director, Content & Communications

Department Email:





Jill Geiger joined the Marketing Department at United Way of Central Ohio in January 2011 as Marketing Manager, Content Generation. As a member of the Marketing Department, she was responsible for writing and editing content for materials targeted to both internal and external audiences. She also developed and managed production of collateral materials, provided website and email content, and managed marketing projects across the organization.

Jill became the organization’s Director of Marketing in 2018, leading the development and implementation of communications messages and tools. Along with her team of two, she ensured the coordination and brand consistency of communications within the organization, and managed the creation and production of digital, print and audiovisual materials. She was named the organization’s Director, Content & Communications in January 2020. Her work at United Way has given her the unique opportunity to explore and share the stories of impact of many of central Ohio’s nonprofits.

Jill’s 30+ year career has included positions as writer/editor of a national hobby newspaper (weekly), as editor of a national bicycling magazine (monthly) and communications director for The Childhood League Center, a nonprofit center for children with special needs.

Juliana Hardymon, CPA Vice President, Finance

Vice President, Finance




As Vice President of Finance for the United Way of Central Ohio, Juliana leads the Finance, Accounting and Donor Services functions of the organization and oversees the back-office services contracts for other United Ways and fiscal sponsor programs.

Juliana is a licensed Certified Public Accountant and has over 15 years of experience in higher education and nonprofit finance and administration. Prior to joining United Way as Finance Director in 2018, Juliana served in several finance and administrative roles at The Ohio State University and Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine.

She has a bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s in public administration from The Ohio State University. Juliana is also a 2022 graduate of Leadership Columbus and an active community volunteer.

Kourtni M. Hatton, SHRM-CP Chief Diversity Equity & Inclusion Officer / VP, Community Engagement

Chief Diversity Equity & Inclusion Officer / VP, Community Engagement


(614) 241-3079


Originally from the Cleveland area, Kourtni has lived, worked, and served in central Ohio since 2010, committed to engaging and learning from her Columbus community. To date, she has nearly 10 years of community service and advocacy experience.

Kourtni is the HR Manager at United Way of Central Ohio, where she leads an organizational strategic goal focused on creating a culture of continuous improvement and accountability, oversees benefits administration, and works closely with diversity and inclusion to assess and provide diversity, inclusion and equity initiatives to staff.  She also serves as a member of the organization’s Leadership Team.

Kourtni is a member of SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) and in 2018, she received her SHRM certification.  She is passionate about reinvesting in central Ohio, demonstrated through her completion of UWCO’s Project Diversity program, as a fellow of the 2020 African American Leadership Academy class and volunteerism at Community Shelter Board, and Godman Guild Association’s mentoring program. Kourtni has previously served on the Hilliard/Ray Patch YMCA Advisory Board and as the secretary of the Board of Trustees for Bridgeway Academy.

Cheryl Nelson Sr. Vice President, Finance & CFO

Sr. Vice President, Finance & CFO




Cheryl Nelson is Senior Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer for the United Way of Central Ohio. In her role, Cheryl is committed to ensuring the organization maintains adherence to strict accountability and transparency standards to maintain financial integrity and donor trust.

Cheryl has been a CPA (currently inactive) since 1987 and has over 25 years of experience in public accounting, healthcare finance and non-profit financial and operational management. Prior to joining the United Way in May 2001, Cheryl was the CFO of the Jewish Community Center (a United Way member agency) for four years. Cheryl’s first United Way experience was working as a Loaned Executive during the 1987 campaign.

Cheryl currently serves as an alumni member and past chair of the United Way Worldwide Financial Issues Committee. She is also a member of the Operations Council for UPIC Solutions, a national administrative services cooperative managed by local United Ways. Cheryl’s other volunteer work includes serving as a mentor in the United Way Women’s Leadership E3 program and a site coordinator for the TaxTime free tax preparation service.

Valerie Ridgeway Vice President, Community Impact

Vice President, Community Impact




Valerie is Vice President for Community Impact Operations.  She oversees the day-to-day operations of the Community Impact Department and works cross-functionally with other departments to ensure collaboration, communication and the implementation of strategies and processes that ensure maximum success.

Valerie began her career with United Way of Central Ohio in December 2007 as the organization’s first full-time Public Policy Director.  In that role she oversaw the development and implementation of United Way’s public policy agenda and helped advance public policies that impacted early care and education, financial stability, safe and affordable housing and access to healthcare.  Her efforts helped establish United Way’s presence among statewide coalitions that advocate on behalf of health and human services.

In April 2016 Valerie was promoted to Assistant Vice President for Public Policy & Government Relations where she worked to ensure the integration of public policy advocacy throughout United Way’s work.  In September 2017 Valerie transitioned to her current role of Vice President for Community Impact Operations.

Valerie is a 2010 graduate of Leadership Columbus and a 2018 graduate of the African American Leadership Academy (Favored 14).  Valerie graduated from Miami University with a degree in Communications.  Prior to relocating to Columbus, Valerie served as the Public Policy Coordinator for Hospice of the Western Reserve in Cleveland.  She also managed the public policy activities of the Cleveland Area Alzheimer’s Association and the Ohio Council of the Alzheimer’s Association. Valerie enjoys gardening, music, theatre arts, swimming, pouring into the lives of others and spending time with family and friends.

Cheryl L. Wyatt, LPCC-S Vice President, Success by Third Grade

Vice President, Success by Third Grade

Department Email:





As Vice President of Success by Third Grade, Cheryl leads a collective impact approach to ensure all third grade students are on a path to success by 2035. She has dedicated her career in service and support to advancing the social, emotional and mental health well-being of our community’s students and families.

Prior to joining United Way, she served as Executive Director of Whole Child Supports with Columbus City Schools. She also served in supervisory roles with Nationwide Children’s Hospital Behavioral Health, Department of Youth Service and Rosemont Center.

Cheryl is a product of Columbus City Schools. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, and a master’s degree in clinical counseling from The Ohio State University. Cheryl is a licensed professional clinical counselor with supervisory endorsement in the state of Ohio and holds an ODE administrator license.

Michael Wilkos Sr. Vice President, Community Impact

Sr. Vice President, Community Impact




Michael Wilkos is Senior Vice President of Community Impact.  His team develops effective strategies to improve our community and invests in programs provided by funded partners to implement these strategies.

Prior to joining United Way, Michael was Director of Community Research at The Columbus Foundation. During his tenure at the foundation he initiated, led, and managed more than $9 million in competitive grant-making to support holistic community revitalization in Weinland Park, an effort to stabilize and revitalize a mixed-income community near The Ohio State University. Prior to joining the foundation, Michael served as Senior Impact Director and Director of Neighborhood Development at United Way of Central Ohio.  In that position he managed program allocations supporting neighborhood development strategies. Among many other duties, he also directed volunteer involvement in developing and implementing strategies supporting housing and community safety programs.

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