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Nancy Jeffrey: United Way’s First Woman Board President

March 9th, 2023

 In recognition of United Way of Central Ohio’s centennial celebration in 2023 and Women’s History Month in March, we’re honoring the visionary women who have served as presidents of our board of trustees throughout our 100 years.

The very first female board president for United Way of Central Ohio was the ambitious Anne “Nancy” Kittredge Jeffrey. Jeffrey began her career at United Way, then called the United Appeal of Franklin County, in 1965. At the time, the United Community Council (UCC) served as United Appeal’s planning and research arm. She served as a UCC officer, trustee, member of various planning committees and president over the course of six years.

In 1972, the year the organization’s name changed to United Way of Franklin County, Jeffery became the first woman to serve as campaign chair. It is believed that she was the first woman in the national United Way network to lead a campaign over $1.5 million. Many, including then President Harry E. Mayfield described Nancy’s time at United Way as “innovative,” as she was not one to shy away from ambitious goals.

As campaign chair, she set an unprecedented dual goal that included a minimum goal of $6.3 million based on funds required to maintain agency programs at existing levels, and a needs goal of $7.5 million reflecting reported agency needs for improved and expanded services in 1973. Rather than make campaign projections, Jeffery issued daily reports of campaign progress. She also eliminated the traditional campaign kickoff ceremony and report luncheons to better utilize volunteer and staff time. Despite a late appointment, she raised more money in less time than any of her predecessors: $6.1 million.

Jeffrey went on to become the first woman elected to lead United Way’s board of trustees in 1976. Her focus while president was on three areas: new people, new resources and new communications techniques.

In 1974, she was the second woman to receive the George Meany Award, named for the former president of the national AFL-CIO.  In 1998, she also became the eighth person, and the first woman, to receive the Alexis de Tocqueville Award. The award recognized volunteers who demonstrate a sustained level of commitment to the community.

Tanny Crane, president and CEO of Crane Group and chair of the 1999 United Way campaign, said in a 1998 Columbus Dispatch article, “Nancy has been a philanthropic and community volunteer trailblazer in our community. She has set a standard for me and others to follow, particularly women.”

Crane went on to serve as United Way of Central Ohio board of trustees president in 2002 and 2003.

Nancy Jeffrey married Robert H. “Tad” Jeffrey in 1951, and they had four children. She died in November 2018 at age 88.

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