Emerging Leaders

Head of the Lakes United Way successfully coordinates its 2nd Annual Emerging Leaders Board Training Program with 23 graduates

The Emerging Leaders Board Training Program is an opportunity for professionals to learn how to leverage their leadership skills through six 2-hour educational sessions on volunteerism and board service. Throughout the program, individuals have the opportunity to strengthen their network, learn about local nonprofits, and connect with local resources.

The program, sponsored by Wells Fargo, College of St. Scholastica, and Globe News, was held every Tuesday evening from March 5 to April 9 at different locations throughout the Twin Ports. The first four sessions were instructive in nature, while the last two focused on engaging with local nonprofit organizations.

In session one, volunteer panelists shared their experiences while serving on area nonprofit boards through a series of questions and answers. Panelists included Cara Overland, General Manager at La Quinta Inn & Suites; Kevin Pillsbury, Attorney with Johnson, Killen and Seiler; Jordan Fahlsing with FIC, Thrivent Northland Group; and Lesa Radtke with Kirby Center, University of MN-Duluth.

At the second session, Scott Witty with Hanft Fride Law Office spoke about nonprofit board structures and legal issues while youth members of Boys and Girls Club-Goldberg Branch served a delicious meal to the participants.

The topic for the third session was nonprofit responsibility and financial stewardship, which was outlined by Leslie Brunfelt, Director of Finance for WDSE/WRPT, at the Superior-Douglas County Chamber of Commerce.

For session number four, Duluth Children’s Museum hosted, and the President/CEO, Cameron Kruger, spoke about determining which nonprofit board would be the best match based on a number of factors in “Finding the Right Fit”.

The fifth session, held at Clyde Iron Works, included a speed board match event with representatives from 13 local nonprofits.

The final session was a graduation celebration for all participants at Grandma’s Sports Garden.

For more photos, click here

Graduates Included:

  • Jody Anderson – TKDA Architects
  • Sarah Anderson – St. Louis County Health and Human Services
  • Daniel Berg – National Bank of Commerce
  • Crystal Bowen – Head of the Lakes United Way
  • Barbara Certa-Warner – Harbor House Crisis Shelter
  • Pauline Custer – Wells Fargo
  • Therese Gruber – New Hope FOR Families
  • Liz Hanson – United Health Group-Optum
  • Vanni Hayden – Joint Religious Leadership Coalition
  • Jessie Helbacka-Peterson – Valley Youth Center BOD
  • Kerstyn Hendricks – National Bank of Commerce
  • Brittney Kemi – University of Wisconsin-Superior
  • Madeline Kvale – Western Lake Superior Habitat for Humanity
  • Elizabeth Mayne – Head of the Lakes United Way
  • Hannah McCabe Houle – Girl Scouts Lakes and Pines
  • Cory Ouellette – MN Power Employees Credit Union
  • Amanda Peterson – Wells Fargo
  • Connor Randall – Republic Bank
  • Susan Rosette – Beacons of Hope
  • Carissa Skifstad – Lutheran Social Services
  • Addie Smith – ISD 709
  • Gerald Wallace – Wallace Law Firm PLLC

Head of the Lakes United Way Welcomes Three New Board Members

Head of the Lakes United Way is welcoming in three newly ratified members of the board who will work with President, Matt Hunter, to execute the organization’s mission and provide strategic direction to the nonprofit.

The new board members include:

  • Janet Nelson – AFL-CIO AFSCME and Community Services Committee
  • Jill Pinkney Pastrana – University of Minnesota–Duluth
  • Scott Studden – St. Luke’s Hospital

$40K in 40 Days

Head of the Lakes United Way asks the community to raise “$40K in 40 Days” to help the 2018-19 Community Giving Campaign finish strong.

We have one life. To live better, we must Live United. That’s the statement Head of the Lakes United Way has been sharing with communities of Ashland-Bayfield Counties, Greater Duluth, the North Shore of MN (Lake and Cook counties), and Superior-Douglas County this campaign season. Typically kicking off in the fall of each year, the Community Giving Campaign is a program of Head of the Lakes United Way which focuses on generating financial donations to support area non-profit programs.

Each year United Way asks local communities to invest in themselves. United Way then strategically partners with local non-profit health and human services programs to provide residents with critical necessities like food and safe housing, but also support for long-term solutions. United Way promotes partnerships and strategies that are foundational for a good life and strong community: basic needs, education, financial stability, and health.

As United Way’s 2018-19 campaign wraps up, they are asking the community to help them in their final push of this year. “We want to finish strong – every dollar that is invested helps meet our most critical community needs” says Michelle Hargrave, Vice President of Impact and Development. “When our community joins together to LIVE UNITED, it makes all the difference.”

United Way has set up a special page on their website at Donations may be made securely online, or sent to Head of the Lakes United Way, Re: $40K in 40 Days, 424 W Superior St, Suite 402, Duluth MN 55802. The 40-day campaign push concludes at the end of March. Whether $4, $40, or $400, all donations make a huge impact on the lives of our friends and neighbors.  

Free Tax Assistance and Community Action Duluth offer free tax assistance to anyone making $66,000 a year or less

Since 2009, H&R Block has partnered with United Way to provide free tax services to anyone with an annual income of $66,000 or less. Besides being a free tax site with mobile access from any smart phone, tablet, or computer, also provides users with a simple way to upload information and complete their taxes in under an hour on average.

For the individuals who would rather receive assistance face-to-face, there is Community Action Duluth. Their free tax services are offered to anyone with an annual income of $56,000 or less. IRS-certified volunteers are available for walk-ins several days of the week. Just last year, they helped 1,320 families claim $2.3 million in refunds.

By making others aware of the financial opportunities available in our area, Head of the Lakes United Way maintains the fight for the financial stability of every person, in every community. We’re committed to ensuring that people can easily and accurately file their taxes to receive the refund they deserve.

For more information on either one of these tax sites, please visit: or

Day of Caring (Holiday Edition)

Volunteers come together for the second Day of Caring in 2018

The biannual Day of Caring is a single-day concentrated push, which highlights the need for volunteerism in communities and organizations that provide so many services to those in need.

Groups of volunteers throughout the Twin Ports community worked together on Wednesday, December 5, to help out with some holiday season projects. Some of these projects include:

  • Painting Party (YWCA)
  • Bell Ringing and Gift Wrapping (Duluth Salvation Army)
  • Clothing and Hygiene Drive (Damiano Center)
  • Envelope Stuffing Party (First Witness)
  • Myers-Wilkins Day of Caring (Duluth Community School Collaborative)
  • Children’s Book Drive and Holiday Helpers (Lincoln Park Children and Families Collaborative)

Gov. Mark Dayton Proclaims Nov. 12-16 “Minnesota Acts of Kindness Week”

Head of the Lakes United Way encourages the community to be moved to kindness

Inspired by the work of 40 Minnesota United Ways and several partners in the community, Gov. Mark Dayton has proclaimed Nov. 12-16 as Minnesota Acts of Kindness Week. During this week, Head of the Lakes United Way invites everyone – volunteers, donors, businesses, community members, and children – to intentionally exemplify kindness with the goal of helping to unify the community and to kick-start ongoing acts of kindness.

“Our nation is faced with significant challenges, including natural disasters, racism, violence, and terrorism. To develop solutions and build resilience, we must unify first and foremost as human beings, regardless of our differences,” said Matt Hunter, President of Head of the Lakes United Way. “Through Minnesota United Acts of Kindness Week and beyond, we’re seeking to support all humankind.”

Some of the suggested acts of kindness include: Leaving a note of appreciation for a friend or co-worker, surprising someone with coffee or lunch, and holding the door open for others.

27th Annual Chili Cook-Off

Chili chefs vie for bragging rights at the region’s largest chili cook-off

Head of the Lakes United Way hosted its Annual Chili Cook-Off at the DECC on Sept. 20. This event is meant to raise awareness about Head of the Lakes United Way along with its partner agencies.

Every year, over 1,500 chili lovers gather to try recipes from over 40 chilies and vote for their favorites. Professional judges are also present to choose the best recipes. This year’s award recipients include:

  • Whole Foods Co-op – Spicy Spirit Winner
  • Minnesota Power – People’s Choice Winner
  • Girl Scouts of Duluth – Best Vegetarian
  • Arc Northland & Girl Scouts of Duluth – Tied for 1st Place
  • Valley Youth Center – 3rd Place

For photos courtesy of Mark Fitzgibbons, “Fitzphoto”, click here

United We Fight. United We Win.

Head of the Lakes United Way announces new campaign for 2018-19

We have one life. To live better, we must Live United. This will be focus of Head of the Lakes United Way’s 2018-19 campaign.

Each year United Way asks local communities to invest in themselves. United Way then strategically partners with local non-profit health and human services programs that provide residents with critical necessities like food and safe housing, but also support tools for long-term solutions. United Way worldwide promotes partnerships and strategies that are foundational for a good life and strong community: basic needs, education, financial stability, and health.

This year’s campaign messaging is an extension of the 2017-18 campaign created by local advertising agency, Creative Arcade.

On Wednesday, September 19, Head of the Lakes United Way held a news conference at St. Luke’s, an important long-time partner of United Way. Attendees heard from Head of the Lakes United Way President, Matt Hunter, as well as St. Luke’s CEO/President, John Strange. They also learned about one of United Way’s programs, 2-1-1 Information and Referral from Program Director, Rory Strange.

“Stuff the Bus”

Head of the Lakes United Way Sets Students Up for Successful School Year With Supply Drive

Stuff the Bus is a school readiness program that provides backpacks and school supplies to help prepare students for school. From August 1-24, Head of the Lakes United Way asked individuals, employee groups, and service organizations to fight for kids in the Superior and Lake Superior School Districts by donating supplies. These supplies were delivered directly to the districts and distributed locally.

Some of the most requested supplies included: Earbuds, wide-ruled notebooks, markers, scissors, and pocket folders.

1,910 items were collected and distributed in the North Shore, MN, and 2,496 items in Superior, WI.

Thanks to the following businesses for participating:

North Shore of Minnesota:

  • Castle Danger Brewery
  • SuperOne Two Harbors
  • The Lake Bank
  • Harbor Insurance
  • Two Harbors Federal Credit Union
  • Zup’s Silvery Bay
  • Wells Fargo Two Harbors
  • Lake View Hospital

Superior-Douglas County:

  • Barker’s Island Inn
  • Bellisio Foods
  • BMO Harris Bank
  • Edward Jones – Jason Rolfe
  • Enbridge
  • Fen-Tech, Inc.
  • Kari Toyota
  • National Bank of Commerce
  • Superior Choice Credit Union
  • Superior Mayor’s Office
  • Superior Police Department
  • Superior Water Light and Power
  • SuperOne
  • WisDOT 

Day of Caring

United Way celebrates volunteerism with the 23rd Day of Caring

On Wednesday, June 20, Head of the Lakes United Way hosted another successful Day of Caring. This community event gave nearly 400 volunteers the opportunity to lend a hand with close to 30 projects in connection to local nonprofits.

Not only does the Day of Caring help complete much needed projects, but it also helps to educate the volunteers about the important work nonprofit organizations do in our community. Some of the projects completed this year include:

  • Fairground cleanup (Douglas County 4-H)
  • Beautification projects at various City of Duluth parks
  • A painting party (Woodland YMCA)
  • Staining garden beds and tables (Valley Youth Centers)
  • A summer field day (Myers-Wilkins Academic and Cultural Enrichment program)
  • Building a garden (Neighborhood Youth Services)
  • A picnic in the parking lot (Damiano Center)

For photos, click here