United Way of King County undertook a nationwide search to replace its longtime leader, Jon Fine, who retired earlier this year after 19 years at the helm of the nonprofit, and the nonprofit ended up finding his replacement in its own backyard.
Gordon McHenry Jr., who currently leads Solid Ground, a nonprofit focused on reducing poverty, has been named president and chief executive officer of the organization. Prior to Solid Ground, McHenry, a Georgetown University-educated lawyer and native of Seattle, led the nonprofit Rainier Scholars, which focuses on providing educational opportunity for people of color; and before that he served in philanthropy roles for two decades at the Boeing Co., including a stint as director of Global Corporate Citizenship for the Northwest.
“There's considerable cynicism in the world today, but when you marshal both integrity of intention, and proof of impact, it’s pretty easily dissolved,” McHenry says. “Already that’s the essence of United Way of King County, and I hope to make it even more so.”
Fine, who took over leadership of United Way in 2000, has a background in finance and is credited with transforming the organization by making it “a metrics-driven funder focused on creating a community where people have homes, students graduate and families are financially stable,” states the February press release announcing his retirement. During his tenure, Fine is credited with helping to raise some $1.8 billion in community investments.
“The hallmark of Jon’s tenure has been a laser focus on accountability and results,” said United Way Board Chair Brian McAndrews in announcing Fine’s retirement earlier this year. “You see it in the success of the programs that United Way administers, like Jobs Connect, which connected 2,200 people experiencing homelessness to jobs last year, or the Parent-Child Home Program that helps 1,300 families annually make sure their kids are ready to learn when they enter Kindergarten.”
For his part, McHenry says he “feels lucking to inherit the phenomenal staff, supporters and partners that make up United Way,” and respects all that Fine has accomplished at the organization.
“Poverty is at the root of so many ills in our community,” says McHenry, who will take on his new role starting in mid-October. “As United Way and its partners show every day, it’s something we can beat. It starts with truly centering social and racial equity and then relentlessly innovating until you have strategies that genuinely work.”