Skip to content



Conversations with the Council featuring Dr. Laurie George, President & CEO of United Way Palm Beach County

“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; Together, we can do great things.” Working together to make an impact, it’s what Laurie George, the president, and CEO of the United Way of Palm Beach County, does each day, putting Mother Teresa’s meaningful words into action. With a strong focus and dedication, George and her team improve the lives of individuals and families throughout our county. “Our mission is to ensure that everyone in Palm Beach County has access to the basics: a quality education, a place to live, financial stability, good medical care, and enough to eat.”

They have an unwavering commitment to changing lives, creating outcomes many never thought possible. For example, when five young boys came here following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the United Way and a network of nonprofit agencies made sure they had food, clothing, and shelter. They connected them to mentors to ensure their success through middle and high school and college at Florida Atlantic University. They were with them every step of the journey. Proudly Laurie shared with me that all five have just graduated and are entering the workforce.

As the nonprofit’s first female CEO, Laurie and her team have grown donations exponentially, increasing workplace giving, and allowing them to fund one hundred programs that make a positive impact on a daily basis. “United Way of Palm Beach County continues to grow and evolve to meet donor and community needs. When we learned that more than 200,000 residents did not have enough to eat, we took the lead on hunger relief in Palm Beach County by creating and implementing the community-wide hunger relief plan. This plan works across all sectors with more than 200 key stakeholders to move the needle on hunger. The plan focuses on four critical areas: childhood hunger, senior hunger, infrastructure, and the Belle Glade community. Since the plan’s inception, we continue to see more collaboration and meaningful changes occurring that will have long-term, positive impacts on the issue of hunger.” Breaking the cycle of poverty and working with their network of non-profits to meet the needs of our community and doing so in real-time.

Under George’s leadership, the organization continues to adapt, rising to the occasion to solve issues affecting people now. “We became the host organization for another collective impact, a county-wide initiative called Achieve Palm Beach County. The work of this collaborative focuses on ensuring post-secondary success for our youth. This came about when it was discovered that many youth graduating from high school and going on to post-secondary training or schooling were not making it through their first year. The attrition rate was terrible, and we knew we needed to get together to help build a support system around these students so that they could graduate and become employed. We have some incredible people involved who are ready to do the work and help ensure that every youth has the chance to succeed regardless of socioeconomic barriers.” The Achieve Initiative now thrives at Palm Beach State College, improving access and empowering tomorrow’s leaders.

Making a difference, it’s what she does for a living, but it’s also what drew her interest in the Economic Council of Palm Beach County. “The caliber of members, working together openly and honestly to become educated on key issues impacting our community and develop solutions, is what intrigued me.” It also served as a benefit. “United Way works at the intersection of diverse business, government, and nonprofit organizations to solve critical health and human service issues. The Economic Council creates an environment that fosters authentic relationships paving the way for meaningful collaborations.”

Those collaborations allowed the council to address workforce housing, an issue they began tackling with their initiative to go after the housing bond approved by voters in November, allowing the county to issue $200 million in bonds to help finance the additional supply. “Bar none, we need affordable housing/workforce housing in Palm Beach County. This issue impacts the nonprofit sector employees, just as it does government and businesses. Palm Beach County has an Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed (“ALICE) population of 34%. These folks are the backbone of our workforce. They are struggling to make ends meet, unable to afford the necessities of housing, food, childcare, health, and transportation.”

George is ready to jump in and assist just as she’s always done and says that for the business climate to continue thriving, we must focus on people’s needs now and strategically plan for tomorrow. “As President and CEO of United Way, I view every decision, every program, every solution through the lens of equity and how can we do the most good for the most amount of people.”

It’s the same spirit exemplified in her actions and exhibited throughout the life of Mother Teresa, the person she admires most. “She had compassion and a love for all humanity. She believed in the dignity of every human being and worked tirelessly to improve the lives of people from all walks of life. She believed that everyone could contribute.” A commitment that George lives by each day, taking great pride in mentoring kids, pushing people to achieve their best, and making life better for every person in every community that the United Way serves.

Powered By GrowthZone