Letter from the Cole Women United Chair

09-17-2019 · Cole Women United


Denise Smith
Cole Women United Chair, 2019-2020
Service Centre Portfolio Lead, HR Systems, EY

My early inspirations came from a dynamic group of women and men in my family lineage who provided numerous opportunities to engage members of their community through volunteerism, advocacy, and networking at social events (Sunday Dinners). Education and civic leadership were core values for my grandparents. They taught each of their 11 children how to become philanthropic leaders.  From as early as I can remember, my father who was a boy scout and my mother instilled in us to master our purpose, image, and exposure.

My journey in philanthropy began with my time in girl scouts and volunteering experiences with the Special Olympics.  My brother and I volunteered for the Special Olympics, an amazing organization that was championed by my mother and father who were inspired by my sister Matrice who has an intellectual disability. The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

In my adult life, I volunteered for numerous organizations such as Camp English, United Way Young Professional Leaders Advisory Board, Women In Technology, MVK Atlanta Advisory Board, Every Girl Shines Board of Directors, and Cole Women United for which I am proud to lead as Chair for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

My philanthropic trek has been building for over 35 years. I attribute my inspiration to my parents’ family core values. They ensured that we lived the Girl/Boy Scout values, understood belonging, and that family involvement in activities ,including serving the community, were a part of our weekly routines. For me, voluntarily serving on a board means that you attend at least 90% of organization’s activities to make an impact to our community. I believe that you must immerse yourself within an organization’s mission to truly appreciate and support their goals. Communities need volunteers who are present in the moment and willing to share their time and/or treasure to improve the lives of others.

I am excited about the year to come for Cole Women United and behalf of the Cole Women United Cabinet, we look forward to engaging Cole Women Members to learn more about the Women United Advancement Initiative and how it ties to United Way’s mission of improving Child Well-Being!