Apply by September 27, 2019 to become a VITA site in 2020! United Way is inviting organizations interested in becoming VITA sites to submit an application for funding. Partners will be provided with funding and support to provide free tax preparation at locations across the region.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is a more than 40-year running, national IRS program where trained and certified volunteers prepare tax returns for low income families according to IRS guidelines. United Way of Greater Atlanta in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) leads a coalition of approximately 30 organizations that promotes and supports free tax preparation. Free tax preparation supports United Way’s goal to build a stronger future for greater Atlanta by supporting the well-being of its children, the families that support them and the community that surrounds them.

The exact funds available will be based on IRS funding for the VITA program. Awards to specific partners will depend upon details of the funding available from the IRS and the review of applications including performance targets from new and existing VITA partners.

Download the Request For Applications here.

LINC Member, Mitch Hogan
Corporate Banking Analyst
SunTrust Robinson Humphrey


LINC: Why did you decide to get involved with United Way of Greater Atlanta’s LINC group?
Mitch: I have a passion for serving and strive to surround myself with people with a similar passion. I graduated from UGA and moved to Atlanta with the goal of meeting new people who love to volunteer and meet others. I quickly came across LINC and was welcomed right away. Once I attended the first event, I could tell the community of people was what I was looking for. Each person I met was incredibly unique and came from all over the place. I loved hearing each person’s story and what drove them to volunteer their time and commit to this community. Some of the best advice I’ve gotten is to plant roots wherever you are, and I could tell that LINC is something that I would want to plant roots in and see how the organization and myself grow overtime.


LINC: What aspect of United Way’s work in the community are you most passionate about supporting?
Mitch: I love United Ways work to bring everyone from the community together to understand what the needs are in that community. Specifically, I’m passionate about supporting LINC’s initiative to bring young professionals into a space of giving and volunteering our time. I love to be surrounded by like-minded individuals and I want to continue to work to make the programs and events successful so that more people can learn about how they can make an impact in Atlanta. I’m passionate about serving and I’ve come to learn that each and every event United Way puts on, whether we are fighting homelessness or helping high schoolers understand how to succeed in college, is a way to learn so much about the individuals we are working to help.


LINC: What is your favorite quote?
Mitch: “Bloom where you are planted.”

Congratulations to the graduates of our 2019 Spring VIP Training Program!

We look forward to hearing about your future successes in board appointments.

Interested in finding out more about VIP and board training? Check out the Volunteer Involvement Program.

Monday Class







Wednesday Class






Complete List of Spring 2019 Graduates

Natasha Bailey CallRail Inc.
Andrea Barnett National Association of Minority Contractors Greater Atlanta Branch
Timothy Buchanan Together Friends Organization
Larce Carter V Self-Employed
Melissa Chambers Royally Yours
Wayne Clayton Clayton County Public Schools
Myron Davis KNAV, P.A. Certified Public Accounts
Jamal Dismuke Paradigm Management & Consultants
Makeba Dixon-Hill Spelman College
William Dobbins IBM
Sanjiv Doreswamy Grand River LLC
Ayana Dunston Georgia Charter Schools Association
Lucretia Gant DeKalb County School District – Chamblee Charter HS
Corey Goerdt Fisher & Phillips LLP
Preeyal Gupta Aetna
Junior Harewood United Healthcare
Danita Harris The Harris-Harris Group, LLC
Jeffery Henderson Youth Branding University
Shaun Herbert AT&T
Katy Hilbert Children’s Voice: CASA, Inc.
Bryan Hilburn Hills Academy
Sharon Hillman Delta Vacations
Stephanie Hooks LexisNexis Risk Solutions
James Jones AT&T
Elaine Katz Harvard Group International
Paul Larkin Quest Diagnostics
Omari Leggett Penciled Consulting
Bisa Lewis Black Child Development Institute – Atlanta Affiliate
Trenise Lyons Goodwill of North Georgia
Juan Mejia JCM Ventures
Robyn Polynice Anthem
Khalil Robinson Allsource
Richard Romanowski R-Cubed
Dorothy Rose The Hair Spot
Antonio Saintiague UPS
Sharicka Samuels Ernst & Young
Bettina Sellers Sellers of Faith Counseling & Consultation
Jacinta Smith United Way of Greater Atlanta – AmeriCorps, Project Health Access
Daniel Sterling Jabian Consulting
Madeline Tapper United Way of Greater Atlanta
John Thomas Morgan Stanley
Bryce Thomason Digital Vibes LLC
Angelyn Thompson Anthem
Sade’ Tidwell Fisher & Phillips LLP
Shanice Turner Forum For Youth Investment
Belinda Vickerson Belinda Vickerson Photography LLC
Angela Walton Breakthrough Marketing Consulting
Derrica Williams Concepts, Inc.
Trudy Willis Clayton County Public Schools
Ashley  Winston The Home Depot

#WhyWednesday: Sarah Smith

For Sarah Smith, the inspiration to give back came early—and it all started with her Nana. Today, hear why this Young Professional Leaders advisory board member gives, advocates and volunteers with United Way of Greater Atlanta.

Sometimes the inspiration behind community service isn’t a why – it’s a who! Is there someone who has sparked your interest in philanthropy? We’d love to hear all about it. Give your inspiration a shout-out and send in your story to United Way of Greater Atlanta!

Mary Ellen Garrett

Tocqueville Society Chair & Tocqueville Women United Member

“Could any force be more powerful than thousands of women philanthropists working hand-in-hand with nonprofits, neighborhoods, companies, schools, and other-who all share the same goal of a safe, stronger region?”

Count on Mary Ellen Garrett to ask that important question.

The 34-year Merrill Lynch veteran is no stranger to success. In addition to numerous internal accolades, she has received multiple years of recognition from Forbes as one of the nation’s top wealth advisors.

However, one thing that has always set Mary Ellen apart is her ability to leverage her own talents for the benefit of others. Many Atlanta-based nonprofits can attest to the value she has brought to their organizations: Mercy Care Foundation, Atlanta Catholic Archdiocese, Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, The Carter Center… just to name a few.

She is a trailblazer in every sense of the word, but especially at United Way.

Twenty years ago, Mary Ellen joined the Tocqueville Society at the recommendation of her colleague and mentor, Jere Goldsmith.

It didn’t take long before she decided she had an important role to play in uplifting other women, too. Mary Ellen was a guiding force in establishing Women’s Legacy (which is now called Women United), and later, Tocqueville Women United.

Shortly afterwards in 2004, Mary Ellen and her husband Scott became the very first household – which includes their son, Alex, and twin daughters, Anna and Patsy – to establish themselves as Legacy Leaders with a planned gift to United Way of Greater Atlanta.

Mary Ellen joined United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Board of Directors, and in 2012, she brought her talents to United Way Worldwide’s U.S.A. Board of Trustees.

Most recently, Mary Ellen became the chair of United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Tocqueville Society—the first woman to hold that position. As Chair, Mary Ellen represented our Tocqueville Society in Omaha, Nebraska, meeting with the family of Peter and Warren Buffet to open the doors for transformational giving.

It is an understatement to say that we are grateful for Mary Ellen Garrett’s decades of support – Atlanta is a better place because of her joy in philanthropy.

YPL Member, Troy Felder
HR Manager, Genuine Parts Company Shared Services


YPL: Why did you decide to get involved with United Way of Greater Atlanta’s YPL group

Troy: I have been fortunate enough to lead a few GPC fundraising campaigns for UW. I truly believe that if the financial support and community partnerships are to continue between the two organizations, young professionals must be actively engaged.


YPL: What aspect of United Way’s work in the community are you most passionate about supporting?

Troy: Income: financial education and job readiness training specifically. I have toured the City of Refuge 3 or more times and will be going again this week! I was there when the first AutoTech class started in the NAPA training center and hired one of the first graduates in a NAPA retail store. To hear that programs have been added in home security and pest control are exciting and gratifying!!


YPL: What is your favorite quote?

Troy: “True leaders are ladder builders; they’re not ladder climbers. The ladder builder is always saying, “What can I do to help you? How would I make you successful? If you make your team successful, your team’s going to make you successful” – David L. Brewer III

I heard John Hope Bryant quote Mr. Brewer at the annual HOPE Global Forum, here in Atlanta. #silverrights

We are always happy to share the great news of Alumni Placements with the community.


Belinda Walker
2009 VIP Graduate

Belinda recently joined the United Way of Greater Atlanta Gwinnett County Advisory Board. Belinda also serves as First Vice President of Programs for the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. – Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter.




Ketiwe Zipperer
Summer 2018 VIP Graduate

Ketiwe is a Manager with Deloitte Consulting. She recently joined the board of DeKalb County CASA. DeKalb County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) train and support CASA volunteers to advocate for the best interests of children in foster care.




Jaselyn Williams
Fall 2018 VIP Graduate

Jaselyn is the Senior HR Business Partner with Digital Realty. Jaselyn is quickly putting her VIP knowledge to use after recently joining the board of Live Healthy and Thrive Youth Foundation. Their mission is to educate, activate, motivate, and empower youth in the areas of academic achievement, health, fitness, nutrition and total wellness.



Joy Dyess
Fall 2017 VIP Graduate

Joy is Vice President, Director of Special Projects with BankSouth Mortgage and Vice President-Elect, Advocacy & Initiatives Council with the Junior League of Atlanta. Joy recently joined the United Way of Greater Atlanta Cobb County Advisory Board where she will work create a thriving community in Cobb County.

African-American Partnership Cabinet Spotlight: Hugh E. Rowden
Senior Vice President, Engagement Initiatives & Mortgage Outreach, Community Relations, Wells Fargo & Company


AAP: Tell us about your role at Wells Fargo and how you impact the company’s strategic goals?
Hugh: As part of Community Relations at Wells Fargo, I lead an Innovation team, a management collaboration team, and a housing outreach team focusing on critical enterprise-wide community engagement initiatives for housing issues, as well as a host of other responsibilities.

I often say “we’re problem solvers” that connect Wells Fargo to some of the communities’ most pressing needs.


AAP: What advice could you give to someone pursuing a career in the financial industry?Hugh:No matter what industry you’re in it’s important to understand your strengths, and what you do well. Become an expert at what you do. Become the person that people go to when they need to know about your role and how it can make a difference.

My passion for solving problems, coaching and teaching, coupled with my management experience, became the foundation of my work life here at the bank. Many people are good at a job but can’t teach others. It’s important to find a way to develop your skills and use them often, especially in engaging teams and in developing talent. You’ll get a lot of pleasure out of your work if you view it as an opportunity to bring others along on the journey.


AAP: How do you use your role at Wells Fargo to improve economic empowerment in our community?
Hugh: My team helps customers who are having payment challenges through Outreach, addresses housing issues for cities through examining barriers and coalition-building, and we create innovative solutions that bring together the power of Wells Fargo’s lending and philanthropy to produce outcomes that solve issues identified by community stakeholders.

I personally understand what it’s like to be homeless because I was at one time in my life, and I know what it’s like to own a home. Those feelings will always be top of mind for me and understanding the full spectrum of housing challenges and opportunities influences the way I bring ideas forward and how I create programs that can benefit underserved individuals and communities. In my role, I work across Wells Fargo to pull in experts from our lines of business and our community relations team to create impact. In particular, we focus on affordable housing, small business growth, job skills and financial health as pathways to economic advancement.


AAP: Why is philanthropy important to you? What other community organizations are you apart of?
Hugh: Philanthropy is critical to help address the inequities that exist in today’s society. Minorities and women have a different starting line than others. For society to succeed, I believe we all need to play a part in addressing diversity, equity and inclusion. Our philanthropy allows us to collaborate with nonprofits and expert local leaders to create greater access to safe and affordable housing, more assistance with homeownership for families and critical support for small businesses to grow and thrive. In turn, many of these families and businesses go on to giving back to the community in their own way so it’s a positive ripple effect.

What’s unique about my job at Wells Fargo is that I get to help hundreds of community organizations and bring people together who care about making life better for others.

Outside of the volunteer work I do with United Way of Greater Atlanta’s – African-American Partnership, I’m on the Georgia Gwinnett College – School of Business Board of Visitors, and support activities at my church.


AAP: Who is your favorite African-American trailblazer that serves as a source of inspiration to you?
Hugh: My source of inspiration is my family and friends. Most people think about individual trailblazers they don’t know. I focus on all my family has done to create the platform for me to do what I love, “being a provider”. That’s inspirational!

During my developmental years a lot of people did a lot of praying and the best they could with what they knew, and the small resources they had. It reminds me of a quote, “If you see a turtle on a fence post, you know it didn’t get there by itself.” 

Kelly Janzen
Chief Accounting Officer, WestRock

Say hello to Kelly Janzen, Chief Accounting Officer for WestRock and a Tocqueville Women United Cabinet member who started her United Way journey in Houston.

“While I was living in Houston, a really good friend invited me to a few Tocqueville events, and I had a greater realization of the impact that United Way has on communities. Thus, I decided at that time to make a larger commitment and join the Tocqueville Society.”

Kelly started with WestRock in August 2017 from Baker Hughes, a GE company, based in Houston, Texas where she served as the Vice President, Controller, and Chief Accounting Officer.

“I’ve been involved with United Way for many years in various capacities, starting with campaign captain at my previous employers.”

Prior to Baker Hughes, she was with McDermott International, Inc. as Vice President, Finance and Chief Accounting Officer. She also had a successful career with General Electric, where she started as a global controller with GE Security and continued in controller leadership roles with GE Healthcare, an assignment with GE Corporate in Hong Kong, and GE Power & Water.

Kelly started her career as an auditor with Arthur Andersen LLP. She earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Louisiana State University and is a Certified Public Accountant. Kelly is also a member of the WellStar Health System Foundation Board, in addition to her service as a Tocqueville Women United Cabinet member.

“It was important to me when I moved to Atlanta to continue my involvement with such a great organization.”

YPL Member, Jessica Sturm
Secondary Special Education Lead
City Schools of Decatur


YPL: Why did you decide to get involved with United Way of Greater Atlanta’s YPL group

Jessica: In September, I researched different non-profit organizations in the Atlanta area where I could volunteer and decided to join United Way. After a couple of volunteer opportunities, I decided I wanted to become more involved in the organization. Young Professional Leaders (YPL) group seemed like a perfect fit! I felt this group was a place I could engage with others who are also trying to make a difference, as we are all professionals with a passion for community service. Joining the YPL Gala Committee has been such an amazing experience. The first time I came to a meeting, I felt so energized because there were people sitting around the table I had a lot in common with and all with the same goal – to help the kids! As I continue to become more involved in YPL, I am making new friends and meeting more and more amazing individuals in the Atlanta area who are passionate, strong-willed, and truly want to make this world a better place.


YPL: What aspect of United Way’s work in the community are you most passionate about supporting?

Jessica: YPL supports Kids Home Initiative and as an educator, this is very close to my heart. I have taught and worked with students who are currently homeless or who were homeless at one point in their life. Homelessness impacts their lives tremendously. It is amazing how the resources many of us take for granted can change a kid’s life and allow them to be and feel successful in school. I am very passionate about this project and all the fundraising we are doing at YPL to assist with stability and resources for the whole family. Children are our future and all children deserve a stable home-life.


YPL: What is your favorite quote?

Jessica: “Gratitude reciprocates.”