New United Way Campaign Chair Rich Bielen Understands the Value of Community

Rich Bielen, Protective Life Corporation President and Chief Operating Officer, recently volunteered at the Community Food Bank. The Food Bank is one of the many United Way agencies that he’s impressed by.

Rich Bielen, Protective Life Corporation’s President and Chief Operating Officer, is chairman of the 2016 United Way of Central Alabama campaign and is charged with galvanizing Central Alabama to raise resources in support of United Way’s agencies and programs. It will not be a hard task for Rich as he has served United Way in various financial roles since the late 1990’s and is personally dedicated to contributing to a community of support. “I feel very strongly about helping to continue the good work of the United Way’s agencies and programs that provide outreach similar to the support I have enjoyed,” he said. “In my childhood, people went out of their way to take care of me, and I think that’s what United Way agencies do,” he said. “They’re all spending time helping people who have an unmet need or providing people an opportunity to gain important skills.”

Rich Bielen’s concept of community extended beyond the four walls of the home where he grew up in Brooklyn, New York. His Brooklyn community was his extended family. His next door neighbor taught him to play chess and became like an older brother. The couple downstairs became his grandparents. She taught him his alphabets, numbers and how to tie his shoes, as his immigrant parents were still adjusting to their new country. One of his neighbors noticed his penchant for numbers when he was only five years old and told him accounting would be a good career path for him. “Having someone see the talent in me at such a young age really made an impact,” he said.

The person that he sees in the mirror today is a reflection of the hard work of his parents and all the people in the community who invested in him. “I was incredibly fortunate that throughout my life people helped me, even when they didn’t have to help,” Bielen said.

The journey is not lost on Rich as he heads into the 2016 campaign for the United Way of Central Alabama. He looks ahead to his year with United Way campaign to be a year of “We” and from that, the 2016 theme was born: TOGETHER THERE WILL ALWAYS BE A WAY.

The United Way campaign begins on June 9, 2016 with Pacesetter Kickoff, and the general campaign kickoff is September 8, 2016.

United Way of Central Alabama Inc. supports health and human service programs and agencies that provide solutions for the most important needs in the community. Its business is to improve lives and community conditions by building and mobilizing resources. To learn more about United Way’s impact in your community, visit

Rich Bielen, Protective Life Corporation President and Chief Operating Officer, addresses Workshops graduates, families and friends during a recent job training graduation ceremony.