Callie Richie still isn’t sure who nominated her for the United Way of Central Alabama Loaned Executive (LE) Program, but she’s grateful to whoever did. And she’s not alone in that sentiment. Her work with the program had a tremendous impact, bringing in more than $20,000 in new and increased donations to the annual campaign! When coupled with her friendly attitude, it’s no wonder her fellow LEs voted her the winner of the 2019 Crawford T. Johnson Loaned Executive of the Year Award.
United Way’s Loaned Executive program is designed to build professional skills, such as sales and public speaking, through a fast-paced 13-week program that supplements UWCA’s year-round fundraisers during the annual campaign. With businesses from throughout Blount, Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair and Walker Counties both loaning their employees and sponsoring other community members to participate, UWCA’S is one of the leading LE programs among all United Ways. Richie was on loan from Publix – specifically the Trace Crossings store, where she works as Assistant Customer Service Manager. Although the face behind her nomination is still a mystery, she understands why they thought she’d be a good fit for the program.
“I’ve been with Publix for 11 years, and I’ve always been very involved with the community side of our company culture,” said Richie. “Through Publix, I worked with a lot of organizations in my hometown of Helena, like Greater Birmingham Habitat for Humanity projects. Giving back is just something I really enjoy.”
Richie was familiar with United Way from Publix’s long-standing relationship with the organization, which includes a large annual campaign, several volunteer projects and support from employees on UWCA’s board. But she wasn’t completely aware of the extent of United Way’s role in the community. “I didn’t realize how much United Way did!” she said. “So getting out and seeing the programs was really eye-opening. Knowing those services are in our community gives me hope.”
According to UWCA Relationship Manager Stirling Hutchins, who oversaw Richie during the program, commitment to the community is exactly why Richie succeeded. “She exemplifies the best values of Publix, believing that giving back to the community is both a privilege and a responsibility,” said Hutchins. “She went above and beyond to drive success in her accounts, seek out opportunities to engage new businesses, accept every new challenge that was given to her and motivate her team. She brought positivity, energy and showed tremendous personal growth throughout the program.”
While Richie’s work received praise from both fellow LEs as well as United Way staff, she was still surprised to hear her name called as recipient of the Crawford T. Johnson Award. “I was shocked,” she said. “I had no idea! I just was being myself, walking around and saying ‘hi!’ to everyone. That’s just the Publix in me!”
Richie is now back at her job at the Trace Crossings store but said that her time as an LE will stay with her, both in terms of the professional skills she developed and the incredible relationships she built.
“The most rewarding part of the program was meeting all those fantastic people,” she said. “The LEs and the staff at United Way…seeing how many people are trying to make a change in our communities is just amazing to me!”