When United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA) appointed Mallie Ireland Chairman of the Board in 2019, she laughed and said, “I can’t imagine why.” If you look back at Mallie’s long relationship with UWCA, it’s easy to see the reasons, including her self-attribution as UWCA’s “biggest cheerleader on the planet.”
Being Chairman of the Board was a major milestone in her journey with UWCA and its Tocqueville Society. Mallie has now reached another significant marker along the way as recipient of the 2021 Tocqueville Award with husband Stewart Dansby. She reflected on her time with the organization and what led her to build this lasting relationship.
“United Way is the hub — it’s what holds our community together,” she said. “We all work better when we work together. We go out, identify needs and try to support those communities where they aren’t being met.”
In early December, the Tocqueville Society held its annual Tocqueville Dinner, where Mallie and Stewart accepted their awards and the society’s members connected with other service-minded individuals.
After postponing the event in 2020, the celebration was reignited in the year of the society’s 35th anniversary. Members gathered in a new space on UWCA’s human services campus after many months of missing in-person fellowship.
35 Years of Tocqueville and Generations of Giving
Mallie had the opportunity to oversee the Tocqueville Society’s 25th anniversary, where she interviewed some of the original 36 charter members. During those conversations, one sentiment shared by the members was unanimous — it feels good to give.
Ten years later, Mallie sees that feeling put into action by current Tocqueville Society members during a tumultuous time of loss and increased need.
“The Tocqueville Society’s work this year was extraordinary,” said Mallie. “Through the pandemic, so many Tocqueville donors stepped up to the plate and contributed above their normal Tocqueville gift to help benefit this community during COVID.”
Another aspect of the society that strikes Mallie is that some of these donors were family members of those original 36. She said she finds the generational impact of UWCA fascinating.
“We’re the number-one Tocqueville Society in the nation, which speaks so profoundly of the philanthropy in our community,” said Mallie. “It was born in this community and has improved with each generation.”
Mallie’s family provides a perfect example of this generational philanthropy. Her grandmother, parents and uncle were all charter members of the society. Her grandmother even received the third Tocqueville Award in 1989 — more than three decades before Mallie would have the same honor.
Part of what drives Mallie to continue the legacy of giving started by her family is who she gets to work with and what she gets to work toward.
“I love working with the people — the volunteers,” said Mallie. “At United Way, I have experienced the complete freedom of being whoever you are, whatever background – socioeconomic, race, culture, religion — it really doesn’t matter. Volunteers are shoulder to shoulder with boots on the ground. We are all working toward a common goal and that’s the fulfillment and the betterment of our community. I love that.”
Of course, any way you can give back to your community is fulfilling. Mallie, however, mentioned the best part about giving to United Way is knowing her funds are helping as many people as possible. Your gift impacts a broad spectrum of agencies you might never have known about before.
“United Way works with every element of the community — the government, nonprofits, businesses, volunteers, religious communities,” said Mallie. “It is phenomenal what the United Way does.”
To learn about more events and opportunities with United Way of Central Alabama’s Tocqueville Society, visit the website.