Q&A with Nicole Luczak, the United Way of Bay County’s new CEO and Executive Director

The United Way of Bay County didn’t have to look far to find the best woman for the job as United Way of Bay County’s new CEO and Executive Director. On July 1, Nicole Luczak transitioned from her role as Associate Director of the charitable agency to Executive Director. She succeeds Marybeth Laisure, who announced her retirement about a year ago. Since January, Michael Bacigalupo has served as the interim director.

Luczak is a Central Michigan University alumnus and has been active in Bay County and the region for over a decade. She is involved with the Bay County Community Service Partners Committee and the Blue Cross Community Advisory Council. She serves in leadership roles with the Bay County Food Connection Council, the Junior League of the Great Lakes Bay Region, and as a Bay Area Chamber of Commerce ambassador.

Luczak is excited about her new position and is looking forward to serving the community and leading the United Way of Bay County into the future.

Q: Tell us about your history with the United Way Bay County. How did you get involved?

A: I was hired in 2019 as the Community Impact and Fund Development Director, and then I spent over a year as the Associate Director. My work with United Way actually started before that though, working on some collaborative projects and different committees in our community while I was employed with the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. The United Way really being the hub that brings together so many different amazing organizations and community partners, it's kind of impossible to not have partnered with them before.

Q: How did you get your new position, and how excited are you?

A: My new position came about in a very traditional way. Even though I was an internal candidate, I went through the application and interview process the same as any external candidate. I was really glad that the Board of Directors searched nationwide to ensure they found the best fit, but of course was thrilled that they have chosen me. The support of the board, the staff, and so many amazing leaders in our community has really been overwhelming. I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity to serve our community and use my experience and passion to be part of making an impact.

Q: What are you most looking forward to?

A: I'm most looking forward to growing our impact in the community. Right now, we impact one of every three people in Bay County, but we know that close to 50% are living in the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) threshold or below. I know this is possible through partnerships and collaborative work. I have so much pride in our community and I'm so grateful and able to work with the amazing people who share my passion via individuals, companies, other nonprofit organizations, our impact partners and, of course, our team at the United Way. I'm just excited to play a role in the work that's happening and make a collective positive impact in our community.

'The United Way works to consistently determine the most critical needs in our community ... From there, we invest in programs that align with our priority areas and goals, which brings so many amazing organizations to the table to collaborate and tackle the issues together.' says the newest Executive Director of the United Way of Bay County. Q: How has it been for the United Way of Bay County coming out of the pandemic, and how do you see the near future?

A: It will have a long impact. The pandemic has really given the United Way an opportunity to create new partnerships and programs and step up as a leader and ensure that the ever-changing needs of our community are being met. We've seen so much support from many generous companies, individuals, and, as always, we work to find the most effective and efficient ways to address the needs of our residents with those resources. That need is going to continue, likely for years to come, so we need this momentum to continue as we rebuild from this. I think the pandemic has brought our community together and created a strong bond that will be long lasting. That's exactly what our mission is with the United Way is to bring our community together to impact lives.

Q: What are some big county issues that you would like to see the United Way tackle?

A: The United Way works to consistently determine the most critical needs in our community. So we are coming near the next assessment for that and the results will then guide what our focus is. That's one of the ways that we ensure we're always being the most impactful we can be. From there, we invest in programs that align with our priority areas and goals, which brings so many amazing organizations to the table to collaborate and tackle the issues together. Right now, our priority areas are education, health, and income stability, but we're coming due for our next assessment, and we'll reevaluate those.

Q: How do you see yourself in your new role, and what are your practices and focuses?

A: I hold myself to a very high expectation to be a role model in our community, to lead by example and be a collaborative partner with the other amazing leaders we're so lucky to have in Bay County and in our region.

Q: Anything else you would like the community to know?

A: I would really like to encourage everyone in our community to find a way to make an impact. It can be anything big or small, but it will make a difference if we all come together with the same goal, making an impact can happen in so many ways through giving, advocating, and volunteering, those are all things we encourage at the United Way and they are all impactful.