United Way of Central Iowa announced today that its Board of Directors has appointed Mary Sellers as President upon Elisabeth Buck's retirement in July 2021.

Mary formerly led the organization from 2012 to 2017 until she was appointed as U.S. President with United Way Worldwide in Arlington, Va.

“I am incredibly honored to be selected and have the opportunity to once again lead the great work being done through United Way of Central Iowa,” said Mary: “Serving as U.S. President with United Way Worldwide was a fantastic opportunity to gain an understanding of the challenges communities face across our country, as well as the innovative and successful solutions being implemented to address them.

“My experience also reinforced how central Iowa is truly a special place, and how great it is to call this place my home. Our local United Way is exceptional, and with Elisabeth’s leadership, it is no surprise that the organization has moved forward with such great purpose. The collective impact made in advancing our Community Goals for 2020 was hard earned and took the whole community to make it happen. The United to Thrive strategy announced earlier this year provides an opportunity to continue that success, and I am enthusiastic and focused to lead our outstanding United Way team at a time when they have garnered such impressive momentum and strength in creating a better future.”

Mary is a great leader, and she has a strong passion and vision for our community. It’s a privilege to know I am leaving the organization in the capable hands of someone who knows us so well, who knows where we’ve been and can propel us toward a thriving future. She is someone I genuinely care for and admire.

When I announced my retirement in March, Sean Vicente, who will assume the role of United Way of Central Iowa’s Board Chair in July, led the search committee formed to find the organization’s new President.

“The committee, comprised of current United Way of Central Iowa Board members and community representatives, began the process immediately upon Elisabeth’s announcement,” said Vicente: “Through those discussions and counsel from national search firm representatives, it was clear that Mary was the right person, at the right time, for our organization. The depth of her experience, her strategic vision, her commitment to equity and inclusion, and her broad understanding of challenges and opportunities in advancing our work gives us great confidence in our collective future.”

United Way of Central Iowa's Board of Directors approved Mary's appointment on April 30, 2021 and current Board Chair, Nora Everett, shared the announcement with our United Way of Central Iowa team this morning.

"I was thrilled to share this great news with the United Way team," said Everett: "Those of us who worked with Mary were proud that she was appointed as U.S. President of United Way Worldwide, but I am equally excited that she is bringing her years of leadership and experience back to United Way of Central Iowa. Her passion for creating opportunity for all and proven ability to lead will continue the tremendous work and momentum of our United Way within our community. We have a lot to celebrate."  

Mary earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Florida and her Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) through the Executive MBA program at the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business. In addition, Mary graduated from the Getty Leadership Institute at the University of California Berkeley, and the Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Business.

“It is a privilege to have the opportunity to live out my purpose – being of service in a way that combines my experience and knowledge with my passion for creating change in our community,” said Mary. “And knowing I get to come back home, to United Way of Central Iowa, to do that is an incredible feeling. I’m eager to start and ready to partner with our community to foster a thriving and UNITED central Iowa.”

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Elisabeth Buck

About The Author: Elisabeth Buck

Elisabeth Buck is the former President of United Way of Central Iowa. As the organization’s chief executive (and former Chief Community Impact Officer) she led United Way’s strategies to achieve substantive community impact for over a decade until her retirement in 2021.