DANBURY, CT -- Two new members have joined United Way of Western Connecticut’s Board of Directors. They will play key roles in setting the direction and guiding the management of this nonprofit, which serves 15 cities and towns in Western Connecticut and is dedicated to helping the hard-working, struggling households in our region called ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed).
Kevin Walston currently serves as Assistant Superintendent of School and District Development for the Danbury Public Schools. Paul H. Bruce is Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Union Savings Bank. Biographies of the two new board members appear below.
The organization also welcomes a new member to its Northern Fairfield County Council. Samantha LaBonne is the Community Relations and Economic Development Specialist for Eversource and will join 19 other members of this council in focusing on local priorities and identifying community needs in the Greater Danbury area.
In Stamford, Morgan Jensen, an Account Service Manager for Legg Mason, recently joined the Community Council. A 2016 graduate of the University of Connecticut, Morgan co-founded Legg Mason’s Westhill Financial Literacy Partnership. She will be the twentieth member of the Stamford Community Council.
“These new board and council members bring community knowledge and a level of expertise that is extremely valuable to our work,” said Isabel Almeida, Interim President and Chief Operating Officer of United Way. “I’m looking forward to working with them as we explore innovative ways to address the challenges faced by hard-working, struggling households.”
Retiring from the Board of Directors are Cynthia Merkle, President and Chief Executive Officer of Union Savings Bank, who served as Chair for the past five years, and Kurosh Marjani, partner at Wolfsey Rosen Kweskin & Kuriansky, LLP, who has served on the board since 2013, and served as Chair of the Stamford Community Council from 2013 to 2018. United Way of Western Connecticut is extremely grateful for their leadership over the past five to six years, as the organization charted a new course in focusing on ALICE individuals and families.
The following are bios for the newest members of United Way of Western Connecticut’s Board of Directors:
Kevin Walston, Danbury Public Schools
An educator for more than 22 years, Kevin Walston was recently appointed to a three-year term as Assistant Superintendent of School and District Development for Danbury Public Schools. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Black Studies from Lehman College, a Master of Education degree in Administration and Supervision from the College of New Rochelle, and a Professional Diploma in School District Administration from the College of New Rochelle. Mr. Walston previously taught high school social studies and was a high school administrator in New York City Public Schools, Bridgeport Public Schools, and Waterbury Public Schools.
Paul H. Bruce, Union Savings Bank
Paul H. Bruce joined Union Savings Bank as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2013. He is responsible for overseeing the accounting, financial, and financial risk management operations of this $2.2 billion mutual bank, located in Danbury, CT. Prior to joining Union, Paul served as the Chief Financial Officer for Legacy Bankcorp, Inc.in Pittsfield, MA, and as the Financial Controller for the Association of Marian Helpers in Stockbridge, MA. He received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting from the University of Notre Dame, a Master of Science degree in taxation from Bryant University, and a Master of Business Administration degree from Western New England University. He currently serves as a member of the Dean’s Executive Advisory Council for the Ancell School of Business at Western Connecticut State University and is a member of numerous professional organizations.
Following are the current members of United Way of Western Connecticut’s Board of Directors:
Cheryl Bakewell, Bakewell & Mulhare LLC (Chair), Michael Shepherd, Genworth (Vice Chair); Ken Weinstein, Newtown Savings Bank (Secretary); Eric Duenwald, Synchrony (Treasurer); Tracey Alston, Eversource; Keith Betts, EdD, Western Connecticut State University; Paul H. Bruce, Union Savings Bank; George Garrett, Deloitte & Touche LLP; Aaron Meyer, Man Group – GLG Silvermine; Mark Oulette, Pitney Bowes; Dawn Reshen-Doty, Benay Enterprises, Inc.; Antonio Santiago, Naugatuck Valley Community College; Natasha Williams, N-Touch Strategies; Kevin Walston, Danbury Public School; Candy Yeager, Community Representative; and Lisa Zana, Shipman & Goodwin LLP.
Following are the current members of United Way of Western Connecticut’s Community Councils:
Keith Betts, EdD, Western Connecticut State University (Chair); Doreen Benson, Citizen’s Bank; Gigi Christel, Community Representative; Matthew Cassavechia, Nuvance/Danbury Hospital; Ronald Herren, Community Representative; Mary-Ann Houser, St. Gregory the Great Church; Kim Karl, United Bank; Samantha LaBonne, Eversource; Ralph MacIntosh, Del-Tron Precision Inc.; Gregg Manning, Webster Bank; Nelson Merchan, Connecticut Small Business Association; Jerry Murphy, Coldwell Banker Commercial-Scalzo Group; Mary Ann Murtha, Western Connecticut State University; Katie Pearson, Danbury Public Library; P.J. Prunty, Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce; Sandra L. Rankin, IBM Retiree; Dawn Reshen-Doty, Benay Enterprises, Inc.; Jeff Ryer, Ryer Associates, Inc.; Michael L. Stern, PhD, Community Representative; Ken Weinstein, Newtown Savings Bank; Bob E. Williams, Community Representative.
Stamford Community Council
Candy Yeager, Community Representative (Chair); Thomas Berta, First County Bank; Louis F. Diez, Northern Trust; Leslie Glenn, Remedy Partners; Thomas Goggin, Synchrony; Kimberly Green, Thomson Reuters, George Herring, Patriot Bank; Carmen Hughes, Shieldpay; Morgan Jenson, Legg Mason; Jered Jones, Keep America Beautiful; Sally Kelman, Community Representative; Valerie Lazzari; NBCUniversal; David Pergola, KPMG; George Schott, Legg Mason; Daniel Sheehan, Genworth; Claudia Vilas, Community Representative; Sandy Weinberg, O’Connor Davies; Dudley Williams, Mill River Collaborative; Natasha Williams, N-Touch Strategies; Lisa Zana, Shipman & Goodwin.
Southern Litchfield Community Council
Cheryl Bakewell, Bakewell & Mulhare, LLC; Jennifer Birdseye, Webster Bank, NA; Barbara Dratch, Moots Pellegrini Law Firm; Evan Hack, MD, Candlewood Valley Pediatrics; Steven Liker, New Milford & Sherman Community Volunteer; Larry Neary, Bridgewater Community Volunteer; Alex Rafoss, Savings Bank of Danbury; Tammy Reardon, Town of New Milford; Katherine Webster-O’Keefe, Esq, Law Office of Katherine Webster-O’Keefe; Amanda Wilson, Kimberly-Clark.
About United Way of Western Connecticut
United Way of Western Connecticut improves the lives of hard-working, struggling households by mobilizing the resources of local communities to create lasting change. We help residents across Northern Fairfield County, Southern Litchfield County, and the City of Stamford by focusing on the vital building blocks for a good life: Education, Financial Stability and Health. We are committed to ensuring that every child enters school ready to learn, every family is financially stable, and every community we serve is healthy and strong. We are particularly focused on a population that United Way identifies as ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) in our communities. A United Way report published in September 2018 revealed that in Connecticut, more than 1 in 3 households has earnings above the Federal Poverty Level, but below a basic cost-of-living threshold. Combined with those who are struggling below poverty level, 40% of all households in the state are experiencing ﬁnancial hardship. By leveraging the collective power of the community, we are focused on creating an environment where individuals and families are self-sufficient and can achieve financial independence.
United Way of Western Connecticut