A Valpo Life in the Spotlight: Kim Olesker

A Valpo Life in the Spotlight: Kim Olesker

Kim Olesker is a beacon of inspiration. She has had midwestern beginnings, big adventures, and dreams of a better world. All of life’s paths lead her to become CEO & President of United Way of Porter County. Kim leads with her heart.

“We fight everyday so that everyone can have a glimmer of hope that things can get better,” Kim said.

Kim’s journey began in her hometown, Omaha, Nebraska. She stayed there for college where she studied Journalism & Communications. During her studies, her advisor, Katie DeSciose, made an impact.

“Katie was so supportive. She’d challenge me with the constructive criticism that made me better,” Kim said.

With Katie’s support, Kim proudly earned her degree in 1991. It was then her sorority, Alpha Xi Delta, selected her to travel the Country as a Chapter Consultant. Only seven members were awarded this position nationwide. This learning experience motivated Kim to do big things in her life.

“My sorority background was my biggest training for my career path,” Kim revealed. “I learned to discuss challenging topics and become a leader.”

Wanderlust sparkled within Kim as she traveled the country, starting new Alpha Xi Delta chapters and consulting with existing chapters.

From there, Kim continued to travel and live different places including Kansas, Missouri, Florida, and Michigan. She had a dynamic career path and even owned her own business. Then, along with her husband, Jack Olesker, Kim grew roots in Indiana.

For the last 15 years, Kim has lived and worked in Northwest Indiana. With years of valuable experience under her belt, Kim joined the United Way as Regional Director of Early Childhood Initiatives.

Kim felt at home at the United Way. When former CEO, Sharon Kish, retired Kim felt a calling towards the position. There were over 90 other applicants, multiple interviews, and months of waiting to hear the outcome. But Kim did everything she could to shine.

“I submitted 15 letters of recommendation,” Kim chuckled. “It was go big or go home with the application.”

Then, in January of 2016, United Way of Porter County announced Kim as their new President & CEO.

Kim felt honored as she took the reigns of this highly sought, important position. The transition was made easy with the help of Sharon Kish.

“The transition was seamless,” Kim noted. “Sharon guided me.”

Although Kim fit right in, her job isn’t easy. But Kim rises to meet the challenge.

“The most amazing thing about my job is taking on tough challenges,” Kim said. “Whether it be fighting for fair wages or getting people job training and life skills. [United Way] is critical in the community.”

Kim is dedicated to the wellbeing of us all. She works to empower the community with education, stable income, and good health. But she doesn’t go it alone. In her years with United Way, it is clear to Kim that community is everything.

“We are strongest when we are able to pull people together,” Kim said. “It’s the only way to make change.”

Kim not only focuses on families that are struggling, but also families that could become impoverished with just one major life event, like a lay off, unexpected bill, or death in the family.

“The ability to be able to prepare for life’s challenges have changed,” Kim explained. “It’s more expensive to live; to take care of children. Life is more than most people can afford.”

Kim leads by example and encourages others to care for their community. She said it’s helpful not to judge people who are experiencing hardship.

“Empathy goes a long way,” Kim said. “The problems we face are very complex and the challenges are huge.”

In a career that requires a lot of passion and involves such heavy topics, Kim credits her husband’s love and support as her anchor.

“I’m very fortunate to have him,” Kim said.

Kim has had her husband in her corner for 25 years and said without him, her successful journey to becoming CEO of United Way Porter County wouldn’t be possible.

“He’s my biggest fan,” Kim said.