United Way of Northwest Indiana welcomes new President and CEO Adam O’Doherty to the Region

United Way of Northwest Indiana welcomes new President and CEO Adam O’Doherty to the Region

The merger between United Way of Porter County and Lake Area United Way was the first step in uniting the community to work to help those in need. The second step was finding a suitable President and CEO.

Though it was a demanding task, the newly formed United Way of Northwest Indiana was not alone in its search. Led by Jeff Strack of Strack and Van Til, with the help of executive search firm Koya Partners, the search committee interviewed executives from across the country and finally offered the position to Adam O’Doherty of Arizona.

O’Doherty began his career in education, then moved on to nonprofit work after he realized how a living situation can affect a student’s education. Most recently, he served as the CEO of United Way of Graham and Greenlee Counties in rural Arizona.

“There are so many challenges and barriers that affect students and their families. Nonprofit work seemed like a perfect fit for me to tackle them,” said O’Doherty.

O’Doherty’s passion for nonprofit work is partially due to his childhood experiences. As a child, he faced many of the same challenges that impact families in Northwest Indiana today.

“I grew up poor. I was lucky to have mentors that supported me along the way and other support avenues. I feel like nonprofit really fills my spirit. For the work we do, it's not about the money – it’s the mission that drives me,” said O’Doherty.

O’Doherty felt especially drawn to this position after he experienced the strong sense of community within the Region.

“I had other offers on the table,” said O’Doherty. “There were a lot of reasons why I picked this offer. I felt such a strong sense of community and collaboration. Everybody wants to help each other, and it’s just a very welcoming area. That was the driving force, but also the uniqueness of having all these communities trying to unite to build a stronger region was really enticing.”

Originally from Minnesota, O’Doherty moved to Arizona to take a position as CEO of United Way of Graham and Greenlee Counties in 2019. Though the transition to the Midwest in the middle of a snowy spring season was a challenge, O’Doherty was ready to begin work on the new adventure ahead.

“Where I lived in Arizona it was very rural. Coming here, we're facing many middle-class, low-income and rural challenges. Trying to figure out a targeted approach that can work for all communities is a new challenge,” said O’Doherty.

United Way staff members welcomed O’Doherty with open arms. As their new CEO began to step into his role, they have offered many opportunities for community involvement and are actively working to introduce him to people in the organization’s network.

“I've been very fortunate. Almost every single one of our staff, board and other stakeholders have a list of people who they want to introduce me to. When I get to meet new people, it’s nice to have some sit-down time and really get to know what their vision is for the community and with United Way,” said O’Doherty.

Whether it’s working to help his community or working with his hands, O’Doherty is rarely standing still. In his free time, he enjoys working on motorcycles, listening to live music, socializing with friends, and, most of all, playing hockey.

O’Doherty was particularly interested in visiting the many hockey arenas in the Region when he moved to the area.

“I absolutely love playing hockey,” O’Doherty said. “I play year-round. When I was in Arizona, I would drive two hours away twice a week to play. Here I've already been to two arenas–the one in South Bend and the one in Dyer.”

At United Way, O’Doherty is looking to push the organization forward and expand its reach within the community. He strongly believes that being an active member of the community is the best way to meet people and to find a solution that truly makes a difference in their lives.

“I have an open-door policy. Anyone can reach out, if I’m available, I’m happy to chat. I don't ever base someone’s importance on a hierarchical scale. Everybody's important at every level,” said O’Doherty.

With such a community-minded leader as the head of United Way of Northwest Indiana, the organization will positively continue to be a beacon of hope for many in the Region.

For more information about United Way of Northwest Indiana, visit https://unitedwaynwi.org/