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United for our Futures: Building 100 Years of Trust

Meet Gail James


Meet the long-time United Way employee looking after every penny generated through the United For Our Futures campaign.


When Gail James interviewed for her first role at United Way of Central Maryland, she was offered the job the same day. She immediately said yes.


Thirty years later, she’s still here. 


Although she and her colleagues in Accounting spend most of their time behind the scenes, it’s clear that Gail finds her job just as fulfilling as United Way’s frontline workers and volunteers


“Our jobs are all about stewardship and integrity,” says Gail, now VP and Chief Accounting Officer for United Way of Central Maryland. “Although we're not out there in the community visiting donors and clients, we still touch them with the work we do every day. By helping our coworkers with their budgets and preparing for a clean audit, we’re making sure every penny goes to the programs our donors have selected.” 


And sometimes, it’s just about giving people candy. 


Before the pandemic sent most of United Way’s employees to home offices, Gail’s desk was a gathering spot due to her bright personality—although the jars of candy and pretzels may have had something to do with it, too. 


“Gail James loves to celebrate people,” says Dan Mangiavellano, Vice President, Planned and Major Gifts,  who once caught her leaving a small gift on a colleague’s desk just to “brighten their day,” as she told him. A colleague once said she’s the happiest person he’d ever met: “I’ve never seen somebody smile while working on a budget,” he told Gail, as she and her team worked on 2023 financials.


Gail’s seen a lot of change in her 30 years—the organization has grown more flexible in the face of shifting community needs, and it’s increased its focus on diversity. 


Is Gail surprised at the early wave of donations in response to the United For Our Futures campaign?

“Not at all,” she says. “People in these communities have trusted United Way for a hundred years. And that’s why it’s so important for us to keep doing the careful work we do—to make sure that trust never goes away.” 


Know that your gift to our 100-year anniversary United For Our Futures campaign will be in good hands with Gail, and support our neighbors in Central Maryland.