Kaisha Brown takes helm as United Way campaign chair

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, July 3, 2024

SALISBURY — To lead its fundraising campaign for the upcoming year, Rowan County United Way tapped a local figure who knows a thing or two about getting the word out. 

Last week, the local nonprofit organization announced that Salisbury Communications Coordinator Kaisha Brown would serve as the campaign chair.

In the role, Brown will spearhead the annual effort to raise funds for various local health and human service programs. The campaign, held every fall, is crucial for the organization, which relies heavily on donations and dedicated volunteers.

Raised funds support 21 local programs addressing mental health, substance use, healthy lifestyle behaviors and basic needs. Last year, those funds enabled United Way to serve 77,304 individuals, representing more than 50 percent of Rowan County’s population.

This latest foray with the United Way is hardly her first. Brown is a long-time supporter of the organization, having been involved with the annual campaign as a volunteer in the campaign cabinet and as a board member. In 2022, she was awarded the Campaign Champion Award, along with Rodney Harrison, for their efforts in co-chairing the public employees division. There are several divisions, spearheaded by local individuals who help get the word out. Brown indicated that her experiences prepped her to take on the expanded role. 

“Instead of just focusing on public employees division, I will be over multiple divisions and working with the division chairs,” Brown said. “From that aspect, it’s different. I am going to be productive and going to be with the division chairs as they meet with the organizations under their umbrella.

“I plan to have the same approach of being there, showing up and listening, and telling people about United Way and working collectively with the division leaders.”

Rowan County United Way Philanthropy Director Audrey Eudy called Brown a natural fit for the position.

“I knew after last year’s campaign that I wanted her to run a campaign at some point,” Eudy said. “I watched her leadership and watched how well she could motivate a room.

“It turned out this year to be the perfect timing. She makes a great leader. I think one of the best things I like about Kaisha is she is genuinely vested in raising these funds for the community. She is all about community. That is where her heart lies and it just fit perfectly for her to be the campaign chair and lead the efforts to raise funds for this community.”

As a fundraising campaign, Eudy said the annual endeavor takes on a community approach. 

“The fall campaign is not (Rowan County United Way staff) raising money, its the community raising money,” Eudy said. “That is why we have all those public-facing folks who stand up and run this campaign.”

That community investment appealed to Brown and made saying yes to the job that much easier. 

“United Way works collaboratively with other community organizations to empower and improve the lives of community members who need it most,” Brown said. “United Way’s mission aligns with my values, and I am proud to be part of the team that is creating sustainable, positive change in Rowan County.”

This year’s campaign theme is “Building Community Together,” featuring puzzle pieces to symbolize collective effort.

“The power of communities coming together is like a puzzle, where each piece (person) finds its place and contributes to the bigger picture,” Brown said. “Even if things need to be rearranged, they eventually fit together to form a positive outcome. It’s through working together that we can truly build a stronger community.”

Core support

Brown compiled a message of support for the campaign that Eudy shared.

“As we navigate the complexities/intricacies of community support, we are reminded of the power that comes when people work together, each contributing their unique piece to the puzzle. Since 1956, the Rowan County United Way has been at the cornerstone, bringing individuals together along with businesses and organizations to address the most critical needs in our community,” the message read. “Like pieces of a puzzle coming together, our mission at Rowan County United Way is to lead by mobilizing resources, making a lasting impact on those in need, and shaping a better future for everyone. Working in partnership and through giving, we can each lend a hand to our neighbors.

“Just as each piece of a puzzle contributes to the finished project, we can all come together to build a healthy, thriving and equitable community. As a community change agent, your financial gift to the Rowan County United Way will make a difference in the lives of individuals and families creating a positive impact that resonates throughout Rowan County.”

Brown encouraged potential donors with the promise that 100 percent of those contributions stay in Rowan County.

“Together, let’s continue to build communities where everyone has the opportunity to thrive,” she said. 

Brown’s background

As Salisbury’s communications coordinator, Brown has made significant contributions to the communication department’s award-winning video, print and social media projects. Her work has been recognized by the North Carolina City & County Communicators (NC3C) Excellence in Communications Awards and the Hermes Creative Awards.

Brown is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mass communication and journalism. She also holds an advanced public information officer certification from the Federal Emergency Management Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

Outside of work, Brown is an active community member, serving as a crisis counselor and on the boards of the Rowan County Literacy Council and Rowan County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Rowan Program. She is also the current president of NC3C and a member of the Salisbury-Rowan NAACP.

Next man up

Eudy said of Brown that her “presence illuminates any room, and her words continuously motivate our volunteers, making her the ideal leader for this year’s campaign. 

So, how does one replace that level of enthusiasm and dedication?

Turning to another active member of the previous year’s campaigns, Brown suggested Spencer Town Manager Peter Franzese to Eudy as a possible replacement as the public employee division leader alongside Harrison. 

“He ran the Spencer campaign last year, Eudy said. “He did a tremendous job. He is another one of those people who is all in. We asked him to co-chair with Rodney. He said yes and did not even hesitate. He will run the Spencer campaign as well as helping with the public employee division.

For more information on the 2024-2025 campaign, please visit www.rowanunitedway.org and follow Rowan County United Way on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and X (Twitter).