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Spotlight: Chairman of the Board Marc Byrnes

Board chairman has personal United Way story

Marc Byrnes Headshot
The board chairman of United Way of Greater Cleveland is a living testament to the power of United Way’s philanthropy.

Orphaned at birth and placed into foster care, Marc Byrnes, chairman of Oswald Companies, credits a United Way-funded agency for setting him on a blessed path.

“The wonderful social workers at Bellefaire navigated my successful adoption into a loving family,” Byrnes said. “Fifty-three years later, ironically, while serving with Chris Connor [of Sherwin-Williams] as co-chairs of the 2007-08 recession-proof United Way campaign, a social media article miraculously reunited me with my birth mother and four full-blooded siblings. Today, I am honored and beyond humbled to carry the baton of many of my heroes who served in this important role before me.”

Byrnes said he knows there are seemingly countless charitable causes, but United Way is distinguished by a special resource.

“What sets United Way apart as a charity is … people.”

“Dating back to the late 1890s our United Way was founded under the name Cleveland Associated Charities. In 1913, Clevelanders established the first modern Community Chest, the precursor of today’s United Way of Greater Cleveland, which recognized the value, impact and benefit of collective giving and became the national model of federated fundraising. For well over a century, our community’s civic, charitable and business leaders collaboratively and collegially raised the consciousness of entire populations with generous donor bases led by such remarkable leaders from Samuel Mather to Mandell de Windt to Mort Mandel to Sandy Cutler and many more.”

Byrnes said these United Way chairmen “galvanized multiple generations of donors and synchronized a steadfast corporate donor base atypical among our peer cities. Our United Way and only our unique Cleveland-based United Way truly serves as the standalone non-partisan charity of charities, overseeing and allocating funding to those in need.”

While he is firmly planted in the corporate world, Byrnes retains a strong connection to the individuals United Way serves.

“We are the umbrella of protection for our families and children by guaranteeing opportunity, safety and security via our annual campaign, collaboration and community impact.”

“Our strategy is simple and consistent. We will thank and recognize our generous donor base via our enthusiastic, highly energized, engaged and educated volunteers and staff; we will reinforce the importance and differentiation of our brand by creating a communication platform that will succinctly tell our story and motivate the community to take action. Our message will be unavoidable…we will be everywhere. All the while we will continue to build meaningful relationships and develop programming focused on educating our children, creating job opportunities and nurturing healthy families (physically, mentally and financially).” Byrnes, who will serve as United Way of Greater Cleveland board chairman through September 2018, has a clear vision for the organization.

“The only security we create in life is the security we create for others as well as ourselves. That is the mission and mandate of a caring community. That is the mission and mandate of our United Way.”

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