By Carissa Woytach, United Way of Greater Cleveland Staff Writer
Editor’s Note: While we focus on our work in the community and rarely shine a spotlight on ourselves, this series is designed to put faces and names to the great and challenging work United Way does every day.
Calvin Wood brings decades of corporate experience to his role as director of relationship management and Workplace One with United Way of Greater Cleveland.
Wood began as a loan executive, working in the public sector with city governments, school districts and unions. He currently works with a team of relationship managers to raise the money that helps fund United Way of Greater Cleveland’s Community Impact programming. Wood and his team advocate for companies to become involved in United Way’s mission, he said.
“Our charge is to raise money so that our volunteers in Community Impact can make decisions about allocating those dollars to agencies that request program funding,” Wood said.
Wood, who has been with the organization for 13 years, came to United Way of Greater Cleveland with a background in retail management. He worked for Kroger Co. in Houston, Texas, and Finast Supermarkets in Cleveland. He later transitioned from Finast — which converted to a Tops Supermarket — to a manager at BJ’s Wholesale Club.
Wood began as part of the Comprehensive Employment Training Act program in New Jersey. As his career progressed, he came back to nonprofit work to make a difference in the community.
“You might say I’ve gravitated back to my first love,” he said. “As life moves along and family situation evolves, with my children, you start to bring life more into focus, in terms of what is really important in life. Working in a position that I feel is meaningful for the community, I have an opportunity, in some small way, to give back to the community, I find that at United Way, as opposed to driving sales and profit for a retail corporation.”
Not an island
Wood said he enjoys working with people and providing customer service. He said he recognizes the role his team plays in United Way’s structure.
“The favorite thing for me, in my career — regardless of what organization I’ve worked with — has been working with the people that are in my work space, my peers, [and] also working with customers and clients,” Wood said. “Recognizing that none of us are an island, we are dependent upon each other to accomplish goals, objectives, strategies, to help our organization more forward.”
Wood’s dedication to the people around him is shown through his work outside of United Way of Greater Cleveland. He participates in ministries with his church, Abundant Grace Fellowship, and other volunteer opportunities. He is also involved with the church’s youth education ministry.
These ministries branch into another passion for Wood, cycling. He enjoys outdoor activities, including golf and riding his 1995 Fuji Thrill mountain bike, which he purchased from Ohio City Bike Co-Op. On some Saturday mornings, he participates in a “Walk, Run and Bike,” ministry, where members put in 10 to 15 miles on the Valley View Metro Park trails.
While his children are all grown, Wood and his wife, Carolyn, talk to them often. His two daughters, Cristin and Crystal, live out of state, while his son, Cristopher, is still in Cleveland.
Neil Bloomberg, director of annual campaigns, said he hired Wood for his loan executive expertise. He said Wood has showed his commitment to United Way’s mission in his years here.
“Calvin is completely devoted and committed to the work that we do,” Bloomberg said. “He strongly believes in doing good for the community and for man. He provides superb customer service to all of his accounts and does everything he can to help them bring out the best in their campaigns.”
Compassionate and driven
Chris Morgan, a relationship manager for United Way of Greater Cleveland’s account with the Cleveland Clinic, has worked with Wood since she was hired more than nine years ago.
They started working together in the East market loan executive team, before transitioning to Work One, which manages larger engagement accounts for United Way of Greater Cleveland. Wood trusts that his coworkers will manage their accounts efficiently, Morgan said.
“He gives you your space to do your own work and trusts that you’re going to get the work done,” she said. “Calvin is interested in the success of his team. So that makes him compassionate and driven to see us succeed.”
Whatever the future holds for Wood, he said he sees himself being happy and content, dedicated to making time for his family and community.
“The one thing that has come more into focus for me, especially raising a family and watching my kids grow into young adults, that it’s important to not lose sight of family, friends and relationships that you value,” he said. “So I think my heart’s desire, in the next five years, is to grow into a higher level of contentment, with those key, core things.
“I have passion for working with the people at United Way, and feeling in my heart of hearts that I’m doing good work for our community; there is nothing that exceeds my passion and my commitment to my family and my friends.”