Kim Donahue has been a force for good in the Central Indiana nonprofit community for decades. In December 2017, she retired from a career that spanned more than a decade as director of agency services at United Way of Central Indiana. Executives from hundreds of agencies have lauded her for the support she gives them in running their organizations. Her colleagues and her direct reports describe her as an encouraging mentor who delivers tough messages with kindness.
In her nominations from the Central Indiana community, executives from all over Indianapolis describe her as a skilled professional who creatively helps them identify partners and funding sources, asks questions that lead agency executives to solutions to build their administrative capacity and coaches them on how to enhance their communications. More than that, she has been described as a “cheerleader and encourager,” always ready to challenge where necessary, explore ideas and champion the organizations that serve the most vulnerable people in the community.
When asked how she felt about being described as a hero, Donahue laughed. “Being called a hero from these leaders is ironic. The most striking thing about them is that they have the same personal lives we all do, with problems and challenges outside their work that could easily affect them on a day-to-day basis, but they don’t allow it. Every day they step up to those frontlines and deal with some of the most difficult situations people face despite it all. They have dedicated their lives to people and have made their communities a better place to live. That’s a hero to me.”
For more than 30 years, Donahue has dedicated her life to helping people – from teaching high school students in Chicago to teaching agencies and the executives who run them how to be as powerful as they can be. She describes herself as a helper, inspired by the words of Mr. Rogers when he suggested we “look for the helpers” when things get tough, and she isn’t stopping now. For Donahue, retirement is “rehirement.” She is now spending her time as a consultant, coaching, caring and helping the helpers she so admires to be the best they can be. Her hope for the future is simple: that we could raise the quality of life for everyone. “It’s a big goal, but big goals are something we can all relate to!”