Our Team

Karen Young, President & Chief Executive Officer

Karen Young

President & CEO

Karen Young joined United Way of Calgary and Area as vice president and chief operating officer in 2014. On April 26, 2016, United Way’s Board appointed Karen as president and chief executive officer, effective January 1, 2017.

Karen came to United Way from The City of Calgary where she served for 26 years as an award-winning leader. As the director of Community and Neighbourhood Services at The City, Karen led change management, strategic planning and policy, partnership management, funding and grant programs, financial administration, community relations, and program development initiatives. She was instrumental in securing $480 million to build four new recreation facilities in Calgary and led the Emergency Social Services efforts during the flood of 2013.

Karen is a visionary leader who believes that positive change begins at the community level and values partnerships and collaborations in achieving a common goal. Driven by her belief that all Calgarians have the right to a good quality of life, Karen is a catalyst for social change and has been serving our communities since the 1980’s, including on the Calgary Housing Company Board of Directors, Calgary TELUS Convention Centre Board of Directors, Trustee of the Burns Memorial Fund, and the Calgary Economic Development Advisory Group.

Prior to joining the executive team, Karen worked closely with United Way over the years on many projects including the Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative, Calgary AfterSchool, and the Calgary Local Immigration Partnership.

Karen holds a master’s certificate in municipal leadership and a Bachelor of General Studies in Leisure, Recreation, and Tourism.

Beth Gignac

Vice President & COO

Beth Gignac joined United Way of Calgary and Area as chief operating officer in 2016. With over 20 years of leadership experience working across government organizations in Alberta and Ontario, Beth is a high-energy, collaborative leader dedicated to building resilient communities.

Beth’s passion for collaboration and strategic visioning has made her an exceptional facilitator of change and catalyst for action. Her mission-based, emotionally-intelligent approach to leadership combined with an entrepreneurial approach to strategic planning and service development make her a great asset to United Way.

Malcolm Gowie, Chief Financial Officer

Malcolm Gowie

Chief Financial Officer

Malcolm Gowie has been the chief financial officer for United Way of Calgary and Area since 2004 and leads the Corporate Service function, which includes finance, human resources, technology, donation processing, and facilities used by United Way. He is also responsible for risk management and statutory compliance for the organization.

Malcolm has over 25 years of senior financial and business experience covering manufacturing and process industries, engineering, wholesale, retail, laboratory medicine, and non-profits. He has worked with organizations (from family-owned to billion-dollar enterprises) in periods of rapid growth, management buyout, mergers, and turnaround.

Malcolm is a chartered accountant, holds two bachelor’s degrees, and a master’s degree in leadership and training.

Rhonda Roth, Vice President, Individual Giving & Investor Relations

Rhonda Roth

Chief Development Officer

Rhonda Roth first joined United Way of Calgary and Area in 2010 as Director of Individual Giving. Now as Chief Development Officer, she is dedicated to building meaningful and trusted relationships with our donors, partner workplaces and foundations, and ensuring United Way has the resources to drive sustainable solutions to complex social issues. Working closely with all departments, Rhonda is responsible for developing and implementing integrated fundraising and giving plans for the initiatives, collaborations, and programs United Way funds.

Prior to joining United Way, Rhonda brought over a decade of fundraising experience serving at the University of British Columbia as an Associate Director in the Development program. Rhonda holds a Certificate in Fundraising Management from the British Columbia Institute of Technology, a Bachelor of Commerce, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Calgary.

Yvette Biggs, Vice President, Marketing & Communications

Yvette Biggs

Vice President, Marketing & Communications

Yvette Biggs first joined United Way of Calgary and Area in January 2017 as the director of Marketing, Media, and Communications. In August 2017, she accepted the position of vice president, Marketing, Media, and Communications.

Yvette has a passion for building teams of talented people and leading marketing initiatives that drive, reinforce, and sustain brand awareness. Yvette came to United Way from Alberta Health Services (AHS), where she worked for 12 years leading the development of strategic marketing initiatives. She is an accomplished professional and recognized leader with 20 years of experience in non-profit management, marketing, communications, and public relations.

A native of New Mexico, USA, Yvette has called Calgary home for the past 20 years and enjoys spending her free time with her husband Ray and cheering her son Jacob on at the U of C Dino’s football games.

Yvette holds bachelor’s degrees in economics and psychology and a Master of Business Administration degree.

Susan Brooke, Vice President, Community Impact & Partnerships

Susan Brooke

Vice President, Community Impact & Partnerships

Susan Brooke joined United Way of Calgary and Area in 2012 as a community impact planner in the senior and immigrant sectors. Now as vice president of Community Impact & Partnerships, she provides vision, leadership, and management skills to convene the social sector and collaboratively address complex social issues in our city.

Prior to joining United Way, Susan worked as a community development worker with The City of Calgary and a front-line social worker for a number of non-profit organizations.

Susan holds a master’s degree in social work and brings strong relationship management skills developed over 30 years of working in the non-profit sector.

Doris Toy-Pries, Vice President, Strategy

Doris Toy-Pries

Vice President, Strategy

Doris Toy-Pries joined United Way of Calgary and Area in 2016 as the vice president of Strategy and leads United Way’s capacity building, learning, and strategic initiatives. Doris also supports organizational alignment and planning, relationship and partnership management, knowledge management, and network mobilization.

Prior to joining United Way, Doris held management roles at the City of Calgary and Government of Canada. She has also worked at a number of non-profits where she was responsible for fostering and building community initiatives, collaborations, and government relations. She brings nearly 20 years of experience in community investments, strategic planning, policy development, relationship and partnership management, and change management.

Doris is originally from Quebec City and holds master’s degrees in counselling and health.

Virginia Baescu, Vice President, Finance

Virginia Baescu

Vice President, Finance

Virginia joined United Way in 2007 as the manager, financial reporting and analysis.
Recently appointed as vice president, finance, Virginia is providing leadership to a team of 15 people and is responsible for the stewardship, development, implementation and management of financial strategies.

Virginia brings over 20 years of experience in the charitable sector and before United Way she worked for Heritage Park Historical Village and Hull Child and Family Services.

Virginia is a chartered accountant, holds a bachelor’s degrees with major in finance, accounting and costs, and has extensive leadership and training experience.

Connie Hamilton, Vice President, Philanthropy & Operations

Connie Hamilton

Vice President, Philanthropy & Operations

Connie joined United Way of Calgary and Area in 2007 as a campaign manager. She has held numerous leadership roles within the organization. Now as vice president of philanthropy and operations, she uses those experiences to lead daily operations and relationship building for the resource development team. Working closely with all departments, Connie is responsible for establishing policies and relationships that promote United Way’s vision and impact.

Prior to joining United Way, Connie had 13 years of corporate experience in marketing. Born and raised in Calgary, Connie has strong ties to the community and a deep sense of responsibility to create positive change across our city.

soakleyOur Team