A message from Brian Shelley, CEPO

A message from Brian Shelley, CEPO

Over 60 years ago United Way Simcoe Muskoka began working to improve lives and create lasting change in our local communities. The organization has evolved and changed but that mission remains the same. As the incoming Chief Executive and Philanthropy Officer, I am honoured to be a part of this mission and intend to further the good work done before me.

The first order of business is to introduce myself and share my commitment to keeping you informed on the work we are doing here in Simcoe Muskoka. I will be providing you with regular updates through this blog, email updates, and our UWSM (United Way Simcoe Muskoka) social media channels.  

A little about me. 

My wife Maaike and I have two young sons and love living in this part of Ontario. 

My career has been rooted in the not-for-profit world where I’ve been able to gain over twenty years of leadership experience. I am excited to bring this experience to UWSM and join the efforts of our staff, volunteers, and community partners as we work together to strengthen communities across our region.  

Previously I was a member of the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka’s Leadership Team where, over the years, I held the following portfolios: operations, government relations, youth engagement, philanthropy & fund development, marketing & communications, and asset management. I have also held leadership positions with the YMCAs of Eastern Ontario and Southwestern Ontario.  

I am committed to being a transparent leader who values honesty, fairness, and bringing a sense of humour to the workplace.  

A little about why I’m here. 

One of the first questions that I am asked when I share my new assignment with United Way is what attracted me to this organization. It is a question that I have thought about a lot. At the end of the day, it comes down to community impact, appetite for innovation, and organizational values 

Every year UWSM helps some of the most vulnerable people in the communities we serve. We do this by supporting our community partners and providing direct service to individuals through many of our own initiatives. The numbers reported in our 2020-2021 Annual Report are staggering: 

  • In partnership with YWCA Muskoka, The Gilbert Centre, and Catholic Family Services Simcoe County, the United Way connected 927 individuals to mental health supports 
  • In partnership with 12 organizations, the United Way supported 2,513 vulnerable seniors through the New Horizons Program 
  • The United Way assisted 82,148 people through 61 local projects as part of the Federal Government’s Emergency Community Support Fund 
  • 1,337 people were provided with housing through the Reaching Home project which is administered across Ontario by the United Way 
  • 1,082 Simcoe/Muskoka residents were assisted through the United Way’s Urgent Needs Fund 
  • Over 100 individuals were provided with much-needed help by the United Way-funded Furniture Bank and Youth Call projects 
  • 5,480 low-income households were supported through the United Way’s Social Enterprise: the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) 

To our donors, sponsors, and funders – thank you. Without your support, we would not be able to deliver on our commitment to improve lives and build communities. 

Over the years, what has impressed me most about our local United Way is how it has evolved its service model to have the greatest impact on the community. The Low-Income Assistance Program is a prime example of this; UWSM operates an inbound call centre, assisting eligible households experiencing challenges with energy costs by connecting them to the appropriate financial support. By administering these programs on behalf of Ontario utility companies, UWSM earns revenue that in turn, supports our charitable mission. There is no other United Way in Canada delivering this type of program and it speaks to our staff and board of directors’ shared commitment to finding new ways to raise funds in support of the communities we serve.  

Finally, it is the values of United Way Simcoe Muskoka that resonated with me. It’s important to me to work for an organization whose values are consistent with my own, and those that I strive to instill in my kids. I have long been impressed by UWSM’s commitment to being a living wage employer – this speaks to the organization’s commitment to “walking the talk” when it comes to addressing poverty and equity in our community, and is an example of making business decisions that are rooted in our values.  

I look forward to keeping you up to date as I progress through my journey of learning and listening over the next three months, moving through the onboarding process with this incredible local charity. If you would like to reach out to me directly with questions or topics you would like me to discuss as part of this blog, I invite you to drop me an email at bshelley@uwsimcoemuskoka.ca 

Bria n Shelley
Brian Shelley
Chief Executive & Philanthropy Officer
United Way Simcoe Muskoka

When we work together on important community issues, the results are game-changing. 

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