An interview with Fred Payne

Three weeks on the job as leader of United Way of Central Indiana, I admit, I’m already astounded.

Astounded by the importance of United Way of Central Indiana’s role in our seven-county community; the support from the passionate United Way staff and board, who are eager to bring me up to date on our impact initiatives, fundraising strategies and advocacy efforts; and the kindness of hundreds of friends, colleagues, donors, civic and nonprofit leaders, and folks I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet who emailed me their personal congratulations upon my appointment as president and CEO.

As of this writing, I’ve been asked on several occasions: Who is Fred Payne? Why did I choose this leadership role? What is my vision for United Way? And, my favorite question, Is a hot dog a sandwich? Below, I’m happy to oblige!

Who is Fred Payne?
I am the youngest of eight children. I’m from Louisiana and spent most of my younger days in the South. Indiana became my home upon graduation from IU Law School, where I met my bride, Kelly. Four children and many professional affiliations later, my family and I are proud Hoosiers by choice.

Why lead United Way?
After nearly five years as commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, I felt better equipped to understand the needs facing our communities. Every day, I saw individuals who wanted to live the best lives they were capable of but were held back by a lack of basic needs, education, training and opportunity. Building on the great work of my predecessors, I’m looking forward to opening the doors to new opportunities for United Way to help people in a deliberate and focused manner and strengthening new partnerships along the way.

What is my vision for United Way?
With only a few weeks under my belt, I can safely say that my big vision is to create greater partnership between government and nonprofit organizations in a strategic, intentional way. We are called United Way for a reason — we cannot fight poverty as a single entity. Central Indiana is a place filled with diversity of thought, brain power to move ideas to action, and compassionate people willing to support others.

This month, I’m traveling across United Way’s entire service area of Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Marion, Morgan and Putnam counties for a series of free Community Meet-and-Greet events. I hope to introduce myself to as many passionate individuals as possible and better understand the needs we face and the opportunities we have as a community. If you live or work near any of these Community Meet-and-Greet locations, please reserve your spot and join us!

Is a hot dog a sandwich?
Speaking of astounded, I never realized my “rapid fire” questions could raise such great debate!

Thanks for all you do to support our communities. It’s a pleasure to join you, work with you, and serve in Central Indiana’s nonprofit sector.