Ira Murray-CEO/President-United Way Greater Capital Region

Amanda Fontaine introduced our speaker Ira Murray.  Murray earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in 2002, a master's degree in education with a focus on human, organizational and community development from Vanderbilt University in 2004, and a doctorate in administrative and policy studies in education from the University of Pittsburgh in 2018.


He has been a K. Leroy Irvis Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education and Center for Urban Education since 2014. He is also a doctoral candidate in UP's Department of Administrative and Policy Studies, where he specializes in issues such as race, equity, and achievement in urban schools and communities.  Murray is a member of the American Educational Research Association and the American Educational Studies Association, and has also served on the boards of organizations such as the Greater Jackson Chamber partnership and the Young Professionals Alliance of Greater Jackson.  The Mississippi Business Journal named him as one of its "Top 40 Under 40" business leaders in 2014, and the University of Pittsburgh Center on Race and Social Problems awarded him with its doctoral student paper award in 2015.


Murray opened his presentation by having everyone who had ever participated with anything to do with the United Way stand up, nearly 100% of the members stood.  United Way touches all walks of life.  The mission of the United Way is to improve lives and build communities by uniting individuals with the will, passion, expertise, and resources needed to solve problems.  Murray went on to say that our vision for United Way of the Capital Area is simple – to address the issues of today while preparing for the issues of tomorrow and the day after. We can achieve this vision by harnessing the collective energy and building the aggregate capacity of our communities through multi-sector partnerships aimed at achieving measurable outcomes. Our focus on gaps in opportunities – rather than simply gaps in achievement – allows us to pinpoint institutional and structural impediments to success that many families encounter. Our commitment to diversity and equity means that we value diverse experiences, perspectives, and voices and invite them to the table as we work to improve lives through the caring power of communities.  To do this United Way looks at four areas:  globalization, migration, demographics and digital technologies.  Philanthropy looks and acts differently today as a result of mega giving, social networks and disaster crisis (corporation with social responsibility).  The goal is to connect people who need to people who want to help and use resources provided by companies with social responsibility,


What is United Way?  United Way is a local organization with autonomy to make decisions that affect the community they serve.  The United Way are conveners of multi-sector partners and an organization that provides opportunities.  The United Way is not a chapter of a central organization; not all things to all people and not a pass-through organization.  The United Way focuses on inclusion, belonging and diversity.  The United Way of the Capital region believes they are uniquely positioned to spearhead social change and we cannot piece meal social change. 


LIVE UNITED is not just a slogan – it is who we are. It is what we do. And, it is how we will advance the common good in our community.