You are hereJulie Knepper-Updyke ('03)

Julie Knepper-Updyke ('03)

Julie Knepper-Updyke ('03)

1. Basic Information:
Name: Julie Knepper-Updyke
Title: Business Unit Liaison
Organization: United Way for Southeastern Michigan
City: Detroit
State: Michigan
Country: U.S.A.

2. Educational Record:
At Marietta College:
Graduation Year: 2003
Major(s): English and History
Minor(s): Leadership and Religion
Honors/Awards: Community Service Award, English Honors Society, History Honors Society, Greek Honors Society.

Degrees after Marietta College:
Area of Study: Certificate in Secondary Education
College/University: University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education
Graduation Year: 2005

Area of Study: Master’s Certificate in Non-Profit Management
College/University: Lawrence Technological Institute School of Business
Graduation Year: Expected 11/2009

3. Describe your organization and what you do in this organization (job responsibilities, recent projects, work environment).

United Way for Southeastern Michigan (UWSEM) mobilizes the caring power of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties to improve lives in measurable and lasting ways. We are a leader in convening partners to impact local residents each year and focus on Educational Preparedness, Financial Stability and Basic Needs. Additional information is available at

I have a few different roles:

I work in the Fund Development department. This department manages the relationships that United Way has developed over the years and cultivates new relationships with individuals in the community.

My official role is that of Business Unit Liaison. It’s my job to make sure the lines of communication are open between the Fund Development department and those working in the Business Units. I work to find ways to translate our work to our donors. I coordinate Open Houses, Impact Tours and make sure our fundraisers have all the information they need to be successful.

I also support a program called Leadership Next. My CEO charged us with figuring out what “meaningful engagement looks like for the next generation.” Leadership Next is what we’re creating to figure out the answer to that question.

One aspect of the program is supporting emerging talent in the region to get connected to community and civic leadership opportunities. We have a leadership gap in Detroit, so we’re working to build trust between the generations of leaders- and show emerging talent the opportunities available to them.

We’re getting closer to our goal. What we’ve created is a way for individuals who want to be part of Detroit’s revitalization to learn more about how community and corporate partners are moving the region forward- and find the opportunity that best suits their needs and skill set, so they become part of the solution.

4. Briefly discuss how "leadership" plays a role in your professional field.

United Way solves complex social issues. To do this you must think differently about old problems. This means having a point of view on the issues that matter most to our community and standing behind that point of view- even when it’s hard or unpopular. Everyday, there is an opportunity to move the needle on our work- and everyone here has a responsibility to find the best ways to drive progress.

5. Briefly discuss how the McDonough Leadership Program prepared you for this professional field and leadership challenges.

I think of McDonough often in my work! It could be a conversation about international volunteerism- in which case I can cite my trips to Hungary or Brazil with the Leadership program. (I honestly think the only reason the VP approved my hire was because of those two trips…)

Or, it could be a difficult situation where you must balance various priorities, points of view and desired outcomes. That’s when I think of my Leadership classes and the exposure I had to the philosophies of leadership. The lessons learned through reading and (sometimes tough) conversations in class stuck with me. It is this background that helped me maintain perspective. This allowed me to help groups reach consensus without alienating relationships. In the Fund Development world- you cannot exist without relationships!

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