Gary Henderson is the president and CEO of United Way of Denton County. He has also served on other organizations throughout his career, such as Communities in Schools of North Texas. Previously he worked as a senior manager at Price Waterhouse and at Bank of America as a senior vice president, leading the private bank technology and operations team. Below, Henderson talks about his role with United Way of Denton County.
Where did you grow up and go to school?
Huntington Beach, California
California State University, Long Beach
How did you become involved with United Way of Denton County?
United Way was a meaningful part of my early career at Price Waterhouse and Bank of America. It was when I joined Communities in Schools of North Texas, a partner of United Way of Denton County, that I saw firsthand how important United Way of Denton County is to our local nonprofits and our community. Throughout my career, at every job, I have had the opportunity to speak on behalf of United Way and our community needs. Since joining United Way of Denton County as president and CEO in 2011, every day has been rewarding and full of rich experiences working alongside the very best nonprofits and caring businesses in Denton County.
What all do you do as president and CEO?
As CEO of United Way of Denton County, I have the joy of leading a dynamic, multi-faceted nonprofit organization focused on improving and transforming lives across Denton County. I travel across this county seeking out new alliances for our network of partners to strategically address the interconnected, complex needs of our community such as mental health, homelessness and financial instability. We forge county-wide, cross-sector collaborations to reduce duplication, increase efficiencies and leverage donations. No two days are the same. It is gratifying and challenging.
How did your passion for serving the community begin?
Community service has always been a part of our family. But the desire to make it my career originated from annual spring break trips our church youth group took to Mexico to build homes for people experiencing homelessness. I longed to capture the significance of those trips in my professional life.
What do people need to know about United Way of Denton County's mission?
Our mission to improve and transform lives can only be achieved when all of Denton County makes a commitment to LIVE UNITED. Donors, volunteers, businesses, governments and nonprofits all need to work together in a coordinated and collaborative way focused on data-driven solutions that deliver results.
Are there any new/upcoming initiatives about the organization you would like to share?
United Way of Denton County has recently expanded our fundraising activities in Southern Denton County – Carrollton, The Colony, Lewisville, Highland Village and Flower Mound. This expansion will enable new partnerships to increase our ability to help more people. When companies and organizations invite United Way of Denton County to meet with their employees, we share resources, discuss community needs, and give personnel the opportunity to invest in our community through payroll deduction donations to United Way of Denton County.
What accomplishments of the organization are you most proud of?
United Way of Denton County excels at bringing the community together, across public and private sectors. We empower donors, volunteers, businesses, governments, nonprofits, faith-based organizations and community groups to collaborate and invest in neighbors for a better Denton County. The success and impact of our three leadership teams - Denton County Homelessness Leadership Team, Denton County Behavioral Health Leadership Team, Denton County Workforce Success Leadership Team – demonstrate the effectiveness of these collaborations in addressing complex, interconnected county-wide issues like mental health, financial insecurity, and homelessness.
Looking forward, what's your biggest goal for United Way of Denton County?
In addition to our commitment to make homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring for hundreds of people experiencing homelessness in Denton County, we are committed to ending veteran homelessness in Denton County by 2020. In terms of fundraising, we are implementing strategies to significantly increase fundraising across Denton County. The financial needs of our network of nonprofits are nearly double that of our current annual fundraising, which means people with critical needs are not being helped.
What was your favorite part about being involved with Communities In Schools of North Texas?
I truly loved the time I led Communities in Schools of North Texas! Our team grew the organization to help more at-risk children find success at school which sets the stage for success in life.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’m arguably addicted to the gym. Our days at United Way of Denton County can be stressful and our goals are aggressive that I choose to start every day with a good workout at the gym. It clears my head, sets the tempo for the day and lets me be around people who are dedicated and committed.
Who's your favorite football team?
I have several favorite teams. Our son coaches at Liberty Christian School, I support our United Way of Denton County partner UNT’s Mean Green football team, and I split my NFL loyalties between the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Rams.