For over a century, United Way of Greater St. Louis has been building long-lasting partnerships with individuals, companies and community partners who value helping neighbors in need. Continuous support of United Way is the cornerstone of our success, and over the past three decades Chairman and Founder of World Wide Technology, Dave Steward, is at the center. At the WWT employee kickoff, United Way President and CEO, Michelle Tucker and Steward told the story of how his involvement with United Way started during their fireside chat.
It all began with what Steward thought was a simple meeting, but when United Way’s former President and CEO, Charmaine Chapman, asked him to get involved, she wouldn’t take no for an answer.
“She wouldn’t leave my office,” Steward laughed. “She was the ultimate salesperson, but she didn’t have to sell too hard because we were aligned. We leaned into the belief that we were making the community healthier with the investments we were making.”
After that meeting, United Way became one of the first charitable organizations World Wide Technology
, and its employees supported and have continued to do so for the last 25 years. Steward began serving as a leader in the Charmaine Chapman Society, named after the former CEO, and is the nation’s premier Black Leadership Society. He would also decide to lead the annual community campaign as chair in 2005.
“When you support United Way, you are supporting the entire United Way ecosystem – the more than 160 nonprofits they support and the 1 million people they serve every year,” said Steward. “United Way is also efficient about using the dollars they receive from the community. They are a good steward over the donations they receive, and your dollars are going directly to the people who most need your gracious assistance.”
Steward and his family remain among the largest philanthropic donors per year to United Way, and his longtime partnership remained steadfast when Michelle Tucker’s tenure began as United Way President and CEO because he values her servant leadership.
“The bottom line to every great organization is great leadership and Michelle is an incredible leader,” said Steward. “You invest in leadership because you realize the importance and value of a great leader. Michelle’s commitment to serving the community is evident. We know we got it right when we chose her to lead United Way of Greater St. Louis.”
Tucker’s commitment was tested early, less than a year on the job the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
And just as Champman asked Steward to lean in years earlier, so did Tucker. During the most difficult period in United Way history, Tucker asked Steward to help chair the 2020 community campaign a second time.
“There was a lot more empathy because our community knew that a lot of people were hurting,” said Dave. “We were that comforting voice that said to our community, ‘We’ve got you; we’re going to support you, our organization is going to be an integral part in making sure that we uplift and help the people that are struggling in our community.”
Steward led an “A team” comprised of Kathy Osborn, President and CEO of the Regional Business Council, Warner Baxter, former Chairman, President and CEO of Ameren Corporation, and Penny Pennington, Managing Partner of Edward Jones and United Way’s largest company campaign to unite our region. Each of them played a critical role and executed one of the most successful community campaigns in history that positioned United Way of Greater St. Louis as one of the number-one giving campaigns among all United Ways nationwide.
“As an organization, United Way appreciates the Steward family’s unwavering commitment to the region. We are honored and grateful for the opportunity to work closely with Dave and his family to manage their philanthropy. Dave’s generosity and confidence in United Way inspire WWT employees annually to participate in their corporate giving campaign assisting millions of neighbors across the region to live their best possible lives. Steward truly is a philanthropic champion committed to United Way and the communities we serve,” said Tucker.