Mara Downing

UWQC Announces Mara Downing as New Board Chair

United Way Quad Cities has named Mara Downing, vice president of global brand and communications, John Deere, as its new Board of Directors chair.

A native of the Quad Cities, Downing has served on the board since 2018, and as a 2020 Community Campaign Tri-Chair helped raise $7,133,520, which surpassed the 2019 total. 

Downing, who has been in her VP role with John Deere since 2019, has responsibility for brand management, brand licensing, corporate citizenship, and the John Deere Foundation. In addition to UWQC, her public service includes serving on the boards of the John Deere Classic, Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, and other nonprofit organizations. She will serve a two-year term as chair.

“In her ongoing service to United Way Quad Cities, Mara has shown true dedication to tackling barriers for success for Quad Citizens, and we are excited and honored to have someone of her caliber, experience and drive leading the charge to advance equity and improve education, income and health outcomes in the Quad Cities,” said UWQC President and CEO Rene Gellerman. “Mara’s leadership will be a vital component of forward progress on our work toward Rise United, our 10-year blueprint and strategic framework to improve lives and community conditions.” 

“I am honored to be charged with a role so important to United Way Quad Cities’ continued success and its impact in the community,” said Downing. “My fellow board members and I are dedicated to building a more equitable, resilient, and prosperous Quad Cities community, and together, we will continue working toward a future in which all Quad Citizens, regardless of race or ZIP code, have the opportunity and access to achieve their full potential.”

Downing also recognized the service and leadership of Linda Bowers, outgoing chair, who has served on the board intermittently over the course of 30 years.

“We all want to thank Linda for her invaluable leadership and guidance over the past three decades, as we have worked on strategies and impact areas to put opportunity in the hands of every Quad Citizen. Most recently, she guided us in our introduction of United for Equity, which increased awareness to racial inequities and built community and political will to address them, and our COVID-19 Fund, through which 67 grants were awarded. We have been fortunate to have her and appreciate all that she has done for United Way.”

New Board Members

In addition to naming its new chair, United Way Quad Cities also announced the addition of six new members who will serve on the board at large. Board terms are renewable for three consecutive terms.

  • Dr. Reginald Lawrence, superintendent, Rock Island–Milan School District 
  • Ty Lewis, student, St. Ambrose University, and intern, Quad City Bank & Trust
  • Maria Ontiveros, human resources generalist, Group O 
  • Dr. Yolanda Grandberry-Pugh, English teacher, Rock Island High School 
  • Kerry Smith, CEO, ChalkBites, Inc. 
  • Mary Pat Tubb, general manager, John Deere Works

UWQC Board of Directors members govern the volunteer-led organization by envisioning goals, direction-setting for the organization, and ensuring results. The board represents United Way in the region, brings the public voice to the organization’s decision-making, and is charged with stewardship and accountability to maintain the trust of the community.

“These outstanding individuals are successful leaders in their fields, bring a diverse body of expertise, and all of them bring a strong desire to help address the very real challenges that people are facing right here in the Quad Cities,” said Gellerman. “And, while we are thrilled to welcome these members to our board, we also want to take this time to thank our outgoing board members for their dedicated service. Their leadership has helped us make important strides in addressing systemic challenges that keep people from living their best life.”

Outgoing Board Members

  • Linda Bowers
  • Don Doucette
  • Tom Schuetz
  • Rich Wehrheim

For a complete list of the United Way Quad Cities’ board members, visit here.

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