United Way of Central Oregon Exec. Director announces retirement date


After 37 years of service for the United Way, with the last 33 as the Executive Director for the United Way of Central Oregon, Ken Wilhelm, has announced his retirement date of July 15, 2022.

Ken has been a pillar in the non-profit landscape in Central Oregon, connecting non-profits with needed resources and financial support.

Most recently, he oversaw the organization’s expansion from the Greater Bend area to Tri-County, supporting all of Central Oregon. He’s led the effort to develop a collaborative initiative to address childhood trauma and build resilience: TRACEs.

Ken built additional fundraising models for the United Way of Central Oregon, including leadership and planned giving programs and the corporate cornerstone program.

During his time as Executive Director, he’s led the United Way as it raised approximately $30M in community fundraising. From the 2-1-1 program to Tax Aid, VITA and Thrive have all benefited from Ken’s guidance and mentoring.

Board Chair, Susan Collins, noted Wilhelm’s efforts in developing innovative community partnerships to help improve the lives of so many in Central Oregon.

“Ken’s commitment to harnessing the collective energy of our volunteers, donors, service providers, and public officials over the past 3 decades has yielded immeasurable improvements in the well-being of those in our community. We are grateful for his unwavering passion for this organization, for his work to advance philanthropic giving, and for the work, he’s done to mentor and launch new nonprofits in Central Oregon.”

“Ken has been a connection between so many organizations and non-profits in Central Oregon, gently pushing us all to do better – together – for our fellow citizens. His effectiveness over the years has, in large part, been due to an unparalleled level of trust he has gained from leaders, policymakers, and everyday Central Oregonians who continually seek Ken’s guidance when it comes to answering that age-old question, “How can we help?” The region we call home is a significantly better place, due to Ken’s leadership and service. His expertise, humility, and sincere kindness will be truly missed,” stated Dan Stevens, Executive Vice President, PacificSource.

“I feel so lucky to have been of service in Central Oregon. The folks I’ve met along the way have made my career fulfilling. The varied work I’ve been able to do here has been such a thrill, from early work developing workplace campaigns to ongoing non-profit incubation and launching to the latest collective action work with the Central Oregon Health Council and so many others around TRACEs. I am privileged to have worked alongside so many amazing people, and I hope that my work has made a small difference in the lives of our Central Oregon neighbors,” stated Wilhelm.

A subcommittee of the Board will guide the search for a new Executive Director over the coming months.


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