Highmark’s employees care about the communities in which they live, and their contributions to local United Way agencies reflect this. Highmark Health hosts an employee led and driven annual campaign across all regions to support local United Way agencies. United Way’s goal of boosting education, economic mobility and health resources aligns with Highmark’s mission; our employees are deeply involved in United Way campaigns and volunteer efforts.
The following reflects some of the employees that were able to make an impact for organizations and causes that they care about through the United Way, due to Highmark’s support:
Manager, Solution Activation, Product & Health Experience
Giving back to the community looks different for every person. Some choose to make monetary donations to charities that are important to them, while others lend their time and skills to programs that provide services to people in need.
Miles Urban, a Highmark employee working in solution activation has been an active volunteer with the United Way Campaign for years, donating to different organizations annually, mentoring a young man through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program several years ago, and serving on the Board of Directors of Ursuline Support Services — an organization that caters to the needs of adults, seniors and families suffering from abuse, neglect or financial and emotional distress — for seven years.
“When you donate your time, you’re adding so much capacity to these organizations to be able to get things done that they normally wouldn’t be able to,” said Urban. “You’re freeing them up to do the work that they do best.”
In his current role as Vice Chair of the Board, Miles leads Ursuline’s development committee and fundraising efforts. He spends a lot of his time searching for unrestricted fundraising opportunities that allow the organization to set aside money and resources for emergency needs that may pop up at any time for senior community members, like flooding in people’s homes, or a heater breaking in the middle of winter.
Over the years, Miles has been impressed with the diverse range of organizations and populations that United Way and its volunteers have impacted. “From A to Z, there’s no gap that United Way can’t fill as far as finding ways to donate money and time to people that need it,” said Urban.
Miles spends at least one day each year participating in a volunteer opportunity through United Way. These often coincide with Highmark workdays that are reserved for employees to spend time giving back to the community. In 2022, he spent a day with over two dozen colleagues to rake leaves to make the grounds accessible and beautify the land at The Woodlands in Wexford, Pa., a retreat designed to enrich the lives of adults and children with disabilities or chronic illnesses.
There are several ways that United Way’s mission, and the missions of the organizations it supports, align with the mission and values of Highmark.
“So much of Highmark’s focus in recent years has been on improving the health of individuals in the community. If everyone in the community gets stronger and healthier, then from United Way’s mission perspective, the self-reliance of the community also becomes stronger. If you strengthen every link in the chain, then the entire chain becomes stronger and is able to support itself.”
Senior Sales Executive
Through hands-on involvement with United Way and charities like Family Promise, a nation-wide organization that houses families in shelter facilities, Rob Jordan, senior sales executive for Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware, has become more aware of the tremendous need for health, housing and financial assistance in the communities around him.
“We all know the need is out there, but it’s not until you deal with the families one on one, that you see how desperate and dire some of that need is,” said Jordan.
During his time volunteering with Family Promise, he has brought in food and clothing donations for families, as well as cleaned shelters. Over the years, he was inspired to become even more involved with the organization, eventually becoming a member of the board of directors, and now, the president of the local board chapter in Delaware County.
“Supporting the United Way Campaign and its various missions has always been important to me because it dovetails into what we do at Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield,” said Jordan.
He’s been able to lend expertise from his work at Highmark to his role with Family Promise through engagement with mental health agencies, healthcare agencies and local entities that service low-income community members.
Rob likes that United Way has a local phone number and office, so he’s able to ask questions and learn more about specific charities he’s interested in. He’s partial to Delaware 211, a local service where the state of Delaware and its hospital systems and nonprofits share any resources community members or volunteers may need to address concerns about housing, financial assistance, or other essential needs.
Other charities Rob has been involved with over the years include Early Education Success, Pride United, the Delaware Boys and Girls Club and Food Bank of Delaware. Each of these organizations targets causes that Rob is passionate about, like helping children and families, and instilling confidence in young people.
Rob believes United Way makes it very easy to contribute to the variety of charities it supports. Interested community members may select any charities United Way works with and decide what resonates with them, and the kind of impact they want to make on the community.
“For so many years at Highmark, we’ve worked on our mission to help the health of families and communities, so working with United Way has been a nice way to put boots on the ground to the mission we espouse at Highmark and learn about various charities and needs in our area.”
Vice President, Operations (Health Plan Operations)
Maisha Sturdivant, a Highmark employee, has expanded her support of United Way since joining Highmark in 2018. She is a donor, volunteer and advocate for awareness of United Way’s annual giving campaign.
Maisha reflected on her first opportunity to volunteer for one of United Way’s strategic initiatives, refreshing the United for Children 5-year strategy to address children’s needs in the region, and what resources are needed to support children’s futures.
United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s United for Children initiative, developed in 2020, is one of the Campaign’s many programs dedicated to providing children and youth with equitable opportunities and resources needed to succeed in school and life.
“When you think about a child’s future, you have to evaluate all the barriers to being successful that exist today, and it comes down to everything from access to literacy, to teaching children differently based on individual needs,” said Sturdivant.
“One of the things we talked a lot about was technology and focusing more on equity when it comes to technology. It’s very difficult to be successful in life when you don’t have basic access to Wi-Fi. There’s also literacy as it relates to technology, and the availability of resources for developing that literacy.”
Maisha also donates to several community organizations through her United Way contributions, to include, Best of the Batch Foundation, Sarah Heinz House, Junior Achievement and Amachi Pittsburgh — all organizations that enable her to observe and influence United Way’s impact on children and their needs and achievements. Maisha also serves on the board of directors of Amachi Pittsburgh, an agency that serves children and families who are adversely impacted by parental incarceration, and Junior Achievement, an agency that inspires and prepares young people to succeed.
Recently, Maisha assisted with grant application processes at United Way. Through this work, as well as her board service and volunteer efforts, Maisha has noticed the strong parallels between Highmark’s commitment to addressing social determinants of health, and the values of the human services agencies that United Way supports.
“United Way is an aggregator. It promotes and fosters giving to smaller agencies that are providing vital services to the most vulnerable members in our communities.”
In Maisha’s experience, being able to donate through payroll deductions to agencies or impact funds has been an easy and efficient way to get involved with United Way and the causes it supports.
“United Way values their donors’ opinions,” said Sturdivant. “By having the opportunity to participate in how resources are allocated and their regular outreach to identify opportunities for involvement, the whole process is made easy. I really enjoy that.”