Why     How     What

Statement from the United Way of Westchester and Putnam regarding the claims of sexual harassment and retaliation at the United Way Worldwide

Issued by Bud Hammer, Board Chair, and Tom Gabriel, President and CEO

The staff and Board of Directors at United Way of Westchester and Putnam have followed closely the public accounts reported on by both HuffPost and Business Insider regarding sexual harassment and retaliation at the United Way Worldwide towards dozens of female employees over the past few years.


The independent investigation conducted by Proskauer Rose LLP found no evidence that “United Way Worldwide engaged in actionable harassment, discrimination, or retaliation concerning the three employees” who filed charges with the EEOC. The firm recommended for the United Way Worldwide Boards to examine the “workplace culture and morale” and updates to UWW’s policies and procedures regarding discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, and the reporting and investigation of such matters.”                                                                   


Our United Way and the 1,500+ other local United Ways throughout this country are independent of the United Way Worldwide. 

We have a separate Board of Directors that works with the local staff to fundraise, invest in, and offer programs throughout our community. Without oversight by or fidelity to United Way Worldwide, our chapter only pays a nominal fee for the rights to be a member of the local United Ways network and use the name and branding.  


At the United Way of Westchester and Putnam, we believe that WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER and that it is only by being UNITED that we can change the world for a better future. 


We support education, income, and health initiatives to help the 40% of our neighbors living in poverty or paycheck-to-paycheck to becoming more self-sufficient.


Consistent with this mission is our commitment to valuing diversity, promoting equitable treatment, fostering inclusivity at all levels, and eliminating discrimination in all forms. 


We understand that by valuing the visible and invisible qualities that make everyone who they are and welcoming their unique perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences, we further advance our mission, support our communities, and strengthen our organization. 


As such, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) are essential tenets for our local United Way. Our organization has an active and engaged DE&I Committee, which ensures that our staff and Board of Directors lead from a non-biased perspective of overall inclusivity. Additionally, we have spearheaded events focused entirely on this crucial topic, including last year’s Nonprofit Leadership Summit and the upcoming 21-Day Equity Challenge.   


Our United Way is outraged by the actions and the culture created by a few bad actors at the United Way Worldwide and categorically denounce them and their willful disregard for these foundational tenets that we hold dear. We expressed our outrage to the United Way Worldwide leadership during the investigation into these allegations and took those actions within our purview to demand change and accountability. 


We applaud the decision for Brian Gallagher to step down as the CEO of United Way Worldwide as of March 1, 2021, and for the use of the firm Diversified Search to facilitate the search for a chief executive officer.


We appreciate the United Way Worldwide Boards’ commitment to “examining its current culture, [and] developing a holistic blueprint for better-realizing inclusion, and mutual respect.” We look forward to seeing the various systemic changes that need to be implemented to ensure that this behavior does not happen again.