United Way announces merger of Washington, Carter organizations


United Way of Washington County and United Way of Carter County recently announced that they have merged the two organizations to create the United Way of East TN Highlands. This merger will allow United Way to serve over 200,000 residents in Carter, Johnson, Washington, and Southern Sullivan Counties. 

Kristan Spear

“This decision enables United Way to raise additional resources and help more people across Washington, Carter, Johnson and Southern Sullivan counties,” said Kristan Spear, who is currently President & CEO of United Way of Washington County and will remain President & CEO of the merged United Way. “The change also allows United Way to maximize our customer service and increase our operational efficiency, ultimately resulting in additional dollars available for funding programs that improve lives and strengthen our region.”

Spear said the decision to merge was driven by both counties and follows more than a year of discussions between the boards of directors from both United Ways.

“The new United Way of East TN Highlands offers a richer donor experience for all of our corporate partners, especially those with offices in both counties,” Spear said. “Previously, partners such as Ballad Health, Bank of Tennessee, Citizens Bank and many other companies interacted separately with both United Ways. By becoming one, we now offer a seamless experience for those donors.” 

Crystal Carter

With the new name comes a new model. The United Way of East TN Highlands will open funding to all nonprofits operating within the covered counties. However, the United Way will have the same goal, to breaking the cycle of poverty by UNITING people and resources to strengthen the health, education and financial stability of every person in our community. Applicants must have a program related to health, education, or financial stability to be eligible for funding. 

Andrew McKeehan, board chair of the former United Way of Carter County and President of Carter County Bank & Mountain Community Bank, said “The new partnership will be good for the community. Bank of Tennessee with a regional footprint, is a major supporter of United Way. This combined entity will bring new energy that will be beneficial to the entire region.”

Suzanne McCormick, U.S. President, United Way Worldwide, said the merger aligns with the network’s direction.

“The natural progression of our work should have us all asking what can we do better together, to be even more effective and put more resources into our communities,” said McCormick. “The decision by United Way of Washington County and United Way of Carter County to merge their operations will allow more powerful responses to pressing community issues in this multi-county area.”

Spear emphasized that money raised in each community will stay in each community. “We are looking forward to implementing agency-wide best practices in programs, fundraising, and administration with a new focus on providing community impact across geographic borders.”

Crystal Carter, executive director of the former United Way of Carter County, will oversee the larger organization’s programs and volunteer efforts, as the Director of Community Impact.


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