Volunteer Spotlight: Kara Irvin

Jul 22, 2021

If you know Kara, you know she’s a whirl of positive energy. It’s quite possible that the phrase go-getter was invented specifically to describe her. Kara doesn’t just make things happen, she makes things better. These are just a few of the reasons we’re thrilled she is part of our work.

If you don’t know Kara, allow us to introduce you!

Like many of our volunteers and supporters, Kara first learned about United Way through her employer. When she started with US Bank in 2007, an introduction to United Way was part of their onboarding process. Kara began donating through their workplace giving campaign and has been hooked ever since!

We really got to know Kara when US Bank tapped her to participate in our Loaned Executive Program in 2010. For three months, Kara spent half her time doing her regular job at US Bank and half her time as part of our team, serving as a United Way advocate and facilitating workplace giving at businesses all over Whatcom County. As a Loaned Executive, she learned a TON about United Way. As Kara Irvin, she decided to kick things up a notch and get even more involved. Over a decade later, Kara has volunteered for United Way in many capacities, including coordinating the internal workplace giving effort at US Bank, participating in our Community Impact Panel process to help make important funding decisions, and serving on our Board of Directors. Kara recently took on the role of Board Chair and we couldn’t be happier.

We asked Kara to share some thoughts about what she loves about United Way and why she is so passionate about Living United. Here’s what she had to say:

Why do you give to United Way?

As a parent, I want my children to grow up in a community where everyone has an equal opportunity to thrive and be successful. I want to teach my children to give back to their community, no matter how big or small, and that they can be a part of the solution that makes our community a better place to live.

I love that United Way of Whatcom County is transparent in everything that they do. I believe in their mission and trust that they are stretching my dollar to make the greatest impact on the most critical issues in Whatcom County.

Why did you decide to take on the Board Chair role?

I have participated with UWWC in a variety of capacities since 2010 and I absolutely LOVE everything they do and stand for! When I was presented with the opportunity to lead the Board, I was so pumped!! The dynamic of charitable giving and philanthropy is changing and I couldn’t be more excited to help the organization adapt to the changing environment.

What we do as an organization is so important to our community; we are all connected, and if one of us is struggling – we are all struggling. It fills my heart with so much love knowing that we are doing everything in our power to support our friends and neighbors as we navigate during this unprecedented time. Please join me, by living UNITED, so that we can power the potential of Whatcom County residents for generations to come!

What does Living United mean to you?

To me it’s about the collective impact, everyone coming together to tackle the tough community issues that no single organization can solve by themselves. When we live united, the diversity of thought and experience sparks innovation and creativity to problem solve.

We have all struggled at some point in our lives. I want to be that person that provides the lifeline to my family member, neighbor or colleague that may be struggling. I want to give back to the community that has done so much for me, so I live united by giving financially, advocating for those who don’t have a voice, and by volunteering my time.

What’s your favorite thing about United Way?

How AMAZING our staff is and how much we accomplish each year. The LOVE our small staff has for our community and the people and non-profits they support is truly humbling. United Way understands the power of collaboration and believes that everyone deserves the opportunity to thrive in this amazing community. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this organization that is empowering all citizens in Whatcom County to reach their full potential.

A few fun facts about Kara

It’s been our experience that Kara and fun are pretty much synonymous. Yes, she’s passionate about issues. Yes, she’s a skilled leader and a valued colleague. And yes, she’s a whole heck of a lot of fun!

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Here are a few things we’ve learned about Kara:

She loves SOCCER! Kara played for WWU and still plays for fun in Whatcom County adult rec leagues. When she’s not playing soccer, she can often be found watching soccer or coaching both of her kids’ teams.

In addition to being committed to community, Kara is extremely dedicated to her family. Here’s what she had to say about her favorite home team:

I have an amazingly supportive husband, Andy Irvin, who I would be lost without and two AWESOME kids (Deklan – 7 and Skotlyn – 6) that fill my life with so much JOY – I am truly blessed.

I have a twin brother and I am 86 minutes older than him. We look nothing alike, but you would be surprised how many people ask me if we were identical growing up!

Bottom line: When Kara enters the room, things just get a little brighter. And with her help, we’re making sure that our community gets a little brighter, too.


Thanks for all you do for United Way, US Bank, and Whatcom County, Kara! You are a true example of what it means to LIVE UNITED.

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