United Way chief steps down after 8 years

Under his leadership, the United Way raised some $21 million for the benefit of the local community.



YOUNGSTOWN — Don Cagigas, retiring as head of the Youngstown/Mahoning Valley United Way, says, “You just don’t realize the depth of the need until you get out into the social service agencies and see their programs at work.”

Cagigas, who served 10 years on the local United Way board of trustees before becoming president and chief professional officer in April 2000, will retire effective June 30, 2008.

United Way raises money with its annual campaign to fund programs operated by affiliated agencies.

Under Cagigas’ leadership, the local United Way raised some $21 million for the benefit of the local community. Additionally, the Youngstown/Mahoning Valley United Way Endowment Fund grew from $190,000 to $2 million. He also led the transition to a “community impact” strategy that broadened United Way’s mission from fundraising and grant-making to one that seeks to make measurable improvement in major social problems.


Cagigas oversaw the completion of a communitywide needs assessment, which resulted in the formation of five key impact areas on which United Way now bases its funding priorities.

He said his greatest personal satisfaction from the job is “knowing that we are helping people in the community that perhaps can’t help themselves. Working with the United Way definitely opened my eyes to the need.”

A legacy

Cagigas, who will have served as United Way president and CPO for eight years when he retires, announced his plans Wednesday at a meeting of the Youngstown/Mahoning Valley United Way executive committee. The executive committee will appoint an ad hoc committee to conduct a search for Cagigas’ successor.

“We wish Don the very best and thank him for his years of dedicated service. He has been an inspiration to the United Way staff, board members, donors, volunteers, and the community, and we thank him for his outstanding leadership,” said Mary Novak, United Way board chairwoman.

“I have truly enjoyed my time with United Way,” Cagigas said. `“It has been a pleasure to work with so many wonderful, caring and giving people who are so dedicated to working for the betterment of our community.”

He said he leaves United Way in the hands of a top-notch team, including both staff and volunteers.

He is looking forward to working the next year with Douglas Sweeney, chairman of the 2007 campaign, and the campaign team to reach the 2007 financial goal of $2.9 million. “I want to focus on that. I want to go out saying we made our goal,” Cagigas said.

Before joining the United Way staff, Cagigas served as president of the Mahoning Valley Region for Bank One. He retired in 1999 after 25 years with Bank One.

Cagigas, 67, said he plans to remain active in the community after his retirement.

“I totally believe in the mission and what we’re doing at United Way. But, I just think I need to spend more time with my family and want more flexibility in my schedule,” he said.

He and his wife, Gloria, vice president of institutional advancement at Westminster College, live in Poland and have two adult children, Lisa and David, and two grandchildren.

His career

Cagigas, a native of Farrell, Pa., is a graduate of Youngstown State University. He began his banking career with National City in Cleveland, and in 1971, his business interests led him to investment banking with Roose, Wade, and Co. In 1974, he began his Bank One career in Cleveland as senior vice president of funds and investment management. In 1989, Cagigas was named chairman and chief executive officer of Bank One, Youngstown, after having served as president and chief operating officer for a year. When Bank One consolidated its affiliates throughout Ohio in May 1997, he was named president of the Mahoning Valley Region for the new Bank One.

Cagigas has received numerous community awards, including the YSU Distinguished Citizen Award in 1995. In 1998, he was among the inaugural group of seven inducted into the Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame. Because of his volunteer service with the Regional Chamber, which involved leadership roles in two economic development fund-raising campaigns, which raised more than $6 million, the “Donald Cagigas Spirit of the Chamber” award is given annually to a local leader whose efforts help to further the mission of the Regional Chamber.

In May 2004, Cagigas was appointed by then-Gov. Bob Taft to serve on the YSU Board of Trustees. He is also a member of the First Place Bank Board of Directors and the YSU Foundation Board of Trustees.


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