Philanthropy is a Journey: Greg Pemberton’s Story

When Harry Ice joined Ice Miller LLP in 1929, he advocated for the law firm to focus on specialization. He encouraged lawyers to focus on a subset of law, so they could better serve their clients as an expert in the field. When Greg Pemberton joined Ice Miller in 1981, this philosophy was in full motion and jump started his philanthropic journey with United Way.


As a supporter for more than 40 years, Greg has invested in United Way in many ways: He’s been an annual donor since 1981, served as Chair of the Investment and Endowment Committee as well as the Planned Giving Committee, and volunteered countless hours.


Recently, he’s decided to invest in a different way – through the United Way Life insurance plan. Greg chatted with us about his philanthropic journey, and why chose a planned gift through United Way Life as his next step.


It All Started on a Saturday Morning

Greg can thank Ice Miller for introducing him to United Way in 1981, when he and many other coworkers came in on a Saturday for a half day of work. Once they received their checks for the extra day of work, they donated it to United Way. His coworkers also educated him on United Way’s work and mission, which Greg says is, “doing the right work for the right people at the right time. It’s good for the city and good for the people – it’s important work.”


As his career developed at Ice Miller, so did his focus on philanthropy. One of Greg’s areas of specialization was the nonprofit sector. “I became a student of it intellectually and the longer I was exposed to staff, volunteers and charities, the more I knew being philanthropic was the right thing to do,” he shared.


“We Wanted to be Meaningfully Involved”

One major reason Greg and his wife Robin came to Indianapolis and committed to Ice Miller was because of the opportunity for community involvement. “We were told that was possible in Indy,” Greg stated. His first opportunity came when a coworker invited him to become a part of the Public Policy Committee at United Way. After one meeting, he was hooked! Greg spent many years on the committee, focusing on public policy in the human services sector.


Since then, Greg has served Indianapolis in various ways, from teaching youth about how boards function to volunteering for the American Cancer Society for 35 years. But he credits more than just the city for his ability to become so involved; a large portion is thanks to Leonard and Katie Betley. Leonard acted as his mentor at the law firm, while Katie connected him to many nonprofits and causes in Indianapolis. “That’s just who they are and what they do around the community,” Greg reflected.


Retirement is a Time of Opportunity

After retiring from Ice Miller three years ago, Greg has ramped up his involvement with philanthropy. “I cannot think of a better use of a retired person’s time than to do something for the community,” he shared. “Being philanthropic has been an important part of my life and an important part of me as a person.”


Greg believes retirement is the time to give back to the community, since community plays a major role in one’s professional success. He wants to give back in a big way, so he chose to invest in a United Way Life insurance plan.


The Wow Factor

There are two reasons Greg chose to invest in United Way Life. The first is because of United Way’s 2Gen work. “A strong, supportive family unit helps everybody – it helps the parents be gainfully employed and support the community, and it helps children grow up successful,” he stated. He hopes that by investing in a planned gift, he can help future generations of families through the work of 2Gen.


Greg’s second reason is just as simple: it’s a way to leverage his money in an easy and effective way. “It’s a way to leverage normal people’s giving,” he remarked. “You can take a relatively modest gift in the big scheme of things and leverage it in a big way. For a few thousand dollars, that can translate to a quarter of a million gift — that’s a huge wow factor as far as I’m concerned.”


Our chat with Greg ended with a conversation about priorities. After family, philanthropy and giving back is at the top of his list. He’s happy to have found a way to give back to the community through United Way for years to come. “To witness the impact that has been made historically and continued to be made is a powerful message,” Greg stated. “We have a lot of good stories to tell and will continue in that business.”


If you’re interested in learning more about how you can extend your impact in Central Indiana for generations to come, visit or contact Mike Caldwell at 317-921-1315 or mike.caldwell@uwci.orgTo read more stories like Greg Pemberton’s, look here