Community Matters Most

By Kiko Suarez, Chief Community Impact Officer, United Way of Central Indiana


My new title is a mouthful: Chief Community Impact Officer. I had an interview this month with Telemundo, our local Spanish-speaking channel, and the anchor and I were laughing as we struggled to quickly translate my full title into Spanish. Although being a “Chief,” an “Officer” and making “Impact” matters to me, the greatest word in my title is Community.


When you look at the current state of affairs in the world, it’s easy to feel hopeless and distressed. From despicable actions aimed at taking innocent people’s lives to natural disasters that devastate our modus vivendi, we seem to be surrounded by unstoppable forces beyond our comprehension or control. Yet, there’s one element that always saves the day: Community. Whether it is blood donations, shoulder to shoulder disaster relief, or delivering meals to hungry families, it is that common unity that helps lift our lives in the most difficult times.


That is what excites me about this job. It is not about me, it is about us. It is not about organizations, it is about community. We know how it feels when the Community is absent from the equation: conflicts emerge, wars start, isolation grips people’s lives and a narrow set of “quick and dirty” fixes to our problems works its way into our realities. Families break, despair takes over, a better future is no longer an option. We need Community in our lives.


Community is also important because it gives us what we lack, and it allows us to give what we have. It is the context where individuals can be individuals. There’s not a political idea behind Community. In fact, when Community works the way it is supposed to, there’s no path to dependence, but a path to self-sufficiency.


I understand and appreciate the organizational authority and the leadership responsibility that comes with my title. But I’m really honored and excited that the word Community is now omnipresent in my work life. Community matters most.