Jane Durment (left) with her fellow IT United co-chairs Kerrie Hoffman and Todd MacKay
May 23, 2017
Written by Jane Durment, 2017 Linda T. Mellowes Women Leader of the Year Award Winner and co-chair of IT United
I come from a large family: four sisters and four brothers. Mom always told us, “your brains are God-given gifts, and you owe something back to the world,” while Dad always told us girls, “you can accomplish anything you want in life if you just work hard at it.” We followed Dad’s advice: we got out there and worked it, accomplishing a lot for many years.
I always told myself that, one of these days, I’d get back to what Mom said. Finally, I did.
When I went to work for The Marcus Corporation, Steve and Greg Marcus introduced me to Mary Lou Young, and the rest is history. My husband Dave and I had always donated to United Way, and meeting Mary Lou was just the push I needed to take action.
I joined the Leadership Society, Women’s Leadership, and then Mary Lou asked me if I would start IT United. I have always loved a challenge, so I said “sure!”
IT United is a United Way’s leadership donor network for technology professionals. We started seven years ago with five member CIO’s, and launched our first CIO Forum event. Today, we represent $1.2million dollars of United Way’s annual fundraising campaign, thanks to member donations and special event fundraising. When we broke the $1M mark, I thought “we have arrived!”
The mission of IT United is to apply our unique skills for the benefit of the community. We accomplish that in two ways: through engaging students in technology and lending IT support to local agencies. We also connect United Way agency partners with vendors who can provide pro-bono services. For example, PEARLS for Teen Girls was the recent recipient of such services from SysLogic.
In order to engage students around careers in technology, we have partnered with Milwaukee Public Schools to provide job shadow opportunities and a career fair. Our goal is to help students in Milwaukee prepare for a sustainable future, which will have an impact on the poverty levels and provides a brighter outlook for Milwaukee.
Recently, I was sitting in a Milwaukee Succeeds meeting, focused on college access and success. Boys & Girls Clubs happened to be my right and PEARLS for Teen Girls was on my left, and they were both enthusiastically reporting that they had just come back from a great IT United Career Fair, which was so valuable to their students. I just smiled. Our agency partners are helping their students develop strengths they need for their futures, and we are helping them.
Volunteerism is an investment - we want an ROI. So, taking a page out of the United Way investment model, IT United studied community conditions to understand priority needs that could be served by volunteers with our unique skills. We are a trusted network now, at the crossroads of IT and the community that helps to connect the dots for CIO’s, IT leaders, and volunteers to optimize the value derived by their volunteer hours. Our mantra is “start small, think big, and grow fast.” We’re on our way.
When I was preparing to retire, and wanted to get even more deeply involved with the community, Geneva Johnson said to me, “you are moving from a life of accomplishment to a life of significance.”
That was something to think about.
And it will be significant when we help our Milwaukee students move from a life of poverty to a life of accomplishment. Will you help?
Feeling inspired? Learn more about IT United and how you can get involved.
We have lots of opportunities for you to positively impact the future of students in our area. Browse hundreds of volunteer opportunities to find the one that is right for you.