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President and CEO of United Way of Ventura County selected to lead United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut into the next chapter


Hartford, Conn. (December 21, 2021) — United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut announced today that it has named Eric Harrison as President and CEO. He succeeds Paula S. Gilberto, who announced in May that she was retiring after six years in the role and nearly 24 years with the organization. Harrison will assume leadership on February 22nd.

“While I will greatly miss the communities I’ve worked with in Ventura County, I am proud of our collective efforts to address our most pressing issues, including homelessness and disaster recovery,” said Harrison. “Joining United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut allows me the opportunity to apply the lessons learned in Ventura County and throughout my career in the United Way network on a larger scale, serving the 52 communities in its service area.”

The search, managed by Diversified Search Group/Koya Partners, engaged a diverse pool of candidates and stakeholders from across the country. The search reached 280 stakeholders and potential candidates and included conversations with corporate and community partners, leadership volunteers, staff and United Way Worldwide. Thirty candidates were interviewed by the search firm and nine met with the Search Committee, all members of United Way’s Board of Directors: Vittoria Pace (Search Committee Chair), Donald Allan Jr., Michael Auseré, Shellye Davis, Steven Litchfield, Natalie Morris, Jim O’Meara and Vi Smalley.

“Throughout the search process, we were impressed with Eric’s authentic leadership style, strong relationships, commitment to community impact, track record of success in fundraising and strategy, and the depth of his experience in the United Way network. We are thrilled to welcome him to our community and excited for him to lead our United Way through its next chapter of transformation,” said Donald Allan Jr., United Way Board Chair and President & CFO of Stanley Black & Decker.

Harrison had a robust career in the United Way network and the nonprofit sector, most recently serving as President and CEO of United Way of Ventura County.  Prior to that, he served in several positions at local United Ways, starting as a fundraising campaign intern at Greater Twin Cities United Way, Minneapolis, MN.

Harrison continued to advance in the United Way network, ultimately holding leadership positions in resource development at both United Way Silicon Valley and United Way of the Wine Country. Harrison also held leadership positions at two other nonprofit organizations before returning to the United Way network as President and CEO of United Way of Ventura County, serving first as Development Director for Equality California and then as Executive Director of Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing.

Under Harrison’s leadership at United Way of Ventura County, the organization launched United to End Homelessness Ventura County, which assisted people in finding permanent housing. The organization also acted quickly to establish the United Way Thomas Fire Fund which raised more than $5 million to support families affected by California’s wildfires. Harrison has also focused on increasing public policy efforts and revenue diversification in his time in Ventura County.

Harrison was honored by the Pacific Coast Business Times and the North Bay Business Journal respectively as a “40 Under 40” recipient. He completed several United Way Worldwide leadership development programs along with Harvard’s Kennedy School program on Performance Measurement for Effective Management of Nonprofits. Harrison holds a MBA from the Minnesota School of Business and a BA in Speech Communications and Theatre Arts from Concordia College.


About United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut

United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut’s vision is a community where opportunities are available for every child to succeed in school and for every family to achieve financial security. United Way brings people and resources together to address immediate needs and finds long-term solutions to challenging problems. United Way does this by investing in programs and services, leading community change initiatives, and mobilizing resources and volunteers to ensure that: children succeed in school; people get jobs and are financially secure; people are healthy; and, basic needs are met during tough times. For more information, visit