Celebrating Women Who Inspire Us: Milinda Martin

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Milinda Martin has a long history of affiliation with United Way, as a former workplace ambassador, as a founding member of Women United, as a member of the marketing cabinet, as a corporate grantor, and in July 2016 she was named Chief Operating Officer of United Way of Greater Los Angeles. Milinda has a passion for helping teams focus, align, and exceed expectations -- and a requirement to have fun every day at work.

Below we asked Milinda about her history with United Way, what inspires her, and the women she most admires...

How did you first get involved with United Way of Greater Los Angeles?

I am very proud that in my former retail days, I was part of the very first Women United event, hosted by the always inspirational Elise Buik. Twenty years ago, people were still arguing about whether women should be stay-at-home moms vs. career women, and those of us who worked -- whether by choice or need -- often were working in male-dominated environments.

What was that experience like?

The idea of meeting up with other career women to solve some of our community’s toughest issues was inspiring, collaborative, and supportive – all things I was looking for in those days.

Was there an event — international, national or personal — that propelled you into your career or path of service?

In many ways, I think my entire career has been around improving our community. In my corporate life, where I oversaw corporate citizenship and philanthropy, the goal was to always find ways where we could improve our world, not just because of altruism, but because that makes for a healthier business environment.

How did you transition from that corporate role to working at United Way of Greater Los Angeles?

When my youngest child went off to college, there was finally the space for an adjustment, and that’s what propelled me to United Way of Greater Los Angeles. All the energy that went into parenthood could now be redirected, and since I am a native Angeleno, what better focus area than our fair county? I am honored to be here and to serve our community.

You have a long history with United Way of Greater Los Angeles. From your time as workplace ambassador, to now as Chief Operating Officer, what does Living United mean to you?

To me, first and foremost, Living United means that I care as much, and often more, for my community than I do for myself. I am willing to make personal sacrifices for the greater good, knowing that in the end, there is no sacrifice at all.

All month long we are celebrating Women’s History Month. Who do you admire most and why?

There are so many incredibly smart, talented women making an impact that it’s very hard to choose just one. I think of Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey and Christiane Amanpour and Malala Yousafzai and Serena Williams and Janet Yellen – amazing women one and all. And, I haven’t even delved into history!

I often go closer, and look at my daughter — who loves so freely, is full of empathy, and just wants to put all her energy into making life better for others. Her heart is so very giving. I admire that greatly.

Learn more about Milinda and read her full bio on UnitedWayLA.org.

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