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Top 100 Nonprofit CEO: Tim McKinney

🕐 6 min read

Ask anyone to name one of the community’s most influential leaders and Tim McKinney always soars straight to the top of the list.

McKinney has long dedicated himself to serving others.

He grew up in Fort Worth and earned a bachelor of business administration degree in financial management from Texas Christian University. After college, he served five years in the United States Air Force, attained the rank of captain, was a wing commander in Vietnam and received the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters.

After his military service, McKinney attended the National Graduate Trust School of Northwestern University and then enjoyed a 36-year career in banking during which time he became president of Bank of America, Fort Worth, and executive vice president of Texas Capital Bank from 2001 to 2007.

McKinney took the reins as president and CEO of United Way of Tarrant County (UWTC) in November 2007, replacing interim president Ann Rice, who had taken over for Tim Carter. Carter, another longtime area banker, had left to lead OmniAmerican Bank. The nonprofit organization was nothing new to McKinney.

He first became involved as a United Way Allocations Committee volunteer. As a board member from 1998 to 2004, he served on the planned giving advisory committee and the finance and executive committees. He also was the first chairman of the United Way Diversity Committee.

Under McKinney’s leadership, the organization, which dates back to 1922, has reinvented itself and embarked on a 10-year, innovative strategic plan to change and improve both the nonprofit and the community.

“Since 2007, Tim has provided stable leadership and commitment for the United Way of Tarrant County organization, which is committed every day to providing invaluable support resources to the community,” said Kevin Buehler, retired CEO of Alcon Laboratories and the current chairman of the United Way Campaign.

Today, UWTC and its partners help 300,000 people throughout the county every year. United Way runs one of the largest 2-1-1 community assistance helpline programs in the country as well as the Area Agency on Aging.

UWTC’s fundraising places it among the top 4 percent in all United Ways across the country. From 2010 to 2015, United Way of Tarrant County had $158.6 million in total revenue. During 2014-2015 alone, an initial $18.2 million from the UWTC campaign grew to a $43.4 million return on investment in terms of benefit to the community.

“The VITA program [offering free income tax preparation] in 2015 processed tax returns and earned income credits that resulted in almost $12 million received by local families and most likely spent in Tarrant County. That’s real impact to both the individual families and to Tarrant County,” Buehler said.

Grant revenue also has seen a significant increase under McKinney’s tenure. From 2008 to 2015, grant revenue received by UWTC grew 175 percent, from $4.8 million to $13.2 million. United Way has seen an endowment fund increase of 68 percent to $13.4 million since McKinney became CEO. Sound fiscal management practices have earned the agency at 4-star rating from Charity Navigator.

“United Way’s Tim McKinney is the self-effacing servant leader that every nonprofit organization would love to have at its helm,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services Inc. and UWTC chairman of the board.

“Driven by the challenge of creating increased organizational relevance, over the past nine years Tim has led a complete transformation of United Way’s operating model,” Spiker said. “The old way of providing charitable service was to serve as a clearing house for charitable donations from employer campaigns to worthy agencies in the community. While there still exists a role for those services, the new operating model has a much more substantial role in directly addressing those issues identified as being the most pressing within Tarrant County, and sometimes the most complex.”

In 2010, UWTC partnered with more than 100 organizations, city and county governments, churches, school districts, colleges and universities, businesses, community leaders and volunteers on a mission to improve Tarrant County in the areas of education, income and health. These impact areas use evidence-based programs. Through milestones the nonprofit calls Bold Goals, UWTC seeks to make a measureable impact by the year 2020.

At the mid-way point of its impact work, UWTC has helped the community meet such goals as boosting the graduation rates among the most “at risk” students, helping more than 11,600 people improve their financial stability, and reducing the hospitalization incidence and length of stay for those who suffer from chronic health conditions such as diabetes.

“All of these issues are thorny to solve, and the United Way, working with a network of agencies, has really made progress at fundamentally improving the quality of life for those it touches,” Spiker said. “Tim has led the team who tirelessly worked to make these enhancements come to life over many years. The work is not done, but the vision is in place, and United Way has already changed thousands of lives in the community for the better.”

Another visionary change McKinney has made is the establishment in 2015 of the new position of executive vice president/chief operations and development officer, a role taken by TD Smyers, the former CEO of the American Red Cross, North Texas Region. Recently, longtime Fort Worth businesswoman Leah King was appointed senior vice president of development at United Way of Tarrant County.

Along with establishing new programs, including Kernel, a social innovation fund, McKinney encourages United Way employees to do community service through volunteering. Under his leadership, the agency has instituted a policy that allows employees to volunteer during regular working hours up to eight hours per calendar quarter.

McKinney sets the example. His current community board involvement includes Performing Arts Fort Worth Inc., United Ways of Texas, Workforce Solutions of Tarrant County, The Exchange Club, the Blue Zones Project, the Capital Improvement Program Citizens Oversight Committee of the Fort Worth Independent School District, Continuum of Care and Tarrant Churches Together.

Past board involvement has included Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Baylor All Saints Medical Centers, Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Van Cliburn Foundation, James L. West Presbyterian Special Care Center, Texas Christian University College of Education, Chancellor’s Advisory Council at TCU, Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, Fort Worth Arts Council and the Rotary Club of Fort Worth.

“Tim is an exceptional community leader and all you could ask for in a partner to the many organizations in our community that United Way brings together,” said Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley. “He understands that collaboration is the great strength of our Tarrant County community and he has made it easier for us all to work together. Tarrant County and Texas are thankful for people like Tim, who give so much of their time and energy to make our community a better place to live, work and raise our families.”

McKinney and his wife, Ann, have two adult children.

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