Illustration by Randall Nelson
2013 Volunteer Hall of Fame: John Kelly
Day job: Senior vice president of tax, UnitedHealth Group
Volunteerism: The ARC Greater Twin Cities, Wakota Life Care Center, Catholic Charities of St.Paul and Minneapolis
When John Kelly's son was diagnosed with autism in the 1990s, he and his wife Paula weren’t even sure what autism was, let alone how to navigate life with it. Then they discovered The ARC Greater Twin Cities, which supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. It became a lifeline, and Kelly, a tax and financial expert, gave back by giving money.
These days, he encourages others to do the same as a member of the board. Kelly lobbies for donations, works on activities and fundraisers, and serves as financial counsel. In 2011, he secured a $250,000 donation from UnitedHealth Group, his employer, the largest corporate grant he believes ARC has ever received.
Kelly is proud of UnitedHealth Group’s commitment to volunteerism. “I’ve become quite an outspoken sponsor and supporter,” he says. The company encourages new hires to work together on a volunteer project. One of these was a Fund-A-Need gala to help young people with developmental disabilities make the transition from school to adulthood. At the 2009 event, Kelly appealed to the guests by sharing his son’s story. Donations increased 25 percent that year and have continued to grow ever since to a whopping $364,000 in 2013.