This week, United Way of King County announced Chris Capossela and Leigh Toner will co-chair its 2019–20 fundraising campaign.
Capossela is the Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President at Microsoft. Toner is a dedicated community volunteer who currently serves on the Seattle Girls’ School Board of Trustees. The married couple has set a goal to raise $41 million for the organization over the next year.
“Last year United Way raised $36 million dollars,” Toner said. “This year, we want that to grow to $41 million to support the programs that directly impact our community on a daily basis.”
The couple’s involvement with United Way of King County spans nearly three decades. Additionally, Microsoft has longstanding ties to United Way — the corporation was an early supporter of the United Way’s ParentChild+ program and recently donated $5 million to its Home Base program, which aims to help those struggling to pay rent avoid eviction and homelessness.
The couple shared that United Way’s systemic approach and large network uniquely positions it to tackle issues such as homelessness, educational access, and poverty.
“Many of our hardest problems are interrelated,” Capossela said. For him, one of United Way’s strengths is the way “they look at bringing lots of nonprofit organizations to help solve these problems collectively.”
Toner added, “That network is really important to catching people in the net and keeping people from falling into poverty, keeping them in schools, and moving them forward to a better life.”
When asked about United Way’s impact on the Eastside, Capossela emphasized that many of the region’s biggest issues — such as homelessness and its impact on graduation rates — are just as relevant in cities like Bellevue and Kirkland.
“I think often times people think of some of the problems we have in King County as being Seattle-only problems. But the reality is that it’s actually much broader,” Capossela said. “When you look at the (King County) homeless statistics…. When you look at our graduation rates, when you look at the number of families on the brink of being impoverished, there’s never been a more important time for people to step up and help.”
Capossela will be the third Microsoft executive to chair the United Way’s annual fundraising campaign since 2006. He said that Microsoft’s culture of giving inspired him to consider his responsibility to the community and, ultimately, led to his involvement with United Way.
On Sept. 13th, Capossela and Toner will join an estimated 10,400 volunteers at the United Way’s Day of Caring. The yearly event hosts service projects for nonprofits across King County.