Greater Twin Cities United Way Vertical Logo Blue

Volunteering and Giving Create “Magic”

United Way Staff


Teddy Bekele is modest. Despite his many leadership roles, he’s quick to divert the spotlight to others. He speaks calmly and prefers to dress casually, blending in with his employees. He’s not driven by a need for recognition. But more than most, Bekele is driven. On top of his role as chief technology officer at Land O’Lakes, he serves on several boards and chairs the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband.

Volunteering as a United Way Leader

Bekele also volunteers as a member of the Greater Twin Cities United Way Tocqueville Society’s leadership cabinet. He enjoys connecting with other leaders in a philanthropic setting – including those with whom, during the business day, he may collaborate or even compete. “You get to see who they really are, what makes them tick,” he said. Bekele chooses Greater Twin Cities United Way in part because racial equity is a core pillar of our work, and because he prioritizes creating opportunities for increased stability and wealth. “Is the giving going to lead to something that’s transformative in someone’s life? Are we instilling upward mobility?” he says. “That for me is transformational.”

Life Experience Informs Giving and Volunteering

Bekele’s philanthropic approach draws on his lived experience, both professional -- he’s seen the value of a diverse workforce -- and personal. As a young person, he sought out scholarships and other opportunities that were not always easily available. Now he works zealously to make that path clearer for others. After connecting through United Way, Bekele began volunteering on the board of Genesys Works, a partner nonprofit in Greater Twin Cities United Way’s Career Academies initiative. Genesys Works expands career pathways for young people in underserved communities, and collaborates deeply with Land O’Lakes to provide work experiences.

Mentoring Young People is “Magic”

Amiyah Hunter, who began coding in ninth grade, was first introduced to Bekele’s team as a high school senior. She said Bekele’s ease and passion made her feel seen and wanted at the company. She kept returning for internships and is now a college grad and permanent Land O’ Lakes employee. Stories like Hunter’s motivate Bekele.

Someone I’ve mentored or been able to give an opportunity -- to see them blossom, that’s what life is all about. The pleasure of seeing someone achieve their dreams. That’s magic.”

Giving Time and Money – as a Corporate Leader and as an Individual

In each of Bekele’s many roles – corporate leader, volunteer, donor – he brings a mindset of creating opportunity. Watch the video to see Bekele and Hunter share their own stories of career, community and mentorship.

More Ways to Engage

About the Author

Greater Twin Cities United Way unites changemakers, advocates for social good and develops solutions to address the challenges no one can solve alone to create a community where all people thrive. Together with our partners, we’re meeting immediate community needs while transforming inequitable systems in the areas of housing, food, education and jobs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Sign up for news, updates and opportunities to fuel change in our community.

* indicates required

You are signing up for updates about how your gift is fueling change in the community.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices.

magnifier linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram