Get To Know The SEUW Board: Adrienne McKeown

Collage of Adrienne McKeown and Her Family

Sioux Empire United Way is excited to introduce our 2024 Community Impact Division Chair, Adrienne McKeown!

Adrienne grew up in Webster, SD and moved to Sioux Falls to attend Augustana University. Apart from a brief internship at the White House, she's called the Sioux Empire home ever since! Having spent nearly 18 years in Harrisburg, Adrienne's family believes "the Sioux Empire really is all one big community."

After 16 years working at Citibank, Adrienne felt a calling to do more to help the community and moved into non-profit leadership. Since then, she's worked as the Director of the Alumni Association at Augustana University and the Director of Communications and Operations at St. John Paul II Catholic Church. Currently she serves as the Executive Director of the Harrisburg Community Foundation and the Director of Operations for the Harrisburg Baseball Association.  

In this insightful Q&A, we delve into the experiences and motivations behind Adrienne's years of dedicated service to Sioux Empire United Way (SEUW). Join us as we uncover her passion for making a meaningful impact in our community, her deep appreciation for the stewardship of United Way funds, and her love for the Community Impact Division.


Adrienne McKeown and five other volunteers posing with Coscioni at Toy Lending Library wearing Day of Action shirts.

Adrienne McKeown leading a team of volunteers at Toy Lending Library for the 2024 Day of Action.


Q&A with Adrienne McKeown

What was your original connection to Sioux Empire United Way & why did you decide to get involved? 

I first learned about United Way as a newly-minted college graduate when I started with Citibank and was asked to help lead a new Rally Week project—selling flowers that employees could give to others to show appreciation. I helped with the Citibank UW campaign in different capacities for many years, including leading the Heart Club membership drive and serving as the co-employee campaign manager for the entire site. During my tenure with Citi, I also served outside of the bank as the chair of the Women Unite luncheon and as a loaned campaign executive where I helped other smaller businesses run their campaigns.

About 18 years ago, I was approached by United Way staff about serving as a Community Impact volunteer. I didn’t know what that meant, and to be honest, I was expecting my first child and wasn’t sure if I’d have enough time. But I gave it a try, and I’ve been an active CI volunteer ever since, including leading two of the impact teams and now serving as Chair of the division. What I love about the CI Division is that you get to see the real impact that we are having on our community. The Campaign Division works so hard to raise the funds, and the CI Division works just as hard making sure every hard-earned penny is being put to the very best use. When you hear the testimonials from the people served by SEUW partner agencies, you know that the work you’re doing matters and is changing the stories of other people’s lives.


How have your beginning years shaped your appreciation and involvement with Sioux Empire United Way and their funded programs? 

What I appreciate most about the United Way is that I know my gift is being stewarded by a whole team of committed volunteers and professionals and is getting to the programs that can make a substantial impact. We live in a very caring community with a ton of agencies and programs trying to make a difference. However, I don’t have time to research all these great programs and decide how to allocate my giving, so United Way takes care of that for me! When we as a community combine our giving power and entrust it to diligent stewards like the SEUW, our dollars go further and have a greater impact on the lives of those around us.


As a Sioux Empire United Way Supporter and volunteer for over 20 years, tell us about the moment you were asked to join the board/chair the Community Impact Division. 

I was so honored and humbled to be asked to serve the community as a SEUW Board Member and as the Chair of the CI Division. I remember telling a friend that I had been asked to join the board and saying to him, “I don’t know why they’re asking me. I’m not a bank president or anything important like that!” And his response was, “They need you.” Those words have really stuck with me over the past three years and have reminded me that we all bring different gifts to the table. As long as I have a desire to make a difference in our community and am willing to put in the hard work to make it happen, my job title is irrelevant.


What are you looking forward to as the SEUW Community Impact Division Chair for 2024? 

Serving in the CI Division is always a challenge because there is always more need in our community than we have the dollars to fund. I’m looking forward to seeing the recommendations that our impact teams bring forward about how we can have the greatest impact this year, and I’m also looking forward to learning about the new programs that have applied to be United Way partner agencies. There is such great work being done in the Sioux Empire, and it’s so interesting to hear about how people have identified new needs and worked to find solutions.


Adrienne McKeown presenting SEUW funding application training at Active Generations to a room full of agency staff.

Adrienne McKeown presenting the annual SEUW Funding Application Training in 2023.


What is one thing you wish our audience knew about the SEUW CI process? 

I wish everyone could see the hard work and dedication that our CI volunteers pour into this process. They truly treat these dollars as their own and are committed to ensuring they are used wisely. When you give to the United Way, you can be certain that the programs receiving your funds have been vetted to ensure they are needed, not duplicating other efforts, and are leading to positive outcomes in the lives of children, vulnerable adults, and people in crisis.


We hear many times that people and community leaders give to United Way because you never know when you may need the resources of their funded agencies. Do you have a personal tie to the agencies we currently support? 

I do! Like so many in the Sioux Empire, my kids received the Dolly Parton Imagination Library books when they were little. I also have been a school-based mentor with Lutheran Social Services for 20+ years, which has allowed me to be a listening, trusted adult for several young ladies, including my current mentee for the past eight years.

I’ve also developed personal ties with two other agencies recently. My brother-in-law, who suffered a life-altering illness as an infant, attends Meaningful Day Services at DakotAbilities where he gets to participate in social and recreational activities. Additionally, this past fall my family participated in Sad Isn’t Bad programming. My mom passed away from COVID in 2020, and I didn’t realize how much my kids were still hurting and trying to process that loss. I wasn’t sure where to turn for help, but I remembered learning about Sad Isn’t Bad and their family grief program as a CI volunteer, so we tried it. After the first session, my 9-year-old son said, “Mom, I feel so much better! It really helped to tell other people how sad I was.” As a mom, hearing that was such a huge relief. I am so grateful that United Way supports these programs!


As a long-term volunteer for SEUW, what advice do you have for individuals interested in volunteering and why do you continue volunteering with us? 

Just give it a try! Like I said earlier, when I was first approached to volunteer at both Citi and with the CI Division, I didn’t know what I was getting into. I’m sure glad I said “Yes!” though! The difference SEUW volunteers make in our community is truly amazing, and you’ll be glad and consider yourself blessed to be a part of it. 


What final words do you have for our readers? 

Thank you! Thank you for whatever role you play in powering the change and impacting people’s lives in the Sioux Empire. Whether you give of your time, talent, treasure, or all three, our community is better because of you.


Outdoor family portrait of Adrienne McKeown, husband, and their three children.

Outdoor family portrait of Adrienne McKeown, her husband, and their three children.