Uniting for Change

United Way at TEDxPiscataquaRiver

How does a community change for the better? How do we evolve to create a lasting improvement in a society where not everyone is aware of the issue? These are questions Lauren Wool asks herself in her efforts to bring topics of change to light within Seacoast communities.

Wool has been the Senior Director of Community Impact at United Way of the Greater Seacoast in Portsmouth, NH since 2004. Last year, United Way was chosen from a pool of non-profits to attend the TEDxPiscataquaRiver im[PACT] session. Wool’s partner, Dave Johnson, gave a 90-second pitch about the organization’s mission, and a challenge that required the help of the community.

“We wanted the audience to know that United Way is the go-to place for anyone wishing to make a difference in their community through volunteering,” Wool said. “We know the community needs. We know how to help and we make those connections every day.”

*Watch this laugh-worthy video Wool and Johnson submitted as their entry for the im[PACT] session:

Wool says United Way’s goal is to provide opportunities for individuals in the community to give back, either through donating or volunteering, although it can be difficult to rally any troops. The chance to speak in front of a highly engaged audience meant that Wool had an ideal platform to spread her organization’s message and recruit people to help. Wool was able to have conversations with members of the audience who were intrigued by United Way’s pitch for improvement, gaining confirmation from several people that they would commit to helping United Way in it’s efforts.

United Way was also able to connect with members of UROCK Marketing, an organization that helps enrich small business practices around the Seacoast. The entire United Way staff attended one of the infamous UROCK parties, where they created a “vision board,” meant to generate ideas for approaching business partners and populations touched by United Way investments.


Wool says there are currently two projects in the works that she anticipates will produce results worth talking about within the next six months.

“United Way is all about lasting change,” she said. “Some of our work is made visible immediately, while some work takes time to percolate and then materialize visibly.”

TEDxPiscataquaRiver is meant to unite those who are passionate enough to generate enough discussion to create a movement. Past audiences have proven to be powerful in their influence, creating synergy between presenters and audience members alike.

Others like Wool have benefited greatly from listening to audience’s suggestions and ideas, as well as learning from other presenters. After all, great change is bound to ignite in a space filled with passionate thinkers.

“We were thrilled to be in the company of so many actively engaged community members who want to make a difference,” Wool said.